The Big Bang of MOOCs

What started off the MOOCs?

I got ideas from this history of Universe.

There are differences between the Big Bang of the Universe and that of the MOOCs, as the former was created by our God (for me as a Christian who believed it), and the latter is artificially created by human in this 21st century.

I found it intriguing to see the sudden explosion of xMOOCs, after a few years of cMOOCs.  In hindsight, I see the few years of development as incubation, where a number of concurrent initiatives took place, like Salman Khan using Youtube to post his video lectures, various universities attempting to break through online and distance education since the 2000s (Can Free Online Courses Transform the Higher Education Industry? 2012).

Over the years, many schools have attempted online education. Fathom, Columbia University’s for-profit online learning venture, shut down in 2003 just a few years after its launch. AllLearn, a similar effort backed by Yale, Princeton and Stanford, was founded in 2000 and closed in 2006.

Though the xMOOCs claimed to have been started with numerous initiatives like the Udacity, Coursera, edX, we could all trace their origins with some of the earlier attempts to reach out the global audience and learners, like the MIT Open Course Ware.

Why might Coursera or another of the new enterprises succeed where others have failed? For one, the technology has evolved. Video and audio are crisper. Desktop sharing tools and discussion boards are easier to navigate. There is greater access to Internet libraries. Course developers also have a more nuanced understanding of how people learn online and the best ways to present information in that format. Coursera, for example, slices lectures into digestible 10- or 15-minute segments and provides online quizzes as part of each section. Professors answer questions from students in online forums. This is a vast improvement from previous online education ventures that offered a less dynamic learning model where students watched canned lectures, with no interaction.

Image: Google.

MOOC images (300)

How are we able to piece these elements of MOOCs together?  That’s where I would trace back based on Complexity Education.


6 thoughts on “The Big Bang of MOOCs

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