Higher Education; For Free, For Everyone, For Real? Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) and the Responsible University: History and Enacting Rationalities for MOOC Initiatives at Three Swedish Universities
Kapitel i bok, 2019

Large-scale open education initiatives, commonly referred to as MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses), may be said to offer universities a new form of public outreach, whereby universities can take an active role in educating society and provide affordable pathways to lifelong learning for all. In this chapter, we examine how MOOC initiatives resonate with the notion of the responsible university from the perspective of Swedish higher education. Based on an analysis of notions of intent expressed by three Swedish universities, we reason about the roles that MOOC initiatives may play. Further, we adapt a framework on how public organisations negotiate bounded realities in order to juxtapose discourses that reflect different rationales for the MOOC initiatives at three Swedish universities. As a result, we identify a number of affordances that MOOCs potentially provide, such as access to lifelong learning from higher education institutions to diversified and unprivileged groups, but also how the universities intend to utilise MOOC projects for internal capacity-building related to the digitalisation of education. Currently, potentially conflicting rationalities arise between strong norms of tuition-free, state-funded education and the developing business models of the MOOC platform providers that illustrate a challenge for the Nordic model.

Universities and mental health

Engagement with the global south

Nordic Higher Education


Higher Education

Responsible universities

Industry and higher education


Linda Barman

Kungliga Tekniska Högskolan (KTH)

Cormac McGrath

Stockholms universitet

Karolinska Institutet

Christian Stöhr

Chalmers, Vetenskapens kommunikation och lärande, Avdelningen för ingenjörsutbildningsvetenskap (EER)

The Responsible University: Exploring the Nordic Context and Beyond

978-3-030-25646-3 (ISBN)


Hållbar utveckling


Pedagogiskt arbete


Lärande och undervisning

Pedagogiskt arbete



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