I was recently asked for some information on MOOCs. This is not my area of expertise at all, but a little research proved very interesting. George Siemens, one of the originators, talks to Howard Rheingold in this video clip.
The term MOOC was coined in 2008 during a course presented by George Siemens (connectivism theory of learning) and Stephen Downes. It was presented to 25 fee-paying students at the University of Manitoba who were seeking credit for their course. 2,300 other students from the general public also took the online course, but free of charge. There is no credit, but feedback is through their peers in the course. Participants could choose their own tools – Moodle, Facebook, blogs, for example – but the course content was available through RSS feeds and video conferencing tools.
For further information, try Educause’s 7 things you should know about MOOCs.