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  • Jo-Anne Murray

Massive Open Online Courses: Current and Future Trends in Biomedical Sciences

Updated: Jul 9

The first massive open online courses or MOOCs were offered in 2008 in the USA, since then MOOCs have hit the higher education (HE) section by storm and have continued to grow rapidly since 2012, with hundreds of HE establishments across the globe engaged in providing MOOCs. MOOCs are online courses that are open to everyone and anyone to join with typically no limits to the number of participants or prerequisite qualifications. In some MOOCs there is an option to pay for a certificate upon completion.


As the number of MOOCs available in biomedical subject areas grow, so do the number of participants taking these courses, with many of these learners and professionals looking to update their knowledge in the biomedical sciences.There is also a growing use of MOOCs in higher education as a recourse for campus degree programmes, known as hybrid MOOCs, where the MOOC provides the learning and the assessment is undertaken by the educational institution.


The growing number of MOOCs available for credit is changing the way some learners are accessing higher education and the development of micro degrees obtained through the completion of a number of MOOCs may potentially change the way higher education is provided in the future. Finally, the potential of artificial intelligence to provide virtual classroom assistants is also a possible game changer, allowing more personalised learning to be delivered at scale.


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