MOOCs aren’t ‘massive’ just because they have lots of people taking them


In a VentureBeat article entitled MOOCs no longer massive, still attract millions, the CEO of an online course selection website talks about the ‘changing business models’ behind Massive Open Online Courses.

What I think vendors misunderstand, quite apart from the difference between a cMOOC and an xMOOC is that the ‘Massive’ part of the MOOC acronym isn’t related to the actual number of people enrolled on a course. As Stephen Downes helpfully points out in a post from 2012:  

What makes the MOOC offered by George Siemens and myself different was that it was a distributed course. This is what enabled the ‘massive’ part of ‘Massive Open Online Course’. The software developed to support the course – called gRSShopper, written by myself – was designed to enable the use of open educational resources (OERs) and to aggregate student contributions nwritten using their own weblog environment (and later, discussion boards, Twitter, Facebook, Delicious, and more). I’ve been working with aggregators since the beginning of RSS and of course have been influenced here by the work of people like Dave Winer and Aaron Swartz, among many others. The OER movement itself has roots in the open access movement, which created the Open Archives Initiative, and eventually the UNESCO OER program.

In other words, MOOCs are ‘massive’ when the use the full affordances of the web, rather than create yet more silos. As I pointed out in this post only people who care about ‘scale’ in education are those looking to profit from it.

Image via Nomad Pictures