Oh MOOCs, how I mock thee. It has been a while.

But now I am associated with this

invasion moocs cover

Invasion of the MOOCs: The Promises and Perils of Massive Open Online Courses has just been published by Parlor Press (and is available for free as a downloadable PDF).

Steve Krause and Charlie Lowe emailed me sometime Spring 2013 about their plan for the book, asking if I would contribute a chapter about ds106. I tried to resist, say no, but I was also looking for some more venues to pad the ole CV with some publications. But wait a minute, most of the authors are writing instructors, people who drop words like “rhetorical abstraction”, etc.

That and fix my elbow patches.

Where is my smoking jacket?

I was intrigued by their plan to rapid publish and also go with a publisher who would release the book under Creative Commons. But also I liked the process they set up, where the authors of chapters would give each other peer review.

My chapter, of course, what else, is about ds106. A MOOC or Not a MOOC: ds106 Questions the Form. And while I might have written it from blog posts (it is largely informed by what I blog here), I did write it as new, though the ideas have been bounced around before. Mainly how ds106 deviates or not from the parts of the acronym.

The opening I chose to give a nod to one of my favorite teachers, trying to get at a bit of the futility of trying to lump MOOCs into one pile to describe as a while:

My undergraduate and graduate studies were in Geology, a field rampant with classification schemes. The words of my petrology professor at the University of Delaware have always come to mind when we talk about categories of almost anything. “Doc” Allan Thompson said, “In the world of classifications, there are those who are lumpers and then those that are splitters.”

With a new classification term like “MOOC” we encounter conveniences and shortcomings by characterizing all examples that fall under that term. Even splitting them into cMOOC and xMOOC varieties produces generalizations that lose significance of what lies within, or between.

This paper includes my experiences at all levels with an open course that defies classification with the ongoing MOOC discussions.

I appreciate the excellent feedback from co-authors Laura Gibbs, writing a great critical feature review in “Coursera: Fifty Ways to Fix the Software (with apologies to Paul Simon)”, and Jeffrey Grabill who described the development process and ideas in “Why We Are Thinking About MOOC”.

Steven and Charlie did a ton of work to organize the effort, and ran it smoothly. Thanks for inviting me along. I do like the cover art; theirs and my hope was to use the one created by David Kernohan

which of course was a no go in publishing due to copyright of the original movie poster. Again, that tug of a 19th century past set of practices on a 21st century mode of creativity. Freaky Creaky.

So they did what makes sense; rather than be able to freely use a creative remix, go and license an existing drawing. I find it hard to see the creative differences, but there you go, some kind of bloop.

And you know, there is an aspect of invaders and a problem with the metaphor. The come in unexpectedly, cause havoc and change, and then move on. That’s what they do, right? That’s again what is different about ds106- it never ends, it is always reshaping, morphing, spinning off into new mutant varieties.

If MOOCs invade, they eventually go away.

Which brings me to an email from Cathy Davidson, the Future of Education blah blah blah mumbo jumbo chilly whack long wordy title full of colons, commas, and semi colons … ‘is now over’.

Again, I started a MOOC 6 weeks ago, and managed to make it through a week. That is my problem, my fault, not theirs.

And Cathy’s message does offer the invitation and ways one can continue on, mainly by becoming a member/needle of HASTAC. But the MOOC is over. Period.

But you know, the MOOC is Over.

The MOOC is Over.

Immediately I heard the lead organ riff of the Doors

It took only a few search and replaces to re-write the lyrics:

When The MOOC Is Over
by Cathy Morrison

When the MOOC’s over
When the MOOC’s over, yeah
When the MOOC’s over
Turn off the site
Turn off the site
Turn off the site, yeah

When the MOOC’s over
When the MOOC’s over
When the MOOC’s over
Turn off the site
Turn off the site
Turn off the site

For the MOOC is your special friend
Dance on fire as it intends
MOOC is your only friend
Until the end
Until the end
Until the end

Cancel my subscription to the Resurrection
Send my credentials to the House of Detention
I got facebook friends inside

The face in the mirror won’t stop
The girl in the window won’t drop
A feast of friends
“Revolution!” she cried
Waitin’ for me

Before I sink
Into the big sleep
I want to hear
I want to hear
The scream of the butterfly

Come back, baby
Back into my course
We’re gettin’ tired of hangin’ around
Waitin’ around with our heads to the ground

I hear a very gentle tweet
Very near yet very far
Very soft, yeah, very clear
Come today, come today

What have they done to education?
What have they done to our fair sister?
Ravaged and plundered and ripped her and bit her
Stuck her with knives in the side of the dawn
And tied her with fences and dragged her down

I hear a very gentle sound
With your ear down to the ground
We want the world and we want it…
We want the world and we want it…

ds106 night, babe
See the light, babe
Save us!
Jim Groom!
Save us!

So when the MOOC’s over
When the MOOC’s over, yeah
When the MOOC’s over
Turn off the site
Turn off the site
Turn off the site

Well the MOOC is your special friend
Dance on fire as it intends
MOOC is your only friend
Until the end
Until the end
Until the end!

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An early 90s builder of web stuff and blogging Alan Levine barks at CogDogBlog.com on web storytelling (#ds106 #4life), photography, bending WordPress, and serendipity in the infinite internet river. He thinks it's weird to write about himself in the third person. And he is 100% into the Fediverse (or tells himself so) Tooting as @cogdog@cosocial.ca


  1. THank you for this great and fun post! The book is a great resource for the discussion on MOOCs.
    Love your Door’s version!! I hope that Cathy gets to see it. She’d love it, I’m sure. 🙂

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