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Is the MOOC Truly Dead, Just Taking a Breather, or Still Gaining Momentum?

Matt Crosslin (University of Texas at Arlington & University of North Texas, USA)
Additional Authors
Harriet Watkins (University of Arkansas System eVersity, USA)
Session Information
April 24, 2015 - 11:40am
Open and Collaborative Education
Major Emphasis of Presentation: 
Applied Use (technology or pedagogy)
Major Emphasis of Presentation: 
Emerging Technology (tools or processes)
Audience Level: 
Session Type: 
Information Session
Lone Star C1
Session Duration: 
50 Minutes
Concurrent Session 10
Virtual Session

What if the most important lessons to be learned from MOOCs will still thrive long after the MOOC is a distant memory?

Extended Abstract

While some have declared the MOOC dead, others see them as still going strong. What if the most important lessons to learn have nothing to do with whether the MOOC lives or dies? What if the most important lessons to be learned from MOOCs will still thrive long after the MOOC is a distant memory? George Siemens declared that the only innovative thing about MOOCs is the scale. What does this particular innovation tell us about the future of learning? Have we discovered a way to make education scale effectively, or is that a pipe dream for administrators looking to cut costs? Are there other lessons to be learned from open online learning that can survive the inevitable collapse of the MOOC?

Additionally, what if the basic idea of MOOCs still has life in it? Educational news stories are rife with new variations of MOOCs-- xMOOCs, cMOOCs, MOOC2.0, miniMOOCs, and on and on. Are all of these new names really new ideas or just academics attempting to split hairs? Or are these new acronyms a sign that the idea of massive open learning is morphing and becoming something different?

The history of the MOOC has basically covered two different forms: the connectivist format of the original MOOCs of 2008, and the eXtensioble format of the xMOOCx of 2011. Of the two ideas, the xMOOC is definitely the most popular variant of MOOC to date. The xMOOC has been both praised and criticized by the academic community, both sides having valid points. The past few years has seen the rise of a mixed format of MOOC that takes the social/connectivist aspects of the cMOOC and mixes them with the instructivist aspects of xMOOCs.

This session will examine several MOOCs that have been designed to take a slightly different path than the standard xMOOC or cMOOC format. These courses will include the dual layer Data, Analytics, and Learning MOOC (dalmooc), Rhizomatic Learning (rhizo14), and Massively Open Social Learning (MOSL). These courses (among others) have added various experimental ideas and/or technologies into the standard MOOC format in order to test the boundaries of online education:

  • Rhizo14 claims that "The community is the curriculum." How does this occur in a real life course? Was the course successful in reaching this goal? We will examine the pros and cons of designing a course in such a decentralized, unstructured fashion.


  • From DALMOOC, we examine how to design for true multiple pathways in learning. How successful was this process? The lead designer of DALMOOC will examine the pros and cons of the visual syllabus, the feedback from the participants, and the results from preliminary data collection.


  • From MOSL, we will examine the pedagogy-informed design process for FutureLearn, the structure and elements of the platform and learning experience, and evidence of patterns of learning and user attitudes.

The main goal of this session will be to create an interactive discussion about the evolution of MOOCs, a discussion where the presenters do not bring all of the answers. Towards this end, the goal will be to create shared knowledge among session participants. Questions will be asked that the presenters may not have answers to. Participants may even leave with more questions than answers. Our hope is that participants will leave with a desire to explore the emerging edge of online educational experimentation, with an eye for what these innovations can do to help them improve their courses and programs.

Lead Presenter

I am the Learning Innovation Coordinator for The University of Texas at Arlington's Learning Innovation and Networked Knowledge (LINK) Research Lab. I also currently serve as an adjunct instructor for The University of Texas at Brownsville in their Educational Technology department.
I have been involved in education since 1994. I created my first web page in 2000 - which I used to deliver supplemental materials to an 8th grade Science class I was teaching at that time. I have been involved in distance education in some way ever since then. In March 2007 I started EduGeek Journal, an online community promoting educational technology. I also regularly present at conferences, as well as lead instructional classes on different aspects of online learning and other issues.
My goal in e-learning is to bring a deeper level of professionalism to online learning by increasing social interactions and raising the level of technology integration and innovation in every class I design or teach. Several classes that I have worked on have won awards from the United States Distance Learning Association for innovations in online learning.