What is a MOOC?

MOOC is an acronym for Massive Open Online Course, and it seems like there are more popping up these day, primarily aimed at educators. Which is one of the reasons why I think Jim Groom’s DS 106 course on Digital Storytelling is an important evolution in the MOOC trail, blazed by people like Alec Corous, George Siemens, David Wiley, and the recent PLENK 2010 course run by George Siemens, Dave Cormier and Stephen Downes. Jim’s course is pushing the MOOC beyond educators and towards a more general audience in that the subject matter is not specifically related to the process of networked learning or educational technology.

If you are not familiar with the MOOC model of online learning, Dave Cormier (who, along with Bryan Alexander coined the term) has created a great primer video on MOOC’s. I think this is an important video as it clearly articulates, in less than 5 minutes, what a MOOC is, how it works, and how it is different than other types of online courses. I think it provides a great introductory gateway to the concepts of networked learning for those unfamiliar with the terrain.

Update: About 30 minutes after I published this article I read a post by George Siemens entitled What’s Wrong with (M) OOC’s in which he hilights three concerns he has with MOOC”s, which are the high drop out rate, degree of technical skill required by both participants and facilitators, and learner disorientation. I am guilty of the first one – dropping out of PLENK. I started strong, but couldn’t finish. This was due mostly to the other commitments I have going right now (my Masters research). It was too easy to not participate, which is reflected in another concern with MOOC’s which Alan Levine brings up in his comment to Georges post:

To me a missing piece is the challenge of creating the stake that a learner has in a MOOC- not paying for a course, not working with a grade or credit as incentive, it falls completely on an individual’s own internal drive to participate, and to do so fully.

One thing is clear – the MOOC model is emerging and there are people who are working hard at figuring out all the bits and pieces. And they are doing it out in the open for all of us to see and participate in.


Clint Lalonde

Just a guy writing some stuff, mostly for me these days on this particular blog. For my EdTech/OpenEd stuff, check out https://edtechfactotum.com/.


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