Investigating the implementation of accredited massive online open courses (MOOCs) in higher education: The boon and the bane

Xinghua Wang, Allison H Hall, Qiyun Wang


This study investigated a 3-year implementation of accredited massive online open courses (MOOCs) in a conventional university in China. Fifteen students and two staff were interviewed, and relevant policy documents were examined. Thematic analysis was utilised to analyse the data. The study found that students mostly took a wary stance towards accredited MOOCs, while the university supported them. Reasons for students’ favour and disfavour were explored. There was widespread online absenteeism, which was unique to accredited MOOCs. Moreover, accredited MOOCs were found to be completely independent of traditional onsite courses, making them difficult to form a synergy with the latter. Also, a distinct mismatch was identified between the course assessment system and the new course format. Furthermore, there were insufficient regulation, support, and incentives from the university in facilitating the implementation of accredited MOOCs, indicating a discrepancy between university policies and practice. Solutions for future improvement of accredited MOOCs were explored. This study will aid educational practitioners and policymakers in widening access to quality education by exploring effective solutions regarding integrating accredited MOOCs into conventional higher education.


massive online open courses (MOOCs);academic credit; traditional university; integration; higher education

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