MOOCs - how Massive Open Online Courses can help engineers develop

Author: Nabil Shouki Otrie

Date published

11 October 2019

Back to Previous

MOOCs - how Massive Open Online Courses can help engineers develop

Date published

Nabil Shouki Otrie

Date published

11 October 2019


Nabil Shouki Otrie

Nabil Shouki Otrie, of our Research Panel and Sustainability Panel, discusses how MOOCs can help future engineers achieve their educational and career development goals.

  • Do you want go back to study and pursue your interests?
  • Do you want to gain new skills?
  • Do you want to push your career forward?
  • Do you want to keep yourself up to date in your professional field?

More than two years back I was introduced to a very interesting digital education platform called

I completed several courses on this platform such as "Modern Building Design" provided by University of Bath, "Sustainable Construction and Development" provided by the Chartered Institute of Building Academy, and "Business Fundamentals: Effective Communication", provided by the Open University.

I have always wondered about the education system behind such a digital platform. After some quick research, I find that it works under a new space of distance learning called MOOC! In this blog, I’d like to share with you my personal experience of MOOC.

What is MOOC?


MOOC is an online education system aimed at large-scale interactive participation of users, with the help of web. With features like videos, study materials, quizzes and online exams they try to make it more efficient than a traditional education system.

MOOC is expressed as:

  • Massive: there are a huge number of students worldwide and several courses in different disciplines.
  • Open: no mandatory qualifications are required to join any course and it is often free.
  • Online: to take part you just need a computer or even a smartphone and internet connection
  • Course: structured from reputed institutions and universities

Since 2012 MOOC emerged as a very popular mode of learning and (as of 2018) there were over 101M students, 900+ universities and 11000+ courses available through MOOC - based on data from


Advantages and disadvantages of MOOC


MOOC as an organised aspect of education has advantages but also disadvantages. 



  • No tuition fees, often free
  • 3A Philosophy: Anytime, Anyone, Anywhere


  •  Open access to learn from high-level universities and professors
  •  Open courses for all interested, regardless of location


  • Networking opportunities and interaction: you can share your own experience and receive feedback from others
  • Supports career advancement and opportunities


Learning styles 

  • Easy for students to drop out
  • No active feedback due to a large number of students


  • Often simplified and may not match the level of detail required for your needs
  • Lack of social Interaction: No face-to-face contact


  • Self-directed learning: Learners need to be responsible for their own work.
  • Requires personal discipline, commitment and motivation

MOOCs have two types of outcomes: career benefits and educational benefits. Harvard business research demonstrates that among learners who complete courses, MOOCs do have a real impact: 72% of survey respondents reported career benefits and 61% reported educational benefits.

What are the benefits of MOOCs in my career as an engineer?

The benefits I gained from MOOCs included:

  • I gained more specific and new skills in communication and technology
  • I applied what I learnt to my current Job
  • I found worldwide networking opportunities
  • It kept me up with the latest knowledge, skills and trends in my field
  • It enabled me to continue adding value to my job and for my employer
  • It taught me how to be self-motivated learner
  • It offered me time savings and flexibility

In a survey conducted by Learning House, 44% of online students reported improvements in their employment standing, for example by obtaining a full-time job within 12 months of graduation, and 45% reported a salary increase.

In today’s hyper-connected world, we really have no excuse to stop learning. We carry around in our hands a device which can open the world of learning in the palm of your hand with the touch of the screen. Make use of it. Anyone can be learning anytime and anywhere. is only one example of such a wonderful digital platform. Whether you're trying to find a new job, get a promotion, or excel in a new career, MOOCs can help you achieve your career development goals.

Further reading.


Related Resources & Events

<h4>Building the future with reduced embodied carbon</h4>

Building the future with reduced embodied carbon

A blog written by By Ewan Duffin, Principal Structural Engineer at Harley Haddow. Ewan discusses how structural engineers should play their part by reducing the carbon used in the construction industry.

Date – 5 September 2023
Author – Ewan Duffin
Blue abstract blocks

Going digital with structural design

Date – 4 September 2023
Author – Aditya Tiwari – Senior Product Manager at Oasys
The image shows a presenter pointing at a whiteboard whilst looking at an audience around a table. The image is overlapped by a blue layer containing app-like symbols hinting at digital tools.

Optimisation in structural engineering: enhancing efficiency and performance

Ashley Kacha, Senior Engineer at the Institution, explores the diverse applications of optimisation techniques in structural engineering for smarter designs and better outcomes.

Date – 1 September 2023
Author – Ashley Kacha
Price – Free