Do you know about Massive Open Online Course (MOOC)?

Written by ph.d. Pham Dinh Ba, Toronto University, Canada.

MOOC is an online program, free of charge initially but only partially free recently. The program consists of courses organized so that students from different geographical locations can participate, as long as they have access to the internet.

MOOC courses can be at the university or college levels, or learning material on a variety of topics that you can learn at your own pace. Depending on the courses, students may or may not get certified upon completion, but with due diligence, students can improve knowledge and skills.

The MOOC concept started out with courses free of charge. Once the concept is widely accepted with large number of participants worldwide, many organizers of MOOC courses started to charge a nominal tuition fee, which is likely to be not affordable for Vietnamese students. Free courses are still available, although they are far fewer and they seem to be harder to come by. With a bit effort, you still can find courses that are useful to your purposes. In particular, we suggest looking for courses related to learning how to learn, such as some of the courses listed below.

Get Started with Online Learning –

English grammar –

Learning Online: Searching and researching

Learning Online: Learning and collaborating

Learning Online: Reflecting and sharing

A massive open online course (MOOC) is a free Web-based distance learning program that is designed for the participation of large numbers of geographically dispersed students.(2) A MOOC may be patterned on a college or university course or may be less structured. Although MOOCs don’t always offer academic credits, they provide education that may enable certification, employment or further studies. Anyone with an Internet connection can enroll in a MOOC, obtain access to the resources, interact with peers, and reflect and share their knowledge with classmates.(3)

The word MOOC was coined 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.”(2) There were 25 tuition-paying students from university and 2,300 non-paying students from the general public who took the course online. There were online material and participation was facilitated through a variety of venues including a learning management system, blog posts, and real-time online meetings.(2)

In 2011, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) Open Course Ware (OCW) became the first large collections of MOOC resources made available by a university. In 2012, the MIT and Harvard spearheaded the edX initiative for the promotion of MOOCs.(2) The Oxford online dictionary added the term “MOOC” in August 2013.

MOOCs were categorized into two main types based on different learning theories: networks of distributed online resources (cMOOCs) such as found in the MOOC titled “Connectivism and Connective Knowledge” and structured learning pathways centralized on digital platforms (xMOOCs) such as Coursera and edX.(3) This innovative approach, which makes higher education more accessible to massive audience in a global scope, has received significant attention in higher education, as well as the media.(4)

Early research revealed that the median MOOC enrollments are over 40,000 students.(4) The number of MOOC participants worldwide in 2016 was over 58 million people, representing an increase in MOOC enrollments from the previous year of more than 23 million people. Given that nearly 7000 MOOCs were offered in 2016 alone, it is not too surprising that there is enormous attention and resources being placed in this new field.

Pham Dinh Ba




3. A. Koutropoulos, M.S. Gallagher, S.C. Abajian, I. de Waard, R.J. Hogue, N.Ö. Keskin, C.O. Rodriguez. Emotive vocabulary in MOOCs: Context & participant retention. European Journal of Open, Distance and E-Learning, 15 (1) (2012)

4. Zhu, M., Sari, A., Lee, M.M. A systematic review of research methods and topics of the empirical MOOC literature (2014–2016). Internet and Higher Education (2018), 37, pp. 31-39.

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