While the hype around Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) has subsided in the past few years, such environments provide a rich opportunity to explore ongoing questions at the intersection of teaching, learning, and technology. This paper explores how a set of facilitation teams described enacting their learner-centered pedagogical aspirations through MOOC platforms. Drawing on in-depth interviews, we present a set of six facilitator actions: “giving up control,” “distributing facilitation,” “being live,” “amplifying,” “modeling,” and “being explicit.” We discuss these actions as emerging from the negotiation between existing pedagogical aspirations and the realities of a new medium, highlighting how they involve facilitators both stepping back (making space for and foregrounding learner expertise and perspectives) and stepping in (intervening and directing as a facilitator). This research contributes to the ongoing work of articulating the substance and specificity of teaching in learner-centered pedagogy and the persistent challenges of enacting that pedagogy in massive, online spaces.
MOOCs are a valuable context for examining questions of teaching and learning.
MOOCs offer both opportunities and challenges for student-centered learning.
Facilitators both stepped back and stepped in to support student-centered learning.
Facilitators negotiated the MOOC affordances in light of prior design experiences.