Ten useful reports on MOOCs and online education


This digest of reports and papers published over the past year is provided to support the ongoing debate on MOOCs, Open Educational Resources and online education. A brief summary of the contents, dates of publication and extent are given.

 Any suggestions for reports and papers to be added to this list are very welcome! Please contact the ICDE Secretariat.

MOOCs: Expectations and Reality. Report from Center for Benefit-Cost Studies of Education, Teacher's College, Columbia University, USA

This report draws on interviews with 62 US institutions, half of which were already offering MOOCs, and seeks to investigate the goals behind the decision to create such online courses, including extending reach and access, brand building, improving economics, improving educational outcomes, innovation in teaching, and research objectives. It concludes that MOOCs will continue to play a role in hybrid delivery models, could make more fundamental changes to higher education if credentials of economic value can be offered, and that they also have the potential to catalyze the development of true adaptive learning experiences. It concludes with recommendations for administrators, researchers and policy makers. View report (pdf)

Disruptor, Distracter, or What? A Policymaker's Guide to Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCS)


This paper, funded by Google, argues that MOOCs can serve as a tool for enhancing higher education and career training if properly deployed. It advises policy makers to investigate where online courses can expand educational opportunity, and where students might be better served by other educational models. The paper presents the origins of the movement and some of the key platforms, describes the potential effects for higher education, outlines some early lessons, and finally discusses implications of these lessons for policy makers. 

MOOCs: Massive Open Online Courses. European University Association Occasional Paper. An update on developments in first paper published January 2013


This report addresses MOOCs from a European perspective. It notes that around one third of MOOCs around the world involve European higher education institutions, and asks how MOOCs could complement the structures and instruments developed in European Higher Education Area. It looks at business models, the effect on learning and teaching, and the more general impact on European universities. The report also includes a brief overview of developments in other areas of the world, including in China. 

Introduction to MOOCs: Avalanche, Illusion or Augmentation? Policy Brief Published by the UNESCO Institute for Information Technologies in Education


This Policy Brief aims to provide a background to the expansion of MOOCs, explain their differences and similarities, identify the types of students using MOOCs, investigate the business models and potential direction, and finally to scope the risks and benefits associated with their development. 

The Maturing of the MOOC. Research Paper published by the UK Government, Department for Business, Innovation and Skills


This survey of literature on MOOCs and open and distance learning (ODL) aims to capture the state of knowledge and opinion about MOOCs and ODL, describe how they are evolving, and to identify issues that are important, whether consensual or controversial. 

e-InfraNet: ‘Open’ as the default modus operandi for research and higher education


This report was delivered to provide advice and guidance on the topic of open approaches for the research and higher education communities to the European Commission. It was prepared by a consortium of government agencies from across Europe, and concludes that to realize the full potential of ‘Open’, a broad policy framework is necessary that covers open access to content and infrastructure as well as open approaches to the further development of ‘Open’ itself, and to the way research and higher education are conducted. 

2013 Survey on Technology and Instruction: Taking the Board to School on Educational Technology


The US Association of Governing Boards of Universities and Colleges (AGB) conducted a survey of  boards and educational technology in Spring 2013. The data is presented to help inform leaders and boards as they consider the impact of technology on teaching and learning in institutions.


eLearning Papers. Issue No.33: MOOCs and Beyond


As one of the most visited online journals on Open Education, eLearning Papers works to foster stimulating research and practices in Education, Innovation and Technology. 

This issue aims to shed light on the way MOOCs affect education institutions and learners, which teaching and learning strategies can be used to improve the MOOC learning experience, how MOOCs fit into today’s pedagogical landscape; and how could they provide a viable model for developing countries.

MOOCs and disruptive innovation: Implications for higher education


This paper uses the theory of disruptive innovation (Bower and Christensen, 1995) to examine the development of MOOCs and how their approach could be used to help institutions explore innovative approaches for teaching and learning and to develop new business models in order to gain competitive advantages in the education market. 

Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs): A Primer for University and College Board Members


The environment in which MOOCs and other forms of online education operate is changing virtually every day. Based upon a presentation given to the board of directors of the US Association of Governing Boards of Universities and Colleges, this white paper is an effort to give board chairs, presidents, and others some context to help guide discussions on their own campuses.