Massive Online Open Courses Platforms: Analysis and Comparative Study of Some Pedagogical and Technical Characteristics

Massive Online Open Courses Platforms: Analysis and Comparative Study of Some Pedagogical and Technical Characteristics

Soumaya El Emrani (Abdelmalek Essaadi University, Tetuan, Morocco), Ali El Merzouqi (Abdelmalek Essaadi University, Tetuan, Morocco) and Mohamed Khaldi (Abdelmalek Essaadi University, Tetuan, Morocco)
Copyright: © 2019 |Pages: 12
DOI: 10.4018/IJSEUS.2019010103


This article presents a comparative and analytical study that was carried out for six massive online open course (MOOC) platforms: Coursera, edX, Udacity, Canvas, FutureLearn and Riwaq. The main objective of this article was to analyze the attitudes, perspectives, and different technical and pedagogical characteristics of these platforms. This analysis was achieved by examining a sample of 16 courses from these platforms in the fields of: computing sciences, business, art and humanities. The results show the differences and similarities among these platforms in terms of interface ergonomics and interface reliability, computing tools, information systems, costs, course duration, variety of learning activities and pedagogical components, evaluation types, social interaction, and the degree of instructors' participation. This has helped us to finally choose the platform on which our Adaptive Connectivist MOOC (ACM) approach can be applied.
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Overview Of The Six Platforms


Coursera was founded in 2012 in the US, by two computing science professors from Stanford University, Andrew Ng and Daphne Koller. Coursera highlights the learning characteristics through the transmission, the mastery (through recorded videoconferences, texts, etc.), the computer-generated quizzes, the peer assessments and the blended learning (Coursera, n.d.-b).

Regarding peer assessments, learners can get specific comments from their peers. They can also benefit from a valuable learning experience, evaluating each other’s work. However, this type of assessment requires the learners to already have a thorough understanding of their courses.

Coursera also highlights the effectiveness of blended learning, by providing its learners with an enhanced learning experience (Wong, 2015). It has more than 100 partnerships with the most prestigious institutions in the world. It offers a large number of topics in almost all the scientific fields, with a simple search engine.

On its website, there are few free courses, but most ones cost from $ 29 to $ 99. For certain courses, Coursera gives 7 days of trial free of charges, but on condition that the user gives the necessary payment data so that they can withdraw the fees from the learner's account, if the course registration is not canceled before the end of the 7 days. When a learner finishes his course successfully, he must pay the necessary fee to receive a shareable electronic certificate.

Moreover, Coursera works with academic partners to offer flexible and affordable online degree programs. The offered courses are in the fields of Business, Computing Science and Data Science, where the duration of study varies from one to three years, with fees from $ 15 to $ 25,000 for an accredited master's degree.

However, Coursera announces that it offers financial support to students who cannot pay the costs. By filling in an application form, the student will be notified if his demand is validated (Coursera, n.d.-a).

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