Looking at the public face of courses, what is immediately striking is how course offerings are pretty much what one would expect of a conventional university prospectus for f2f teaching, with overall course outline divided into a (numbered) sequence of lectures/topics, delivered in online (video) lectures by a named lecturer. The prospective student signs up for the course, which presumably starts at a nominated date and continues for the specified period. Completion of the course is marked by a 'Certificate of Accomplishment', though it is not indicated in the initial publicity how this 'accomplishment' is measured - one would presume that it is most likely measured by the fact that the student has stayed the course until the end, and has applied for their certificate. This model would seem to concur to the more recent Wikipedia definition of MOOCs (Daniel, 2012), offering university style lectures but without the kind of accreditation accorded to paying students.
The underlying pedagogy can be linked to Sfard's (1998) 'acquisition' metaphor - the acquisition of bundles of content - or as following behaviourist models of pedagogy. Alongside the video teaching materials, some courses require students to acquire recommended texts, and there is sometimes mention of assessment via quizzes or written assignments, but when this occurs there is no clear indication as to if or how feedback might be provided, and there is no mention of student interaction with their peers. There is generally no mention of use of new technologies such as blogs or Web 2.0 tools such as twitter to facilitate the student learning experience. This would seem to bear out what Daniel describes as an xMOOC, which 'opens' out university courses to an 'open' market, but does little to 'open' out the students' minds as to 'how to' learn (more particularly if one views learning in social constructivist terms as 'learning to learn' is the most 'deep' form of learning).
Although hosted by a specified institution, and running alongside their f2f courses, the opening statement "an open, online course that happens at various times throughout the year ... you can join in whenever you like and leave whenever you need" gives some indication of ways in which the MOOC version of DS6 differs from the Coursera model. What is also immediately apparent is the high level of Web 2.0 technologies required - students are expected (need) to have social media accounts on Twitter, flickr, Google, SoundCloud, to have a blog, to be able to upload content on to sites such as YouTube. Web 2.0 media - twitter and an web page ('Do Daily Creates') are seeming the main means used to notify students as to the latest task which they are required to undertake, and then post online, for the course. Together the 'Do Daily Creates' and the student uploads appears to be the main record of the course's progress.
"ds106 is many things, a course and a community. It is ongoing all the time" . Pedagogically DS6 would seem to attempt to depend upon a connectivist model and networking model i.e. the educator has the role of facilitator only, while the main learning takes place via "the active engagement of people with resources in communication with others" (Kop, 2011, p 20) - seemingly more akin to what Daniel (2012) has characterised as cMOOCs. In contrast to the course offerings at Coursera, a strong element of peer sociability is one of the things which first strikes one when looking at the DS6 home page - it's everywhere. This course would appear to have a number of characteristics noted by Daniel (2012) are linked to the earlier definition of a MOOC as "a way of connecting distributed instructors and learners across a common topic or field of discourse" - students are required to post their own responses to the given tasks, and asked to respond to the work of their peers. Participation is presented as being on two main levels, which require a differing kind of posting of content. An intriguing element is that students can 'choose' their assignment tasks from a repository, and which then need to be set up to be aggregated (what is not made clear in the introductory materials is how these might be 'graded' or given feedback).
A comparison of these 2 MOOC models would seem to point to (as surely it was intended to) how great a schism there is within the whole ambit of MOOCs. The Coursera model (xMOOC) surely reinforces the view that "these elite universities continue to treat xMOOCs as a philanthropic form of continuing education" (Bates, 2012, qtd. Daniel, 2012). Students signing up for such courses will surely add to their body of knowledge in terms of content, but what else they will get out of them is more open to question. However, the one thing conventional f2f continuing education has which such courses don't obviously have is a strong element of peer sociability and 'presence'. It's not surprising that Coursera MOOCs have a high drop out rate. However, the cMOOC format represented by DS6 is surely not without its own problems. Despite the claim that the student can "join whenever you like .. and leave whenever you like" that this isn't really the experience that students have (or perhaps want to have), nor is it possible to see from a brief exploratory look quite how many students do indeed get or give feedback to their peers. Also, the level of technical expertise which students would seem to have to have might well unsettle prospective students (presumably students studying f2f would have easier access to technical support). The only students who would get most out of this course would be self-motivated high achievers - this is hardly the course for 'everybody' out there.
I have also come across an interesting comparison of 2 (ostensibly similar) MOOCs which seem to fit the x and c categories. See http://onlinelearninginsights.wordpress.com/2013/03/04/a-tale-of-two-moocs-coursera-divided-by-pedagogy/
Daniel, J. (2012) 'Making sense of MOOCs: musings in a maze of myth, paradox and possibility', Journal of Interactive Media in Education, no. 18 [online]. Available at http://jime.open.ac.uk/ jime/ article/ view/ 2012-18 (Accessed 13 April 2013).
Kop, R. (2011) 'The challenges to connectivist learning on open online networks: learning experiences during a massive open online course', International Review of Research in Open and Distance Learning, vol. 12, no. 3 [online], http://www.irrodl.org/ index.php/ irrodl/ article/ view/ 882 (accessed 13 April 2013).