Tony Bates, for his open textbook Teaching in a Digital Age, is including a section on MOOCs and the differences in philosophy and practice between xMOOCs and cMOOCs.
In his textbook, Bates discusses how technology has changed knowledge. He mentions how Socrates criticised writing because it did not lead to "true" knowledge which came only from verbal dialogue and oratory. A clear case of someone stuck in their pedagogy and not open to new technology.
Clearly, writing is an important record of knowledge and way to transmit knowledge. The idea of "writing to learn" is also an established practice in academia.
Bates says that, "Now we have other ways to record and transmit knowledge that can be studied and reflected upon, such as video, audio, animations, and graphics, and the Internet does expand enormously the speed and range by which these representations of knowledge can be transmitted... Maybe this will eventually lead to a ‘knowledge revolution’ equivalent to the age of enlightenment. But I do not believe we are there yet..."
I have written about the differences between the C and X MOOC types too and my own belief (the basis for my own MOOC chapter in a forthcoming book) is that MOOCs are still evolving in their design.
The earliest MOOCs are now referred to a cMOOCs, but the xMOOC design is the dominant design format right now.
xMOOCs use LMS or CMS software that allows for large registrations, storage and and streaming of content and ways to assess and grade student performance. They use the video lectures common to many smaller online courses. They often are designed in lengths similar to traditional semesters. Due to the large enrollments, assessments may be automated, machine-scored or use peer reviews. Like traditional learning online and in a classroom, the courses have assignments. Students may be placed in groups.
Obviously, this xMOOC model of learning is focused on the transmission of information rather than direct interaction between an individual participant and the instructor that we are used to in F2F learning and also in the better online courses..
cMOOCs turn much of the content creation to contributions from the participants with an emphasis on networking. Stephen Downes has taught in the MOOC setting since the very beginning.
Bates notes Downe's four key design principles for cMOOCs as:
autonomy of the learner(choosing what content or skills they wish to learn) , learning is personal, and thus there being no formal curriculum
diversity in both the tools used and in the participants and their knowledge levels
interactivity co-operative learning, networking between participants
openness in access to the course, but also in using open content, activities and assessment
Think about the transmission of information, the xMOOC is rooted in the expert gives information they have selected to novices, but the cMOOC takes the center away from the instructor and gives it to the learners.
Is one of these two formats superior? they serve different purposes. the xMOOC is more popular probably because it is closer to the traditional online learning that has more history and it feels close to what classroom teachers have been doing for centuries.
Connectivism is fairly new as an approach to teaching, less familiar and perhaps harder to "justify" in academia. The latter is especially true if you want the MOOC to operate in a way that fits typical grading for credit situations.