Examples of MOOCs to review, critique, and learn from

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Yishay Mor
26 June 2012

Please use this page to list other MOOCs we should be looking at and learning from. Please add a comment, with a link to a MOOC you've noticed and a few words about why you found it interesting.

Extra content

We have now also created a survey form in which you can record your experiences with MOOCs; about what MOOCs do well, potential issues or problems to watch out for and suggestions for designing MOOCs better. We would like to invite anyone who has participated in, designed, facilitated, tutored, or evaluated a MOOC (or many MOOCs!) to complete this survey.

MOOC Survey link: http://tinyurl.com/MOOCSurvey

MOOCs you may have participated or been involved in include: Change.MOOC, eduMOOC: Online Learning Today and Tomorrow, PLENK, DS106: Digital Storytelling, MobiMOOC, CCK11, Crypt4you, Georgia Tech MOOC, P2PU, bonkopen2012, etc.

We will  review the survey results and summarise these in a public document. We will also use the wisdom, lessons and advice offered in designing our Learning Design MOOC. In the meantime, please continue to use the discussion thread below to discuss your MOOC experiences and pass this link on to others.

Simon Cross
14:21 on 6 July 2012 (Edited 10:40 on 25 July 2012)

Thanks to everyone who has responsded to the survey and for recording your experience of MOOCs (http://tinyurl.com/MOOCSurvey). The following is an interim review of two of the survey questions based on the 40 responses so far recorded: what did you enjoy most about the MOOC you were involved with? and what advice would you give to someone designing a MOOC?

The survey results recorded so far reveal people enjoyed: engaging with other participants, the contributions of those providing teaching or facilitation, freedom for self-directed learning and the amount of information provided. Seven said they enjoyed ‘being part of a community’, ‘building professional networks,’ or ‘sharing and learning from front-runners in the field.’ This offered, as a further two respondents put it, a ‘glimpse of international communication’ and a ‘chance to interact with people around the world.’ Three others stated they had most enjoyed the contribution of the lecturer, tutor or facilitators who ‘put in a lot of time responding to student feedback and [creating] extra wiki notes and forum answers’. Another three mentioned they had enjoyed the freedom the MOOC offered for self-directed learning and tailoring information and the space it provided for reflection. The scale or range of resources on offer was also specifically mentioned as something people had enjoyed, whether this was the sustained focus of a single theme MOOC, live sessions, blog posts, or the ‘huge amount’ or ‘relevant information’ provided. For some, the MOOC also offered an opportunity to develop personal expertise in teaching online, for example, two used the MOOC to learn about the platform or develop skills in open academic practice.  

Respondents offered a variety of advice for designing a MOOC. One category of suggestions focused on the MOOC experience: five mentioned the importance of structure: ‘be very clear about where the main home page is’; provide ‘clear’ and ‘plenty of’ structure’; explain ‘what you see as essential and desirable and a luxury’ and don’t make it ‘too overwhelming.’ Whilst another five provided suggestions about the type and balance of tasks: have a balance between activities and the time required to develop them; set some interactive engagement; link to the curriculum and learning objectives; and set a variety of reading, doing and collaborating. One person suggested trying to ‘be disruptive.’ Synchronous sessions were mentioned by two: one stressing it was important to explain the reasons for having synchronous sessions and the other to ensure options for such activities that caters for different time zones. Two suggested having a co-ordinated communication strategy with participants: ‘don’t bombard participants with too much push emails,’ ‘keep communication steady’ and ‘keep the schedule up to date.’ Two respondents advised to keep in mind the expectations of participants and not to ‘assume all are at the same level of understand the tools.’ One final comment in this category related to ensuring the ‘pace and depth of topics [is] higher than a traditional course.’

A second category of advice related to what MOOC organisers should provide. Three stressed the importance of guidelines - for how to behave, how to pace yourself, and for how to do peer support – whilst another asked that instructions for tool use etc. are given ‘based at the lowest common denominator.’ One respondent advised that self-study resources should be included, and another that the team should have a policy on how to manage discussion forums. Three mentioned the importance of good tutors who needed to be ‘very communicative guides’ and ‘prepared to offer constant feedback and examples’ whilst one respondent also warned not to ‘underestimate the time and resource required.’ One person said it would be important to think carefully about how group interaction would work – thinking in terms of ‘cohorts and other usable group[ing]s’ and a final comment suggested the course designers consider how people will access the MOOC away from their desk on mobile devices.

The survey will remain open until the end of the project, so if you know of others who have been involved in MOOCs so please pass the survey URL on to them.

Simon Cross
13:46 on 24 July 2012

Thanks to all of you who have contributed to the survey so far. For interest, I've embedded an anonymised spreadsheet showing survey results to 25th July 2012.

*Apologies - problem with embed. I'll repost it tomorrow*

Rebecca Galley
10:39 on 25 July 2012 (Edited 17:58 on 25 July 2012)

Embedded Content


Yishay Mor
2:02pm 26 June 2012


Oxford Brookes' First Steps into Learning and Teaching in Higher Education MOOC. A very recent 5 week MOOC, supported by HEA and JISC. Used a wordpress front-end and a moodle LMS. 

I can see the advantage of Moodle, but that means that the MOOC content is not visible without registration. It also means that you need a host who is willing to allow open registration.

Yishay Mor
2:09pm 26 June 2012


Change MOOC, probably the biggest MOOC in town at the moment - in the area of educational technology. Massive in scope (36 weeks), facilitated by : Dave CormierGeorge Siemens and Stephen Downes - the people attributed with the MOOC concept and term.

But is it a course? Or a collection of unconnected star lectures?

Yishay Mor
12:28am 27 June 2012



Although it never defined itself as a MOOC, it is often harelded as the largest (in terms of student numbers) MOOC so far. The cloud includes Peter Norvig's TED talk.

Joshua Underwood
1:51pm 2 July 2012 (Edited 1:58pm 2 July 2012)


Not a MOOC and in some ways rather rubbish but maybe an interesting prompt to think about Massive Open Online Assessment/Recognition of learning



Joshua Underwood
1:51pm 2 July 2012 (Edited 2:01pm 2 July 2012)

Continuing from above thoughts...

...maybe coupled with some kind of MOOC project/tasks the results of which are displayed to individual participant's online (shareable, embedable & +able) protfolios (e.g. something like behance)...



just some thoughts..


Yishay Mor
11:03am 4 July 2012

Digital Storytelling: http://ds106.us/

Digital Storytelling (also affectionately known as ds106) is an open, online course that will begin on January 10th, 2011happens at various times throughout the year….but you can join in whenever you like and leave whenever you need. This course is free to anyone who wants to take it, and the only requirements are a real computer (none of those wimpy ass iPads), a hardy internet connection, a domain of your own, some commodity web hosting, and all the creativity you can muster (and we’ll spend time helping you get up and running with at least two of the last three requirements).

I don't know much about it, but I've heard it praised by several people. It definitely looks good!

Diana Laurilllard
12:25pm 4 July 2012

I contributed to the Change MOOC, back in April, and agree with Yishay's comment that this is a series of short courses. There were very few participants, Mini Open Online Course, perhaps, but those who commented were good and interesting. Some followed up further on email and twitter. There was some central glitch that did not put up the resources in time, so not smooth, but I could see the point, if there were sufficient central support to make it a serious enterprise. Some of them have had good support.

I found it difficult to plan and design it properly in advance, as there is no access in advance to who the participants might be, no means to negotiate the curriculum, no way to plan how much time people might spend on it, no form of assessment can be negotiated or managed. So it's not really a course. You really need to play it by ear and have resources ready to respond to what comes up, and be prepared to use what the participants can contribute, so it is a model that lends itself to something that is more like facilitating peer learning, than a teacher-learner model.

So I think you have to approach the learning design in a rather different way, being suggestive of what might be covered, open to negotiation, but clear about some particular kind of journey you want to take people on, even if the details are not fully specified. Learning outcomes would not be set, rather we set aims, like 'in this MOOC we want to explore the issue of... or the problem of... or we want to share some ideas on...' something like that.


Steven Warburton
8:37am 6 July 2012

Very interesting post Diana. Your comments on the difficulties encountered and potential solutions is something that could be explored further in the 'design patterns' workshop planned for 25th July.

Sukaina Walji
4:11pm 16 July 2012 (Edited 10:13pm 10 April 2013)


I participated in the Bonk Open MOOC 'Instructional Ideas and Technology Tools for Online Success'. I wrote a blog post of my reflections. I hope you find it helpful. I am looking forward to participating in this MOOC.



David Kernohan
10:48am 19 July 2012

I've been closely involved with ds106 since it's inception, and have participated in numerous iterations. It takes the connectivist, multi-platform nature of the earlier cMOOCs but uses it to deliver a very popular mainstream subject - with credit-bearing undergrads working alongside open participants. It's also been "franchised" in a few places. Happy to talk more about it on the 25th.

David Kernohan
10:50am 19 July 2012

Oh - and I keep blogging about MOOCs. It's like an illness...



Rebecca Galley
9:02am 20 July 2012

Hi David - I wish we could 'like' comments on here. Your one above made me laugh :-)

Also, I got a mail from Tom Reeves this morning pointing us to an article from Converge magazine: http://www.convergemag.com/policy/MOOCs-Here-to-Stay.html so I thought I'd add it here for interest...

Yishay Mor
9:26am 20 July 2012

@Rebecca: probably about time to start a list of features we want from cloudworks (maybe as a cloud?), that would be one of them. Threaded discussions would be another...

@David, @Sukaina - have you filled in the MOOC survey? http://tinyurl.com/moocsurvey could you share it with other students / instructors in these MOOCs?


George Roberts
3:09pm 20 July 2012

Hi Yish and all in the thread

You say, "I can see the advantage of Moodle, but that means that the MOOC content is not visible without registration. It also means that you need a host who is willing to allow open registration."

Moodle MOOC content IS (or can be) visible to "guests". Set: allow guest registration. This means that you cha have click-through to any discussion, etc. Posting to discussions does require registration.

Because of the open registration issue we have an externally hosted Moodle on openbrookes.net.

David White
3:23pm 24 July 2012

"...important to explain the reasons for having synchronous sessions" is a key one if we want a MOOC that is as 'connected' as possible.

Giota Alevizou
6:40am 25 July 2012 (Edited 6:44am 25 July 2012)

Hi there, 

My experience of Moocs is P2PU or peer-to-peer university. It's been around since Sept 2009, when it run short 'boutique' courses, ranging from creative writing and cyberpunk literature, to copyright for educators. Courses used to run for 6 weeks, offering a basic learning design that put emphasis on engagement with resources, small tasks and peer to peer critiquing (from mentors and peers), using web 2.0 tools as well as synchronous and asychronous modes of interaction. Huge endorsement from Mozzila and lots of basic computer, web literacy courses raised profile. Not quite a self-proclaimed MOOC, and has several iterations in the interface and learning design, but difficult to see content at the moment unless you join. Strong sense of the core community in the past, but I haven't followed recently... 

I have a couple of presentations/papers about it: Distributed mentoring and http://oro.open.ac.uk/23392/

Joshua Underwood
8:14am 30 August 2012

I like the way Udacity embeds local 'meetups' using meetup.com - something to think about for this MOOC? 


Joshua Underwood
8:14am 30 August 2012 (Edited 8:18am 30 August 2012)

Also mention of p2pu above reminded me of "the Mechanical MOOC" - think this is interesting:

"We’re delighted to announce a new experiment in online learning: MIT OpenCourseWareCodecademyOpenStudy and P2PU are partnering together to offer a new kind of massive open online course (MOOC). Our first course is “A Gentle Introduction to Python.

 The Mechanical MOOC is a man (or machine) of mystery. It sends out emails to thousands of small groups pointing them to lectures, tutorials, and exercises – but also encourages learners to think for themselves and share additional resources with each other. It provides a map to learning Python, but doesn’t discourage folks from careening off the beaten path. This is the open web, after all."


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