It’s OK, I know this one from Scorsese films. As in “HeyLarry, why’d ya eat all the freakin’ meatballs, ya freakin’ Mooc!”

That’s ‘mook’. A MOOC is a Massively Online Open Course. Sort of like a Massively Multiplayer Online Game (MMO), except instead of meeting up with your fellow nerds and wizarding about in a poisonous troll-dungeon, you meet up with your fellow nerds and level yourselves up by absorbing knowledge, or learning’.

Alrightalready! Howsdo I gets one?

American universities have led the charge, opening their digital doors to students from across the globe via companies such as edX, Udacity and Coursera. Via online courses anyone with a web connection can access free education from Ivy League schools. And from September, an august list of British institutions including The British Museum, British Library and the universities of Warwick, Exeter and Cardiff will be offering free online courses via Futurelearn, a new company owned by the Open University.

I’m a getme a degree!

Easy there, frat boy. For the moment, MOOCs only offer short courses and they won’t give you a cap and gown at the end. Which is fair enough — for a proper qualification, you need more expensive resources like tutorials and professionally adjudicated exams. But with the rapid growth of telepresence tech and remote working, we wouldn’t be surprised if MOOCs become the universities of the future.

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