A colleague at UConn, Mike Limberg, is enrolled in two MOOCs as part of our department's graduate teaching seminar. He offers his initial thoughts on the merits and problems of the system here. A taste:
Here's my take so far on what's good with these courses. They're open-access, without the cost or entry threshold of college. This makes it easy for anyone interested in bettering their own knowledge and academic skills to join in. Some of the content threads are dedicated to people telling where they're from, and there are thousands of people in countries all over the world taking these courses. The comment threads also reflect some of the much broader diversity in background knowledge or "common-sense" interpretations of history people from different places have. This can be quite good, particularly opening up American students to non-Western perspectives (though some of the troll postings about 9/11 and America show how that can be bad too).
Be sure to follow Mike's blog for further reflections on his MOOC experience. -Erin