MOOC 1.0: a transitional form

Every new medium needs a transitional form exemplar—something that demonstrates the new technique or technology, but just replicates the previous techniques and doesn’t use any of the unique affordances of the new medium.

The first movie was essentially the result of pointing a stationary motion picture camera at a stage where live actors performed a play.

The Lear-Siegler ADM-3, the first CRT terminal (predecessor to the ADM-3A), was no smarter than its Teletype printer forbears: there was no cursor control and only uppercase characters.  (Its predecessor was arguably Don Lancaster’s TV Typewriter, construction plans for which are described in his TV Typewriter Cookbook.)

Show Boat, while acknowledged as the first true musical where the book (story) rather than the songs was the most important element, nonetheless borrowed heavily from its vaudeville traditions, with many “production numbers” unrelated to the story to show off the chorus and dancers.

That’s where we are with MOOCs in 2014.  With a few exceptions, we have yet to take advantage of the new medium’s affordances.

But without the ADM-3 we wouldn’t have had graphics terminals, without the movie camera we wouldn’t have Pixar, and without Show Boat we wouldn’t have had West Side Story.  What will we have in a few years that we wouldn’t have had without “MOOCs 1.0”?