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While updating iBerry's MOOC Resource Page I had difficulty in deciding whether some online courses really deserve to be called MOOCs. Providers are always happy to jump onto the MOOC bandwagon but some 'MOOCs' now seem to have drifted a little too far from the original concept of a Massive Open Online Course.
For example, 'self-paced MOOCs' are apparently online courses consisting of Open Courseware (OCW) and maybe a discussion forum but with no formal start or end. In contrast with other MOOCs, participants cannot be focused on the same part of the course at the same time and so availability of mutual help and support is less likely. These open online courses may or may not be excellent for self-study but the term 'MOOC' seems inappropriate without a massive body of participants moving through the course together.
What about the 'Massive' in MOOC? Some MOOCs involve many thousands of participants but some (notably cMOOCs) have run very successfully with only a few hundred. What is important is the presence of a sufficiently large number of well-motivated and even expert participants so that mutual assistance is real and immediate.
What is termed a 'MOOC' can vary considerably - this is iBerry's definition:
A Massive Open Online Course (MOOC):
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