Thursday, 11 July 2013

What's bigger than a MOOC?


If you've not been caught up in the trending world of MOOC (technically standing for Massive Open Online Course - nope it's Online Open excuse me) then you may be falling behind the curve.  MOOCs in human terms mean big courses that anyone can go and take part in.  Great concept and some really good stuff out there… but we're here today to take it further (some would say too much so)...

What's bigger than massive - well… bigger of course!  Let me introduce to the next big think in learning… the BOOC - it stands for Bigger Open Offline Course and pronounced "book".  

The sharp amongst you may notice the letter O is used twice, the first O is for Open; this is necessary as a closed BOOC is generally useless and unreadable.  The second O is for Offline and distinguishes MOOCs and BOOCs, BOOCs are a notable improvement not only by being bigger but also by being physical (rather than virtual) so really they're much bigger (MBOOC?).  Writing a BOOC takes quite a skill-set (not that this dissuades everyone).  Many lower level BOOCs are largely illustrated for younger audiences, but more serious learning is usually covered in a text-based BOOC or Txt-BOOC as it's commonly known.  The subject matter can vary greatly, some are even being published on the subject of MOOCs or a MOOCBOOC.  There's also a recent trend in Learning in BOOCs that's giving rise to an underground movement of BOLOCs.  You can now read BOLOCs on almost every subject.

How do you make a BOOC?  Whilst a MOOC regularly seems to be made using tools which are little more than an HTML editor and largely online text editors, BOOCs rely on existing technology making them incredibly easy to start up.  The most common form is to use a word-processor to print out a manuscript that gets send to a publishing house, but some stand by the true and trusted art of typography using type-of-writers or typewriters for short.  P&P is also an option but opinions vary on which P is which.

Yes, okay you got me… BOOCs are just books and I don't have breaking news here and I'm just being a bit silly.  It may be a bit tongue in cheek but there are so many MOOCs that really are just reading materials they might as well be called BOOC or books because they're really just plenty of pages of information.  The worry here is that the market will swamp full of MOOCs (if this hasn't already happened).  That doesn't concern me so much, but if the MOOCs are more like BOOCs then all we succeed in doing is swamping the market with more paper (albeit virtually) and suddenly separating the valuable learning from the resource becomes as much of a chore as across the internet itself (next thing you know they'll let anyone blog…).

So converting books to BOOCs to MOOCs may be the latest trend we see but it certainly would be a step back in learning if we don't put more into the learning design process.  It definitely reminds me of many early Moodle courses which were resources and a forum (I say early…).  I'm not even saying there's not a place for that, just it's not the solution that fits every need.

As an afterthought (generally the only type of thought I have) I should be keen to note I'm still a big fan of books (although I'm a fan of fiction in my paper); in fact whenever I take off or land on a  plane I reach for the comforting paperback - of course if the airlines ever finally admit that a Kindle can't bring down your Airbus I guess even that may fade out).