Friday, August 17, 2012

Shades of MOOC

Dispersion by a prism by Alfredo Louro, on Flickr
Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 2.0 Generic License  by  Alfredo Louro

There are many types of open online courses for large groups of participants that are labelled MOOCs. Most of them are indeed open, online and aimed at a mass following but their pedagogies differ. There's a big difference between the pioneer MOOCs of Downes, Siemens, Cormier, Couros etc, built around connections, dialogue, flexibility and collaboration, and the streamlined instructional MOOCs of Coursera, EdX and Udacity.

So I was glad to see Lisa Lane's blog post Three kinds of MOOCs which gives a good definition of three shades of MOOC: network-based, task-based and content-based. It's not a case of one being better than the other but a case of horses for courses. Different formats suit different learners with different objectives and motivations.

The network-based MOOCs of Downes and co are excellent for digitally highly literate and self-sufficient learners who know how to collaborate online and are at ease in different digital environments. These courses are complex and lack clear bullet-point objectives and guided study. Those who prefer clarity, structure and guidance will feel more at home in the more traditional and familiar format of the content-based MOOCs of Coursera and co. The task-based MOOCs will appeal to more practical learners.

There's no right answer here as Lisa sums up:

"So I’m rejecting both the Good vs Bad MOOC model, and the million-points-of-MOOC approach, and going for a triad."

Or maybe time to find new labels. Will 2013 see the MOOC morphing into other new concepts?

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