These are some of the foundational articles I find myself linking back to regularly when considering the phenomenon of massive open online courses.
Otto Peters – Distance Education & Industrial Production: A Comparative Interpretation in Outline (1967). Generations before MOOCs, Peters hypothesized that education could run more efficiently if it adopted new distance methodologies similar to the industrialization of many goods and services in the 19th Century. Courses would not be assembly line per se, but rather than a course being crafted and controlled by an artisan, numerous people would play specific parts based on their skill set.
John Daniel – Making Sense of MOOCs: Musings in a Maze of Myth, Paradox & Possibility (2012). Though it’s a white paper, it was the first research-based review of the MOOC phenomenon as known in mass media. It addresses the early MOOCs and those that gained prominence in 2011 and asks questions indicative of learned education.
Terry Anderson – Getting the Mix Right: An Updated and Theoretical Rationale for Interaction (2003). A great primer on the interaction equivalency theorem, an education theory regarding the relationship between instructor, student and content.