Article Title

The Season of the MOOC

Document Type

Essays, Studies, and Works


The Massive Open Online Course, or MOOC, first received widespread attention in 2011 when Sebastian Thrun and Peter Norvig of Stanford University decided to offer a course in artificial intelligence that would be open to anyone who wished to participate in it. With an in-class enrollment of 200, their artificial intelligence class was one of the largest offered at Stanford. Thurn and Norvig prepared to teach a physical class at Stanford for tuition-paying Stanford students, and they opened a parallel and free online version of the course. The MOOC version of the course included lecture videos and online discussion forums, and online participants were encouraged to take the same exams as students. MOOC members would receive recognition for their work though no academic credit. Thrun and Norvig noted that advance interest in the class was high (Zou).

As it turned out, 160,000 people enrolled in the course (DeSantis).

This scale of interest immediately caught the attention of educators as well as entrepreneurs. For-profit companies such as edX, Coursera, and Udacity emerged to work with universities to provide MOOCs in a variety of fields. They joined already-established non-profit groups like the Khan Academy in using online tools to offer university-level instruction to non-tuition paying individuals.

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©2013 Justin J. Roberts and Jim O'Loughlin



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