Getting to a Deeper Level of Learning – MOOCs and Flipped Classrooms


Deeper learning In recent years we’ve seen the rise of MOOCs and the flipped classroom. MOOC stands for Massive Open Online Course and is, as the name suggests, the term for an online course available to hundreds of students at a time. Lectures are placed online and accessed by students all around the world. There is no limit to the amount of students who can join as well as share the educational material such as videos, readings, exercises, etc.  Often there are also less restrictions (for example income or age) to join MOOCs than with traditional institutions.


On the other hand, the flipped classroom is a teaching approach which utilises lesson capture and other technology to allow students to study lessons or lectures at home. Students then use class time to ask his or her teacher practical questions regarding the application of the knowledge. The overall goal of flipped classrooms is to make the learning experience more practical.


The flipped classroom increases inclusion of students, because there’s more time available to ask questions in class and ultimately this brings students to a closer level of understanding the knowledge. MOOCs, on the other hand, are designed for those who don’t have access to learning facilities. Both flipped classrooms and MOOCs put individuals in a place where more time can be spent on asking additional questions, or learning more of a particular desired subject.


These new advancements in education allow deeper learning. The phrase implies a rich learning experience for students, who are empowered then to mine into knowledge and understand a subject in a way that requires more than just memorising facts.


Before deeper learning can take place, students must be eager and excited to learn more.  “What you want to have is a sense of imagination, intuition and inspiration” says Larry Rosenstock, co-founder of High Tech High. “Those are natural elements and talents that are all within us, but they’re not drawn upon in schools”.  To achieve the vision of equal learning, educators must recognise the varied strengths of their students.




What defines deeper learning?


There are six competencies that define deeper learning: mastering content, critical thinking, effective written and oral communication, collaboration, learning how to learn, and developing academic mindsets.


How to motivate students


Educators often discuss the difficulty of teaching students who don’t seem to want to learn. Without internal motivation and curiosity, students may loathe school. Luckily, there are concrete ways to help students develop motivation and other positive academic mindsets. Although it’s easier said than done, teachers must strive to cultivate the following mindsets in their students:


  • I can change my intelligence and abilities through effort
  • I can succeed
  • I belong in this learning community
  • This work has value and purpose for me


Where to start


One easy way to try out deeper learning is to ask students what interests them. Don’t have any curricular goals in mind – ask them genuinely what they care about. Throw the ideas up on the board and group them, looking for an overarching theme. Teaching and learning should go both ways. Once you are aware of your student’s strengths and interests – even if it falls out of the curriculum – it’s a very good idea to refer your students to additional resources.


Here’s our list of MOOCs that facilitate deeper learning and self-paced learning opportunities.




Coursera is one of the most celebrated open online universities. You can learn everything from physics to computer science via this platform and watch tutorial videos on your own time. Grading is done similarly to a traditional university. Verified certificates are provided as certification that you participated in a course and passed. Coursera has partnered with traditional universities to boost the platform’s credentials and authority.




Udemy is a diverse platform that facilitates study of the arts, including photography. Udemy often hosts celebrity guest lectures and lectures by highly recognised academics.


Khan Academy


The Khan Academy is a free university that is supported by prestigious corporations and icons such as Bill and Melinda Gates. The Khan Academy is designed to help teachers and students brush up on skills they may have forgotten. This includes everything from basic mathematics concepts to more advanced topics in the sciences, arts, and humanities.


The Carnegie Mellon Open Learning Initiative


The Carnegie Mellon Open Learning Initiative is a free university with a prestigious university name behind it.


Carnegie Mellon’s goal is to help inspire research through easier accessibility to higher learning. The platform has a wide range of learning resources from physics to foreign languages.


Future Learn Logo







Future Learn is a private company owned by The Open University, and benefits from their over 40 years of experience in distance learning and online education. The institution’s partners include over 20 of the best UK and international universities (including the University of Glasgow and the University of Bristol), as well as institutions with a huge archive of cultural and educational material, including the British Council, the British Library, and the British Museum. Future Learn facilitates a wide range of courses from the sciences to language and business.


If the platforms mentioned above are too general you can also search for MOOCs based on a desired learning field such as design, programming and economics –to name but a few. Each of these programmes is unique, but all share a similar goal: helping people learn.




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