Open access peer-reviewed chapter - ONLINE FIRST

What Brings about the Success of MOOCs in the Perspective of Education Service?

By Sung-Wan Kim

Submitted: March 31st 2021Reviewed: June 24th 2021Published: July 28th 2021

DOI: 10.5772/intechopen.99053

Downloaded: 42


MOOCs passed through ‘inflated expectation stage of Garner’s hype cycle in 2012 and has gone ‘through of disillusionment’ stage. For jumping to the slope of enlightenment, MOOCs should be considered as education service focusing on service dominant logic and co-creation of value. This chapter aims to suggest a new perspective, education service science, to cope with the crisis of MOOCs. It focuses mainly on this suggestion: the principles of education service science could be applied in order for learners with MOOCs to take optimal learning experience. Themes of this paper are service science in education and MOOCs, education service innovation in MOOCs, education service system design for educational innovation in MOOCs, and quality management of MOOCs in the perspective of education service.


  • MOOCs
  • education service science
  • innovation
  • education service design

1. Introduction

MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses) have been popular with cost effectiveness and flexible option of online education and training opportunity. A low retention rate has been acknowledged as a tradeoff between the scalability and the effectiveness of MOOCs [1]. MOOCs passed through ‘inflated expectation stage of Garner’s hype cycle in 2012 when 100,000+ person enrollment [2] and has gone ‘through of disillusionment’ stage (Figure 1).

Figure 1.

Gartner hype cycle diagram for keyword “Massive open online course”.

For jumping to the slope of enlightenment, new approach for the innovation of MOOCs is needed. MOOCs have been provided in the education provider’s perspective rather than education demander’s one. In the education process of MOOCs, instructor and learners form a relationship. But the dependency aspect in which they influence each other has not been sufficiently taken into account. In other words, co-creation of value between instructor and learners should be lit anew. In this aspect, the principles of education service science can help achieve educational innovation by solving the problems faced by MOOC through a systematic approach.

This paper presents a new perspective that MOOCs should be considered as education service focusing on service dominant logic and co-creation of value. This chapter aims to suggest a new perspective, education service science, to cope with the crisis of MOOCs. It focuses mainly on this: the principles of education service science could be applied in order for learners with MOOCs to take optimal learning experience.


2. Service science in education and MOOCs

2.1 Why MOOC should be education service rather than education?

MOOCs’ the biggest weakness is that learners are not interested in completing the course [3]. This is because they do not have the inclination to do so. Only 15% or so of the enrolled students completed the course. If then, why does this happen? Absence of serious pedagogy, homogenization and depersonalization of education, and corporate influences on the academy can be mentioned and especially the issue of instructional design quality including learner motivation and support are considered very serious, which is the main reason of low rate of completion in courses [4]. Although learners in most of MOOCs do not pay money to course providers, it is believed that they are not satisfied with the MOOCs. Most of MOOC providers take a position of providing a kind of educational products. Instructors in MOOCs also focus on providing well-designed contents to learners.

Service focuses on users as well as providers and how deep and meaningful their experiences can be deployed. Accordingly, education service can focus on learners and their deep and meaningful experience. If we focus on ‘education service’ rather than the vague and abstract term of education, we will envision all kinds of methodologies to design learners’ experiences in a meaningful way [5]. When MOOC is considered as education service rather than education, innovation of MOOC to the slope of enlightenment seems to be possible.

2.2 Why service science and education service science in MOOCs?

Service science attempts a scientific approach to services. This has been developed while responding to the economic environment in which service innovation (service economy) creates more added value than product innovation (manufacturing economy). Service science has four primary principles: Service Dominant Logic (SDL), Co-creation of value, Service System, and Service Innovation [5].

Education service science intends to incorporate the core principles of existing service science into the field of education service. Service dominant logic is different from goods dominant logic. This focuses on the value in use realized through the learner’s experience rather than the value in exchange. When service dominant logic is applied, students proactively build knowledge in the teaching and learning process and take value-creating experiences. Value can be created and realized when educational service providers do not realize value, but when a number of contextual relationships are supported. The value of learning is not achieved by simple explanation and communication by the instructor. It is important how learning is realized in the context of life by the learner.

Education service science is a new interdisciplinary field aimed at maximizing the learning experience of education service users or learners through the co-creation of value between education service providers and users. It is not an ideological point of view in approaching educational phenomena, but a methodology for innovating the education service system with a focus on future-oriented improvement.

Education service science places great importance on the innovation of education services to improve the existing education service system by devising measures for the active participation and learning commitment of learners. It focuses on how to reorganize the education service system to achieve the learner’s optimal learning experience. In other words, it places importance on how to innovatively recreate the learning experience, considering education service system level (learning environment service, teaching & learning service, learner experience service) and service process (input/participation experience, process/learning experience, output/value experience). Education service science approaches education service with service dominant logic and rebuilds the current education service system, thereby deriving education service innovation and ultimately creating the value of learning experience.

Many service operations providers focus on service related resources, course management, outcome goal and financial goal at the inside-out. So, the education service operation manager sees education service users as the’ input’ factor to be managed, and focuses on ensuring that all processing ‘processes’ are performed well and ‘output’.

If an education service user (education service consumer or education community) approaches education service from the perspective of outside-in, the user is first interested in the optimal learning experience and outcomes for the education service. Education service users want their own optimized learning experience rather than management of input resources, processes, and outputs, and are interested in good educational outcomes (e.g. positive sense of belonging, excellent job skills, positive willingness to participate in class). During the learning experience at this time, the education service customer invests time and effort to perform high-quality learning tasks with enthusiasm, learns with peers, and under the guidance of instructors. They actively participate in the organization’s education system, such as using resources and support. Finally they experience intangible values that encompass both cognition and reaction such as memories, emotions, attitudes, and behaviors.

Figure 2 shows how the perspectives of the provider and the user are different. It shows the contrast between the management-oriented supplier’s perspective, which focuses on process efficiency, and the consumer-centered perspective, which aims to enhance experience. The effectiveness of the customer experience is focused rather than the viewpoint of resource efficiency.

Figure 2.

Customer perspective vs. Provider’s perspective. From Johnston et al., [6]. Revised by author.

Education service science aims to actively utilize ‘technology’ for change and innovation in educational services. For example, in order to realize customized and individualized education, the help of ‘technology’ is indispensable. Therefore, it can be said that MOOC has a close relationship with the direction of education service science.

2.3 Why service and education service in MOOCs?

The service breaks the boundaries between the supplier and the consumer and places importance on the relationship between their interactions. Service means creating value through an action or work. Since many educational activities so far have been centered on the acquisition of the curriculum designed with the intention of the supplier, the consumer (learner) has been merely an object of education. This forced the learners to adapt and obey instructions rather than grow and develop. This is because there is no concept of service in educational activities in the educational practice of these past days. If service is an activity that creates intangible value for customers, educational service means all efforts to create intangible value for learners. Therefore, the concept of value for learners is very important in educational services. Values ​​that can damage the learner’s existence should be excluded in MOOCs [5].

3. Education service innovation in MOOCs

A service is formless (intangible), may feel differently depending on the person providing it (heterogeneity), occurs through contact with customers (inseparability), and disappears at the same time as service delivery (perishability). In order to overcome the challenges of these characteristics, service innovation is required. For service innovation, visualization, systemic approach, contact management with users, and creation of experiences left in memory are required to respond to each challenge [7].

Educational service also has the same four characteristics (Figure 3). Since educational services are the result of some educational action, there is no physical entity (intangibility). It is intangible ‘work done for others.’ And the production of an educational service cannot be separated from its consumption (inseparability). Educational service is felt different according to each learner (heterogeneity). Since the mechanism for delivering services is human, educational services are bound to be variable. So not everyone perceives the same value from the same service. Educational service diminishes quickly (perishability). It is needed that education service provider must work harder to ensure the value experience because of their ethereal nature.

Figure 3.

Four characteristics of service.

In this section, I would like to present a concrete plan to innovate the educational service called MOOC based on those four essential characteristics of the service (intangibility, inseparability, heterogeneity, perishability) as mentioned above. For overcoming those four weaknesses, it is intended to present a one-on-one countermeasure corresponding to them.

3.1 How to cope with intangibility? Providing memorable experiences or value experiences

As mentioned in Figure 2, throughout the input-process-output stage of educational services from the perspective of providers, a touchpoint for participation experience, learning experience, and value experience1 should be formed in the perspective of users. For MOOCs to overcome intangible service, they must be designed to enable learners to have memorable experiences. Learners must be able to experience value. For example, learners should be able to recognize that MOOCs are helping to improve their competency, or that classes are actually helpful. To this end, the ‘experience of participation and learning’ in MOOC educational activities should ultimately lead to ‘value experience’. In addition, the class should provide an experience that exceeds the learner’s expectations. And it is necessary to guide the learning to lead to problem- solving in life by having a sense of realism and having the experience of continuously connecting the knowledge with the actual situation.

3.2 How to cope with inseparability? Providing mutual exchange experience or user’s touchpoint management

Of course, there should be no discrimination from other learners, and it is necessary to increase student’s participation experiences by actively reflecting learners’ opinions in the design of educational activities in MOOCs. In addition, the learner should be notified in advance when a problem occurs in the MOOC system. Responses to student’s questions must be provided promptly and in good faith. A lack of learner-instructor interaction in MOOCs may lead to dropouts [8]. Rich opportunities for learner interaction with course content and peers might offset the lack of learner-instructor interaction. The decrease in learner-instructor interaction in MOOCs can be substituted by prolific learner-learner and learner-content interactions without any decrease in the quality of learning experience in MOOCs, as Anderson reported [9].

3.3 How to cope with heterogeneity? Providing systematic approach

In order to innovate the educational service of MOOC, the educational service system must be improved. According to the characteristics of education services, the quality of even the same service is not constant depending on who provides and uses the service when, where, and how. In order that everyone may perceive the same value from the same service, MOOC operators and designers should take a systematic and ecological approach. In order to ensure that the quality of educational services is consistently maintained, it is necessary to systematically understand how educational services create and deliver value and to intervene appropriately to solve problems. When designing MOOC services, it is necessary to consider integratively each system level (organizational environment, program, learner or instructor). For educational service design, a system design approach is required, in addition to the service design approach.

3.4 How to cope with perishability? Providing co-creation of value

Education services disappear if not used and cannot be stored. Before it disappear, value should be created. The education service system is a value creation network that creates a network of relationships. In this respect, interactions with learners, interactions between learners and learners, and interactions between learners and learning materials should be carefully designed for co-creating value.

In education systems that encourage student agency2, which is thus defined as the capacity to set a goal, reflect and act responsibly to effect change [10], learning involves not only instruction and evaluation but also co-construction or co-agency between instructor and learner. Co-agency happens when teachers and students become co-creators in the teaching-and learning process. The expanding concept of co-agency recognizes that students, teachers, parents and communities work together to help students progress toward their shared goals.

4. Education service system Design for Educational Innovation in MOOCs3

The education service system design reflects the system perspective within the education service design. In other words, the methodology of service design is used to solve problems occurring at various system levels such as national, regional, college, class, and individual learning. Education service design is an area in which service systems are designed to jointly create educational values with learners, who are consumers of education.

The education service system is an aggregate composed of various people, relationships, organizations, and technologies that organically exist in the network of value creation of learning experiences. It is intended to present education service design plans for each system level of learning environment service, teaching and learning service, and learner experience service for educational innovation.

4.1 Learning environment service system: Designing environment

The learning environment service system in MOOCs, can be classified into four types, depending on the degree of technological innovation and participation in use; push-based, technology-affluent, human network-centered, and pull-based (Figure 4).

Figure 4.

Types of learning environment service system.

‘Push-based service system’has a Fordism approach for mass production following mass consumption. It is a traditional pipeline system that has a fully centralized characteristic to realize economies of scale by providing curriculum to the mass market. It is a linear value chain in which value creation and movement are transferred from producer to consumer [12]. Producer designs education services and operates systems to provide the services. And the user just purchases the service. This system has a limitation that it goes toward delivery-type MOOC that is intensively produced for mass delivery. The curriculum in the provider-centered service system can be said to be mainly instructional design products based on behaviorism [13].

In order to overcome the limitations of the provider-oriented service system due to the rapid development of information and communication technology and the diverse demands of educational service users, ‘technology-affluent service system’appears. This system focuses on using technology to overcome the limitations of time and space for teaching and learning. Various information and communication devices are actively used so that individuals can choose the content and pace of learning. MOOCs on LMS (Learning Management System) belongs to technology-oriented services.

In the ‘human-centered service system’, the source of value creation focuses on the human’s interaction, that is, the formation of a human network. In this type of system, instructional methods such as cooperative learning, discussion, field practice, and internships are utilized, focusing on the interaction and experiential learning between instructors and learners and between learners and learners.

‘Pull-based service system’centered on co-creation of value focuses on providing an environment that creates value in the process of value in use of educational services by users. To this end, this system should be a platform to create value by creating a space (e.g. Living Lab), where educational service producers and consumers can gather and interact by using information and communication technology. Such a MOOC platform can increase user participation and provide great value to all who participate. This service has post-Fordism characteristics in that it is oriented toward a user-centered pull system that emphasizes the voluntary participation of educational service users. The curriculum, which is provided in the value co-creation-oriented service system, can be said to be a product of instructional design based on constructivism in contrast to the provider-oriented service system [13]. It also provides educational services using the latest IT technologies, such as AR (Augmented Reality), VR (Virtual Reality), AI (Artificial Intelligence), and Big Data.

4.2 Teaching-learning service system: Designing education

According to the degree of two way communication orientation and program structure, the teaching-learning service system can be divided into four types: programmed, video/audio conferencing, computer-assisted, and adaptive (Figure 5).

Figure 5.

Types of teaching-learning service system.

‘Programmed service system’focuses on the supplier-oriented and content delivery-oriented program operation. One-sided lectures using video contents are typical. There is little interaction between instructor-learners and learners-learners, comparing other systems. In addition, it has a program structure that makes it impossible for individual learners to select content, control learning speed, etc.

‘Video/audio conferencing service system’has a structure that is difficult to control the needs of individual learners, and has the characteristic of providing an opportunity to interact between the instructor and the learner.

‘Computer-assisted service system’supports some degree of autonomy for learners to select learning content and adjust learning speed, but it is difficult to provide opportunities for interaction between instructor and learners. Depending on the learner’s response, it moves to a different text (a linear program) or a differently programmed text (a branched program) [13].

‘Adaptive service system’has a high level of interaction between instructor and learners, and has the characteristics of providing educational services that meet the needs of individual learners. It is essential to support a system that provides the learning content that learners want immediately, and for this, the latest information and communication technologies such as artificial intelligence and big data must be utilized. For example, there may be an adaptive learning support program using an artificial intelligence-based chatbot. The learner also uses a very loose structure to present the structure, outcomes, and sequencing of learning activities. For example, a student taking the course ‘Instructional Methods and Educational Technology’ should organize and sequence each module and activity, and identify personal goals and activities to be achieved during the curriculum.

4.3 Learner’s experience service system: designing experience

The learner’s experience service system can be classified into four types, such as passive, active, problem solving, and value discovering, according to the level of reality and autonomy of learning (Figure 6).

Figure 6.

Types of learner experience service system.

Since ‘Passive active service system’focuses on the unilateral content delivery method of the instructor, the learner cannot actively participate in the teaching and learning process. Because the instructor systematically organizes the contents and conveys the relationship between the contents, the cognitive process of the students is inevitably weak.

‘Active service system’has high learning autonomy to participate in learning, so learner actively participates in the learning process. But there is a limitation that learning is far from the actual reality.

In ‘problem-solving service system’, the instructor presents real life problems to the learner, and the learner focuses on solving only the presented problems.

‘Value discovery service system’focuses on finding practical problems by learners and then trying to solve them. MOOC class using creative problem-solving methodologies such as Design Thinking can be a representative example of value discovery. It is more important that learners create problems or activities proactively rather than pre-designed problems or activities.

5. Quality management of MOOCs in the perspective of education service

For learner to have successful experiences with MOOCs, it is important to manage and keep the quality of MOOCs. The criteria which are included in evaluation of the quality of e-learning, can be also used for the quality management of MOOCs. However, there is the absence of specific educational assessment criteria adapted to the features of a MOOC. Yepes-Baldó [14] proposed quality dimension of MOOCs which is structured into two categories (course, platform). The course category includes 14 dimensions; methodology, content organization, teaching guide, content quality, teaching resources, motivation, technical quality, chronological aspects, language, interaction, user individualization, uniqueness, values, dissemination, promotion, price. The platform category includes visual and structural design, base language, compatibility, and communication resources. The details of course category’s indicators are below.

Cha [15] suggested checklists for quality assurance of K-MOOC or Korean MOOC. The quality indicator consists of four dimensions (content, activity, evaluation, supports) and twenty evaluation items. Details of Items are as follows.

Zeithaml et al., [16, 17] suggested the e-SERVQUAL model consisting of E-S-QUAL (e.g. efficiency, system availability, fulfillment and privacy) and E-ReeS-QUAL (e.g. responsiveness, compensation, and contact), for measuring e-service quality. The revised conceptual framework of e-services quality which Zemblyte [18] suggested, is composed of website quality (e.g. access, easy of use, website design, structure & layout, linkage, information accuracy), core e-service quality (e.g. privacy & security, reliability, fulfillment, efficiency, individualized attention), and e-service quality recovery (e.g. responsiveness, compensation, contact). Margryan and colleagues [19] proposed 10 dimensional design criteria to evaluate MOOCs quality, focusing highly on pedagogical aspect of a MOOC: Problem-centered, activation, demonstration, application, integration, collective knowledge, collaboration, differentiations, authentic resources, feedback.

To innovate the educational service called MOOC, let us consider MOOCs quality based on the essential characteristics of the service (intangibility, inseparability, heterogeneity, perishability) as mentioned above. Corresponding to each service characteristics, I suggest four MOOC quality dimension (value experience, mutual interaction experience, system approach, value co-creation) as mentioned below (Table 1). First, ‘value experience’ is required to provide tangible experience to learners. This dimension is composed of reality, reliability, and value. ‘Mutual interaction experience’ dimension has two indicators (assurance, empathy) about user’s touchpoint management for coping with service characteristic ‘inseparability’. ‘System approach’ dimension consists of three indicators (organizational environment, program, learner support), which are related with service characteristic ‘heterogeneity’. ‘Value co-creation’ dimension has two indicators (reactivity, collaborative co-agency). It treats with the limitation of education service’s perishability.

Value experienceRealityIt cultivates essential competencies (e.g. communication, collaboration, creativity, critical thinking, self-direction, etc.) required in real life rather than knowledge content.
It allows people to experience the problem-solving process rather than mere knowledge transfer.
Dealing with the real big questions of life
ReliabilityUnderstand and respect students as a person
Giving students the opportunity to grow while learning online
ValueExplain class content professionally enough to give students confidence
Online classes are worth noting the tuition
Mutual interaction experienceAssuranceProvides an evaluation score suitable for online student activities
Appropriate points are given according to the evaluation criteria described in the lesson plan.
Online classes continue to give you the same level of experience and confidence
EmpathyProvide appropriate feedback on student questions, presentations, discussions, and outcomes of activities
Show interest in individual students
System approachOrganizational environmentProvide a classroom environment suitable for online classes.
Maintain the appropriateness of online content quality and sound quality
Maintain the rigor of online test management
ProgramClearly guide the goal, content, method, and evaluation method of the online class
Properly present the content and volume of the online lecture
Have students present and think about theories from different perspectives
Strive for class based on student activity-oriented experience
Adjust the difficulty of tests and assignments appropriately
Learner SupportPresent online activities, assignments, and materials that students may be interested in
Encourage and praise students to build confidence
Provide students with effective use of learning materials
Provide opportunities for students to develop self-directed learning competencies
Value co-creationReactivityIn the event of problems such as system access, notify students in advance and try to resolve them quickly.
Actively reflect the opinions of students
Show an active will to help students
Collaborative co-agencyLeading classes to be with a variety of people, including local communities and industries
Instead of blaming class problems only on students, they regard it as the professor’s own problem.
Providing opportunities for positive mutual cooperation between faculty and students
Provide opportunities for positive student–student cooperation.
Provides an opportunity for students to select class topics to suit student interests

Table 1.

Quality indicator for MOOCs in the perspective of education service.


  • Participation experience refers to the quantity and quality of experience that is relatively more focused or more active in a task. Learning experience refers to the experience of certainty about current performance. And value experience refers to the experience of satisfying a need or value.
  • "In the context of the OECD Learning Compass 2030, student agency implies a sense of responsibility as students participate in society and aim to influence people, events and circumstances for the better. Agency requires the ability to frame a guiding purpose and identify actions to achieve a goal. It is about acting rather than being acted upon; shaping rather than being shaped; and making responsible decisions and choices rather than accepting those determined by others. Student agency is not a personality trait; it is something malleable and learnable. The term ‘student agency’ is often mistakenly used as a synonym for ‘student autonomy’, ‘student voice’ and ‘student choice’; but it is much more than these concepts. Acting autonomously does not mean functioning in social isolation, nor does it mean acting solely in self-interest. Similarly, student agency does not mean that students can voice whatever they want or can choose whatever subjects they wish to learn." [10]
  • This section is a translated and revised some of contents which are included in a book written by author [11].


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Sung-Wan Kim (July 28th 2021). What Brings about the Success of MOOCs in the Perspective of Education Service? [Online First], IntechOpen, DOI: 10.5772/intechopen.99053. Available from:

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