Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs’) have grown in popularity in the past couple of years. Free online courses have existed since early in the evolution of the Internet but the recent interest in free learning courses has grown dramatically (Lewin, 2012). Many educational institutions are exploring where MOOC courses are appropriate for their institutions. Both the University of Alberta and the University of Calgary (Alharbi and Jacobsen, 2015) have become involved in offering MOOC courses. Of interest is the opportunity to utilize MOOC’s for faculty professional development.
Being able to accommodate unlimited participation at no charge, through the Internet, and providing course materials such as print documents, videos, and problems to assess learning, is certainly of interest to educators. In many cases students have the opportunity to communicate and interact with instructors.
A distinction not clearly defined between a MOOC and topic-based materials freely available on the Internet is reflected in our discussion about Khan Academy materials. I personally have studied materials in biology, chemistry, and mathematics at the Khan Academy site and I am very impressed and grateful for the most part. Sites like can Academy may be viewed as a supplement to learning specific materials as opposed to a course on a subject and in this respect not considered a “MOOC proper”.
The question of how MOOC’s are funded may directly affect their quality, popularity, and longevity. If MOOC’s are funded by venture capital may be just a matter of time until “free” disappears from the way materials are available (MOOC Lab UC Berkley).
Lewin, 2012 (http://www.nytimes.com/2012/03/05/education/moocs-large-courses-open-to-all-topple-campus-walls.html?_r=3&hpw)
Alharbi and Jacobsen, 2015 (https://dspace.ucalgary.ca/handle/1880/50570)
MOOC Lab UC Berkley (http://mooclab.berkeley.edu/instructors/funding-for-mooc-development/)