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Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) are one of the most discussed trends in Open Education during the last years. The emergence and continuous growth of MOOCs has offered new learning opportunities for higher education students and lifelong learners and, at the same time, challenged traditional institutional strategies and recognition schemes.

MOOCKnowledge was a 4 year research project (2014-2018) aimed at understanding MOOCS from the learner point of view. The study developed a series of surveys to collect longitudinal data (pre-course, post-course and follow up after 1 or 2 years) on the learners of MOOCs offered by European providers who were willing to collaborate with the study. In total more than 23,000 respondents from 84 MOOCs were obtained.

The aim of the study was to analyse learners across different MOOCs and MOOC platforms so as to get scientific data on how MOOCs are affecting learning and skills development in Europe.

The project collected data on the profile of European MOOC learners, their digital competence, motivations, intentions (and its fulfilment), barriers to participation in MOOCs and the relationship between MOOC-based education and labour market outcomes. Data was also collected on the use of MOOCs for teacher professional development, especially in Spain, in collaboration with INTEF.

The study was initiated and executed by DG JRC, with support from DG Education and Culture, and in collaboration with extern experts from the Open University of the Netherlands (OUNL), Technical University of Madrid (UPM), Open University of Catalonia (UOC), PAU education, and University of Seville.

The MOOCKnowledge data collection finished in 2018. An overview of publications and presentations from the study are listed below. Currently, MOOCKnowledge data is still being used by a Marie Curie Global fellowship, several PhD theses and external researchers.

In addition, JRC has looked specifically at the potential of MOOCs and other free digital learning opportunities for migrants and refugees, see MOOCs4inclusion for more on this.