As we say goodbye to 2013, the year after The Year of the MOOC, I remain unable to adequately define the acronym that graces this blog’s header.
This year Oxford Dictionary gave it the old college try, creating a definition more inclusive than exclusive and in doing so adding even more confusion to a rhetorical landscape littered with LOOCs, HOOCs, cMOOCs, xMOOCs, urMOOCs, SPOCs and other -ooc misfit acronyms.
Research and media remained focused on structural descriptions: MOOC design, its workings, its assessment strategies, its back-end data collection and aggregation.
Developers continued to herald the model as education for everyone and an example of reinventing education, even in the face of research noting the model’s penchant for providing adequate instruction and scaffolding for those who, to channel Derek Zoolander, already read good and do other things good too.
Some look at recent events as the beginning of the end for MOOCs or the inevitable trough of disillusionment a la Gartner Hype Cycle, while others remain bullish on the MOOC and its place as a standard bearer for the future of higher education and educational technology.
I don’t look back on 2013 in search of takeaways. 2013 was a result of 2012, the year of the MOOC, which was a result of 2011, the proliferation of unique experiments in distributed learning.
There is an interconnectedness to it all, and for those who wish to focus on the lack of interconnectedness between the 2008 version of MOOC and the 2011 and beyond MOOC, both models were at heart about offering coursework to large numbers of people online for no charge.
David Wiley in 2007, George Siemens et al in 2008, and Sebastian Thrun et al in 2011 seek (from this perspective) to do the same thing. Forces and influences helped shape these courses and movements to unfold at largely the same time, and while there are distinct moments and influencers for each person, there are multiple similar moments and influences as well.