Are MOOC courses free? (A guide)

In this brief guide we are going to answer the question “Are MOOC courses free?” and we will discuss the details, advantages, disadvantages, offers and how MOOC courses can help us improve in the professional field.

Are MOOC courses free?

Yes, MOOCs are courses delivered online and accessible to all for free and no limitation on registrations, everyone can enroll.

Before going in-depth about MOOC, I think we should agree that being up-to-date to do your job better is essential today.

If you want to specialize in a specific area, update your curriculum with training demanded by companies, expand your knowledge in Information and Communication Technologies or create your own business, on MOOC platforms you can study from anywhere, anytime and through up-to-date and quality training.

The best way to be updated is to train continuously. But the same doubts always arise:

  • What courses would help me in my workplace?
  •  Will I have time to finish them?
  • Will they be high-quality and updated?

Well, the MOOCs provide solutions to all these problems

If you never find time to sign up for face-to-face courses and you don’t want to spend a fortune, in the MOOC platforms you will find the solution: quality training, without schedules, and learning opportunities accessible for everyone.

What’s MOOC?

MOOC is the acronym for Massive Online Open Courses (or Massive and Open Online Courses). Massive courses haven’tt been anything other than the evolution of open education on the internet. Every month more than 850 universities around the world offer hundreds of free online courses. Don’t miss any!


  •  No limitations on registrations.
  • Be able to be followed online.
  • Open and free. With accessible materials for free.

Types of MOOCs

There are two different points of view about which one can be considered the first MOOC. According to these opinions, most authors divide MOOCs into two main types: cMOOCs and xMOOCs.

  • cMOOCs: the initial “c” refers to connectivism, having their origin in the CCK08 course by Siemens and Downes. cMOOCs involve groups of people learning together.

George Siemens says cMOOCs emphasize creation, creativity, autonomy and learning through social relationships.

  • xMOOCs: Also known as the Stanford Model or AI-Stanford. The xMOOCs are based on traditional college courses, and Siemens claims they emphasize a more traditional training approach.


The first online course to be called MOOC was the “Connectivism and Connective Knowledge” course organized by George Siemens and Stephen Downes at the University of Manitoba (Canada) in August 2008.  

They enrolled in this 12-week course 2,300 students from different parts of the world. Obviously, it wasn’t as successful as current MOOCs, but it paved the way for current MOOCs.

During this course, the term MOOC was coined by Dave Cormier and Bryan Alexander.

Later, George Siemens, Stephen Downes and Dave Cormier organized other similar MOOC courses (CCK09, CCK11, CCK12, Future of Education, PLENK, LAK11, LAK12, Change11, Critical Literacies, etc.), which in total accumulated more than 20,000 registrations between all of them.

However, the first MOOC course that was truly overwhelmingly successful was the “Introduction to Artificial Intelligence” course, organized in Fall 2011 by Sebastian Thrun, Professor at Stanford University, and Peter Norvig, Director of Research at Google.

In a short time, some 160,000 people around the world signed up for this course on artificial intelligence. Due to this success, Sebastian Thrun left his teaching position at Stanford University and founded the Udacity platform.

With the growth that these types of courses have experienced, private initiatives have appeared, with the collaboration of great experts in each subject, like professors from the most prestigious universities in the United States, have become great successes such as Udacity and Coursera.

Which websites offer MOOC courses?

The top most successful sites are:

  • Coursera.
  • Udacity.
  • edX.
  • Khan Academy.
  • Udemy.
  • Codecademy.
  • SkilledUp.
  • Academic Earth.
  • Canvas Network.
  • MiríadaX

What methods does MOOC use?

There’s no rule that establishes the composition of MOOCs. Normally, the topic covered and the type of MOOC used influence the methods used to communicate the information. But basically we can find:

  1. Videos: Teachers create videos where they present all the material. It has been proven that it’s more effective to present the information in several short reproductions than in a single long one.
  2. Text: As in the more traditional classes, MOOCs can also offer participants specialized texts along with other materials. They can be complementary content or presented as independent content.
  3. Tests: Students not only have to pass a final exam to obtain a certification, some tests must also be completed throughout the course.

As a self-assessment to check individual progress, these are often multiple choice tests, usually the assessment can be carried out automatically.

  1. Extra exercises: in some MOOCs it’s also necessary to do “homework” or complementary. Of course it’s impossible for teachers to review thousands of papers; the main idea is students can evaluate each other.
  2. Communication: Communication between participants is very important. In many cases, the course organizers offer a special forum for this, although it’s also possible to connect participants on social networks.
  3. Participation: especially in the cMOOC, this offer will depend on input from course members, students must be motivated to create their own content.

World Universities that offer free MOOC courses

As surprising as it may seem, it’s now possible to study at the best universities in the world thanks to free MOOC courses, which are offered monthly and are available to all.


University of Cambridge
Oxford University
California Institute of Technology
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Stanford University
Harvard University
Princeton University
Imperial College London
University of Pennsylvania
Chicago University

Why take a MOOC course?

There are many reasons that answer the question of why take a MOOC course. If you’re looking for work or want to prosper in yours, MOOCs will help you to differentiate yourself because:

1. They represent an added value.

The key to these courses is their continuous training and the additional value they give to your resume, something that will be highly appreciated in any selection process.

The free online courses will help you learn how to use social networks, edit videos or take your first steps in web development.

2. They are flexible by nature.

The main distinguishing feature of a MOOC is flexibility, so you will be able to take them regardless of whether you work full time, study, take an exam, are actively looking for a job or are on leave.

All circumstances can be combined with courses that you can also study at your own pace.

3. They have unlimited access to materials.

From any mobile device, such as your smartphone or tablet, you will be able to access all the materials, performing the interactive exercises, tests or practices proposed by the teacher in charge of the MOOC.

4. Enroll in MOOC is very simple.

The moment you decide to enroll in a MOOC course, you just need to enter your data and wait for the start date set by the platform.

Then you’ll have direct access to your MOOC and you will begin to enjoy all the interactive material such as videos, infographics, forums, tests, ebooks, webinars, PDFs, exercises or links to other authority websites or training resources.

How do I prepare before enrolling in a course?

Once you know what a MOOC is and what it’s for, you will probably be interested in knowing the qualities necessary to take it.

The first thing you need to know is that massive MOOC courses are global in scope and are aimed at people with different interests and aspirations.

There’s a time limit to finish MOOC courses. You must keep in mind to organize your schedule according to the duration of the course.

Of course, this will be the time you’ll have at your disposal all the material, so you can connect with teachers and classmates, thus creating your knowledge.

Its ease of access, constant communication, flexibility and reduced learning times are part of the secret of its success. However, for their improvement they require a series of skills.

The 8 qualities necessary to pass a MOOC course:

1. Understand how the online learning methodology works.

2. Use the right technology.

3. Know how to choose an optimal environment for the study.

4. Familiarize yourself with the virtual platform.

5. Set goals and learning objectives.

6. Plan your time.

7. Adopt a positive attitude.

8. Ask and ask.

Not asking for help when you need it may slow your progress with the consequent decrease in your self-esteem. Don’t let that happen.

Professional openings

MOOC courses are used to find a job and grow professionally. Regardless of whether you take a course on entrepreneurship, to improve your level of languages, economics, marketing, SEO and SEM, to speak in public or Mindfulness, MOOC training can make a difference in your path because it’s an affordable and fast way to differentiate yourself.

Acquire the necessary knowledge to complete your resume and thereby tell companies that you care about your training and personal development. One area that you shouldn’t neglect is to improve your contact network and, on that, MOOCs have a lot to teach you.

Training offer

The MOOC training offer covers all areas of knowledge. Here are some of the best MOOCs 2020:

  • Designing the Future of Work
  • Robotics
  • Basic Chinese
  • Statistics Applied to Business
  • How to do a thesis
  • Introduction to data mining
  • Web Application Development: Basic Concepts
  • Excel Fundamentals for Business
  • Accessible digital materials
  • Negotiation 4.0
  • Public Speaking
  • Leadership focused on human flourishing
  • Digital audio with Pure Data
  • Big Data: Data Acquisition and Storage
  • Videogames: what are we talking about?
  • Pre-Calculus

Now you know where to study MOOC, the online training that has come to settle permanently among us and that doesn’t stop breaking borders. 

Join the freshest and most dynamic learning alternative. Improve your professional profile for the business world from your own home with the rhythm that best suits you.

Companies are in constant evolution and ask, more than ever, transversal skills: honesty and ethical commitment, adaptation to change, interpersonal skills and communication, analysis and problem solving.

Finally, let us remember that MOOCs are a very good excuse to experiment. The result of an experiment can be positive or negative, but in any case, the result obtained is very valuable.

FAQSs: Are MOOC courses free?

Are MOOCs always free?

Yes, the content of the MOOCs courses is totally free. However, in some cases, you have to pay to obtain a valid certificate.

How much does it cost to create a MOOC?

According to a study conducted to discover costs of developing and delivering MOOCs, the cost ranging from $39,000 to $326,000 per MOOC

Are MOOC courses worth it?

MOOCs provide an opportunity for learning new skills, advance your knowledge, and professional development. 
It may be worthwhile to pursue a verified certificate in your resume as a means to showcase your skills.

What MOOC courses are available?

The courses range from Programming, Business, Management, Communication, Sciences to Engineering.

What are the best free online courses?

The best free online courses are Coursera, Udemy, Edx, Khan Academy.

If you have any questions or comments please let us know.


Class Central. (2020). Top 100 Courses of All Time. Retrieved September 10:

Pappano, L. (2012). The year of the MOOC. The New York Times, 2(12).

Reich, J. (2013). Is a MOOC a Textbook or a Course? Education Week – EdTech Researcher. Retrieved September 10

Siemens, G. (2015). The role of MOOCs in the future of education. In C. J. Bonk, M. M. Lee, T. C. Reeves, & T. H. Reynolds (Eds.), MOOCs and open education around the world (pp. 8–18). New York, NY: Routledge.