Massive Open Online Course - pun on MMORPG

Virtual Learning medium?

Championed by Stephen Downes, George Siemens, and others of the Connectivism clan.

  • May'2012: but has that wide/vague label been captured by bigger-but-more-traditional offerings like EdX?
  • some people have started distinguishing between cMOOC (C Mooc - from Connectivist) and xMOOC (X Mooc - from MITx/EdX)
    • aside from that pedagogical difference, cMOOCs, tend more toward
      • use of OER
      • integration of student chosen channels - PLN vs LMS



George Siemens

Apr'2012: Stephen Downes history: *

  • 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 (OER-s) and to aggregate student contributions written using their own WebLog environment (and later, Discussion Forum-s, Twitter, FaceBook,, and more). I've been working with RssAggregator-s 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.
  • We say explicitly that the content is the "McGuffin" - it is the thing that gets people together, gets them talking, gets them thinking in new ways (Connectivism).
  • With respect to actual Assessment and Credential-ing, there are two basic approaches (or three, if you count badges (see the Mozilla Badge program), but I don't really). The first is the Big Data approach - instead of using a few dozen data points, which is what the testing regimen does, you track a student's activities and construct a profile from the full spectrum of his interactions with the material and other learners. This is the work of a field called 'LearningAnalytics' (which should be 'discovered' by the Stanford-MIT nexus any time now). The second, which is my own approach, is a network clustering approach - the idea is that in a network of interactions in a community, expertise constitutes a 'cluster' of activity, and a person's learning can be assessed as a form of proximity to that cluster. The Learning Analytics and Network Analysis approaches are not mutually exclusive.


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