Higher Education in a Networked World: European Responses to U.S. MOOCs

José van Dijck, Thomas Poell


Since 2012, platforms for massive open online courses (MOOCs), such as Coursera, Udacity, and edX, have had a considerable impact on established forms of higher education, both online and off-line, private and public. What are the technocommercial and sociocultural dynamics underlying the organization of MOOCs? This article first describes how MOOCs are built on the same mechanisms underpinning the overall ecosystem of connective platforms. Second, it inventories how European public universities have responded to MOOCs. Finally, the article theorizes how the surge of global online MOOCs impacts the definition of higher education as a public good. To sustain public systems of college education, governments and university administrators will need to address the networked infrastructure that undergirds national and global alliances.


MOOCs, online education, higher education, social media, public education, e-learning, distance learning, privatization, globalization

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