When I began this semester at the Harvard Graduate School of Education (HGSE), I had absolutely no idea what a MOOC was. Now I can confidently share my top 10 MOOC facts people should know.

1)   MOOCs are Massive Open Online Courses.

2)   MOOCs were created for a variety of reasons, some of which include: increasing access to educational resources, transforming higher education courses, and adapting learning to students’ needs and interests (Hollands & Tirthali, 2014, p.14)

3)   Although MOOCs are completely free for participants, it costs anywhere from $39,000 to $325,300 to produce each MOOC (Hollands & Tirthali, 2014, p. 12)

4)   MOOCs are usually structured around videos, readings, discussions, and quizzes (to name a few). (Hollands & Tirthali, 2014, p. 30)

5)   MOOCs usually have 3-15% completion rates, but the enrollment in each MOOC can be hundreds of thousands of people (Hollands & Tirthali, 2014, p. 42)

6)   According to the Harvard X and MITx: The First Year of Open Online Courses Report (2013)“The most typical course registrant is a male with a bachelor’s degree who is 26 or older (p.2)”

7)   According to the Harvard X and MITx: The First Year of Open Online Courses Report (2013) 2.7% of participants are from countries on the UN’s list of Least Developed Countries (p.2).

8)   MOOCs are starting to be created for high school students (Atkeson, 2014).

9)   You can sign-up for a HarvardX MOOC by going to https://courses.edx.org/register and registering, then select a course, and get started.

10)  The future of MOOCs is uncertain.

Even though many of these are basic, these ten facts demonstrate what MOOCs are. They are a combination of beneficial and negative components with a murky yet hopeful future. Albeit MOOCs have many flaws, or areas for improvement, the idea of providing open online resources to the masses still leaves me hopeful. Something wonderful must come from sharing educational resources. As MOOCs continue to be researched and re-iterated, I am hopeful that completion rates will rise and participant diversity will increase.


Atkeson, S. (2014, September 23). Harvard-MIT Partnership Opens MOOCs for High Schoolers. Education Week, 8-8.

Ho, A. D., Reich, J., Nesterko, S., Seaton, D. T., Mullaney, T., Waldo, J., & Chuang, I. (2014). HarvardX and MITx: The first year of open online courses            (HarvardX and MITx Working Paper No. 1).

Hollands, F. M., & Tirthali, D. (2014). MOOCs: expectations and reality. Full report. Center for Benefit- Cost Studies of Education, Teachers College,                   Columbia University, NY.
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