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MOOC, SPOC, DOCC, Massive Online Face2Face Open . . . (Uh Oh!): Age of the Acronym

MOOC, SPOC, DOCC, Massive Online Face2Face Open . . . (Uh Oh!): Age of the Acronym

On Facebook, my pal John recently joked that we're not living in the Digital Age.  We're living in the Age of the Acronym:

 MOOC (Massive Online Open Courseware), we all know about MOOCs.  @George Siemens and @Dave Cormier coined the term in 2008.

 SPOC (Self-Paced Open Course).  The students remixed course content in "Surprise Endings:  Social Science and Literature" and added a lot of content into seven open self-paced content units, including seven 20-minute video lectures on everything from self-control to racism, by myself and the famous behavioral economist Dan Ariely plus lots of course content on these topics .   Anyone can now take this SPOC:

DOCC:  This Fall, FemTechNet is offering a very exciting feminist alternative to the MOOC.  DOCC is a Distributed Online Collaborative Course:    This DOCC is intended to encourage us to rethink other models of online learning than the corporate, for-profit, elite "Doc on the Laptop" (I coined that phrase in, roughly, August 2013).

MO . . .:  And then there is our upcoming (January 2014)  "History and Future of Higher Education" course that is both a Coursera-sponsored MOOC (but with lots of P2P elements that we've added in) and it comes with a coordinated, distributed, Face-to-Face Component, with (so far) about seventeen different universities offering some version of this course, with Google Hang Outs, and Webinars, and other possibilities for open, public, cross-university and beyond interaction:     I guess that makes it a MOF . . .      Ah, yes.  The problem with acronyms. 


*   *   * 

I thought about this acronymic tendency today as I was reading about Tim Berners-Lee (apparently called TimBL by friends).   I thought about it again as I tweeted back to @JasonGreen and @JimGroom who noted that they were teaching a coordinated, public,  course in 2011 and it went multiinstitutional in 2012:  you can find a summary      


There have been so many predecessors to today's MOOCs.   It's important to remember them because they offer an array of alternatives.   We don't need just one model.  Not at all.

In fact, HASTAC has been pioneering alternative forms of open teaching and learning since 2002.   And we even ran our own first DOCC-like experiment in 2006-2007.  HASTAC coordinated our In/Formation Year, where fifteen or so universities offered courses, all with a public interface, and held webcast coordinated programing, each on an "In .. . " theme.   We didn't have a catchy acronym back then for what we were doing, but you can still see a lot of the year of shared, distributed, public, open InFormation year (we redid the website that year so some has been lost) here:

How did the world turn before acronyms?  I think it probably did just fine.  


But what is clear from this image is that all of us can fill in not only the acronyms in any way we want but the larger point is that it's time to rethink a lot of our models, find better ones, and ones that do not mean that we need to hire fewer and fewer profs but, rather, that we are able to reach more and more students who otherwise have no chance at all of participating in advanced learning. 

That's the goal.  And that makes this a very inspiring time for learning. 


Attribution, quoted from Wikipedia:  MOOC poster April 4, 2013 by Mathieu Plourde licensed CC-BY on Flickr, explores the meaning of "Massive Open Online Courses" aka MOOCs. This has been used in a reliable source, , so it's not just original artwork, but was licensed CC-BY first.


1 comment

Don't ignore that "Age of the Acronym" is just another kind of AA.