A MOOC is a Massively Online Open Course. It is massive because there are many students (sometimes hundreds of thousands). It is online because it uses the Internet for course delivery. It is open because it is publically available to anyone without selection barriers or payment. And it is a course, teaching a particular subject, often in engineering and science, but increasingly in all domains of human knowledge including the arts. MOOCs burst on the scene of online distance learning in the fall of 2011 and caused a wave of excitement followed rather quickly by a wave of scepticism and resistance. What are MOOCs? Will they help to deal with the ‘crisis in education’? How do they fit within the earlier developments in distance-education and the use of computers and telecommunication for supporting learning processes? What are the limitations of MOOCs? How can we strengthen them and fully profit from their potential? This paper addresses these questions from my personal viewpoint as an educator involved for decades in teaching and online distance-education. It looks at MOOCs, bringing in a European perspective, and suggests avenues for further research and practice.
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