In the past few years, the term MOOC has become popular as, indeed, have MOOCs themselves. But if you haven’t been in the loop, you may be wondering just what does MOOC stand for, and what is a MOOC?
Simply put, a MOOC is a Massive Open Online Course. When the first universities, such as Stanford, first started offering courses online to the wider public, rather than just their own already-enrolled students, it quickly became clear that there was an enormous demand – and market – for this learning model.
In addition to the universities and colleges themselves offering online courses, organizations sprang up which were specifically geared towards offering online classes. [Page no longer available – we have linked to the archive.org version instead] is one such offering.
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That covers the “OC” in the last half of ‘MOOC’ – the Online Course part. But what about the “MO”?
The “MO”, i.e. the “Massive” and the “Open”, refer to the goal to allow unlimited numbers of people to participate in the course.
This is, of course, a paradigm shift in a number of ways.
Moving entire disciplines to the online arena (there are now several degrees you can get entirely online), and allowing pretty much anyone to enroll, are two of the most obvious.
As the academic landscape continues to shift in the U.S. (in many ways downwards), proponents of MOOCs point out that they make education more accessible not only because your post-secondary classes are as close as your laptop, but also because they are far less costly than the cost associated with attending a university or other academic program in-person.
Detractors decry the lack of interaction with a ‘qualified’ teacher, and the missing out on the community and atmosphere of the college (or other) classroom.
Here at the Internet Patrol we don’t take one view or the other – our purpose here is to explain what the Internet-related term “MOOC” means. However, if you are interested in the debate, you can read some academic articles on the topic of “online versus classroom learning” here.
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