1. Welcome!#

We hope that this guide helps you with your transition to online learning. The guide answers common questions about topics like getting started in an online course, earning certificates, participating in course discussions, and completing some of the exercises you may see in your course.

1.1. Learning in a MOOC#

A massive, open, online course (MOOC) typically uses videos and text to present course content, although you might also encounter other types of reading assignments, such as textbooks and online articles. A MOOC also includes assessments, in the form of practice questions, homework assignments, and exams. To help you share information, ask questions, and collaborate with other learners and the course team, course discussions are available.

Videos and other types of course content, assessments, and discussions are used in virtually every MOOC on the edx.org website. These course components are also used to create the courses on websites that use the Open edX online learning platform. Everyone is welcome to review examples of these components, and practice using them, by enrolling in the edX Demo course.

In some courses, enhanced components might also be included, from team problem-solving exercises and lab work to live demonstrations and ask me anything (AMA) sessions. Every course has a unique design, and course teams are continuously looking for new ways to engage learners and teach more effectively. Course teams typically include instructions for how to use any enhanced components right in the course.

MOOCs bring learners from all over the world together. The people who you take a course with have a wide variety of educational backgrounds and educational goals. One part of the MOOC experience that everyone shares is encountering new ways of learning. As a result, most learners occasionally have questions about what is expected, how to complete an assignment, or what a word, phrase, or abbreviation means.

1.2. If You Have Questions As You Take a Course#

If you have a question about something you encounter in an edX course, try these options for getting an answer.


If you find an error or mistake in a course, contact the course staff by using the course discussions.

  • Check the Course page in the course. Course teams use this page to post updates about the course, which can include explanations about course content, reminders about when graded assignments are due, or announcements for upcoming events or milestones.

  • Look for an “Introduction”, “Overview”, or “Welcome” section in the course content. In the first section in the course, course teams often include general information about how the course works and what you can expect, and also what they expect from you, in the first section in the course.

  • Participate in the course discussions. Other learners might be able to answer your question, or might have the same question themselves. If you encounter an unfamiliar word, phrase, or abbreviation, such as “finger exercise” or “board work”, search for it on the Discussion page, or post a question about it yourself. Your comments and questions give the course team useful feedback for improving the course.

  • Investigate other resources. Some courses have a wiki, which can be a good source of information. Outside of the course, a course-specific Facebook page or Twitter feed might be available for learners to share information.