Best practices in managing a MOOC

As MOOCs are rapidly emerging, new types of questions emerge with them. For example, in the online environment, traditional methods of dealing with troubled students (who may be suffering from mental illness or threatening harm to self or others, not to be confused with cyber-bullying) rarely apply.

I am wondering about the strategies or best practices to address student mental health in the MOOC context.

While in a physical classroom the process is more or less clear, as well as the identity of a student is defined (real name, address, background), the process is not so clear in MOOCs, where the identity is often blurry (a nickname can be used, a statement of mental condition could be false, etc.).

Do best practices or the sense of responsibility of a course provider shift when the course is related to personal development topics (rather than more strictly academic ones)?

The resources are scarce, and I was able to identify a couple (Rivard’s “Dangerous and Possibly Anonymous” and Monahan & Riggs “MOOCs and the Institution’s DUties to Protect Students from Themselves and Others: Brave New World or Much Ado About Nothing?”), but will continue searching for my veritas.

While the best practices are still emergent and uncertain, I am trying to set the stage and sketch a picture made of the resources and applicable practices.




  1. Patrice

    November 2, 2014 @ 7:22 pm


    This is a really interesting point I had not previously considered. One thing I have noticed is the sense of comradery among learners in various MOOCs. In one MOOC forum I looked at, there were several students posting about self-doubt, fear, and struggles with material. On each of these posts, dozens of other learners reassured them and gave personal anecdotes of inspiration. Each learner reached out and offered their friendship and support. I wonder if this peer community that already exists can be harnessed in some way to address the issues you discussed.

  2. athgse

    November 4, 2014 @ 10:39 pm


    Thank you, Patrice for the comment, truly appreciate the input! Any links to the examples? I’m looking for best practices and your example is confirming some of my findings. Thank you!

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