In this video blog, Dr. Nish Sonwalkar, describes the phenomena of Massive Open Online Course. The MOOCs name came from the game world where a similar term was coined -- Massively Multiplayer Online Games (MMOG). In MMOG players could play with each other across the world and thousands of players joined into playing with each other. Similarly Stanford offered a course in Artificial Intelligence, where over 160,000 students joined across the world and were offered a certificate of completion if they successfully completed the course. With this many other Universities joined creation of MOOCs. Most of the top universities -- MIT, Harvard, Stanford, Caltech, and Princeton are now involved in the creation of MOOCs. Of course there some issues associated with the MOOCs, for example, very high attrition -- less than 10% students complete the course and the courses are highly specialized with leading faculty demanding significant work on assignments.

A Model for Sustainability of MOOCs:

Most of the MOOC offered by leading universities lead to significant expense for creation, deployment and management of students. The financial models are important for the sustainability of MOOCs. There are few models at present in practice for MOOCs. These models are -- the course offered by a leading University as public service with funding from grants from organizations, such as, Gates foundation funding for EdX project run by MIT, Harvard and UC Berkeley. The Corsera and Udacity models are for-profit and are different. Corsera wants to make money for the exchange of credits from accredited Universities, while Udacity wants to use the talent management of the top students in the class. Dr. Sonwalkar present a model for the sustainability of MOOC by converting participating students in the free MOOC into possibly paying students in the undergraduate, graduate and continuing education programs.

In this video blog, Dr. Nish Sonwalkar (Sc.D., MIT) presents the case that a MOOC course that adapts to the learning preferences of individual learner using brain-based based adaptive learning with learning strategies - apprentice, incidental, inductive, deductive and discovery can lead to much higher completion. This can lead to large number of MOOC students to learn from the best course offered by the leading faculty members from the top Universities. The Adaptive MOOC has the potential to become the next revolution in online education

An Education Technology Event -- Sponsored by Software Circle & EdTech Group Future of MOOCs: Prospects and Pitfalls -- MIT Perspective

About the Event: The Educational Technology field is exploding with innovation, and in response the MIT Enterprise Forum is hosting a four-part series throughout the academic year. The "Circuits and Electronics" MOOC by Anant Agarwal of MITx, deployed in 2010, was a milestone in the MOOC movement. The MOOC movement, and its mission to provide and expand open education opportunities in the world, has captured the imagination of the education and technology community worldwide. How and where this innovation will lead the next generation of learners is a subject ripe for debate and this event is your chance to join in and ask questions of the MIT and edX leaders. All three of our featured experts sit at the epicenter of the development of MOOCs: Professor Sanjay Sarma heads MIT's new Office of Digital Learning and is committed to infusing digital education within MIT; Kathy Pugh has joined forces with edX to accelerate the innovation and research around MOOCs; and Nish Sonwalkar has a long standing record of innovation in the adaptive learning interfaces and now serves as the Editor-in-Chief of the research journal dedicated to MOOCs.

Are MOOCS just another business model for companies who create them to make money? Can they truly be designed to meet the needs of students and adult learners who work and need to learn during nontraditional hours? What about credits toward degrees and certificates? Are resistant universities going to have to follow kicking and screaming or will MOOCS simply fade away?


  • Dr. Daphne Koller- Stanford Professor, founder of Coursera
  • Dr. Nishikant Sonwalkar, Sc. D., MIT Editor-in Chief, MOOCs FORUM
  • Dr. Rob Robinson
  • Moderator: Claudio Sanchez, education correspondent, NPR
  • NPR Organizer: Danyell Irby

In this video, Dr. Nish Sonwalkar is presenting the evolution of education technology leading to the development of MOOCs. He also then suggests that the future of MOOCs is in the creation of Adaptive MOOCs for higher completion and learning outcome.

Prof. Anant Agarwal presents the edX project and some early results. He suggests MOOCs as an opportunity for educational experiments.

Contact: Dr. Nish Sonwalkar (

Dr. Sonwalkar will provide an overview of the theory of synaptic learning and its' application in providing creative learning environment. Synaptic learning, by providing multiple perspectives for learning new concepts, encourages creative thinking. It has been observed that the creative learning environments can lead to much better learning gains than conventional one-size-fits-all learning.

Dr. Sonwalkar will point at the recent neuron-feedback research on brain-waves patterns that encourages creative thinking and future directions in the emerging innovations in the field of Brain-Machine Interface (BMI). He will also discuss the impact of Massively Open Online Courses on the education in context of MITx and Edx projects.