Third-Party MOOCs

Defining the MOOC phenomenon from an educational perspective starts with theoretical foundation, and in order to build a theoretical foundation, one must look at the history of a movement.  This develops over a course of weeks and months of reading articles, fishing out noteworthy citations, reading those articles, and over time finding a path to various historical movement, seminal authors, and moments in time considered relevant by the community crowd.  Over the past two months, this journey started with MOOC, dove into aiMOOC and urMOOC, and started to gel around cMOOC and xMOOC as the two primary MOOC formats, with a collection of similarities but a wealth of differences.  Comparison study on historical, theoretical and pedagogical levels is my attempt to work on defining what MOOCs are and (perhaps more importantly) why they arrived and where we are going because of this moment in time.

The MOOC movement has exploded over the past nine months, and my assumption was that the media narrative of MOOC was too clean for the explosion happening, that we needed to start to delineate between xMOOC and cMOOC, and perhaps MOOC was the wrong monicker.  However, it was naive of me to think that the explosion would be so clean that it would fit under xMOOC and cMOOC.  Over the past several months, the following learning models/methods/approaches/infrastructures have either aligned themselves as MOOCs or have been aligned by others under that umbrella (and I do not present this as a full and complete list):

  • LOOC
  • Ed Startup 101
  • DS106
  • DigiWriMo

And there are pre-existing learning spaces that have distinct relation to MOOCs or the MOOC movement through theory, pedagogy and/or history:

  • Khan Academy
  • NaNoWriMo
  • University of the People

In an effort to define, it might be easier to focus on the two main groupings, try to lump some of the third-party MOOCs into those structures, create an us vs. them mentality, but that seems disingenuous.  Perhaps we are focusing too much on the term MOOC because it writes easily and sounds topical yet hip, rather than considering the changes happening to education and/or learning in these spaces in an effort to place it in an historical context and determine what the future holds.  

For example, I have long credited George Siemens and Stephen Downes with creation of the first MOOC, a course on connectivism offered in 2008 that was unique both in its hyperreal merge of content and structure.  And the Siemens/Downes offering is the first MOOC, or at least the first cMOOC…but David Wiley’s offering of his courses at Utah State University for free to online participants in 2007 could also be considered the first MOOC.  Wiley’s courses were not connectivist in nature; rather, Wiley’s focus was on the open aspect of the work, providing not only curriculum and instruction to the online contingent but direct feedback as well.  We could argue Wiley’s offering was the first example of an xMOOC, though the definitions of open utilized by Wiley would likely differ from those utilized by Sebastian Thrun or the folks at Coursera and edX.

Finding differences in all of these elements is easy; finding the similarities between various iterations is the true work.  And we should also consider the failed initiatives that have come before it, and see what changed between an initiative such as AllLearn and one like Coursera.

8 thoughts on “Third-Party MOOCs

  1. Pingback: Third-Party MOOCs | Connectivism |

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  3. Muvaffak Gozaydin

    xMOOCs has nothing to do with being massive .
    At the beginning people just register then drop the course 90 % .
    xMOOCs are to me just Best online Courses = BOCs by elite universities at small fee .
    since they are provided by the elite universities . I do not call them OPEN either at the meaning of free. BOCs are not free. Eventually elite universities will charge a small fee since the cost is small .
    Good thing about BOCs they can be shared by all schools and sharing college can provide a credit toward a degree too .Antioch Universi,ty, has done it .
    San Jose State , Mass. Bay Community College are considering the same .

  4. Pingback: Third-Party MOOCs – Diagram of MOOCs | Ida Brandão

  5. Jaclyn Spangler

    What is the difference between a MOOC, urMOOC, iMOOC, cMOOC, and an xMOOC? I am new to this whole MOOC thing and I didn’t know there were different types. Do all of these offer university credits? Are MOOCS similar to Khan Academy? I saw that you listed Kahn Academy as having a distinct relation to MOOC. I am assuming MOOC is more recent than Khan Academy.

    1. Rolin Moe Post author

      Good questions. The blogs do answer them, but not in one place. Perhaps I should outline a MOOC vocabulary place on the blog for people to get a quick glossary. To answer, though, there are lots of variations on MOOC, and what we think of as a MOOC (Udacity, Coursera, EdX) are actually a fairly late variant of the original MOOC, and quite a unique variation at that. It is that variation that has links to the way in which Khan Academy produces its content. Also, MOOCs still do not grant college credit, except in a few isolated instances.

  6. Cathy De Alba-Velasquez

    I am just now learning about MOOCs through an online cohort and have read through some of your blogs. I think I have an idea of what the differences are between the various types of MOOCs and their purpose. I even now recognize some similarities in the way our courses are designed. I can definitely see the appeal and it’s definitely a different way to learn. Since it’s start in 2008 (Siemens/Downes) or 2007 (Wiley), a few questions that still linger (and you may have already answered in one of your blogs) How successful are MOOCs? Is there someone or a group that has solely attained an education through a MOOC model?

    1. Rolin Moe Post author

      The success of MOOCs has yet to be determined; they’ve raised a lot of money and a lot of media hype, and the earlier models have a lot of critical acclaim, but issues of intrinsic motivation and measured learning still persist — the model, whether cMOOC or MOOC, pretty much helps those who traditional edu already helps and does nothing for those who struggle in traditional sectors, while removing the scaffolding that could help them in lieu of scalability.

      Your other question of whether anyone has ever gained a degree from a MOOC…as of yet, MOOCs do not offer credit. But there are many Do It Yourself edu advocates (such as Anya Kamanetz and Kio Stark) who see MOOCs as an opportunity to get the book education on your own without paying for the institution. I am sure some have done that, but that number is likely statistically similar to those who used a library instead of a university.


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