Despite the popularity of massive open online courses (MOOCs), only a small portion of the course participants successfully complete the course. The low completion rate can be partially attributed to the mismatch between the participants' expectations and value delivered by the courses. Therefore, this study leverages MOOC reviews to investigate the focal point and sentiment of the learners by combining machine learning techniques and statistical analysis. Several text mining methods (ie, simplified Chinese-linguistic inquiry and word count dictionary, word embeddings, and bidirectional long short-term memory model) are combined to automatically extract the emotional and cognitive aspects, review focal point, and sentiment from the learner discourse. Multiple linear regression (MLR) analysis is performed to examine the relationships between the learner sentiment and the extracted content features. Using a set of real data from NetEase online open courses, our results reveal that the MOOC reviews mostly pertain to teaching and platform rather than the course content. Furthermore, the social process and personal concerns appear more frequently in the learner discourse. Overall, the learners exhibit positive attitudes towards teaching and platform and negative attitudes towards issues related to the course content. This study contributes to the literature regarding the MOOC research methodologies and provides a deeper understanding of the learner discourse behaviour in MOOCs.