Explored with excitement (Krause & Lowe, 2014), trepidation (Pappano, 2012), and skepticism (Sharma, 2013), the Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) model of instruction has been a growing trend in education since 2008. Scholars tracing published explorations of MOOCs offer the following definition:
A MOOC brings together people interested in learning (or "students") and an expert or experts who seek to facilitate the learning. Connectivity is usually provided through social networking, and a set of freely accessible online resources provides the content or the study material. Furthermore, they generally have no prerequisites, fees, formal accreditation, or predefined required level of participation (McAuley, Stewart, Siemens, & Cormier, 2010). Participation in a MOOC is completely voluntary and is dependent on the interested individual. The collaborative space of a MOOC can span across many different platforms and technologies. (Liyanagunawardena, Adams, & Williams, 2013, p. 204).
The MOOC instructional space has inspired optimism for some writing scholars, creating complex questions such as the ones pondered by Bill Hart-Davidson. (Click on the transcript for video.)
Often thought of as a method of instruction that can be provided at minimal effort and cost, the MOOC concept also inspires hope for education on such a large scale that it can be overwhelming to conceptualize, as noted by Patricia James.
Building on this interest in the broader field of education, writing scholars from institutions of higher learning have begun to create and use this instructional model as well. Experiences with creating, participating in, and leading MOOCs can be as varied as the topics for which instruction is offered. In an effort to understand how this online delivery method of content can potentially function in a writing classroom, this webtext draws together the experiences of six different writing scholars who have participated in various aspects of creating and delivering MOOC instruction.
This interview text models the format of a discussion forum, often cited as being of central importance in a MOOC for creating interaction (Moore, 1989; Anderson, 2003; Miyazoe & Anderson, 2010). While the experts who make up this discussion were interviewed separately, the interactive nature of their responses led to the creation of interconnected threads of conversation–ideas and concepts common across all of the discussions that will allow readers to learn more about MOOCs in a way that listening to individual interviews does not. Clicking on the transcript text in each thread will call up video or audio clips of each expert. The webtext is arranged into six threads: Roles of Teachers and Learners in a Writing MOOC, Advice for Creating and Using a MOOC, Community in a MOOC, Participants in a MOOC, Creating and Delivering a Writing MOOC, and an array of Final Considerations, all of which can be navigated to from the Discussion Board menu.
Explore the interviews as your interests guide you. Read, view, or skip as you choose. That is the beauty of a MOOC-like space. You can learn at your own pace.