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What is a MOOC?

You may have seen educators or other learners use the term 'MOOC' in discussions on or about FutureLearn. Now find out exactly what it means.

Illustration of people doing a MOOC

What is a MOOC?

MOOC stands for ‘massive open online course’. The term originated in the US in 2008 to describe free, easily accessible, completely online courses. MOOCs give you the chance to study with top universities around the world.

MOOCs don’t always lead to formal qualifications, but they do mean you can gain knowledge in all sorts of areas. You might use a MOOC to  develop career skills, prepare for other education, or explore a new interest.

There are usually no entry requirements for MOOCs. You can take part regardless of where you live or your financial circumstances. Because they take place online, MOOCs can grow very big. You might find yourself learning with thousands of other people – they don’t call them massive for nothing.

How does a MOOC work?

MOOCs usually have a specific start and finish date, they run a couple of times a year, and last for weeks rather than the months or years that traditional university courses do.

During a MOOC, you’ll use a wide range of online media and interactive tools to interact with university educators and other learners. This might include video lectures, articles, discussions, assignments and social networking.

Due to the large number of people taking MOOCs, you’ll usually get support from the community of other learners, as well as educators. And your progress on a course might be assessed through peer-reviewed written assignments or computer-marked tests, rather than by tutors.

In short, MOOCs are free courses for lots of learners that take place completely online.

Now you know what MOOCs are, find out why FutureLearn is different to other MOOC providers.

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