I attended a recent Educause/ELI webinar entitled “Learning and the Massive Open Online Course (MOOC)” to learn more about what other institutions are doing and find out the newest and best things about MOOCs. The two-morning event was held using Adobe connect and had continuous speaker sessions every 30 minutes, so it was pretty fast-paced. The active twitter feed can be read by looking at the #ELIFOCUS hashtag.
I thought I had a pretty good idea going into this webinar what a MOOC was:
- MASSIVE meaning available to more than your institution and thus designed in such a way to encourage and rely on student-student interaction in a large way. Also designed so that participants could come and go depending on what topics they were interested in.
- OPEN enrollment, free and accessible materials, creative commons license on content
- ONLINE outside of a restricted LMS and content available after the official course was “over”
- COURSE with outcomes, assessments, and interaction and collaboration, plus a strategy for sharing back to the group
The differences between the course development that we are currently doing at UAF eCampus was in the MASSIVE and OPEN and ONLINE areas. Many of our courses, are published on a public website, have materials that are free and accessible to the public, and the original content contains a creative commons license of some kind. These courses also have a start and stop date related to a semester, and once the semester is over aren’t necessarily maintained. Most often they are used for the next semester. They also aren’t necessarily open for contributions from non-enrolled students.
It is the realm of MASSIVE that are courses aren”t considered MOOCS in my mind. Many of the interactions and assessments (other than auto-graded assessments) aren’t scaleable if the enrollment is 100, 1,000, or larger.
After some of the ELI focus sessions, I can see that MOOCS means much more to many people without having a clear, acceptable definition. Some of the descriptions I was hearing sounded like courses just like we are offering. Some descriptions were online courses where the instructor was video-taping their lectures much as you do for a flipped-classroom. Just because you put up your course content in one of the third-party MOOC hosting companies like Udacity, EdX or others…does that make it a MOOC if you limit the class enrollment, have a required textbook and are using the space to show your video lectures? I think many of the bigger institutions are confusing OpenCourseWare with a MOOC. Everyone seems to be missing the course design elements that are needed to be built into a MOOC to make it thus.
This graphic was produced by one of the ELI focus participants and speaks well as a summary for the event.
I’m not willing to call what I would call a typical online course, a MOOC, just to be using the buzzword.