Do you speak MOOC?

booksThe world is full of acronyms. Sometimes I feel a little bit like the barnyard animals in this classic tale who try to eavesdrop on the secret cow negotiations but can’t speak “Moo.”

So, for those of you who might not yet speak Moo, what is a MOOC? It’s one of those terms that has been floating around for awhile and is a frequent subject of both praise and controversy in the educational stratosphere. There is hardly a day in the news or related commentary that MOOCs do not surface. Just today, Voice of America ran a story called MOOCs are Moving Forward in which it says that MOOCs “are changing how people learn in many places.”

M = Massive
O = Open
O = Online
C = Course

These terms mean different things in various MOOC designs and scope, but the general idea is to bring higher education to the masses, so to speak. Some of the big MOOCs are being facilitated through major universities like Stanford, Harvard, CalTech, MIT, and the University of Virginia and on sites like Udacity, Coursera, and OpenCourseWare. The idea is that anyone can join, without admission criteria and without cost (there are fees if you want to obtain credit for the course). They make it possible for anyone, anywhere (with an Internet connection and computer) to learn. This video speaks MOOC:


Open, free education is not without opponents, for sure (no doubt including many universities and colleges), and quality control is a concern. Everyone on both sides is interested in how MOOCs will play out because they are potentially powerful vehicles in learning. Unlike a gadget or new tech tool for the classroom, MOOCs change learning design altogether. They just may change the future of higher education and brick-and-mortar institutions as we know it, especially distance learning. These changes will likely trickle down into K-12 environments in due time. It is not only interesting, but crucial, that we understand the pros and cons of MOOCS and how they impact student learning.

My culminating assignment in EdTech 543 was to create a pilot MOOC. I worked with two group members to create S.W.A.T. Students Working to Advance Technology. It is a small-scale MOOC designed for high school students but could easily be a larger project or involve younger students. The objective is to reach out to students who have a passion for technology and help them become technology leaders while strengthening their 21st Century Skills. It would be really fun to pull this off.

Interestingly, we reviewed our peers’ MOOCs using a screencast. This was certainly a learning experience and an example of using screencasting in assessment. Catch a quick glimpse of my screencast here (you don’t have to watch the whole thing to get the point):

Additional MOOC Resources:

Example MOOC-Inspired Courses:

Screencasting Resources for Teachers:

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