Daniel on MOOCs

I previously posted an item on Sir John Daniel's discussion of MOOCs, but I have added more extensive comments on Tony Bate's review - I rather suspect it is much more likely to be read by him there than on any site of mine.

Here is thus the comment I posted:

> I will be interested though (as will the author) in your responses to the paper.

Aside from (incorrectly) calling me wistful, the paper doesn’t deal with cMOOCs very much at all, and much of what it says about them is misleading.

- “which are known as cMOOCs and xMOOCs” and “which we shall call cMOOCs” – this is my terminology, introduced to draw out the distinction between our MOOCs and the others – the ‘x’ is adapted from MITx and EDx (which in turn probably adapted it from TEDx and Edgex); the ‘c’ stands obviously for ‘connectivist’

- the wikipedia disclaimer was put in place before the second definition was written and does not address the second definition (though it probably should)

- the “aim of the course” was not to “follow Ivan Illich’s injunction” – it was to offer an open forum for the discussion of connectivism. ‘Open’ because that’s how we roll. We’re all pretty sympathetic with Illich but it is a stretch to say we are ‘followers’ – the phrase “furnish all who want to present an issue to the public with the opportunity to make their challenge known” in particular doesn’t represent what we’re up to – quite the opposite, we want people to make their opinions known in their *own* websites, not ours

- “In this spirit ‘all the course content was available through RSS feeds, and learners could participate with their choice of tools: threaded discussions in Moodle, blog posts, Second Life and synchronous online meetings’…” This misrepresents the role played by RSS – we used RSS to aggregate content from different sites across the web – that’s what made it a network (something the xMOOCs still haven’t managed) – Daniel makes it sound as though we made it open by offering some content through RSS – that wasn’t it at all, not even close

- “those who coined the term MOOCs and continue to lead much Web discussion about them draw little attention to this change” – I am perhaps paid little attention, but I think you’ll find frequent discussions of the properties of xMOOCs in my blog and newsletter

- Platforms – the statement “Partly because they are so different, and partly because they exist behind proprietary walls, we shall make only general comments about MOOC platforms” – is quite misleading, at least with respect to cMOOCs. Three major platforms are used for cMOOCs, all of which are free and open source software:
1. gRSShopper, the sofwtare I authored, used for the first MOOC and a dozen or so connectivist moocs, not mentioned anywhere in the article
2. WordPress esp. with the feedPress plugin, used by eg. ds106
3. Moodle
The Siemens quote about platforms would have been more appropriately made when discussing intent and design.

- “whereas universities own and operate multiple Moodle installations, the administrative components of MOOCs (especially if they begin to make extensive use of Learning Analytics (Siemens, 2010)) are too complex for a teaching unit in a university to operate without huge resources.” – surely an odd statement, and I’m not quite sure what the “administrative components” are that he refers to

I think that Daniel is correct to point to the similarity between the current crop of xMOOCs and the elite universities’ previous unsuccessful forays into the world of online learning (does anyone remember Universitas 21 or California Virtual University?) but given that we (the cMOOC people) were around then and that this is what we built instead, it is all more disappointing that Daniel didn’t attempt more than a cursory look at cMOOCs.


  1. Yes people must know the difference between cMOOC and xMOOC
    MITx Harvardx Berkeley x are xMOOCs.
    How do you call Coursera and Udacity .
    In fact I call all beyond cMOOC, as
    MOL = Massive online
    Since it has nothing to do with openness and freeness .


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