Massive Numbers, Diverse Learning

Littlejohn, Allison and Hood, Nina (2018). Massive Numbers, Diverse Learning. In: Littlejohn, Allison and Hood, Nina eds. Reconceptualising Learning in the Digital Age: The [Un]democratising Potential of MOOCs. SpringerBriefs in Open and Distance Education. Springer, pp. 57–77.



MOOCs provide education for millions of people worldwide. Though it is not clear whether everyone can learn in a MOOC. Building on the typology of MOOC participants introduced is in Chap. 3, and we explore the claim that MOOCs are for everyone. We trace the different reasons people participate in MOOCs and the ways they learn. MOOCs tend to be designed for people who are already able to learn as active, autonomous learners. Those with low confidence may be inactive. However, even learners who are confident and able to regulate their learning experience difficulties if they don’t comply with the expectations of the course designers or their peers. For example, if a learner chooses to learn by observing others, rather than contributing, this behaviour can be perceived negatively by tutors and by peers. This indicates that MOOCs sustain the traditional hierarchy between the educators (those that create MOOCs and technology systems) and the learners (those who use these courses and systems). Although this hierarchy is not always visible, since it is embedded within the algorithms and analytics that power MOOC tools and platforms.

Viewing alternatives

Download history


Public Attention

Altmetrics from Altmetric

Number of Citations

Citations from Dimensions

Item Actions



  • Item ORO ID
  • 55938
  • Item Type
  • Book Section
  • ISBN
  • 981-10-8892-6, 978-981-10-8892-6
  • Keywords
  • MOOC; Massive Open Online Course; Open Eduction; Online Education; Technology-enhanced Learning; Digital Learning; Higher Education; Adult Learning; Active Learning; motivation
  • Academic Unit or School
  • Institute of Educational Technology (IET)
  • Copyright Holders
  • © 2018 The Authors
  • Depositing User
  • Allison Littlejohn