The dramatic increase in online education, particularly Massive Open Online Courses MOOCs, presents researchers, academics, administrators, learners, and policy makers with a range of questions as to the effectiveness of this format of teaching and learning. To date, the impact of MOOCs has been largely disseminated through press releases and university reports. The peer-reviewed research on MOOCs has been minimal. The proliferation of MOOCs in higher education requires a concerted and urgent research agenda. The MOOC Research Initiative MRI will begin to address this research gap by evaluating MOOCsand how they impact teaching, learning, and education in general.