What is a MOOC? #edtech

A MOOC is a ‘Massive Open Online Course’ and, as the video from Dave Cormier below introduces it as a

“response to the challenges faced by organisations and distributed disciplines at a time of information overload.”

A MOOC is not for credit, it’s for (networked) learning. You participate in a MOOC because you want to learn about a particular topic or subject. A MOOC is an alternative (attractive?) mode of learning in a flat, technologically interconnected world  and supports life-long networked learning.

A MOOC is similar to the traditional courses that we think about when looking at learning and education: it has facilitators, students, resources, start and end date, etc, but it’s about connecting and collaborating.

Watch the video and have David explain better, and fully.

“It used to be that if you wanted to know about something you could do a few things: you could ask someone, you could buy a book, you could try to figure it out for yourself, or you could call a school.  If that school offered that course in that thing you were trying to figure out, you could go there and take it. You could get access.”

Other resources you ought to look into, when thinking about this kind of learning, include the “Explore a New Learning Frontier” post from Learning Solutions Magazine, “Is it or is it not a MOOC?” from Rebecca Hogue, and “”Change MOOC” from Doug Belshaw.

Does the idea of a MOOC work (for you)? Have you participated in one, or have you organised one even? Share your experiences by leaving a comment below. At the moment I am interested in furthering my experience and qualifications (see my posts on CMALT and PG Certificate) but I would certainly participate in a MOOC … in fact, I already am – the Codecademy, even if I haven’t started yet!


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  • I read this today: “The Massive Open Online Professor” from the Academic Matters website – http://www.academicmatters.ca/2012/05/the-massive-open-online-professor/

    “The challenges faced by higher education around the world are daunting
    and cannot be met by the traditional institution-based education system.
    For the current model to meet the needs of future generations, we would
    need to build and fund thousands of new universities. And yet the past
    ten years have demonstrated that there is another way. Scalable
    education on the web is increasingly possible, largely through the use
    of commodity software that is easy to use and available freely or at low
    cost to anyone.”

    “The backing of prestigious institutions is clearly a factor in
    attracting large numbers of students. Brand recognition is likely to
    remain a differentiating factor, but MOOCs also offer opportunities for
    professors at smaller institutions to establish themselves as great
    instructors. Jim Groom at the University of Mary Washington has been
    able to attract thousands of students (and a number of other
    institutions) to participate in a digital storytelling course he
    designed and teaches with a number of collaborators. Not all professors
    will be excited by Thrun’s vision of Wonderland, but MOOCs may offer
    opportunities for academics to have their educational cake and eat it,
    too, by being the sage on a huge stage while also being a guide who
    remains closely by the student’s side—through the power of open and
    social technologies.”

    Read in full on the link above.

  • Here’s another useful resource on MOOCs, from Steve Wheeler this time – http://steve-wheeler.blogspot.co.uk/2011/04/running-mooc.html

    “That is both the strength and the weakness of the MOOC. You see, you
    can connect to anyone, anywhere, at any time to learn from each other. But you
    can also miss those connections, if certain people decline to join in. MOOCs
    are also at their most successful when there is a critical mass of
    participants. So what if you gave a party and no-one came? A sparsely populated
    MOOC is just …. well….. an OOC, isn’t it?”