What is a MOOC?

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

This post is part of Getting started with FutureLearn a series about the basics of using FutureLearn.

This is part of Getting started with FutureLearn, a series of posts about learning to use FutureLearn.

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

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, which offer you the opportunity 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 – whether you want to support your career or you’re exploring personal interests.

There are usually no entry requirements for MOOCs, and you can take part regardless of where you live or your financial circumstances. Because they take place online, MOOCs can grow very big, so 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, including 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 will be assessed through peer-reviewed written assignments and/or computer-marked tests, rather than by tutors.

In short they’re 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.

Category Using FutureLearn

Comments (5)


  • Johan Andrés Quesada Leitón

    How can I apply to MOOC?
    Exits any page Where Can I apply?
    Thanks for your feedback.
    Eng. Johan Quesada

  • Mark Thompson

    You have mentioned that MOOCs don’t always lead to formal qualifications. Does the MOOC count towards prior learning?
    As you also have mentioned you can gain knowledge in this area. thanks

  • Angela Scott

    I recently did a MOOC course on literature search skills – I work in a library. I really enjoyed it and found it very informative which is one of the reasons I was drawn to this course!

    • Khin mg Myint

      Thanks for your comment. In this regard i want to know about the literature search skill – the course.