What we can learn from the MOOC experiment

Whether you’re a fan or a critic of the MOOC experience, there are many lessons we can take from these massive open online courses

online-assessments-MOOC“Beyond the MOOC: The return.” That wouldn’t be the worst movie title ever, right?

MOOCs, or Massive Open Online Courses, were the talk of the town in 2012-13. A lot of people heralded the giant eLearning experiences as the tool that would save education, while a lot of others expressed vitriolic hatred for “watered-down” education, and the like.

Last month, I wrote an article suggesting that whether you love them or hate them, whether you feel they are dead in the water or getting ready to finally unleash something incredible, there are some important things to learn from the concept. I argued that educators should try to tap into the lessons learned from the MOOC story, like practical learning, contextual learning, better guidance, architecting social learning, and educating at scale.

But the lessons should not end there. Those are simply five elements of (likely) dozens that should be deconstructed and looked at for merit, efficiency, or success. As one educator wrote to me, let us continue the “autopsy” and look for a few more hidden clues.


A lot of people were quite passionate in their response to my previous article. One commenter was a bit frustrated that I was pointing out some flaws, as he or she had some great MOOC experiences. Meanwhile, others posted comments about horrible experiences they’ve had with the huge classes. But this divergence matters.

(Next page: Analyzing MOOCs)