The concept of massive open online courses (MOOCs) has been hailed as a disruptive change in higher education practice, as it is based on the idea of making educational experiences from well-known universities freely available at scale. The core idea is the provision of higher education courses to anyone with Internet access and the personal motivation to (i) participate in learning activities that are delivered in short video segments supplemented with online tutorials, and then (ii) be assessed using automated online self-evaluation exercises and summative quizzes and tests. Khan Academy ( popularised the use of the short video lesson format for K–12 education tutorials, while universities such as MIT and Stanford have demonstrated similar approaches for a higher-education audience. What remains to be determined is whether MOOCs can be further scaled and sustained beyond the initial experiments.


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A Policy Brief on MOOCs by Commonwealth of Learning is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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