For the last two years, MOOCs have dominated the national conversation on technology and the economics of higher education. But for all the talk of whether they’ll usher in a new age of democratized global learning or destroy higher learning as we know it (or possibly both at the same time), it’s been hard to get a handle on MOOCs are, and what they can be. A lot of MOOC journalism has been like this, wherein a general-interest magazine writer signed up for 11 courses, finished one of them (the easiest, apparently), and formed his opinions accordingly. On the theory that to understand an educational experience you should actually experience it, I’ve spent the last four months taking two MOOCs. Now I’m done, and this is what I learned.