MOOC’ing about: Re-Introduced for COVID-19

I had written this blog post years ago when MOOC (massive online open course) was the rage. Almost every higher education institution wanted in on it, and I was a non-traditional student at the time. The instructor required us to research MOOC in 2013.

Technology razes like California’s wildfire. Sometimes we grapple with it and win. Sometimes we watch in helplessness as it razes old programs on its way into the next new one. Other times, technology’s newfangled and ubiquitous nature dazzles us, infects us with promises of mission and millions of dollars, and we are infected.

There are many reasons for my involvement in MOOC, but the most essential of them is that MOOC, an online course, allows participants like me access to unlimited course materials distributed and dispersed across the web, according to Kaplan and Haenlein

A form of distance education, MOOC provides a positive experience for online users and allows for connection and collaboration. With continuous use, one can hope to acquire a high level of technology savviness in one month of intensive journey.

Over the last decade or so, certain technology terminologies have arrived and were muddled up in what they are and how they can be used. Prior to the 2013, most people never paid attention to the distinctions between MOOC and other delivery concepts.

After listening to Dr. Micahel Balfour’s clarification of Classifying K-12 Online Learning, I gained a clearer picture of the different types of online/distance learning classifications as they apply to the K-12 arena so that I can adopt them for the appropriate need. At that time, MOOC was a new area of involvement that led to certification, so it was imperative to be proficient in terms unique to it and in the use of pertinent terminologies.

Technology adoption spreads to students and colleagues. Therefore, one must concern himself or herself with the specific nature of its correct identity. MOCC allows a person to be involved in major categories of online/distance learning and/or teaching: virtual, cyber, hybrid, and blended. These methods of learning and teaching appear too close to be concerned about them. There are more than thin-hair differences. Jacob Richman, an epistemophilic problem solver, explains the distinction between cyber and virtual. Gar Driesen explains the difference between hybrid and blended learning.

I enrolled in a virtual class at the University of West Georgia and started my doctoral degree at a cyber school (was the distinction the school insisted on making) simultaneously, but I had to withdraw from the cyber school when it became obvious that brick-and-mortar universities would not accept the paper on which my degree and credits would be written.

Fast forward into 2020, and the coronavirus upended education. Face-to-face learning and teaching may have swapped placed with MOOC. Whereas face-to-face was the acceptable and revered method of instruction, MOOC took the place of a twice-removed cousin. COVOD-19, unbeknownst to it, has revived the near-dead online instructional platform.

For a learning platform to be accepted as blended, face-to-face and online activities must occur simultaneously as opposed to hybrid which does not have to happen at the same time. My department at the University of West Georgia offered several courses in a hybrid format.

Before COVID-19, I had argued that the blended method would be most beneficial for elementary and middle school (junior high) students. As education is forced to grapple with balancing health priorities and instructional priorities in light of curtailing the spread of the virus, health issues will take centerstage before academic matters.

As a result, of the four methods that have arisen over past decades, the blended and the hybrid formats will be sacrificed. Our understanding of cyber has shifted tremendously, and almost no one uses the word cyber and learning in the same breath in reference to how to teach students. The virtual (online) format is overshadowing all other learning systems for all levels: elementary, middle, high, and post-secondary.

Stay tuned for an update on what is happening to MOOC as a result of COVID-19, the once-dying online instructional method.

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