A recent graphic (‘Major Players in the MOOC Universe‘, pictured) from the Chronicle of Higher Education has caused a small stir, mainly by those who feel left out (*cough, cough*). Some others, though, took umbrage at the inclusion of Khan Academy as a “MOOC”. A glance at the comments reveals at least a few raised eyebrows in re Khan, echoing other thoughts that can be found floating around the Web.
One commenter writes, “Don’t understand why Kahn [sic] is in the middle of this diagram. The scope of their free and open products don’t fit within the technical definition of ‘MOOC’.” loup7066 goes on to suppose that maybe we ought to switch “OER” for “MOOC”, and “if so, then Saylor.Org, Connexions etc. should be added.”
(Thanks, loup7066, you rock!)
Note that the issue here isn’t about the quality or significance of Khan’s offerings (hey, we’re fans here) — at least for most — but about the definition of MOOC. That can be a touchy subject, and one we ourselves have mostly skated around.
One of the the ironies in this situation is revealed by Sal himself, who has said that the Khan Academy is not a MOOC (see first half-minute of video). Not that the term is an insult — not by a long shot. But the danger in slippery speech here, given the rapidly burgeoning public awareness of this MOOC thing, is that wanton application of the label can obscure what an organization really is, if it it not, in fact, a maker of MOOCs.
So. Khan Academy? Not a MOOC. But, hey…us neither!
[Image credit: The Chonicle of Higher Education]