What are MOOCs? FAQ answers about massive open online courses – Business Insider

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If you’re interested in online learning, you’ve probably heard the term MOOC — Massive Open Online Course — before. But you might have questions about what they are, what exactly “open” means, how much they cost, or how they generally differ from other forms of e-learning, like apps or online degrees. Here’s everything you need to know:
MOOC stands for Massive Open Online Course. In order for an online course to be considered a MOOC, it needs to be:

Massive, or able to be taken by large numbers of people at once (whether it’s 100 or 100,000 students)
Open, or generally accessible to the public — meaning it’s either free, relatively affordable, or has open enrollment
Online, or taken digitally (with optional opportunities to connect with students in forums)
Course, or providing clear learning opportunities, such as learning from an instructor or earning a certificate of completion
A MOOC can be a self-paced edX course you browse completely for free, or a LinkedIn class you can take with a paid subscription. 
MOOCs vary in how they work. Some, like on popular platforms edX and Coursera, can simply let you enroll for free to access course materials such as video lectures, readings, and quizzes. 
Others, like Skillshare, LinkedIn Learning, or Udemy, typically require a paid subscription or one-time fee to be able to access unlimited courses.
And then there are MOOCs such as Open Yale Courses and MIT Open Courseware that provide free course materials but aren’t necessarily structured with assignments and are a little more fluid than edX or Coursera MOOCs. 
MOOCs offer access to thousands of courses and educational opportunities for free or at a relatively low cost. Top schools like Harvard, MIT, Princeton, Yale, Stanford, Columbia, and more offer online courses in subjects from computer science to psychology, and companies like Google, Amazon, and IBM offer professional certificate programs that cost a lot less than traditional master’s degrees.
The best online courses from the top schools
Free Harvard classes

Free MIT classes

Free Princeton classes

Free Yale classes

Free Columbia classes

Free University of Pennsylvania classes
Free Stanford classes
MOOCs can also be a great way to test out if you like a subject or course before committing to a paid subscription or degree. Codecademy, for example, offers free beginner programming classes with optional paid projects, and Coursera can let you audit courses for free before pursuing a MasterTrack program.
MOOCs vary in cost, and affordability is relative. Platforms like edX, Coursera, and FutureLearn offer many of their MOOCs for free, with optional paid certificates or subscriptions for unlimited access. 
Others, like Skillshare, LinkedIn Learning, and MasterClass, typically charge monthly or annual fees for access to all their courses. 
And platforms like Udemy or CreativeLive let you buy individual MOOCs for a one-time fee.
Coursera:
Offers thousands of free and paid MOOCs, from schools like Princeton, Yale, Johns Hopkins, and the University of Michigan, as well as companies like Google and IBM. You can read more about Coursera here, or browse some of its most popular online courses here.
edX:
Offers thousands of free and paid MOOCs, from schools like Harvard, MIT, UC Berkeley, and Stanford, as well as companies like Microsoft and Amazon Web Services. You can read more about edX here, or browse some of its popular Harvard courses here.
FutureLearn:
Offers over one thousand free and paid MOOCs, from schools like University College London and the University of Melbourne, as well as organizations like Amnesty International and companies like Samsung. You can read more about FutureLearn here.
Udemy:
Offers thousands of free and paid MOOCs, from Python programming bootcamps to in-depth drawing classes. You can read more about Udemy here or browse its most popular classes here.
Codecademy:
Offers free and paid MOOCs in coding, including for popular programming languages like Python, Java, and SQL. You can browse Codecademy’s free classes here.
LinkedIn Learning:
Offers free and paid MOOCs in career development topics, from hard skills like project management and soft skills like elevator pitching. You can browse some of its most popular classes here.
Skillshare:
Offers unlimited MOOCs under its subscription plan, in topics from career development to writing and drawing. You can read more about Skillshare here.

CreativeLive:
Offers MOOCs with a one-time fee. Topics span from photography and Adobe tutorials to career development classes. You can browse some of its most popular classes here, or read a review of one of its most popular classes here.
MasterClass:
Offers unlimited, celebrity-ledMOOCs under its subscription plan. Topics span from cooking and gardening to writing and meditation. You can read a review of MasterClass here.

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