I’m not going to reinvent the wheel and explain what a Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) is. Tons of people are trying to explain this “new” trend.
While I think most of the craze around MOOCs is the fact that some big institutions are offering interactive versions of their courses with recorded slides and video lectures, the what makes a MOOC engaging is what makes any sort of eLearning or Learning without the “e” engaging: clear objectives, connectedness, knowledge/skill transfer optimization, fun (why not?), scaffolding… all those words you threw around in grad school.
So, whether you’re designing a MOOC or any type of learning experience, forget the term, design it thinking of your audience and objectives that will help them acquire skills and knowledge they can actually USE.
The technology is an enabler, not a driver.
What is a MOOC?
Massive Open Online Course (Wikipedia)
MOOC Guide (Wikispaces)
Massive Open Online Course (references from Educause)
MOOC Advisor (blog and resources about MOOCs)