MOOC FAQ

Where Can I Find a List of Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs)?: We maintain a regularly-updated list of MOOCs on this page: Free MOOCs from Great Universities (Many Offering Certificates). The list aggregates courses from many different MOOC providers, both large and small.

Does Open Culture Offer Its Own MOOCs?: No, we simply aggregate MOOCs created by other organizations and institutions. We don’t offer any of our own courses.

Do These Courses Offer Certificates? Many MOOC providers will give students a “Certificate of Completion,” “Statement of Accomplishment” or some other equivalent if students successfully complete a course. If you sign up for a course, you should check to see what (if any) certificate/statement is offered.

Do the Certificates Cost Money: Some do. Increasingly the MOOC providers are switching to a model where they will give away a course for free. But the certificate costs money. On the page where we offer a list of MOOCS, we include a key that explains what credentials a course offers. If you need to pay for the credential, we include a “$” sign. For example: VC$ = Verified Certificate.

How Do Students Receive a Certificate? Students eligible for a certificate will usually access it in a digital format. They are usually downloaded. And they look something like this.

What’s the Difference Between a Certificate of Mastery, Statement of Accomplishment, Certificate of Completion etc? In short, not much. Different schools and course providers have come up with their own terminology. But they are basically equivalent.

Can I Get Credit at My University If I Take a MOOC? Generally the answer is no. If you take a MOOC and get a Certificate/Statement of Accomplishment, you generally cannot take the certificate to your university and get actual credit. There area a few rare exceptions to that rule. If you have any questions, you should check with your university.

Can I Get an Undergraduate Degree by Taking MOOCs? Given what’s said immediately above, the answer is generally no.

Can MOOCs Help Me Get a Job? That remains to be seen right now. There is not a consensus here, but there are hopeful signs. A recent article published on the Stanford Graduate School of Education web site states:

Human resources executives and recruiters tell me they aren’t seeing significant numbers of candidates touting the MOOCs they’ve completed. But those who have seen mentions of MOOCs say it’s an indication of commitment to upgrading skills and knowledge.

At Massachusetts General Hospital, recruitment manager Megan Bradley says, “I see these online courses as a form of professional development, like when people take adult ed courses. If a job requires a [specific] educational degree, these courses would not suffice.”

Bruce Allen of the Wakefield recruiting firm Point B Search says, “Any initiative that candidates take to update their skill set, acquire new skills, or simply extend their knowledge base will be viewed as positive.”

Are MOOCs Free?: The courses are almost always free, as are often the certificates offered to students who successfully complete the courses. In some cases, students will need to pay nominal fees for texts.

What If I See an Interesting MOOC That Has Already Started or Has Already Finished?: Often MOOCs get offered several times a year. You can follow our list of MOOCs to find future offerings. There are some “evergreen” MOOCs that you can take any time. Find a list here.

Who Are MOOCs Good For? We think MOOCs are a good thing if you’re a lifelong learner who lacks easy access to educational opportunities, in whatever form they might come. But if you’re an undergraduate, and if your school is trying to replace real teachers with MOOCs, you’re probably not getting a great deal. Case in point.

Are There Any Questions Not Answered by This FAQ? Feel free to send us a note and let us know.

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