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A systematic review of the socio-ethical aspects of Massive Online Open Courses

Rolfe, Vivien


Vivien Rolfe


Massive open online courses (MOOCs) offer learners across the globe unprecedented access to education. Through sophisticated e-learning technologies and web approaches, MOOCs attract massive scale participation and global interest. Some commercial ventures place social equality at the heart of their missions, claiming to empower communities by making education accessible and affordable. In reality, the socio-ethical impact of MOOCs has not been investigated fully, so it is not clear whether they meet these aspirations.
The aim of this study was to conduct a systematic literature review to examine the socio-ethical dimensions of MOOCs. The results showed a paucity of literature specifically addressing the subject in question, although there was evidence of many innovative approaches underway to examine new paradigms within learning analytics and online study behaviour that are emerging because of MOOCs. A small number of papers explored new pedagogic approaches such as conducting peer assessment on a massive scale, and how learning groups connect and establish on the open web.
To conclude, this paper begins to provide a framework on which to consider the socio-ethical dimensions of MOOCs. There is a need for good quality research to provide an evidence-base to ensure MOOCs deliver a socially equitable learning experience.


Rolfe, V. (2015). A systematic review of the socio-ethical aspects of Massive Online Open Courses

Journal Article Type Article
Publication Date Feb 26, 2015
Journal The European Journal of Open, Distance and e-Learning
Print ISSN 1027-5207
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 18
Issue 1
Pages 53-72
Keywords MOOC, massive online open course, ethics, social responsibility, inclusivity and diversity
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