Since the tsunami is upon us, why fight the MOOCarama? As a public service for those ready to join the fray, I have create a new web tool that, via new biometric code sensors, reads he aura of your interests, and generates the name and hashtag for your new MOOC. And then you can start the angel funding by tweeting it!

Try out the new MOOC Shaker

This is totally one of those things where I get silly and see if I can make it happen in code. It’s nothing fancy, just a php series of four arrays and a function that randomly pulls words from each to make a title, and from there also yanks out the first letters of a string to make a hash tag. Add in a twitter button, and there ya go.

The basic structure is a set of words as a “prefix”, then an adjective, then a topic, then a colon and a cheesy subtitle. I found a lot of material Absurd College Course generator as well as from the sources Stephen Downes lists in his corral of MOOCs.

Just to make it more fun, I opened up a Google doc so you can add more to the mix– it is not sophisticated yet so my script automatically reads them (hmm, but that is not too hard).

Go ahead, you know you want to shake, rattle, and roll a MOOC!

Here is the code gunk-

Here’s a bit of the basic code in the header:

< ?php
// First part of name is an array of Intro words
$mooc_subject = array(
	'Advanced Design of',
	'Introduction to',
// the rest left off

// next we sprinkle in an adjective
$mooc_adjectives = array(
// the rest left off);

// now we get the actual topic
$mooc_topics = array(
	'Learning Theory',
// the rest left off

// Here is the cool subtitle for after the colon- an interesting course must have a colon
$mooc_colon = array(
	'How to Make it Fail',
	'Gender Dynamics',
	'Methods and Best Practices',
// the rest left off

function make_acronym($str) {
// creates a lower case acronym for a string
// thanks Stack Overflow

	$words = explode(" ", "$str");
	$acronym = "";
	foreach ($words as $w) {
  		$acronym .= $w[0];
	return strtolower($acronym);

function make_a_mooc($subject, $adjectives, $topics, $colon) {
// the shaker- gets a random word from each, and returns the name of the course, plus a hash tag
	$s = $subject[array_rand($subject)];
	$a = $adjectives[array_rand($adjectives)];
	$t = $topics[array_rand($topics)];
	$c = $colon[array_rand($colon)];
	return ("$s $a $t: $c #" . make_acronym("$s $a $t") . date('y'));


and then the bulk of the work in the web page

		<h1>Make a MOOC</h1>
		<p><em>why not? everyone else is! here is your course</em></p>
		<h2>< ?php
		$da_mooc = make_a_mooc($mooc_subject, $mooc_adjectives, $mooc_topics, $mooc_colon);
echo $da_mooc;


	<a href="" class="twitter-share-button" data-text="Announcing my MOOC <?php echo $da_mooc?> shaken via "  data-size="large" data-dnt="true">Tweet</a>
<script>!function(d,s,id){var js,fjs=d.getElementsByTagName(s)[0];if(!d.getElementById(id)){js=d.createElement(s);;js.src="//";fjs.parentNode.insertBefore(js,fjs);}}(document,"script","twitter-wjs");</script>


  • Ben Rimes

    You sir, are a comical coding genius!

  • bryanjack

    Three conversations in my house today:

    1. M in the kitchen, B in the office.
    M: “What are you giggling at in there?”
    B: “Alan made this thing that randomly generates absurd Mooc names and hashtags.”
    M: “Oh my god.”

    2. M on the phone from the grocery store.
    M: “Are you still laughing at that webpage Alan made?”
    B: [Laughing]

    3. M reading over my shoulder, back in the office.
    M: “Barnyard aquatics?”

    Thanks for this hilarious Sunday gift, Alan!

  • onepercentyellow

    this is hilarious! You rule.

  • Mike T

    You accidentally left the a out of international.

  • Claire

    Thank you for making me laugh in a day filled with a never ending parade of ‘new’ research into bl***y MOOCs. I have been asked to ‘find out’ about this thing called MOOC and I feel I could spend the rest of my life wading through the chatter. At first I thought the shaker was a serious tool (no, I didn’t read the intro carefully, just pressed go). The screenshot of Advanced design in Sensory Elbonian Dance: Through TShirt Design is going into my report. You’re a gem. :)

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