Doing Things with MOOCs: Utilization Strategies of Learners in Massively Open Online Courses

Mitchell Stevens
October 26, 2018 2:00pm
MIT Campus
xTalk (seminar series)
MIT Community

MOOCs are frequently criticized as poor substitutes for “real” college courses. Prof. Mitchell Stevens will leverage a strategic sample of interviews with 60 adults who invested substantial time in at least one free-of-charge Stanford MOOC to depict the range of values people harvest from these learning opportunities. People use MOOCs to enhance their resumes, navigate career and life changes, keep abreast of subjects that matter to friends and loved ones, and expand their intellectual horizons.

Borrowing insights from literary theory and the sociology of culture, Prof.  Stevens will argue that MOOC providers and learners are reflexively creating a new educational genre whose economic and civic utilities await adequate measurement.

Mitchell Stevens is Associate Professor of Education and Director of the Center for Advanced Research through Online Learning ( He has written serially about the organization of U.S. higher education and the politics and ethics of educational measurement. His most recent book is Seeing the World: How US Universities Make Knowledge in a Global Era (Princeton, 2018).