Towards democratization of education with MOOC


2007. Somewhere in South Kazakhstan, 12 a.m.. Poplar alley.

       –  …Yesterday I had a chance to attend the calculus course from Harvard.

       – Oh man, I think the MIT is much better in science. I finished the matrix algebra last week, try it as well.

       – Really? I will subscribe to the course this evening.

Only eight years ago such conversation could deserve a condescending smile of casual passer. Nevertheless, everything chnages and in 2008 the first Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) was introduced to the wide audience (Marques, 2013). The result was like the explosion of a nuclear bomb – the best courses of the most recognized universities all over the world are available online and free of charge! My third post is dedicated to the power of MOOC and possibilities which it brings to teaching and learning.

The user counter on the Coursera website, MOOC founded by professors Andrew Ng and Daphne Koller from Stanford University, constantly updates the number of current 11 336 863 users in 943 courses from 118 institutions.

The MOOC is an online course available for the unlimited number of participators and open to access through the web. A huge number of courses available through Coursera, Udacity and EdX give a possibility to learn and teach in a tight network of users who share their knowledge and help each other to assimilate new information. The common course usually contains a video channel or animated presentation of lectures, communication inside the peer/adviser network and a number of home tasks and exams. As the amount of students enrolled on a course may exceed thousands of participants, the student evaluation system is organised in the way of pre-designed tests and peer assessment.  At the same time, some of them provide a system of promotion, such as badges on Coursera, which are assigned to each student after course accomplishment. Some platforms offer a documentary confirmation in the form of certificates of course accomplishment for some price, but in general courses are totally free and easily accessible.

Generally, MOOC Guide (2013, paragraph 2) defines 12 central benefits of the course:

  •         You can organize a MOOC in any setting that has connectivity (which can include the Web, but also local connections via Wi-Fi e.g.)
  •         You can organize it in any language you like (taking into account the main language of your target audience)
  •         You can use any online tools that are relevant to your target region or that are already being used by the participants
  •         You can move beyond time zones and physical boundaries
  •         It can be organized as quickly as you can inform the participants (which makes it a powerful format for priority learning in e.g. aid relief)
  •         Contextualized content can be shared by all
  •         Learning happens in a more informal setting, at a place of your convenience and often around your own schedule.
  •         Learning can also happen incidentally thanks to the unknown knowledge that pops up as the course participants start to exchange notes on the course’s study
  •         You can connect across disciplines and corporate/institutional walls
  •         You don’t need a degree to follow the course, only the willingness to learn (at high speed)
  •         You add to your own personal learning environment and/or network by participating in a MOOC
  •         You will improve your lifelong learning skills, for participating in a MOOC forces you to think about your own learning and knowledge absorption


Despite the evidence that MOOC is a breakthrough and a totally new form of educational framework there is a critique concerning some aspects of such courses. The completion rate of MOOC courses is often lower than 10%, with a high decrease in the number of participants from the first week of study (Catropa, 2013). However, even taking into account such data we still may consider the number of students accomplished courses to be relatively high in comparison with the number of students finishing traditional institutions. For instance, in 2012 edX’s course “Circuits and Electronics” was successfully completed by lower than 5% of subscribers (7000 students), but these 5% are equal to 70 years of MIT’s work to cover the same number in the same subject (Vyahhi, 2014). The second and the most important criticism is that the MOOC cannot give serious knowledge, prepare specialists and finally compete with traditional institutions. Due to a rising number of complaints concerning non scientific context of communication inside the MOOC’s network and difficulties in monetization of the service many stakeholders lost their confidence in MOOC. Nevertheless, the quantitative study on effectiveness of online courses shows that students from online  class learn better and even the least-prepared students show successful results (Chandler, 2014).

Finally, we are able to state that the MOOC is the future of education. The ongoing process of the framework development reveals shortcomings and problems, but the increased public interest and wide involvement of institutions all over the world have a great impact on the future of perspective approach. As can be seen, the opportunities of the MOOC are unprecedented. Who knows, maybe it is time to click on one of the links listed below and start searching for the course interesting to you and beneficial for your professional growth?

Popular MOOCs:


Catropa, D. (2013, February 24). Big (MOOC) data. Retrieved from Inside Higher ED:

Chandler, D. (2014, September 24). Study: Online classes really do work. Retrieved from MIT News:

Marques, J. (2013, April 17). A short history of MOOCs and distance learning. Retrieved from Mooc news and reviews:

Mooc Guide. (2013, March 27). Benefits and challenges of a MOOC. Retrieved from MoocGuide:

Vyahhi, N. (2014, October 23). «Zabud’te pro revoljuciju»: chto proishodit s obrazovaniem budushhego [“Forget about the revolution”: what happens to the future of education]. (F. Kolesnik, Interviewer) Retrieved from

5 thoughts on “Towards democratization of education with MOOC

  1. Dear @staskh!
    Thank you for always raising new and unusual topics. I had very little understanding about Massive Open Online Course before I read your post. Although we all live in the world of technologies for many decades, MOOC is a real breakthrough in the field of massive dissemination of knowledge. I mean the idea of free knowledge acquisition from the top world universities per se is impressive and brave!
    You are quite write in the impossibility of such a dialogue somewhere in Southern or whatever Kazakhstan just several years ago. Now you can easily attend online lectures of eminent professors from universities like Harvard, Duke, Stanford, Princeton and Columbia. Nevertheless, when discussing such possibilities, individual’s traits must be considered. A friend of mine signed up for several MOOC courses online and confessed he attended none of them. Of course, not every person has determination, self-control and will power necessary for completing the whole course. This, however, does not diminish the power of MOOC, it only indicates that everything depends on the person who is going to attend the course.
    Overall, I find this idea attractive, bold and unique! Thanks once again for this wonderful post!

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Dear Stas,

    I fully agree with Shynar – that was a great idea to raise such a new notion as MOOC. Previously, I have read about it, but I didn’t find that information interesting or attractive. Your post, on the contrary, is very easy to follow and at the same time is “insightful” =)))

    Shynar is right, everything will depend on a person, and his/her wiliness to complete the courses. However, I have concerns whether it will work here, in Kazakhstan. In my opinion, our people are too lazy to manage MOOCs. There are some negative aspects that prevent us from being MOOC’s users:

    1) Our habit to postpone everything till the last moment
    2) Our mentality, according to which, the study without a real communication is not the study at all. Many people will consider such courses to be just “devoid of meaning”.
    3) Our mistrust which does not allow us just to get knowledge without questioning the provider (According to our understanding, free does not mean good! These universities provide us only with “dead stocks”!)

    And many many others… I am not trying to say that all of us belong to such types of people, but I am talking only about what I have seen with my own eyes and heard with my own ears. What I am trying to say is that “Something must be changed since now…” As you, Stas, have mentioned earlier – MOOC is very useful; so our people should take the advantage of it, even if it requires them to leave their skepticism at home and keep up with the times!

    Thanks again for such an outstanding post!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I had no idea of what MOOC was. A very informative and well organized post as usually. The bullet points made it easy to follow and the video was very helpful. Thanks!
    I would be very interested in Artificial Intelligence 101.Have you signed up for any of the courses?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I should turn on the notification function) I signed actually for some course in social sciences, but then NU and september 2014 came. Do you know that Google hired famous futurologist Ray Kurzweil for closed project? As many experts think it actually means that Google is trying to approach the creation of AI. They have a huge database of queries, their searching platform and speech recognition tools collect enormous amount of information which may be possibly used to create AI. Check it here

      Liked by 1 person

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