cMOOCs and xMOOCs: hype or paradigm shift?

Coursera Screenshot

If you’ve glanced at the educational media in the last 6 months, you’ll certainly have seen numerous articles (often with quasi-hysterical headlines) covering the rise and rise of the MOOC, or Massive Open Online Course. I had intended to put this post on the E-learning Blog, but as MOOCs are supposed to be on the verge of revolutionising Higher Education, it seemed more appropriate to put it here. So, what’s all the fuss about?

The term MOOC actually covers two rather different types of online course, which are now categorised as cMOOCs and xMOOCs. There is some vagueness around what the ‘c’ and ‘x’ stand for, if anything at all, but essentially cMOOCs are characterised as collaborative, connected, and non- (or less) commercial. xMOOCs are the more commercially driven courses that, in pedagogic terms, are based on existing institutional models. The screenshot above is taken from the website of Coursera, one of the best known xMOOC providers. There is an excellent summary of the differences on James Michie’s blog. One of the early proponents of cMOOCs, Dave Cormier, outlines his thinking in the YouTube video below.

The hype around MOOCs in the media is based on some of the more outlandish predictions from those leading and marketing the xMOOCs (see this MIT Technology Review article for examples). Others point out that MOOCs don’t really seem to be so very different from the sort of thing that the OU (amongst other providers) has been doing for years. For some waspish insights into the business models that underpin the phenomenon, take a look through Mike Caulfield’s Hapgood blog.

To be continued…