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The advance of the MOOCs (massive open online courses) : The impending globalisation of business education?

Thomas Clarke (UTS Sydney, Sydney, Australia)

Education + Training

ISSN: 0040-0912

Article publication date: 24 May 2013




The purpose of this paper is to analyse the rapid development of the massive open online courses (MOOCs) and the implications for business education, to critically examine the educational and business models of the MOOCs, to assess their present scale and scalability, and to explore the responses of the universities to this challenge.


The paper provides an analysis of the origins, structure and orientation of the MOOCs, assesses their future trajectory and compares this development with earlier waves of e‐learning.


The massive open online courses have considerable potential for growth with high quality products supported by leading universities. However they still need to resolve issues other e‐learning organisations have faced including assessment, high drop out rates, and how to maintain viability.

Research limitations/implications

The MOOCs remain at a developmental stage, and it is not yet apparent whether their growth trajectories will be as ambitious as anticipated. However they are a definite advance over earlier online learning systems, and are worthy of further research regarding their performance.

Practical implications

The recent origin of the MOOCs involves an idealistic phase that is inspiring, but the question is will it last? Have the MOOCs the resilience to continue to develop as the universities have done over many decades? Further research will be required on this.

Social implications

The MOOCs have immense social implications for access to higher education in both the advanced and developing worlds.


This is one of the first studies of the MOOCs to emerge which compares them with earlier initiatives in e‐learning, and considers the adaptive responses of the universities.



Clarke, T. (2013), "The advance of the MOOCs (massive open online courses) : The impending globalisation of business education?", Education + Training, Vol. 55 No. 4/5, pp. 403-413.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2013, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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