The last ever MOOCshow #openandonline

[note: the Jisc blog already has a response to the UUK publication on MOOCs, which – if it is your first time here – is probably the blog post you are looking for. You can go about your business. Move along. If you actually want to read something coherent about MOOCs try this write up of an RSC Webinar I did last week –  thanks to @hblanchett for the great post which makes me sound far better than I actually was.]

There is a small but growing number of people who flinch whenever they see the word “MOOC” appear on their twitter timeline. I’d put myself amongst their number – I seem to have reached a point of super-saturation which has rendered me unable to to register any emotion other than boredom with the whole topic. This may well be the last MOOC-post on here for a while.

You know what? If you are interested in MOOCs, go and do a MOOC. If you enjoy it, do another one. If you don’t – go and do something else.

There’s various people out there trying to sell you the whole experience as some kind of futuristic panacea, there’s others that are using the panic and disquiet to sell you an online university in a box that will make all the scary go away. (Don’t give either of these groups any money.)

In fact, if you want a one-word write up of the #openandonline event, try “fear”. Fear of being left behind. Fear of being rendered irrelevant.

ZunguZungu puts this better than I ever could.

“Where this urgency comes from, however, might be less important than what it does to our sense of temporality, how experience and talk about the way we we are, right now, in “the MOOC moment.” In the MOOC moment, it seems to me, it’s already too late, always already too late. The world not only will change, but it has changed. In this sense, it isn’t simply that “MOOCs are the future,” or online education is changing how we teach,” in the present tense. Those kinds of platitudes are chokingly omnipresent, but the interesting thing is the fact that the future is already now, that it has already changed how we teach. If you don’t get on the MOOC bandwagon, yesterday, you’ll have already been left behind. The world has already changed. To stop and question that fact is to be already belated, behind the times.”

We should be stopping, pausing, thinking (even pointing and laughing) at stupidity like “MOOC or die”, or even at pressure to “respond” in some way to the agenda.  That we are not says more about our need to cling on to anything that seems to offer a path out of the cultural, social and economic morass we find ourselves in.

A “MOOC” is not massive, open, online or a course. It is a MacGuffin. It is a big friendly reset button. It is a magical device that retcons the failed digital education revolution of 1999/2000, and ignores all of the many things we have learned since.

It works because we get to have the shiny future without acknowledging the 10+ years of tedious actual work (both technical and conceptual) that underpins it, and the further 10+ years of work need to get it to a stage where it is actually of use to someone.

The MOOC as it currently stands is a flawed vision of the near future. And we don’t need to buy into every prophecy or panic that surrounds it.


4 thoughts on “The last ever MOOCshow #openandonline”


  • More on MOOCs and Being Awesome Instead | iterating toward openness – D’Arcy Norman dot net
  • More on MOOCs and Being Awesome Instead | iterating toward openness – D’Arcy Norman dot net
  • What I’ve starred this month: May 28, 2013 Jisc CETIS MASHe
  • More on MOOCs and Being Awesome Instead | iterating toward openness | D’Arcy Norman dot net

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