Thursday, January 10, 2013

All MOOCs are online courses, but not all online courses are MOOCs...

Seems to me, that even though I dropped the Logic Course on coursera (loved those two professors by the way!), Logic is back to haunt me ;-)

I came across a blog post the other day through my RSS reader, which stated the following:

As massive open online courses (MOOCS) have exploded in popularity educators are coming under increasing pressure to make an effective use of the new technology. To help instructors realize the potential of the new content delivery platforms Georgia Tech is unveiling a MOOC about creating a MOOC.
To be honest, the first thing that came to mind was the following question: What does Georgia Tech know about MOOCs and MOOC pedagogy? I didn't recall anyone off the top of my head that was from Georgia Tech that has been involved with MOOCs a lot over the past couple of years.  In any case, I followed the link and the link of this quick news blurb links to the "Fundamentals of Online Education".  The course isn't about MOOCs but, it seems, about "traditional" online course design and pedagogy (similar to the one I am teaching as a matter of fact ;-)  ).

Last year, I noticed a number of blog posts and opinion pieces essentially equating MOOCs with "online education." I essentially discounted these posts because they were few and far between and I didn't think that there was an endemic perception that MOOCs = Online Course.  But now, it seems like the problem is more wide spread.

I am not saying that MOOCs aren't online courses (the OC in MOOC stands for Online Course).  I just believe that it is a fallacy to equate ALL online courses with MOOC.  We don't do this with on-campus courses, do we?  After all, a 10 person seminar isn't taught the same way as a 500 person auditorium lecture course. I think that by equating MOOCs as THE online course we are simultaneously doing harm to both MOOCs and online courses.  By equating the two, we are transposing one's failures to the other, and one's pedagogical assumptions to the other.  You can't design a MOOC like you design a "regular" "traditional" online course, and you can't take the same success measures from a MOOC and apply them back to the traditional online course (and, of course, the reverse applies in both stipulations).  So, next time you hear someone confusing a MOOC with an online course, do them a favor and correct them ;-)

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