A MOOC for Whom and for What Purposes?

3.1. Audiences

A priori, there is no limitation to the domain of MOOCs: they can range from training in Java programming to a MOOC on the Siege of Yorktown or breadfruit cultivation in the Marshall Islands. There are no boundaries or limits. There is no set level either – it may just as well be addressed to primary school children as to doctoral candidates.

A MOOC on the art of fly fishing may attract a large audience of anglers; another about investment in Florida or Morocco a large audience of retirees; another on the history of the War of Independence could be very useful in primary schools. There is no age or social category which is beyond the reach of MOOCs. MOOCs are open to all audiences who wish to acquire knowledge without paying and outside of an organized system. MOOCs are particularly interesting for audiences who do not tend to meet up in their normal lives, either because they are geographically far apart or because they do not like conventional education. It is said that the best grade obtained on Sebastian Thrun’s MOOC on AI was obtained by a 50-year-old housewife with no higher education!

Originally, the target audience was one of university students, but that target rapidly expanded. The philosophy behind a MOOC is to render all knowledge accessible, without any geographical or social boundaries. Thus, today, MOOCs are attracting students and professionals in search of training alike, or inactive people (be it for voluntary ...

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