VP for Information Technology & CIO

Acronyms

Information Technology professionals have always had our own set of acronyms to supplement our jargon. So of course we were delighted when text messages gave the general population shortcuts for communication. Originally, txt shortcuts were created to save money by eliminating unnecessary bytes of data being transmitted via cellular services. My mom wanted to use a txting dictionary, but figured her BFF would not know she was FOTFLOL. Today it seems everyone wants to assign a catchy name to trends.

Take MOOCs for example. Massive open online courses are a topic of interest appearing at all levels. Dave Cormier and Bryan Alexander are attributed the term they coined about five years ago. What is it that makes a MOOC different from previous on-line courses and thus warrants all the hype? Hundreds of students have enrolled in single courses for more than ten years. Multimedia used in education to provide online content is not new. Even on-line interactive fora have been available for several years.

Seems to me that part of the reason MOOCs caught on was timing. Open courses became available for anyone to enroll in and at no charge. Yet here is what is truly impressive: People all over the world want to learn for the sake of learning from an expert who shares his/her knowledge freely and openly.

Most discussion focuses on how education will change with the insertion of MOOCs. For this blogger, the questions are broader. How will MOOCs truly change society? Will we create a mass of people who can think critically, problem solve, and innovate?  Will our validator become skills and knowledge opposed to a diploma and higher degree?

edX, a non-profit MOOC provider, recently released its software with an open source license. This allows anyone to use the software or to help develop the next-level platform for learning. Jake New speculates in the July/August edition of eCampusNews, that this move could result in the development of courses that cater to a smaller audience in a private setting. Well, Trekies, we have a new SPOC.*

*small private online course