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Comparing MOOCs: #WEXMOOC vs. #clmooc

posted: 6.25.13 by Traci Gardner

A student trying to decide whether a MOOC (Massive Open Online Course) fits her needs will probably turn first to the course site, which, at a minimum, has as a webpage overview and a video introduction to the course. Today, I want to consider what introductory videos for two different courses I’ve enrolled in tell me about the courses themselves.

Writing II: Rhetorical Composing (#WEXMOOC)

For eight weeks now, I have been writing about my experiences in The Ohio State University’s Writing II: Rhetorical Composing Course (#WEXMOOC). Before I signed up for the course, I examined the public page for the course and watched this video, featuring The Ohio State faculty who designed the course:

To me, the video is polished, practiced, and scripted. Since I am a student in the course, I can connect the activities that are mentioned in the video to work in the course. For instance, when Cindy Selfe talks about “the opportunity to level up,” I know exactly she is talking about. Admittedly, when I first saw the video in mid-April, I wasn’t sure. Finally, the video has an academic feel to me. It uses the language of a writing program and steps through the course much as I might walk students through the goals in a course syllabus.

Making Learning Connected MOOC (#clmooc)

I enrolled in the National Writing Project’s MOOC, Making Learning Connected (#clmooc) June 15, so I know less about this MOOC than I do about WEXMOOC. Rather than rhetorical composing, the Making Learning Connected MOOC explores maker projects and Connected Learning, as they describe in their introductory video:

This video seems less polished and definitely less scripted than the WEXMOOC video. The teachers who describe the projects that students are working on include pauses and fillers like “um” or “uh” that suggest they are not following a script. Significantly, where the WEXMOOC professors described the projects, this video actually shows students at work on projects. It feels as if the video producer interrupted teachers at work in the classroom, and they shared what they were doing informally.


Neither video, in isolation, tells a student enough information about the courses to make a decision about whether the course is a fit. There are no details about the course schedule, project requirements, or the kinds of work to be completed. Still, you can tell a lot about the courses and their atmosphere. The WEXMOOC course and video is more structured and more controlled than the Making Learning Connected MOOC and its video appear to be.

It’s interesting how these styles reflect the kinds of MOOCs involved. Last week, I shared a video that explains the two different kinds of MOOCS: xMOOCs (those focused on scalability) and cMOOCs (those focused on social connectivity). WEXMOOC is an xMOOC while the Making Learning Connected MOOC is a cMOOC. I doubt the kind of MOOC is obvious in every introductory MOOC video, but the contrast does raise some additional questions for me:

  • Should the video communicate the kind of MOOC explicitly?
  • How much do students need to know about the kind of MOOC to make a decision?
  • Should the publicly available information (video and webpages) provide a full explanation of the work requirements?
  • How do you find an effective balance between information presented in the video and the kind of information on the related site?
  • Do students tend to watch the video and read the webpages, or is one favored over the other?
  • What do students need to see in these videos to make an informed choice about enrolling in the course?

We know the information in these introductory resources impacts the decision to enroll in a MOOC. After all, it’s usually the only information available. It may seem like a simple video overview, but it could make a huge difference in the success of the MOOC.As I wrote last month, the information students have when they make the decision to enroll in a course may ultimately have ramifications on course completion rates.

Did the videos provide you enough information on the courses? Did they pique your interest in investigating further? Please share your thoughts by leaving comment below or by dropping by my page on Facebook or Google+. Further, if you are interested in the Making Learning Connected MOOC, there is still time to enroll. Just visit the course homepage.

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