What the past research says about MOOCS?

MOOCs are defined as open, participatory, distributed, and as supporting lifelong network learning (Cormier, 2010). Given the high number of conducted research on MOOCs, this article summarizes the study "What Research Says About MOOCs - An Explorative Content Analysis" that was published recently in the International Review of Research in Open and Distributed Learning journal.

The authors searched four libraries to carry out their research. They searched for MOOC, MOOCs, and Massive Open Online Course(s). A total of 888 papers were retrieved. However, filtering them out depending on their inclusion and exclusion criteria returned 362 articles for further examination.

The authors did a concept mapping to retrieve the major topics covered in their selected articles (See Fig. 1)


As shown in the figure, the main theme of MOOCs where open access to courses, followed by MOOCs platforms, approaches and quality. The researchers of this study have finally come to conclude 4 major lines of the research area of MOOCs:

  • The potential and challenges MOOCs in higher education
  • the quality of MOOCs and the instructional design
  • The core of MOOC platforms
  • Learners and content in MOOCs

This research concluded that the evaluation of MOOCs and quality assurance is very prominent. In addition, many MOOCs follow an instructional approach that leads to expository teaching and passive learning with poor student support. As a result, research in the field of MOOCs has shown personal interaction and student support is a critical point providing high-quality learning opportunities within the MOOCs field.



Cormier, D. (2010, December 8). What is a MOOC? [Video file]. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eW3gMGqcZQc

Zawacki-Richter, O., Bozkurt, A., Alturki, U., & Aldraiweesh, A. (2018). What Research Says About MOOCs–An Explorative Content Analysis. The International Review of Research in Open and Distributed Learning19(1).

More information