What is a MOOC? If you use an acronym generator you could come with Morbid Oddity, Oblivious to Crapulence” or maybe Milky Offering Operator Crusade.” In this case, MOOC stands for Massive Open Online Course. Simply put, it is a free online course on a particular topic that is open to anyone. You can view a short video that gives you the basics here.
MOOCs are a fascinating and innovative concept. Unlike most online courses, MOOCs do not follow a linear path. The content is just a starting place for whatever you want it to be. This particular MOOC will go on for several months. You can sign up for it whenever you want and participate as often as you can.
My MOOC focuses on change in education, learning and technology (http://change.mooc.ca/index.html). The way it works is simple. There is a schedule with a list of guest instructors for each week. The guest instructor posts his or her plan for the week. For the most part, the weekly assignment is to make sense of the topic and then post about it in a blog, or you could tweet about it, or you could make a short video, or whatever else you want to do.
MOOCs were inspired by George Siemens and Stephen Downes, both professors in the field of education from Canada. Siemens and Downes pioneered an emerging learning theory called Connectivism. Connectivism is a social learning theory that is a proponent of distributed learning occurring over a network. Essentially, a MOOC is an embodiment of this idea.
This MOOC has really helped further my knowledge of instructional technology. As a result of this MOOC, I tweet more, I blog regularly and generally interact more on the Web and have been exposed to a lot of different kinds of software. I also have had an opportunity to interact with many fascinating people from all over the world who are interested in the same things that I am.
All in all, I think MOOCs are good for learners that like to explore things for themselves. I liken a MOOC to a Chinese buffet. There are tons of dishes of dishes that you want to try, but you cannot eat them all. So you have to sample what you want to try and then you can go back and get more if you like it.