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 →
My dissertation chair pointed out a problem with doing a dissertation on MOOCs…unless the scope is specific enough, the venture becomes an attempt to define a moving target. This is evident in the manner in which we define MOOCs…in this blog I have begun looking at the MOOCs of Siemens and Downes as urMOOCs (coined by Bryan Alexander among others), although there are many who refer to them as cMOOCs (for Connectivist MOOCs). That leaves the Udacity/EdX/Coursera model as MOOC, and any good sociologist or cultural theorist will tell you that by defining one as standard and another as derivative, we have already set false assumptions and beliefs.
C.O. Rodriguez wrote a paper for the European Journal of Open, Distance and E-Learning on the differences between the cMOOC and what we refer to as only MOOC, and even he had difficulty defining the terms, using “AI-Stanford Like Model” to delineate. The paper is an ideal start for scholarly research on the topic, and as I read through his citations and continue to look over the work I will share those outcomes. A few initial points I found noteworthy: Continue reading →
The best MOOC primer I have read throughout my research comes from Ken Masters, a medical education professor at Sultan Qaboos University in Oman, who in 2011 provided a three-page synopsis of MOOCs for an audience of medical education professors. It incorporates theory, educational practices, the history of the movement, questions about pedagogy and practices, and considers future outcomes. The problem is, the MOOCs described here follow the urMOOC learning theories, drawing quotes from George Siemens, Stephen Downes, and Dave Cormier. In this model, learning is negotiated, the instructor is not the God of Content, and the objectives of the course may look remarkably different at the end due to the organic growth of the semester. Certainly that was the design of the urMOOC, but are the MOOCs of Coursera and Udacity willing to let objectives change and willing to negotiate knowledge? The reliance on quizzes and grading would point otherwise, but more research is needed.