MOOC (Massive Open Online Course) is an acronym as impossible to avoid as are the questions regarding the meaning of the individual words.
Is “massive” an opportunity for scalability of learning or obscuration of the individual? Is “online” the same as other online courses or a significant new piece of technology? Is “open” free access or a yet to be monetized delivery system?
If MOOCs are to differ from traditional online classes with their massive openness, a re-thinking of course design is required to handle the demands of huge numbers of students but also as an opportunity to bolster the open and accessible aspect of a new online learning paradigm.
This new paradigm is one in which learners can and will make à la carte choices of courses and programs, course topics, course providers, and classmates. With more open access to course content from a wide variety of providers, learners will naturally and quite easily include and extend their learning activities to existing social networks.
Social learning becomes learning socially.
Social learning is a well leveraged technique for online and face-face courses. Developing social connections through Facebook, Twitter, and other social media creates a sense of community in online classes. In a traditional social learning setting, the social net is made up of the students and teachers in the class.