What is a MOOC?Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) are large-scale online courses (in the thousands of participants) where an expert or group of experts from a particular field both 1. create the large draw to the course, and 2. facilitate a multi-week series of interactive lectures and discussion forms on critical issues from that field. Participants are expected to self-organize, to share and discuss the course material, and to create and publish new artifacts that represent their learning. Additionally, MOOC participation is recorded and published openly so that those who come upon it later may follow peripherally.
Where did MOOCs Come From?This is best answered in the words of David Cormier and George Siemens,
“The term was coined in response to Siemens and Downes’s 2008 “Connectivism and Connective Knowledge” course. An initial group of twenty-five participants registered and paid to take the course for credit. The course was then opened up for other learners to participate: course lectures, discussion forums, and weekly online sessions were made available to nonregistered learners. This second group of learners–those in The Open Course who wanted to participate but weren’t interested in course credit–numbered over 2,300. The addition of these learners significantly enhanced the course experience, since additional conversations and readings extended the contributions of the instructors.” (2010, p. 32).Since 2008, several other MOOCs have developed....
What is a MOOC Experience?
The scale of interaction among MOOC participants is like that of massively multiplayer online games, such as World of Warcraft, but where as in the gaming environment large numbers of people come together online to play, self-organize, develop skill, strategize as a group, and execute strategies, MOOCs, on the other hand, facilitate learning about or the development of a particular knowledge domain at a participation scale ripe for diversity....Other ways to experience a MOOC are to lurk or to follow the course after-the-fact.... there were lots of ways to participate... I thought it was remarkable how much I felt that I was there in the class....felt immersed through my after-the-fact peripheral participation.
Is MIT’s OpenCourseWare a MOOC?The short answer is no. I again point to Cormier and Siemens:
“In an open course, participants engage at different levels of the educator’s practice, whether that be helping to develop a course or participating in the live action of the course itself. This is distinctly different from the idea of open in the open content movement, where open is used in the sense of being free from the intellectual property stipulations that restrict the use and reuse of content” (2010, p. 32).Though MIT’s OpenCourseWare is revolutionary, making content publicly available is not enough because it only focuses on the content.... MOOCs seem to differ from Stanford’s classes in these principle ways
(now read the entire piece online, bookmark it, save the bibliography)