Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Time to call MOOCs something else?

A recent comment by Stephen Downes in the "OLDaily, (April 3rd 2012) " to the post by John Mak made me understand that the word MOOC is to be considered to mean any Massive Open Online Course (something that seems natural and obvious).
But then, what everybody (i.e. in the context of Change11 and the like) understands as a MOOC (see the excellent Educause paper [1] by Cormiere and Siemens) should be named something else.
Simply naming them “connectivists MOOCs” does not give credit to the ideas behind a MOOC. They should stand on their own.
MOOCs and the AI-Stanford like (AI) courses definitely represent very distinct course formats.
Both types bear some common features:
  • Geographical spread of participants
  • Big dropout rate although for AI courses is much higher than for MOOCs (85% vs. approximately 40% respectively).
  • Massiveness, although AI courses have orders of magnitude higher number of registered learners.
But, they clearly differ in many fundamental aspects (especially in its pedagogical content) so as to establish two very different course formats:
  • The AI fall into the cognitive-behaviorist pedagogy category and the MOOCs into the connectivist.
  • The AI participants have totally different learner’s goals and preparation than those in MOOCs.
  • There exists a very different nature of the subjects studied: in AI engineering and MOOCs educational theory.
  • MOOCs have a vast number of lurker participants while AI have no lurkers.
  • Tutors and facilitators bare very different roles.
  • Openness in each of the formats has also a different meaning. In AI it is more related to the fact that the courses are open for anyone to take. In MOOCs it refers to: openness to the personalization of learning, to the dialogue, debate, and conversation; to the novel, divergent thinking, and creative thinking; to the participation based on connection, collaboration, and sharing.

Open Online courses represent an important development in open education but MOOCs (our MOOCs) in particular, a major change.

So,  it’s time to call MOOCs something else.

[1] Cormier, D., and Siemens, G. (2010). Through the open door: Open courses as research, learning, and engagement. Educause, 45 (4), 30-39. Retrieved March 2012 from: http://www.educause.edu/EDUCAUSE+Review/EDUCAUSEReviewMagazineVolume45/ThroughtheOpenDoorOpenCoursesa/209320
Tag for #change11


  1. I agree with the sentiment Osvaldo but it may be too late now to do much about renaming 'MOOCs'. After all, taking the meaning literally, the Stanford type does fit the description - perhaps even more than a 'connectivist MOOC' since that hardly corresponds to what many people think of as a 'course'! Previously I suggested using 'Massive Open Online Learning Event' as a generic term so that 'Mooc', pronounced as a single word (to de-emphasize the 'course' connotation), then becomes the special case for Connectivism but now 'MOOC' seems to have taken over as the generic term and 'connectivist MOOC' as a subclass.

    Concerning the differences between various MOOCs, I'm not sure how fundamental they are. Given openess, anyone can approach any MOOC in just about any way they like. For example I've been registered on the Udacity CS101 course with a view to improving my programming skills. I'm not new to programming so I focus on the parts that interest me - rather like in a connectivist MOOC. I find the brief videos and exercises excellent for my purposes. There's also a lively discussion forum where a surprisingly large number of knowledgeable participants are helping out.
    Gordon Lockhart

  2. Learning Event... I like that and surely more acceptable than anarchists learning commune. I enjoy the exploration and sharing of ideas but am, ultimately, more interested in application than theories of pedagogy. Enough with the meta already, I say to myself, what can I do with it? So, Gordon, your update is welcome news to me.

    I get the impression that similar models (if not quite such free form happenings) are already being introduced for workplace training. I send open resources ~ including links to ones like Open Study ~ to the county Adult Learning Center GED teacher to supplement the highly structured commercially produced "program material" provided by ABE Center at the area community college. Recently, I brought up mobile learning.

    My impression: two basic models or perhaps tendencies have emerged and any number of variants (or adaptations) along the spectrum in between them. The tendencies will coexist like competing schools. Nothing new or surprising there.

  3. Oswaldo
    Is Coursera MOOC ?
    Is edx MOOC ?

    None of them massive at all . Finish is mostly less than 1,000

    They are not free either. A small fee later .

    EDX is non profits elite schools.
    Coursera is a wonderful marketing company .

    Reporters just misinform people .