Definition of MOOC in English

Aug 28, 2013
Commentary by Stephen Downes

Oxford Dictionaries inserts 'MOOC' into its lexicon, and gets both the usage and the etymology wrong. It cites as an example, "anyone who decides to take a MOOC simply logs on to the website and signs up," which mistakes how one accesses a website (one does not 'log on' to a website, one 'navigates' to it, or more simply, 'goes' to it) and how one accesses a MOOC (only in some cases must one 'sign up'; in our MOOCs, for example, you just start reading; in others, you just start aching a video. A requirement that you sign up is a symptom of a closed website, not an open one. As for the origins of the word, which are actually pretty precisely known Oxford writes, " early 21st century: from massive open online course, probably influenced by MMOG and MMORPG," which may be what Cormier and Alexander had in mind in 2008, but was not what they were naming. Next time you need to know about a word, Oxford, ask the people who use it.


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