MOOCs, cMOOCs & xMOOCs: Definition and explanation

MOOCS, cMOOCS and xMOOCS: Definition and explanation


What is a MOOC?

A MOOC is a type of online learning course. MOOC stands for Massive Open Online Course. MOOCs are publicly available online learning courses made freely available or open to anyone with internet access. MOOCs can have thousands or even millions of learners from all around the world all following the same online learning course.

Types of MOOC

MOOCS can either be:

  • Synchronous, which means everyone on the course is following the same elements or modules of the course at the same time, or
  • Asynchronous, which means that people can enter and follow the course at any time so that at any one time some people will be just starting the course whilst others may be part way through or even finishing the course.


There are considered to be two different types of MOOCs:

  1. cMOOCs, which are connective Massive Open Online Courses that share digital online learning elements and environments and are connected together in a variety of ways.
  2. xMOOCs, or extended Massive Open Online Courses. xMOOCs tend to be based on content provided by universities and other educational institutions that provide significant research-based content and background in the online learning content 

The big problem with MOOCS

One of the big problems all online and e-learning courses face is keeping people engaged and learning. The estimated drop-out rate of online and e-learning range from 30% for non-compulsory organisational and institutional e-learning, such as courses provided by universities and companies, for example, up to over 90% for MOOCs or Massive Open Online Courses.

As a result, a lot of research effort has been focused on finding out why the drop-out and engagement rates (not the same thing) are often so low in online and e-learning courses. People dropping out or leaving a course tends often (but not always) to stem from a lack of learner engagement.

A new study has looked at what increases engagement in online learning and in particular in MOOCs. See Online Learning: How to increase learner engagement


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