Tag Archives: cMOOC

Donald Trump Invented the MOOC

I wrote a MOOC history in 2014.  I also wrote about Donald Trump and MOOCs in 2013.  Prior to my blog, no one had linked MOOCs and Trump, and my link was tangential.  Honestly, the only way I could further imagine a link from Trump to MOOCs is if he promoted my history.

This history is beautiful.  I know words; this history has the best words. People read this history, and they love it.  I hear from people who read it, everyone who read it said, ‘That’s a good history.’ They look over it and everyone is impressed at how much beautiful history there is.  My researchers have looked at it and they love it.  The Canadians, the distance education people, the educationals…big supporters.

Looking at the upload numbers, it’s doing well with everyone.  It wins with cMOOCs.  It wins with xMOOCs.  It wins with people who mix up online learning and MOOCs.  We love people who mix up online learning and MOOCs. And it’s taking off.  It’s a movement.  Have you seen the downloads? We’re going to publish it Open, and we’re going to make the publishing companies pay for it! Remember that. #makeonlinelearninghistorygreatagain

Was I, the MOOC history guy, wrong?   Continue reading

There is no Open in MOOC

Coursera’s announcement to add Specializations to its roster of educational packages comes with a new price in many cases, as noted in Carl Straumsheim’s 1/29 piece at Inside Higher Ed.

To sign up for Michigan State University’s How to Start Your Own Business, for example, budding entrepreneurs have to pay $79 up front for the first of five courses in the Specialization or prepay $474 for the entire program.

When enrolling in a MOOC on Coursera, learners are normally met with a box asking them if they would like to take it free — giving them access to all the course materials but not awarding a certificate upon completion — or pay $49 for an identity-verified course certificate provided upon completion. Learners can first pick the free option but change their minds later, however.

The question the article asks — how does charging for access fit the mission of access to world’s best education — is a variation on a question that’s been asked for 4+ years now, ever since Coursera, Udacity, edX and others became the go-to mainstream voices on EdTech expertise — what makes these providers the world’s best education besides a mission statement and a platform for PR?  David Wiley’s quote from 2013 is the touchstone I remember from that period — MOOC as a concept, to him, was out of the barn and the acronym rather stood for Massively Obfuscated Opportunities for Cash. Continue reading


I’ve been internally debating the use of the term xMOOC to describe the Coursera/Udacity/edX offerings for a while now.  This first came about when I started to study neoliberalism, and realize that there was not a true north definition; it was a term that fit the needs of the author, and usually in a way that cast scorn and dispersions on those umbrellaed via it.  This is not to say that neoliberalism is not an important concept, but that the concept and the term are not necessarily synonymous.

I talked about something similar with MOOCs in a recent post, noting how MOOC can mean anything to anyone, and inasmuch the term loses any meaning (and I note that the term is so bereft of its original meaning that it didn’t have meaning to begin with, thus it is a simulacrum).  There is an opposing force to such an argument, and it is based around the original iteration of the MOOC, the 2008 connectivism version that academics today label a cMOOC. Continue reading

A Critical Review of Andrew Ng’s “Learning from MOOCs”

My research and scholarship revolves around how learning technology (specifically recent explosions in distance and online learning technologies such as Khan Academy, cMOOCs and xMOOCs) affects the teaching profession.  There is great scholarship on the difficulties of distance instruction, and a whole host of people writing about educational technology while showing concern to stakeholders existing in academics.  There is not a lot of research writing on MOOCs as of yet, and very little on the xMOOC so commonly considered when discussing MOOCs.  And there is even less MOOC writing that focuses on instructors, or on the teaching profession, and how MOOCs work with/affect it.  Andrew Ng, one of the co-founders of Coursera, has an essay in today’s Inside Higher Education where he looks specifically at the relationship between MOOC and instructor.  In reading MOOC literature (and the subsequent comments), I find a great deal of how one interprets the writing depends a great deal on that individual’s prior inferences and assumptions.  This is nothing new — perhaps it just seems new and loud in a world of quick publishing — but it bears mention, especially when it is easy to consider any writing to be Fact.  There are multiple ways to read a text; I am taken back to Stuart Hall’s encoding/decoding and his ideas of dominant, oppositional and resistance readings.  In the spirit of this article, I am going to tackle it from the theoretical standpoint of critical pedagogy. Continue reading

Instructor, Facilitator or Free-For-All: What Will ETMOOC Provide?

An about me paragraph:

My name is Rolin Moe, and I am a doctoral student studying learning technologies through Pepperdine University’s Distance Education in Learning Technologies program.  I enroll in a lot of MOOCs, participate in some, complete few.  My interest is mostly as a researcher, looking at how the technology affords the ballasts of education:  purpose, interaction, assessment.  MOOCs like etmooc are interesting because most work in online education has focused on the first or third in lieu of the second; this is the opposite because the first ballast is only defined in generalities, and the third is debatable.  However, I think highly of one of the conspirators, Alec Couros, who wrote a chapter for a research book about his first experience in the MOOC-like world, a chapter I was rather fond of, and was excited to see how a cMOOC from his perspective would go.  I am in the preliminary phases of my dissertation, which looks at instructional roles throughout distance and online education, so I might not participate in discussion too freely, choosing rather to link to other course takers, as well as share some tangential research I am finding in my studies.

My fears, trepidations, and hopes

I just finished a week of #moocmooc, of which I was not a fan (perhaps I will detail some day).  There is a similarity in design between #etmooc and #moocmooc, not the least of which is the idea that the course is not taught, but rather facilitated.  The first I heard of facilitator as a cMOOC term was from Dr. Couros, and I have seen George Siemens use the term as well, but both were doing work at the same time and I’m not sure who gets credit.  Regardless, there is part of me that feels like facilitator is a disingenuous monicker for the work of the person.  I don’t doubt the efforts of Couros and the others; however, to believe that there is not a delineation of power and expertise in distinctive roles is to pretend such does not exist.  Like bell hooks famously noted during the first conference of Cultural Studies, the set up of the space and environment will speak as much of a message as the message you intend, especially in regards to position and power.  The list of conspirators is long and impressive, a mix of practitioners, scholars, users who all have clout in their fields.  If this is a learning environment, there must be a zone of proximal development, and these people are the experts, some of if not most or all of.  I don’t necessarily think this should be shunned, but if it is to be heralded that we are all in a network and we are all on an equal footing, that footing is on shifting ground if I am one click away from seeing who is in charge.

My son is about to start preschool, and we are looking at all sorts of unique options for him.  We viewed a few Waldorf schools online, watching videos and the like, and I was shocked at how traditional the classrooms were.  I told my wife that I want to find a preschool where the teacher’s desk is not in the front of the room at the chalkboard.  Implicit in that statement is an understanding that relationships dictate learning, and by placing the teacher in that position you have a subject/master dichotomy happening.  #etmooc goes out of its way to remove that subject/master relationship, in ways more successful (in my opinion) than #moocmooc did.  But there are experts, there is digital inequality, there are inside jokes among the twitterverse regulars. I am excited about what #etmooc will provide, and curious as to how the facilitators will facilitate.

Finding Focus in the MOOC Haze

When I began this blog, I intended it as a curation of the MOOC discussion, weaving in the current news with historical reference and adjacent issues in education.  That ended quickly, as the MOOCstrom (think Norway on that one) is relentless, with a barrage of new articles popping across email, blogs, RSS and social media.  Trying to curate everything resulted in two observations:  1)  most MOOC writing is reference-less commentary, and 2) most of the commentary (and you could make a case for commentary in general) is a simulacrum, built of assumptions and misnomers presented as zealous fact.  Commenting on commentary will only continue to push the conversation down the rabbit hole, resulting in more conversations built of error.

I believe in the potential of education, technology and community to create better.  I rarely see it.  Adding a rudder-less blog into the din, no matter how noble the intention, only creates more white noise.  Thus, the majority of this blog’s future will build around these planks: Continue reading


Coursera announced this week the addition of a Career Services department for students in the organization.  According to the website, students who opt-in for the program will submit a resume and other information to the site, which will be viewable by selected partner companies.  From Andrew Ng, one of the founders of Coursera:

This is a relatively uncontroversial business model that most of our university partners are excited about.

Controversy is in the eye of the viewer, so Ng’s quote may or may not be accurate depending on the onlooker.  That said, many in the educational field (here, here and here, to name a few) have openly wondered how MOOCs will make money (in part to provide ROI for the venture capital backing them), so movements toward a revenue stream deserve more than lip service. Continue reading

MOOCs, Inference & Political Punditry

One US Presidential Election takeaway of note for me was the perception of veracity in the Republican party’s projections.  When I woke up on Tuesday morning and read Nate Silver’s ultimate blog post at fivethirtyeight.com, I relayed to my wife that for President Obama to lose, there would have to be a foundational problem with state as well as national polling, not to mention the metric foundations of demographic data analysis.  A loss for the President would not be based on several mistaken variables, but instead a systemic issue at the foundation of the algorithms and the theory behind them.  Yet 12 hours later, Karl Rove famously melted down on the Fox News set, demanding answers from Fox’s number crunchers (and not receiving the answers he was hoping for).  The obvious question — despite extensive evidence to the contrary, how could Rove be so bamboozled by the election outcome?

Chris Argyris developed a tool for understanding how individuals utilize information and form perceptions in his 1990 Ladder of Inference.   Continue reading

MOOCs – Sliced Bread, or the Ron Popeil Bread Slicer?

There’s a lot of hype about MOOCs (and when I put hype and MOOC together, I mean xMOOC), and with the hype comes a resistance from ed tech folks.  The arguments go something like this:  hype machine says MOOCs are the next big thing and the best thing to happen in ages, and resistance says MOOCs aren’t great, aren’t new, and aren’t making things better.  A prime example comes from some hype dished up by the MIT Technology Review entitled The Most Important Education Technology in 200 Years, countered by D’Arcy Norman’s terse reply whose tag line involves fertilizer.  What we forget when we enter a point-counterpoint frame of mind is that both points of view come from ideologies and histories that result in the digital artifacts I have linked to.  Studying those artifacts to find the encampment inferences and foundations can help us see the positives and negatives of both sides rather than following one full throttle. Continue reading

Adult Ed/Lifelong Learning & MOOCs

Back to the theoretical grind, I was alerted to a research article on heutagogy as an alternative to andragogy.  If that sentence is full of ambiguous words, it was for me too — both are theories of learning relating to adult education, a field in edu which supposes that adults learn in a manner different from children (which is a lot to suppose, but makes sense at first glance).  While MOOC marketing departments have heralded the xMOOC’s ability to let an intrepid 12 year old take a Stanford course in computer programming (and, as a field, we need to see how Code Academy fits into the MOOC archetype), the history behind MOOCs comes either from traditional higher education (xMOOC) or distance education designed for higher education (cMOOC).  Because traditional higher ed is seeing an upward shift in median age of student (and distance ed has always seen an older student population than in traditional ed), the theory the MOOC movement built on (or will build upon) needs to account for an adult population.  Not surprisingly, little of the little MOOC research flows down this path.  That leaves it to us to research, code and crunch.  Getting into the work by Lisa Marie Blaschke… Continue reading