Educating Worldshapers 10 2017-12-17T13:52:28+00:00
Social Innovation MOOCS: Free or cheap

A variety of entities and websites now offer MOOCs in Social Innovation, Social Impact, Social Enterprise et al.

Amassive open online course (MOOC/mk/) is an online course aimed at unlimited participation and open access via the web. In addition to traditional course materials such as filmed lectures, readings, and problem sets, many MOOCs provide interactive user forums to support community interactions among students, professors, and teaching assistants (TAs). MOOCs are a recent and widely researched development in distance education which were first introduced in 2006 and emerged as a popular mode of learning in 2012.Early MOOCs often emphasized open-access features, such as open licensing of content, structure and learning goals, to promote the reuse and remixing of resources. Some later MOOCs use closed licenses for their course materials while maintaining free access for students.
The term MOOC was coined in 2008 by Dave Cormier of the University of Prince Edward Island in response to a course called Connectivism and Connective Knowledge (also known as CCK08). CCK08, which was led by George Siemens of Athabasca University and Stephen Downes of the National Research Council, consisted of 25 tuition-paying students in Extended Education at the University of Manitoba, as well as over 2200 online students from the general public who paid nothing. All course content was available through RSS feeds, and online students could participate through collaborative tools, including blog posts, threaded discussions in Moodle, and Second Life meetings. Stephen Downes considers these so-called cMOOCs to be more “creative and dynamic” than the current xMOOCs, which he believes “resemble television shows or digital textbooks.”

As MOOCs have evolved, there appear to be two distinct types: those that emphasize the connectivist philosophy, and those that resemble more traditional courses. To distinguish the two, Stephen Downes proposed the terms “cMOOC” and “xMOOC”.

cMOOCs are based on principles from connectivist pedagogy indicating that material should be aggregated (rather than pre-selected), remixable, re-purposable, and feeding forward (i.e. evolving materials should be targeted at future learning). cMOOC instructional design approaches attempt to connect learners to each other to answer questions and/or collaborate on joint projects. This may include emphasizing collaborative development of the MOOC. Andrew Ravenscroft of the London Metropolitan University claimed that connectivist MOOCs better support collaborative dialogue and knowledge building.

xMOOCs have a much more traditional course structure typically with a clearly specified syllabus of recorded lectures and self-test problems. They employ elements of the original MOOC, but are, in effect, branded IT platforms that offer content distribution partnerships to institutions. The instructor is the expert provider of knowledge, and student interactions are usually limited to asking for assistance and advising each other on difficult points.

See for more information about MOOCs and a more complete list of MOOC websites.

Some MOOCs and content providers with SE/SI courses
Philanthropy University
Grow your skills. Grow your impact.
Philanthropy University is a global initiative with a bold goal: providing free online education to millions of social change-makers working to make the world a better place.Through free, dynamic online courses, Philanthropy University arms leaders in the social sector with the tools they need to grow their knowledge, increase their capacity and scale their impact.

  • 220,000 learners enrolled
  • 455,000 course registrations
  • 180+ countries represented
  • Countries with highest enrollment: US, Nigeria, India, Kenya,
    and the Philippines
  • 574 Certificates in Social Sector Leadership earned
Featured in the Stanford Social Innovation Review:
New MOOCs for Rising Leaders

Philanthropy University is powered by Berkeley-Haas. Our thought leadership team informs the pedagogy, defines the curricula, and sources instructors from top universities and social impact organizations around the globe. Upon the completion of course work, students earn a Certificate in Social Sector Leadership from Berkeley-Haas and join a global network of alumni working to tackle some of the world’s most pressing social challenges.

Philanthropy University currently offers seven foundational courses with plans for additional courses in Spring 2017. Details on the courses and enrollment information are available at the Philanthropy University site.



Acumen is changing the way the world tackles poverty by investing in companies, leaders and ideas. We invest patient capital in businesses whose products and services are enabling the poor to transform their lives. Founded by Jacqueline Novogratz in 2001, Acumen has invested more than $103 million in 96 companies across Africa, Latin America, South Asia and the United States. We are also developing a global community of emerging leaders with the knowledge, skills and determination to create a more inclusive world. In 2015, Acumen was named one of Fast Company’s Top 10 Most Innovative Not-for-Profit Companies. Learn more at and on Twitter @Acumen.

+Acumen is a global learning community for social change-makers. Be an effective force for change with Acumen’s free online courses and chapters. Learn more at and on Twitter @plusacumen.



NovoEd, Inc. is a software company on a mission to make online education more effective and engaging. NovoEd creates the most engaging online platform for the modern learner. Our solutions enable our customers to more productively train their employees, partners, customers, and students.

Founded at Stanford, NovoEd developed technology to make online learning more like great in-person learning. Our first clients were some of the top business schools, including Stanford GSB, Wharton, and UVA Darden. As millennials became a significant part of the workforce, companies began demanding modern learning solutions built for the mobile, social learner.

Now, NovoEd serves organizations around the world that need a better way to teach online – whether it’s employee training, partner enablement, executive education, or university programs.



Coursera has online courses in social entrepreneurship and social impact at slightly higher tuition rates,