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What Are Massive Open Online Courses (MOOC)

A massive open online course is simply said an online course that you can take online, and that is not limited in any way. Any amount of participants can join the online course hence the word massive. Open coming from the fact that the online course can be taken by anybody and at any time. An online course is a series of lessons that are taught via videos, text, or in some other web-based form.


Massive open online courses or MOOC as a term was invented in 2008 by Dave Cormier, from the University of Prince Edward Island for a course offered by the University of Manitoba, “Connectivism and Connective Knowledge.”

But is massive open online course any different from an online course that is taught by the likes of you or me? Individuals that either has an online course business on a smaller or bigger scale. The answer is no.

While the idea is that MOOC as a term is used in the schooling system and by colleges. The term is broad enough to cover also the online course business.

There’s no apparent difference between an online course and a massive open online course. One thing that should be noted here is that online courses usually don’t offer credit (which is relevant when talking about online courses/classes in college).


With MOOCs, the principle is that the online course does not have participant limits. Any amount of people can participate in the course and at any point in time.

In college and universities, the MOOC is thought of students participating in the same course simultaneously and at the same time. For example, an online course lesson can be taught on a specific day at a certain point in time, keeping it still open and online experience.

Example of an online course offered by Autodesk

However, this is not always the case, and for example, in Coursera, you can join and participate in multiple university-created programs and get degrees and certificates after completing a course and doing this at your own pace.

Example of an online course offered by Arizona State University

You are creating a self-paced e-learning experience but follow the masses in a guided way.


You can register for an online course without any limits. If you don’t consider money as a limit, then MOOCs are open to anyone.

Open means that anyone can enroll in a course. Coursera is one of the biggest players offering online courses at the university and company level. 

Udemy and Skillshare offer online courses in the form of user-created online courses. 

Udemy offers online courses created by individual business owners
Skillshare offers the same concept as Udemy with a different pricing model

In online course business, nothing is rarely open without money, so you need that to participate in the courses.


When talking about online education and taking online courses. The material is taught in a web-based form. Lectures are video recordings. Lessons can also be in written form and handed to you as a digital PDF, for example.

Lessons can be PDF’s, videos, audio and anything between, as long as it’s in digital form

The main point here is that the material is in digital form, and at that, you can access the material online through an internet connection.

That also means that you can access the course from anywhere in the world. So taking an online course is not location dependent. If you prefer to study in your bed, you can do that.


A course is a series of modules and lessons structured in a way that makes the learning experience ideal and effective.

A course consists of content that is either interactive (surveys, assessments, quizzes, etc.) and educational in the form of video, written text, or audio files.

The main reason for an online course to exists is to inform and educate the student. If that part is failing, then we can say that the course shouldn’t exist.


MOOC is a form of education that is usually associated with colleges, universities, or companies offering online courses for anyone in the world. 

It’s up to the company or the university to offer degrees and certificates when completing an online course of theirs.

Massive open online courses are a superb choice for the ones, which are not able to attend a formal education system but would have the finance to do so.

It’s up to you to decide which form of online courses offer you more bang for your buck. User-created online courses or university and company created courses.

Coursera offers you university and company level education path, whereas Skillshare and Udemy offer you online courses created by the likes of you and me. So-called user-created courses on varied topics.

MOOCs offer you a way to learn and study topics even if you are not able to take a course physically at a university or a company.

Juha Ekman

Hi there, I’m Juha Ekman. A few years ago, I started my online business selling online courses and digital products. Ever since then, I’ve been obsessed with learning, especially learning marketing, sales, and everything about passive income. It’s been quite a ride, and there has been a lot of ups and downs along the way. This is the site where I share everything I’ve learned.