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Open Access Resources

MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses)


MOOCs present relatively new options for web-based education. Some are non-profit, funded by educational institutions seeking to provide free, open access alternatives to Academia; others are venture capital start-ups that seek revenue but have not yet determined specific sources of revenue. All developed and provide their own learning platform rather than adopting a traditional course management system. Currently, most offered courses are limited, free of charge, do not offer official credit to students, and may or may not be provided by accredited colleges and universities. A few do provide assessment of learning for purposes of certification. The "massive" designation refers to the possible ability of this web-based course structure to enable a single professor to support a class having literally hundreds of thousands of participants. At this point, it would be fair to categorize these programs as experimental, providing both potential benefits and challenges. Though the number of MOOCs is increasing, the following highlights those with the highest profiles at this time:

Non-Profit MOOCs

edX
A non-profit effort, edX is was originally created as a partnership between the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and Harvard University, the project has been joined by the University of California at Berkeley and, most recently, by the University of Texas system. edX provides free access to their software platform to enable anyone to take advantage of MOOCs.

Khan Academy
A non-profit organization founded in 2006 by MIT and Harvard graduate Salman Khan. It has received financial backing from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation andGoogle.  Its content, currently about 3,000 videos on YouTube, is not provided by universities and the majority of it is geared toward secondary-education students.

For-Profit MOOCs

A for-profit company founded by two computer science professors from Stanford University, Coursera was originally funded by venture capital. It's current business plan is to contract with colleges and universities that agree to provide free courses using Coursera's platform. The providing college or university would receive a percentage of any revenue ultimately generated. Originally launched as a partnership that included Stanford University, the University of Michigann, Princeton University, and the University of Pennsylvania, there are now more than 30 universities from 8 different nations offering on-line courses at the Coursera website.

Udacity
A for-profit company also founded by a computer science professor from Stanford University. Its uniqueness lies in the fact it works with individual professors rather than institutions, and its announced intent to focus all of its courses on computer science and related fields.

Udemy
A for-profit company that encourages its instructors, many with no academic affiliation, to charge a small fee to its participants. Revenue is then split between the instructor and the company.