Comment on Comparing xMOOCs and cMOOCs: philosophy and practice by Jenny Mackness

October 20, 2014 Jenny Mackness

Linda – I have found your long comment very interesting. Two points in particular have caught my attention. The first is whether or not a cMOOC is a course and the second relates to the status of connectivism as a theory.

1. Recently Stephen Downes seems to have given in to the idea that a MOOC is a course – and who can blame him given the hype around xMOOCs which definitely are courses in the traditional sense – but even in the link that you provide he is careful to distinguish a cMOOC from a traditional course. However, in the early days some of us, including Stephen, felt it was a pity that the word ‘course’ was used in relation to CCK08, which was intended as an experiment to test out the proposed theory of connectivism in practice and disrupt traditional thinking about education –

2. The status of connectivism: The subject of CCK08 was connectivism and connective knowledge. It’s purpose was nothing to do with being a MOOC – but rather to discuss these new ideas. In 2009, George Siemens tried to tease out how connectivism related to other learning theories –

Only a few researchers have tried to challenge connectivism as a learning theory, most recently Clara and Barbera. Stephen Downes made a robust response to their challenge –

Why have so few researchers discussed connectivism? As you will know, connectivism proposes that learning is the ability to construct and traverse connections and that these connections can be neural-biological, conceptual and external/social. I think its unfortunate that what has captured people’s interest is almost exclusively related to the social aspect rather than to the conceptual and neural-biological, which require an understanding that to ‘learn’ is to ‘acquire certain patterns’. Stephen Downes has been consistent since 2008 (and probably before) in saying this, but few have shown interest or followed it through. Perhaps its too much to take in all at once and so the easier aspect of social connection has been focused on first. Theories take time to be internalized and fully integrated?

Two more quick points (apologies Tony – for taking over your blog!).

Yes Stephen Downes has always said that MOOCs were not intended to be communities – but in my experience they can lead to the formation of communities. This has happened in ModPo and in Rhizo14.

Is Stephen Downes against human educators? He has written extensively about the role of the educator, for example in this post – – which doesn’t quite fit with him being against human educators?

– and yes, my understanding is that he has always favoured cooperation over collaboration, and given his reasons, but has also acknowledged that each has their place.

But hopefully he will comment here in his own voice. Mine is just an interpretive voice. Thanks Linda and Tony. Lots to think about here ☺

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Comment on Comparing xMOOCs and cMOOCs: philosophy and practice by Tony Bates

Many thanks, again, Jenny, for great comments, both to me and Linda. With...

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Comment on Comparing xMOOCs and cMOOCs: philosophy and practice by Jenny Mackness

Tony - thanks for your reply. I agree that there’s a lot of literature on...