The MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses) are short courses that are delivered online (and in most cases, free of charge). These courses have no entry requirements and are open to anyone and anywhere in the world with an internet connection.
This is the digital age, where everything you need and want to know is at your fingertips with a simple "click": the system of MOOCs is in line with such innovation and seeks to change the way we perceive higher education or University as expensive and exclusive, making it accessible to everyone.
Coined in 2008, the term "Massive Online Open Courses" refers to online courses to enable the participation of hundreds, if not thousands, of students simultaneously.
Based on Stephen Downes’ connectivist theory MOOCs have three aspects: free content, education available for all and open assessment.
These courses are based on the foundation that knowledge and learning come from a network of connections.
The learning process is optimized in four ways. The first named "aggregate", which involves students engagement; the second "remix", where students interact with each other and with teachers; the third "re-purpose", the stage at which the student creates or builds or refine a knowledge base; the last "feed forward", where the student shares his knowledge across the network.
With the increasing popularity of MOOCs many traditional universities have set up their own online platform to deliver this type of courses.
The most famous example is that of the MIT Open Courseware, a website full of all teaching materials prepared by such renowned university.
Another popular hub is Coursera, a social website that operates in coordination with 33 universities.
Edx, nonprofit platform created by the Universities of Harvard and MIT, offers interactive online courses and MOOCs from the best universities in the world.
Academic Earth is an open website that promotes education worldwide through online classes and providing teaching materials.
FutureLearn, a private company wholly owned by The Open University, among whose partners are more than 20 of the best international universities and of the United Kingdom.
Udacity, which is a result of an experiment at Stanford where Sebastian Thrun and Peter Norvig dispensed their course “Introduction to Artificial Intelligence”, in online mode and open to all.
NovoEd is the virtual learning platform for online courses, offering courses provided by major institutions.