As we say goodbye to 2013, the year after The Year of the MOOC, I remain unable to adequately define the acronym that graces this blog’s header. This year Oxford Dictionary gave it the old college try, creating a definition more inclusive than exclusive and in doing so adding even more confusion to a rhetorical landscape littered with LOOCs, HOOCs, cMOOCs, xMOOCs, urMOOCs, SPOCs and other -ooc misfit acronyms. Research and media remained focused on structural descriptions: MOOC design, its workings, its assessment strategies, its back-end data collection and aggregation. Developers continued to herald the model as education for everyone and an example of reinventing education, even in the face of research noting the model’s penchant for providing adequate instruction and scaffolding for those who, to channel Derek Zoolander, already read good and do other things good too. Some look at recent events as the beginning of the end for MOOCs or the inevitable trough of disillusionment a la Gartner Hype Cycle, while others remain bullish on the MOOC and its place as a standard bearer for the future of higher education and educational technology.
I don’t look back on 2013 in search of takeaways. 2013 was a result of 2012, the year of the MOOC, which was a result of 2011, the proliferation of unique experiments in distributed learning. There is an interconnectedness to it all, and for those who wish to focus on the lack of interconnectedness between the 2008 version of MOOC and the 2011 and beyond MOOC, both models were at heart about offering coursework to large numbers of people online for no charge. Continue reading →
At the heart of the Open Education Resources movement (and the Open movement in general) is the notion that education is a public good. The progression to such sentiment may be based in a notion that an educated citizenry betters democracy and civic life (folks like John Locke and Thomas Jefferson), or that knowledge and wisdom are non-rivalrous and non-excludable (Econ 101), or that the increase and diffusion of knowledge stimulates societal and cultural growth (James Smithson, John Quincy Adams). Regardless of its germination, the crux of such thought is that the provision of education from an egalitarian lens results in benefit across the population.
At face value the Massive Open Online Course fits this vision: courses are free, prerequisites are encouraged but not enforced, and access to the best professors at the best universities is not bound to geography or economics. And research into the framework of the MOOC points to the opening of university walls, the building of intra- and internet communications and an attempt to promote the increase and diffusion of knowledge for society, whether communal or global. That’s why it’s worth noting that one of the primary voices in OER, David Wiley, sees the 2013 incarnation of MOOCs as a money grab:
I propose that, whenever you hear the acronym MOOC, you think: “Massively Obfuscated Opportunities for Cash”
How can a MOOC be both a bastion for openness and the epitome of closed content? Continue reading →
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. Continue reading →