How a MOOC Works

What are some of the components of a MOOC?

Each MOOC is unique and the look and feel of the MOOC will often depend on the topic and instructor. That in mind, each MOOC will present similar ways for participants to engage. You can participate in a MOOC in a way that works for you and complements your needs and interests. All UW MOOCs are four weeks long and will close to new registrants at the end of the four week period.

In most MOOCs you can engage in any or all of the following ways:

• Watch short educational videos within the MOOC

• Read articles or look at info graphics recommended by MOOC instructors

• Participate in discussion threads or start a discussion thread about MOOC content within the MOOC

• Participate in learning activities that involve short writing assignments, doing simple measurements or answering a thought provoking question from the instructor or other participants

Are UW-MOOCs free? Can I sign up for multiple MOOCs?

MOOCs are completely free. You can sign up for free or leave a MOOC at any time without penalty. You can sign up for as many MOOCs as you like.

Are MOOCs available for credit?

MOOCs are not available for credit.

How long is a MOOC?

Each UW-Madison MOOC will last approximately four weeks. Beginning on the course start dates, content will typically be released to participants in weekly “chunks.” Once content for the week is posted, participants can engage when they have time to do so. Content will not disappear once a week is over.

Are UW MOOCs taught live? Do I need to connect in at a specific time or can I participate when convenient for me?

At this time UW-Madison’s MOOCs are not live-streamed. Participants do not need to log in at specific times of day to participate and watch the videos, which means that you can take a MOOC in a way that is convenient for you.

If I miss a week, or have to go on vacation for a week, can I still watch the videos and participate?

Definitely. MOOCs are not like traditional classes, so although content is released on a weekly basis and certain courses may have assignments or activities, participants are welcome to participate at their own pace, in a way that works for their schedule. Once content is made available to participants, it will stay up while the course is running, so you can always “catch up” if you miss a day or a week. Many participants also take on the role of “listeners” — they watch videos and look at content, but may not participate in the assignments or discussion forums. We understand and appreciate that everyone will engage with the MOOCs in a way that works for them.

How long does the MOOC stay open?

Each of the UW-Madison MOOCs will be open for approximately four weeks. The course begins on the official start date listed on the course page. It is best to participate while the MOOC is ongoing, because you get the most engagement and interaction with the instructor and other participants. That said, many of our MOOCs will remain open to registered participants for a time after the course end date so that participants can still access content and the discussion forums.

If I sign up for the MOOC and then have to stop taking the MOOC, will I have taken someone else’s spot? 

No, you will never take someone’s place if you sign up and then decide not to participate. MOOCs have unlimited participation and anyone can sign up both before the MOOC begins and while it is ongoing. UW-Madison MOOCs have had up to 40,000 or more enrolled participants, so everyone is always welcome.

 Do I need to complete each week’s material before the following week begins? 

Not always and it depends on what works for participants. We would love for everyone to engage and participate from week-to-week, but we also understand that participants lead busy lives. We want to encourage everyone to take advantage of the MOOC content and the community in a way that works best for them. Not everyone who takes MOOCs goes through all of the content for one week and then moves to each following week. You will not be penalized for not completing an assignment, nor will you be barred from moving forward to the next week of content if you missed something from the previous weeks.

If there are tests, where and how do I take them? How can I find out the course schedule and how much work the MOOC will be?

Typically, UW-Madison MOOCs will not have tests in the traditional sense. Once you sign up for a MOOC, you will begin to get periodic email reminders with important course update information, reminders of start dates, links to syllabi, and a sense of what kinds of activities or videos will be forthcoming. These emails are the best way to learn how each individual MOOC will operate and what the time commitment is.

Can I download the content from the MOOCs so that I don’t have to go online?

To view the MOOC videos and participate in discussion forums you must be logged in and have Internet access.

Is the number of hours listed for the course the total number of hours I will spend on the MOOC or is that additional study time on top of watching the video material?

Most MOOCS are created with the idea that the avid MOOC participant will spend between 3-5 hours per week on the MOOC. That said, each MOOC is different and how much you read, watch, discuss, and engage is up to you and what you want to get from the MOOC experience. The best way to learn how much time each MOOC will take is to sign up for the MOOC.