Introduction to MOOCs
Massive Open Online Courses
Types of MOOCs and Pedagogical Approaches
In their short lifespan, MOOCs no longer comprise a singular concept. There are a variety of pedagogical approaches being adopted in different MOOCs, some focusing on individual learning through online materials, others prioritising social learning and interaction (Conole, 2013). Downes (2012) divides MOOCs into two main types: 1) cMOOCs (C for “connectivist”) and 2) the xMOOCS (extended MOOC, similar to standard online courses, but with a larger number of students). The former stand in the tradition of connectivist philosophy and encourage creation of learning artifacts and networked learning. They use a learner-centred pedagogy where students can learn from one another. The latter, on the other hand, focus more on the transmission of knowledge, which is based on the cognitive-behaviorist pedagogy and supports a teacher-centric model (Barcena, et.al, 2014). Also, there has been an effort to overcome such a common classification of MOOCs by proposing an alternative taxonomy differentiating between network-based, task-based, and content-based MOOCs (Lane, 2012)
Figure 1: Three Kinds of MOOCs with examples, from Lane (2012)
To my mind, the classification above provides a foundation of how a MOOC can be delivered and teachers, researchers and instructional designers are in the process of exploring possible scenarios of designing and implementing successful MOOCs. On top of that, factors including disciplines, educational needs of learners, the platform chosen, the level of “openness” (see below) and the pedagogy that can support the aforementioned factors need to be taken into account. For language MOOCs in particular, there is a number of factors related to language acquisition that should also be considered and these will be discussed in the following post.