A MOOC is a Massive, Open, Online Course, or the somewhat bovine sounding name for a (usually free) class, offered over the Internet.
Classes developed and delivered by university professors are lighting up the airwaves, allowing people anywhere to take classes once open only to enrolled students. MOOCs have universities and colleges in a fever of disruption. As my colleague Rob Reich notes, MOOCs may send universities down the same path as newspaper publishers. Some students may soon be able to earn college credit through MOOCs. Minnesota briefly made the news by deciding to ban MOOCs in the state (regulators changed their mind shortly thereafter).
As the business models shake out and the questions of public purpose get real MOOCs will force open an important discussion for all nonprofits about “how, for whom, and who pays?” After religion, education is the biggest area of interest for philanthropic donations - how will donors get involved in MOOCs?
EdX is one example of a source for MOOCs. Coursera and Udacity are others. Here's one set of opinions about MOOCs, and here's a view that argues "not much new here, move along." KCRW in Santa Monica ran this story back in November. (HT @davidalynn) Today I found this O'Reilly Radar piece on "true progressive" disruption in education.
Here are the rest of the 2012 Philanthropy Buzzwords:
9) MOOCs8) Hackathon
7) Fiscal Cliff
5) Social Welfare Organization
3) Data Scientist
2) Flash Mob Philanthropy