Firing at the MOOC Moving Target

I sit down at my computer on Monday morning to see what folks wrote about re: MOOCs over the weekend.  And herein lies the problem in trying to define a learning trend/model/phenomenon/hysteria:

  • Michael Feldstein wrote a thorough engagement of LMS companies such as Instructure throwing their hats into the higher ed MOOC fray.  Feldstein continued to look at the MOOC movement in terms of disruptive innovation, and while in the article he questions that approach, dominant ideology of the time (or at least dominant media narrative) links MOOC to the theory of Christensen, so I’m going to need to go back to that one.
  • The New York Times wrote an article with the inflated title The Year of the MOOC.  The article pays very little lip service to the MOOC movement prior to Seb Thrun and 2011, continuing the media narrative that MOOCs pretty much fell out of the sky at that time, though a few people were dabbling around some years before.  Well, folks involved with Thrun & Udacity link their practices to the trailblazing work of Sal Khan.  And sure, it’s easy to write off mainstream news articles that ignore history, theory and pedagogy…however, from all accounts the majority of players in the xMOOC movement aren’t concerned with history or theory, and pedagogy is a means to an end rather than an art or science (meaning it’s not really pedagogy in that use), and the money is on the xMOOC side, so poo-pooing the din of xMOOC talk will only leave behind those whose views on MOOCs don’t conform to xMOOCing.
  • George Siemens, one of the MOOC pioneers, responds to the notion that MOOC starts with the xMOOC model.  Siemens traces back to open education (such as Athabasca and moving all the way up to the work of David Wiley); I wonder if the historical path is the same for cMOOCs and xMOOCs.  Personally, I don’t think so…they are at the most parallel, but perhaps perpendicular…
  • Bonnie Stewart laid out a potentially positive view of the MOOC movement, finding things to be excited about on the xMOOC side while seeing true innovation in learning & Internet communication on the cMOOC side.  I think the next step is finding the common ground between both and redefining the learning movement away from this MOOC term that jumped the shark four months ago with MOOCMOOC and continues to be bogged down in new and unique models jumping on, commonalities be damned.
  • The blog College, Inc. on the Washington Post website features annotations from three students who have recently taken MOOC coursework through one of the primary providers.  The students heap lavish praise on everything about MOOCs, hitting the points high for PR:  access, flexibility, stature, economics.  Must be noted:  the students volunteered their answers based on a discussion board post, and the subtitle of the blog is Campus life from a business perspective.
  • Cathy Davidson from HASTAC announced a new MOOC developed by undergraduate students.  There are pedagogical similarities to the cMOOC movement with more scaffolding, but the openness of the course is only in a one-way relationship between the senders in the course and a receiving public, with the 32 creators required to be institutionally enrolled.

This is just the hot topic information; it doesn’t get into theoretical and historical readings offered to me by my growing network of thinkers and researchers, the folks at #cfhe12 or the Twitterverse.  How does someone keep up with the deluge of new information while trying to track the lineage of what continues to evolve?  


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