Claudia Zimmermann, Elke Lackner, Martin Ebner

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference paper


Openness is an eponymous and hence essential feature of MOOCs, but the defining criteria with regard to what does and does not constitute openness are still subject of debate. Different definitions emphasize various aspects that extend beyond obvious characteristics such as open access to content and magnify issues like the licensing of resources, availability of digital technologies or devices as well as skills and competencies necessary for usage. The focus can be extended even further to include social and cultural factors as well. While MOOCs theoretically offer a higher level of openness when compared to traditional means of education, practice has shown that some groups are notoriously overrepresented. It has even been suggested that the growing body of OER may actually widen instead of bridge the gaps between different socioeconomic groups, because user statistics indicate that the typical well-educated MOOC participant already has good access to higher education, whereas those who lack formal education are also underrepresented in the use of OER.
This paper will review the insights on influences that compromise openness in MOOCs, and we will also present a case study from the Austrian MOOC platform iMooX (www.imoox.at) to illustrate the problem as well as discuss some strategies that might prove useful in alleviating the effects of social exclusion. We argue that there are several mitigating factors that warrant consideration in order to strengthen MOOC participation among educationally alienated groups and to encourage a more extensive understanding of openness
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationDisCO 2016 – Towards open education an information society
Place of PublicationPrag
ISBN (Electronic)978-80-86302-62-1
Publication statusPublished - 6 Dec 2016

Fields of Expertise

  • Information, Communication & Computing

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