What is our stance on questions asking about MOOCs? Are they on-topic or off-topic?

To put it otherwise, are MOOCs regarded as part of academia by this Stack Exchange community? (or do you prefer to wait a few years before?)


2 Answers 2


It depends on what the question is about. Questions asking about pedagogy, organization, and similar matters that aren't course-specific are fine. Questions that are too closely tied to a given course are probably not, as would be questions that are platform-specific. ("How do I enable feature X in course Y?" is probably not appropriate.)


In my view, MOOCs are services that are sometimes used in academia and sometimes used in a totally non-academic context (e.g. for self study for fun, for training in the workplace.)

I consider questions that are directly relevant to those using MOOCs in higher education to be on topic. I don't consider questions about MOOCs outside the context of academia or academic people to be on topic.

This seems consistent with the community history here. For example, is it possible to master one topic by starting with a MOOC course? was closed by the community for this reason.

  • I disagree that your view seems consistent with the community history. E.g., How are instructors compensated for teaching a Massive Open Online Course (MOOC)? was well received. (and it is about payment to the MOOC instructors, who are not necessarily affiliated with an university.) The question you linked to had other issues. Jul 12, 2016 at 16:45
  • @FranckDernoncourt Clearly you are defining "within the context of academia" much more narrowly than me. The vast majority of MOOC instructors work at a college or university, and the content of that question indicates as much ("does teaching these come with compensation of any kind? Salary/bonus? Teaching load reduction? Release from service? Teaching assistants for the courses? I'm interested in compensation either from one's university or from the MOOC provider")
    – ff524
    Jul 12, 2016 at 17:11
  • The study focused on Coursera and edX websites, which I think contains more academics than some other places. That being said, in my opinion, MOOCs are pretty much some online media to teach, and, I agree with you, often involving traditional, physical universities, so questions about MOOCs should be on-topic (aside from the issues that aeismail pointed out, which also apply to traditional universities). As a side note, I have always found pay-walled studies about MOOCs to quite quite ironical :/ Jul 12, 2016 at 17:19

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