Instructional Quality and Learning Design of Massive Open Online Courses

This chapter analyzes the instructional quality and learning design of different categories of online courses and their history, with a special focus on massive open online courses (MOOCs). Online courses have a long tradition that has gained public attention, broad interest, and huge numbers of participants thanks to the introduction of free MOOCs accessible online for all interested learners worldwide. In this chapter, we first define MOOCs, their characteristics, and history. Afterward, theoretical frameworks and practical instruments and tools based on scientific research are presented. From the beginning, the quality of MOOCs (and of online courses in general) has been debated. That led to discussions about the learning design and outcomes of MOOCs, which we introduce in the next section. Key research findings and practical validated instruments for designing and evaluating MOOCs (and online courses in general) are presented. Then following, the key benefits of MOOCs and the main arguments and scenarios for their usage are summarized. Based on our analysis of the research results, practices, and standards, a framework for categories and types of (massive open) online courses is proposed, called the typologies of online courses (TOC) framework. As part of the global community for open educational resources (OER) and in combination with the UNESCO recommendation on OER, MOOCs can play a significant role in achieving the SDG4 of the United Nations: inclusive and equitable quality education for all. This is true in particular during times of public lockdowns, such as during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

Full access at: Stracke, C.M., Burgos, D., Tlili, A. (2023). Instructional Quality and Learning Design of Massive Open Online Courses. In: Zawacki-Richter, O., Jung, I. (eds) Handbook of Open, Distance and Digital Education. Springer, Singapore. DOI: