Wednesday, April 3, 2013

SPOC?...another facepalm moment

OK, it's early in the morning, and I am reading my news, so I am generally going to be crankier, or more prone to have a "get off my lawn attitude," but this is just ridiculous.   The most recent facepalm moment in the world of education comes from somewhere near Cambridge, MA where a local MOOC platform is getting its start. I was reading a story on Inside Higher Education while coming to work this morning about Stanford joining edX.  I think this is pretty awesome because edX is a non-profit, and as such I can see more Openness, and willingness to be open, as part of a non-profit, rather than a venture backed system like Coursera.  Don't get me wrong, I don't think venture-backed systems are bad, I just have a feeling that they just won't be as open.

As I am reading, I come across this new term: Small Private Online Course (SPOC). Huh?  C'est quoi ça?  Well, I had to follow the link to find out! The link wasn't particularly helpful since it just spelled out the acronym and didn't provide a reference.   I honestly think this gold rush to name things needs to end.  SPOC?  Do you mean a traditional online course?  Traditional online courses are Small, and Private (i.e., not open!)  Are SPOCs free?  In such case should they be fSPOCs? or should be they SPOFCs?  It's the same silliness we see with the name "LOOC" (little open online course), which I dislike with the same kind of strength :-)  What is "little" anyway?  I've been saying for a while that "massive" is really just a matter of perspective.  A course that has more pre-requisites and a higher barrier to entry will, be definition, have fewer participants.  A course that is an introductory level course with few, or no, pre-requisites will be open to a more volumous amount of students and therefore will be "more" massive.  I don't think that the Massive in MOOC is absolute, but rather it is relative!

So, please, can we not call invent new names for things that already exist just for the sake of making a name?
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