After so many discussions attempting to define what a MOOC is or isn’t, I felt compelled to come up with a term that encompasses all learning environments: SCHOOL. I never really accepted MOOC, xMOOC, cMOOC, SOLE, etc. as meaningful terms to relate to something so complex as learning. And perhaps SCHOOL doesn’t get there either. But I do think the acronym provides a more accurate way of framing an educative experience by describing what it ought to look like. Until I find a better term (i.e., acronym), SCHOOL it is.
Sustainable: I debated over scalable and sustainable and decided on the latter. Although both are not mutually exclusive, what’s more important is that the learning which grows from the educative experience (e.g., course) continues over time to the degree that it enables the individual to continually do more over time. Just because an experience is scalable (a network property) doesn’t necessarily make it more or less sustainable or educative (an individual attribute).
Cooperative: Cooperation won over collaboration (The difference). Learning should be like building an airplane. Learning is a connective diversity of strengths among individuals: who’s best at making the airplane seats, motor, electronics, food service, etc.? Learning is an opportunity to harness the strengths of each individual via co-operation.
Hybrid: A hybrid or blending learning refers to the appropriate mix of materials, personal interactions, and ideas (concepts) that each individual is drawn to that leads to the most relevant and meaningful educative experience possible. Hybrid also speaks to the uniqueness of material (technical and non-technical) and non-material nodes (human relationships and ideational nodes) that make up one’s personal learning network (PLN). Finally, a hybrid includes emergent feedback loops that underpin how individuals adapt and adopt to new learning frames.
Open: Openness, in a practical sense is a matter of degree; in an ideal sense it’s typically seen as being all or nothing. Probably the easiest way to currently view openness is to classify it in terms of a Creative Commons license or being in the public domain. Openness refers to not only the content used as part of curriculum, assessment, and instruction, but also products and processes that learners themselves co-create. The openness of the entire learning process exhibits degrees of transparency.
Online: The SCHOOL experience is based on online delivery. Access to the web and mobile technologies affords all educational stakeholders to associate learning as being connected. In order to be connected, access to the Internet offers more effective, efficient, and engaging ways to communicate when compared to those learning experiences with limited-to-no access to the Internet. When learners (an all other educational stakeholders) do not have access to the Internet, the learning experience simply falls short.
Learning: It’s the learning that matters. Educational stakeholders need to rally around curriculum (i.e., desired results for the individual), assessment (formative and summative), and instruction (differentiation, “flipped” instruction, Socratic method, etc.) so to conjoin all resources towards higher levels of student achievement.
So, no MOOCs, cMOOCs, xMOOCs, MOLEs, SOLEs, etc., and nothing about accreditation standards, nor accountability – instead, a desire to change the narrative to one that views contextually-based learning experiences (course, mentoring program, teacher training, etc.) as degrees of SCHOOL. By establishing a single term and relating it to local educational situations, educational stakeholders can begin discussing more important aspects of education in terms of the interdependencies that exist between sustainability, cooperation, hybrid PLNs, openness, online connectivity, and learning (i.e., improved student achievement).