Innovation in Education. Massive Open Online Courses and Dissemination Strategies

Academic Paper, 2019

19 Pages, Grade: 76


Table of content


Innovation in Open Education
1. Overview
2. Innovation in MOOC
3. MOOC Background
4. Outcome and Impact
5. Current Issues around MOOC
6. Next Steps

Dissemination Strategy
1. Social Media Engagement Strategy
2. Conference presentation
3. Webinar



Massive Open Online Courses (MOOC) are currently a prominent innovation in higher education that has made open education available to a wider audience around the world via internet. This report introduces this innovation in eLearning and set out its main contributions, highlighting why MOOC are considerable innovation in today’s teaching and learning and the developments of innovations that are important in our today’s life. It will provide a history of the MOOCs, describe the research and the works on which this innovation is built, by specifying the first MOOCs, what they were and when, and then tell how they have developed so far. The report also examines the different MOOCs produced and their impact on higher education and human life; Highlight the main issues or problems remaining around MOOC projects and try propose valid and appropriate their next steps. Finally, resources will be considered to recommend three important elements in the strategic MOOC project dissemination, namely the use of social media engagement, conference presentations and webinars.

Key Words: Massive Open Online Courses (MOOC), Open Content, Open Pedagogy, Open Educational Strategies, MOOC Dissemination Strategies.

Innovation in Open Education

This part provides an evaluation of MOOC as an Open educational innovation. It outlines MOOC and they main contributions, describe they innovative nature, what they built upon, highlights key challenges and suggests the way forward.

1. Overview

The term MOOC stands for Massive Open Online Course. MOOCs are derived from the Open Educational Resources (OER) movement to provide open access, scalable, and affordable instructional content to a vast number of participants through online platform for delivering, sharing and collaborating learning experiences (Meltem, 2015; Rebecca, 2019).

These online courses (MOOCs) reflect an emerging educational technology or strategy (Johnson et al., 2013) that has generated great expectations and considerable criticisms, as shown in the below image:

This image was deletd by the editors due to copyright issues

Image Sourced from Wikipedia encyclopedia

Various editions of the Horizon report have responded to these expectations by claiming that MOOCs would be rapidly integrated into education system on large-scale (Cabero-Almenara et al., 2017).

In our opinion, MOOCs are not technologies in their own right, but rather classroom-like educational resources supported by different technologies, such as websites, video clips, e-learning platforms, or audio podcasts, etc. There are different conceptions of them but can be categories in three main categories: cMOOC, xMOOC and tMOOC (González-González & Jiménez-Zarco, 2014; Cabero et al., 2014; Vázquez et al., 2015).

MOOC’s importance can be illustrated by the efforts of various journals to describe it as a game changer for world higher education (Marguerite, 2012; Riddle,2012; Michele,2014), and absolutely pedagogical innovations must be made from MOOCs (Rebecca, 2019).

2. Innovation in MOOC

Since MOOCs emerged in recent years, they are described as the most prominent innovation in higher education due to their ability to change the nature of higher education (Mark, 2016), especially on the format and pedagogical base (Lackner & Kopp, 2014). Their innovativeness lies on their ability to foster interactions and social activities (Michael & Mariya, 2018) which allows for ideas sharing among participants who even get deeply involved in the subject through a wide variety of synchronous and asynchronous online activities; hence learners can get input from the teacher and reflect on the topic at different times and places (Butcher et al., 2014). They provide learner independence and peer support through more expressive, reflective and explanatory activities (Weller, 2011) that strengthen the sense of creativity, ownership, control, autonomy and personal direction (Feltlikeit, 2013) because supportive technologies are, arguably, well aligned with good pedagogy and participation (Conole, 2008).

Very interestingly, MOOCs provide different learning arrangements such as platforms, online classrooms, teaching roles, tutors, multimedia, interactive tools, resources, and computer-supported collaborative learning (Molas & Fuertes, 2018). With this innovation, the concept of eLearning has developed beyond text books and essay reports as a prime method of assessment. The availability of multimedia resources that combine the acquisition of evidence-based knowledge with educationally validated teaching methods and assessments are sparse, within different fields. The use of different tools that learners may use to research, communicate, store, retrieve, construct, share, develop, and reflect, information, ideas and resources, certainly enhances their learning.

Contrary to traditional education, MOOCs have ability to attract large number of diverse leaners to an online community due to their shareable format, ability to enroll people with different educational profiles, and affordability which is learners’ most advantage (Green, 2015). Their constant availability makes them excellent resources for both students and life-long learners. Furthermore, MOOCs’ online format allows learners to explore and be inspired by various contributions of peers which often leads to creative thinking.

In view of all the above, it can be concluded that MOOCs are highly innovative open teaching and learning resources, centered on the evolving instructional design (Siemens G. 2012) and the functionality of the platform (Lackner & Kopp 2014) for learning and peer-to-peer activities that foster the creative and innovative abilities of users for further learning and in their professional life.

3. MOOC Background

MOOC’s history dated 2008, coined by Stephen Downes and George Siemens to refer to a course they developed entitled Connectivism and Connectivity Knowledge (Amanda, 2018; González-González & Jiménez-Zarco, 2014) based on connectivist distributed peer learning model (Meltem ,2014). Downes and Siemens took advantage of the OERs to explore the possibility of interactions between a wide variety of participants through online tools in order to provide a richer learning environment than traditional tools would allow. According to McGill (2019), their first course was attended by 25 students at the University of Manitoba, while further 2300 participants from around the world were able to participate online. These kind of MOOCs which emphasize on interactions and connectivity were called cMOOCs.

Later in 2011, MOOCs started to explode around the world when professors from Stanford University developed few more educational videos which were released through open online platforms supported with free web resources. Since then the number of MOOCs still extends each day increasingly.

The year 2012 was later declared by The New York Times as a year of MOOCs and different not for profit and for profit providers associated with top universities emerged (Michael 2013; Virginia, 2019). Andrew Ng, Daphne Koller and Sebastian Thrun, computer professors at Stanford University, were motivated by the potential of the Internet to present the Stanford course to participants who could never experience it and a desire to reform their teaching practices on campus.

In February 2012, Sebastien Thrun founded Udacity as an independent, for profit technology company. he started with a free online course “introduction to artificial intelligence”, which he co-taught with Peter Norvig, the Google’s research director. This course has attracted over 160,000 enrollees from more than 100 countries (Virginia, 2019) but only nearly above 20,000 students completed the course (McGill, 2019). These MOOCs of commercial type that place less emphasis on interaction but more focus on reaching broad audience are the xMOOCs category (González-González & Jiménez-Zarco, 2014). Inspired by Thrun’s work, Andrew Ng and Daphne Koller also launched in April 2012 a company called Coursera as a continuation of the Mashine learning online class from the Stanford Computer Science department as a way to make the idea of MOOCs sustainable (Frank, 2015).

Such staggering results set the MOOC movement solidly in motion and Anant Agarwal from MIT launched MITx as a nonprofit MOOC provider which later became edX when Harvard joined as a collaborator. These three (Udacity, Coursera and edX) continued to refine their platforms and expanding their offering by partnering with different institutions universities in preparing and offering MOOCs (McGill, 2019). While Coursera enrolled more than 4 million students in their platform, both Udacity and edX have over a million students in their MOOCs. Besides these, Europe has later started responding the US MOOC movement in 2013.

One can’t forget the first European platforms which include Futurelearn and Iversity which followed these US platforms. Futurelearn which is owned by the UK Open University has particularly become the well-known platform in the field of distance education with great pedagogical expertise and experience, having reached more than 3 million learners after its launch in late 2013 (Walton, 2016). The Iversity which is a Germany initiative has also enjoyed a particularity of having courses that offer ECTS credits through its partnership with different institutions. Currently OpenupEd was established to promote Europe-based MOOC initiatives, not by offering a single platform but by allowing every partner use their own platforms and offering them marketing opportunities and quality guideline (OpenupEd, 2019). The other larger MOOCs in Europe include Miriadax, ECO, France Université Numérique (FUN), and EMMA ( Darco &António, 2015; Cengiz, 2017). The movement is still staggering with new platforms and other continent adopting the approach.

In Asia, different governments are currently playing a very active role to promote MOOC initiatives. For example, Chinese MOOCs are government initiatives initiated with intention to higher education opportunity to more people. The other examples include Thai MOOCs, K-MOOCs in South Korea, Malaysian MOOCs, all incentivized to reform existing systems of higher education and lifelong learning. There is also J-MOOCs in Japan which is a consortium similar to UK FutureLearn promoted by Japanese government to offer MOOCs in partnership with different universities, academic societies, corporations and governmental institutes (Cengiz, 2017).

In Africa, governments have been very slow in embracing the idea of MOOCs (Marshall, 2016). MOOC is a foreign topic where, according to Benedict and Billy (2015), “ Africa is not only a silent player but also a silent spectator in the ongoing MOOC revolution”. This is mostly due to the Africa’s conservative nature about the fundamental pedagogical relationship with teachers, hence digital should not dispossess them of their role of transmission (Caramel, 2015). Records indicate that some African universities, especially Open Universities, are offering a form of distance learning but very few are advocating or mobilizing for MOOCs. South Africa represents an exceptional case as a leading country embracing MOOCs with the government involvement in streamlining policies to promote MOOCs. So far, he University of Cape Town (UCT) stands out in this regard with ten MOOCs released – four on the FutureLearn platform and the other six on Coursera – and has another three in production (Pickard, 2017). On the other hand, one can argue that Africa is becoming a market for MOOCs because MOOCs are knowing very huge popularity in Africa (Marshall, 2016; Robert, 2018; Eleni, 2019) due to high need for affordable quality higher education access solutions (Benedict & Billy, 2015; Gandhi, 2018).

To cut short, MOOCs have been growing in number in recent years, various MOOCs are still exponentially emerging all around the world. There are millions of registered users of MOOCS offered hundreds of courses around the world, noting a growing interest in demand MOOCs and supply for MOOCs despite several unanswered questions, such as sustainability and low completion rates.

4. Outcome and Impact

After sharing the history behind MOOCs, it’s worth discussing their impact within this last decade. Although few research attempted to explore the impact MOOCs on different areas of life, it can be argued that MOOCs have been playing very pivot role in revolutionizing education systems (Ranjani, 2015) and widened access to lifelong learning (Shelley & Srivastava, 2018). In this very specific field, MOOCs have aided the evolution of the flipped classroom (Hannah,2014) and with large scale MOOCs are believed to have provided the universal access to affordability education, changed people's cognition (Li, Sun and Sun, 2018) provided more learning opportunities for ordinary learners (2018), increased team-based course design and institutional consciousness around the future of digital (Allison, 2015), fostered institutional development and cooperation as opposed to competition (Ranjani, 2015).

From the economic view point, the openness reflects the principle of non-excludability which attracted hundreds thousand students per course and, as results, the cost of teaching an extra student approached zero (Paul &Julien, 2014). Although some economist may view MOOCs as having reduced revenues, it should be recalled that they enhanced access to courses that amplifies the positive externalities of education for society as a whole. Apart from bringing new opportunities for innovation in higher education that will allow institutions to explore new online learning models and innovative practices in teaching and learning (Meltem,2015), MOOC’s openness has the potential to address inequality gaps of literacy and in reducing youth unemployment (Shelley & Srivastava, 2018) and ultimately enhance the quality of life for millions.

In all, as reported by the University of Leicester (2019), MOOCs have had a positive impact in a number of areas, such as innovation in teaching and learning, broadening awareness and development of a strong international network and the creation of an alternative channel for the dissemination of research. They are still helping keep pace with changes in technology enhanced learning and innovative pedagogies

5. Current Issues around MOOC

Despite the benefits, a range of factors are militating their development, especially in developing world. These include lack of government acceptance, Lack of awareness on the value of MOOC education (Apostolos et al.,2015), lack of access to computers (IUCN-Papaco,2017), challenge of infrastructure for MOOCs such as inadequate Internet connection and lack of adequate access to technological facilities, etc. (Mariam, 2016; Castillo et al.,2015). However, even the active MOOCs are much more criticized of their very few drawbacks.


Excerpt out of 19 pages


Innovation in Education. Massive Open Online Courses and Dissemination Strategies
The Open University  (School of Educational Technology)
Openness and Innovation in e-Learning
Catalog Number
ISBN (eBook)
ISBN (Book)
Massive Open Online Courses (MOOC), Open Content, Open Pedagogy, Open Educational Strategies, MOOC Dissemination Strategies
Quote paper
Dr. Sixbert Sangwa (Author), 2019, Innovation in Education. Massive Open Online Courses and Dissemination Strategies, Munich, GRIN Verlag,


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