What Makes a MOOC Massive?

Stephen Downes, Japan Times, Jan 17, 2013
Commentary by Stephen Downes

I've been asked this a few times recently, so I thought I should expend a few paragraphs describing the difference between online courses that are and are not 'massive'. I argue, first, that it's not the raw count of participants that's important, but how the course is structured. It's not simply a big course. Then given that caveat I go on to explain that a course needs 150 active participants to be thought of as 'massive' - this because 150 people - Dunbar's Number - is more than any one person can attend to, and hence is a course that will resist groupish properties (such as an emphasis on sameness rather than diversity).

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