The acronym MOOC stands for “Massive Open Online Course”, meaning they are indeed courses, not conferences.
These are university level courses shared on the internet. They are free and easily accessible, and there are no prerequisites required from the participants. In addition, registration on the various MOOC platforms is completely free. Only the (optional) issuance of certificates is charged. This does not mean that the content published on these platforms is free of rights. Generally speaking, it can not be reused or redistributed without the consent of its authors. The number of participants per course can vary from several thousand to over 100,000, although not all subscribers intend to follow the class from start to finish, and only a small proportion are considered active.
There are different MOOCs available out there, from Coursera to EDx. Coursera, for instance, offers “Specialization”, which is a set of 3 or more MOOCs centred around a common theme. Participants who have validated all MOOCs in the Specialization must then validate a project that is transversal to the theme, called the “capstone project”.
The structure described below specifically refers to the organization of courses on the Coursera platform.The 3 components of an MOOC are video lessons, assessment assignments / exercises, and tools for interactions with and between learners. The duration of the courses is between 4 and 12 weeks.
Since July 31, 2016, all MOOCs on Coursera are offered in cohort format. Each course session has a start date, set by the teams, and an end date. The learners of the same session follow the MOOC with proposed deadlines, thus increasing the number of learners completing the course.
These sessions are offered regularly and automatically about every 4 to 6 weeks. Registration for the course remains open for the first five days of each session. If a learner enrolls in a course before the beginning of the session, he / she will have access to all resources but will not be able to complete the assessments until the session for which he / she has enrolled starts.
Learners can make their assessments no more than seven days after the official end of the session (except in the case of peer reviews). After that date, the session will be closed, and learners who have not completed the course will have to register at the next session if they want to receive a certificate. In this case, all assessments that the learners have already completed will be transferred.
MOOCs are a great way for students to study and follow courses without having to go to a classroom. Although limited by a date in time, the students have the chance to complete the programme at their own pace, spread out between the opening and closing date.
Teachers can use MOOCs to give students class content to work on from home, and then use the class time for questions and evaluation of the level of understanding. Great tools to complete this already technological way of teaching, are audience response systems. Audience response systems are very much in and perfect to increase interaction during a presentation, class, conference, or even a meeting.