Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) have seen enormous growth throughout the last four years. This format has fundamentally enriched the traditional method of web-based teaching and e-learning. Nevertheless, there have always been skeptical voices who announce the “death of MOOCs”. We do not believe in this pessimistic scenario and in this article we will explain how we came to this conclusion. E-learning already existed long before the arrival of the first MOOC. However, e-learning has often shown itself to be merely a source of downloadable learning material, leaving the learner alone in the learning phase. To get through an e-learning program and to actually finish it requires a high level of discipline and motivation. In this way, e-learning has proven itself as a learning method mainly with autodidacts. How have MOOCs changed the landscape of e-learning offers? The evolving MOOC format now combines interactive elements with short video lectures. This is done in a new and playful way with a strong focus on community building. The secret of MOOCs lies in their open accessibility and their incorporation of learning content with social media. The goal of this paper is to describe how MOOCs enforce e-learning activity in a virtual social community—whose importance for learning cannot be over-emphasized. We point out the social learning features currently used in MOOCs and the next steps that must be taken to further improve them. This article is based on the experiences we have made with the MOOC platforms openHPI and openSAP, both powered by the Hasso Plattner Institute in Potsdam.
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