For those of us working in higher education, the term "MOOC" has become very common. However, if you do not fall into that category, you may have seen this buzz word floating around in cyberspace and wondered - what the heck is a MOOC, anyway!! Well, wonder no more...

MOOC is an acronym for Massively Open Online Course: 

Massive - meaning they are typically large classes with high (if any) enrollment caps 
Open - meaning they are free and open to the public, and 
Online - meaning (you guessed it) the course is delivered online

The basic concept of a MOOC is that it is open online learning that is available to anyone, and it is offered at no cost to the learner. A MOOC is one of many pathways to further one's education, and is viewed by the academic world as an offering to help make higher education more accessible to the public. 

A MOOC typically takes the form of free online learning with audiovisual content (videos), automated quizzes, peer–assessments and online discussion forums.A learner enrolled in a MOOC can typically expect more interaction with online content and their fellow learners and less interaction with the instructor. MOOC can help learners earn certificates, badges and even college credits. A MOOC can also help college students or potential students prepare and review for specific subject credit-courses or for-credit-exams like the CLEP. CLEP stands for College-Level Examination Program which gives students credit-by-examination and is accepted at thousands of colleges and universities.

So - now that you know what a MOOC is - you can start taking advantage of these FREE courses!

Check out some of the MOOCs available right now on Desire2Learn Open Courses, including the eCore Macroeconomics CLEP prep course, which starts November 3rd. 

"We believe that making learning available to everyone helps build a better future." - Desire2Learn Open Courses.

Christy Talley-Smith
Director, USG eCore Curriculum & Instruction 

Professor Melissa Weaver is Adjunct Faculty in Communication at Southern Polytechnic State University

Why did you choose your field?
My undergraduate degree is in Speech Pathology. When I went to graduate school I majored in Communication Studies, which was the perfect parallel for what I teach now. It’s great to merge my passion for teaching, science and communication together!

What did you want to be when you were growing up?
A pilot :) 

Why did you choose teaching?
I love working with students and sharing my story! I was the first person in my entire family to go to college, much less earn a graduate degree. It’s great to be in a position to help others and guide them throughout their academic careers.

How do you think education changes lives?
Education can make all the difference in the life of a student. A quality education provides you with choices and options throughout life. It opens new doors and allows you to pave the way throughout your professional career.

What differences have you noticed between online education and face-to-face classes?
We accomplish all of the same objectives within an online classroom; we just do it in a different way. The content is the same, we just reach our goals using different instructional techniques.

How would you describe yourself?
I am an outgoing, friendly person who loves spending time her family and friends!

If you could meet anyone in the world, who would it be and why?
Jeff Gordon – I am a huge NASCAR fan and would love for him to take me for a ride.

What would you place in a time capsule that would tell people 100 years from now who you were?
A Time Magazine
A Cosmopolitan Magazine
A copy of the New York Times
A family picture
A cell phone
Signed sports memorabilia

If you won the lottery, what would you do with it?
Start a beagle rescue. I have always been passionate about animals and I would love to honor my two beagles by saving others.

What’s a secret ambition of yours?
To run through the Power T before a University of Tennessee Football game.

What do you think is the most important lesson you’ve learned in your life?
Watch what you say because you can never take it back!

Who in your life would you like to thank and for what?
My parents. They made many sacrifices throughout life to help me accomplish my goals. I will always be thankful.