xMOOC vs cMOOC? Defining Common MOOC Terms

by Extension Engine | March 19, 2016

Estimated time to read: minutes

Over the past few years, the fields of education and technology have rapidly expanded.

Along with this expansion came a myriad of new lexicons, terms, and acronyms— many related to MOOCs.

One of the common questions I see about these MOOC terms is: What is an xMOOC vs. a cMOOC?

Here's the difference between the two:

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What is an xMOOC?

xMOOC stands for eXtended Massive Open Online Course.

These MOOCs are based on traditional university courses.

The advantage of xMOOCs: They significantly broaden the number of students who can be exposed to university-level courses.

The disadvantage of xMOOCS: Critics argue that xMOOCs are inferior to the university courses they mimic because they eliminate teacher-student interactions and involve limited student-student interactions.

You can find xMOOC examples on platforms like edX, Coursera, and Udacity provide xMOOCs.

Here's one example of an xMooc from MIT:

Screen Shot 2018-04-12 at 6.19.00 AMScreen Shot 2018-04-12 at 6.19.32 AM

Bottom line?

The lecture is delivered by an instructor to the student— a key distinction between the xMooc and cMooc.

What is a cMOOC?

The ‘c’ in cMOOC stands for connectivist, which represents the nature of cMOOCs.

Stephen Downes, co-founder of one of the first MOOCs, coined this term to create a distinction from the ‘xMOOCs’.

Rather than being delivered by an individual instructor, as in traditional university courses, cMOOCs involve groups of people learning together.

cMOOCs often contain content and promote interaction through:

  • Blogs
  • Learning communities
  • Social media platforms

In this environment, participants are all considered teachers AND learners, which stands in contrast to the structure of xMOOCs, where each individual is either a student OR a teacher.

Here's an example of a cMOOC:

Screen Shot 2018-04-12 at 6.27.46 AMScreen Shot 2018-04-12 at 6.28.04 AM


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