Monthly Archives: September 2012

xMOOCs: Labeling the Big Higher Ed MOOC?

Came across an interesting piece from Bonnie Stewart, providing a potential answer to a definition I was grappling with:  she calls the Coursera/EdX/Udacity model of MOOC an xMOOC (perhaps because of MITx and EdX?), delineating it from the cMOOC and providing clarity when discussing the different options in learning.  NOTE:  I have seen xMOOC thrown around, but in a haphazard fashion:  people have utilized it to refer not only to Stanford-model MOOCs, but connectivist MOOCs as well.  

I linked to Stewart earlier discussing the geeking out of media and ed folks over the possibilities of xMOOCs; the post on xMOOCs as Business Model rather than Educational Best Practices is similar in tone.  How this post differs is in a discussion of conviction.   Continue reading


A 2011 case study on the MobiMOOC course built from the theory and ideology of cMOOCs provides more of what you would expect from consistent research:  seminal thinkers, buffered ideology, and oddly small sample sizes.   Continue reading

Otto Peters on Distance Ed & Industrialization

A lot of the research I have found on distance education comes from Otto Peters.  In a 1967 writing on Industrialization & Distance Ed, Peters echoes Annand in saying that educative practices have not changed in hundreds of years, despite the rest of the world undergoing the Industrial Revolution.  Peters does not specifically call for industrializing education, but he says it needs to be considered relative to cost effectiveness and access options. Continue reading

When MOOCs Happen: Alec Couros Explores Personal Learning Networks

Alec Couros gives a quasi-case study account of his experience facilitating (and I really like that term to define the role of an instructor in a MOOC) EC&I 831, an open access course that grew into an open online course, and eventually had ten times the number of registered students interacting online.  The course is commonly organized with cMOOCs, based on the focus on open access, the online component, the learning theory of the course, and the ratio of external students to internal students.  In this anthology chapter, Couros uses his experience with EC&I 831 to discuss the importance of personal learning networks, analyzing learning theory behind open access learning (and subsequently Open Online Courses).   Continue reading

Siemens on MOOC Theory / Classifying MOOCs

George Siemens starts a June 2012 blog post by celebrating the advancement of massively open online courses via platforms such as Coursera and EdX (noticeably absent from his praise is Udacity) as methods of providing excellence in education on a global level (an effort that is written about in great detail throughout popular lit, but not so much in research).  The purpose of the blog, however, is to note the theoretical and pedagogical differences between MOOCs and Coursera/EdX MOOCs (and he notes that he has chosen to signify the larger model as the “other”).  What about similarities?

There are many points of overlap, obviously, as both our MOOCs and the Coursera/EDx MOOCs taken (sic) advantage of distributed networks to reflect changing educational practice.

As I have noted in previous review of research, the assumption that MOOCs share ancestry is likely faulty.   Continue reading

Unpacking Theory in Contested Waters – David Annand on Reorganizing Universities for the Information Age

I should have known David Annand’s 2007 article on reorganizing universities for the information age would be a challenging read based on the keywords:  Industrialization, Fordism, Luddites.  Annand, a professor at Athabasca University (home of cMOOC innovators George Siemens & Stephen Downes), wrote about the changes he saw necessary in the digital age of higher education.  His literature review, theoretical foundation and arguments ran in a direction I did not expect, calling into questions some of the beliefs I had built in my quest to define MOOC.  Finding resistance, I am going to dive deep into the writing to see where the differentiation is and why.   Continue reading

Remedial MOOCs?

The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation is sponsoring 10 grants (up to $50K) for institutions developing MOOC-style courses for “high demand, general education” courses, sourcespeak for assistive remedial work.  Inside Higher Ed digs into the article in their call for proposals.

The foundation notes they do not expect these courses to stand alone; rather, they should supplement existing institutional courses that provide faculty access research has shown is necessary in remedial education.  The grants will provide the Foundation an opportunity to research the effect of MOOCs on remedial education, giving nearly a dozen case studies and perhaps hundreds of thousands of subjects to garner data from.

Is this an example of an AI-MOOC, whose pedagogy builds from industrial and self-paced learning (which would bode ominous for the success of at-risk groups), a cMOOC, which relies heavily on peer-to-peer interaction (but lacks the structure commonly found in remedial education), or does it become an example of blended format, mixing MOOC-based online learning with traditional face to face time?  If it is the third choice, is the MOOC a supplemental tool for a teacher, or does it follow the flipped classroom model, turning the face-to-face time into tutoring time (and rendering the necessity of a pedagogically-trained professional obsolete)?

Outside of those debates, a very interesting quote from Paul LeBlanc, the President of Southern New Hampshire University, a school which the article states is growing its online education program at a rapid pace:

“The innovations so far exhibited with MOOCs are all about opening up elite brands to the masses and education for free,” he said via e-mail. “Neither of those innovations, which so captivates the press and others, actually addresses the real tough teaching and learning challenges at the heart of remedial education.”