MOOCs everywhere

If 2012 was dubbed the year of the MOOC by the New York Times, 2013 may have been the year of “the MOOC disillusionment”, a phrase coined by reporter Ry Rivard of Inside Higher Ed in July 2013.

Certainly, a lot of disillusionment was voiced by no less than Udacity CEO Sebastian Thrun, a top player in the MOOC business. Several months after predicting MOOCs would bring about a revolution in higher education, Thrun acknowledged issues with how MOOCs are currently utilized, issues important enough for Udacity to move away from the free model of the beginning or from partnerships with higher education institutions and embrace a more corporate oriented offering.

One sure thing is that the social web is not indifferent to massive open online courses, and actually quite vocal about them. Who did the debate on MOOCs bring around the table over the past six months? What does it bode for MOOCs in 2014?

Looking inside our segmented database of 400k influencers, one observation is that talk about MOOCs is not limited to the education tribes: the topic is discussed in circles with a broad range of interests.

Top 25 tribes publishing the most content on MOOCs in the eCairn database (June to Dec 2013)
Top 25 tribes publishing the most content on MOOCs in the eCairn database (June to Dec 2013)

Conversations published in the education tribes across the board make up only about a quarter of all conversations about MOOCs. Another remarkable fact is that the 25 tribes in which the most content is published about MOOCs barely reach the 50% mark in total volume of conversations found in our database. This means that, if MOOCs are indeed central to the education tribes, they are actually very present everywhere else. Indeed, the top tribes publishing content relevant to MOOCs (outside of the education tribes) fall into very diverse categories:

high tech business careers arts
personal technology, cloud computing, data, wireless/mobile, apple, geek españa vc/entrepreneur, social media marketing human resources, career, leadership/management, librarian music all, art overall, music – electronic

This speaks to the wide appeal of the current MOOC offering, and can only encourage disillusioned MOOC providers to (re)assess their goals and further engage with education professionals (influencers from our education tribes?) to fine tune their models and better serve the audience they want to reach.

If anything, this momentum should make MOOC providers hopeful for 2014.

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