A Better Name for MOOCs: Very Low teacher/student Ratio Courses (VLRCs)
Free online classes with large numbers of enrolled students are lately being called “Massively Open Online Courses” (MOOCs). As writers like George Lakoff have eloquently explained, the words we use to describe a phenomenon shape how we think about them. I would like to suggest that a more accurate name than “MOOCs” is “Very Low teacher/student Ratio Courses” or “VLRCs” (pronounced “vlercs”).
There are many visions of the potential future of VLRCs. In the sunnier ones, we succeed in democratizing access to education. In the darker ones, we increase the gap between access to quality education by relegating less affluent students to cattle call online classes with no personalized attention, and more affluent students continue to attend deluxe in-person instruction. I hope the more democratic outcome can be realized. In our path forwards one way or the other, I think it’s important that we call a spade a spade. Calling them VLRCs is more accurate and focuses our attention on the key issue.
A call to action:
If you hear people talking about “MOOCs,” please respond with “VLRCs.” And be relentless about it!