During the last 20 years, colleges have increasingly leveraged the Internet to cut costs, offering distance learning classes to many more students than what the schools could reach on campus. The proliferation of academic classes available online has proved a boon to lifelong learners as well, as some of these classes have been made available to the general public free of charge. Online education is most effective for introductory-level classes that require rote memorization which can be tested via multiple choice. However, when learning requires context, exploration, and interaction, online courses often fall short. Canadians Dave Cormier and Stephan Downes wanted to address the drawbacks of online education with MOOCs, or massive open online courses, a term that Cormier coined in 2008. The "open" part of MOOC means that the courses are completely free. The benefit would be not only a new network of friends who have learned something together but also the creation of a novel, distributed knowledgebase that could be used by others.
Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction or distribution is prohibited without permission.