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Online Education: MOOCs

MOOCs Defined

Free online education known as “massive open online courses,” or MOOCs, offered through platforms like edX, Coursera, and Udacity. MOOC courses are open to anyone.


  • MOOCs and Libraries and Alt-Ed are blogs devoted to all things related to MOOCs and online learning trends. It's hosted by Gerry McKiernan, MLS, Iowa State University Library.

Prominent MOOC Platforms

The Most Important Educational Technology in 200 Years ?

This article from Mashable provides insight into the future direction of online learning and the role of data collection and crunching behind the scenes.


"Technology will define where online education goes next. All those millions of students clicking online can have their progress tracked, logged, studied and probably influenced, too. Talk to Khan or anyone behind the MOOCs (which largely sprang from university departments interested in computer intelligence) and they’ll all say their eventual goal isn’t to stream videos but to perfect education through the scientific use of data. Just imagine, they say, software that maps an individual’s knowledge and offers a lesson plan unique to him or her. Will they succeed and create something truly different? If they do, we’ll have the answer to our question: Online learning will be the most important innovation in education in the last 200 years."             


OpenCourseWare is sometimes used to describe Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) and Open Educational Resources (OERs).

According to the website of the OCW Consortium, OpenCourseWare:

  • is a free and open digital publication of high quality educational materials, organized as courses.
  • is available for use and adaptation under an open license, such as a Creative Commons license.
  • does not typically provide certification or access to faculty.

Many universities are establishing local OCW portals for university-specific free, online course content, such as Stanford's Class2Go, OpenCourseWare UC Irvine , and MIT OpenCourseWare. is a resource that aggregates free online content from OCWs and MOOCs into comprehensive courses.