Why is the Word MOOC so Jarring?

Photo by: hifijohn.

Photo by: hifijohn.

This post is part of a series of reflections I’m writing on my experiences with UQx’s Write101x online course.

Listening to the videos for the first week of the course, I found that the word MOOC was jarring. I mentioned this in an earlier post. The purpose of this post is to clarify my thoughts on why this is so.

The videos for the first week of the course focus on grammar and writing style. The videos argue why the grammar is important, and connect the words grammar and glamour. In essence the argument is that using grammar well, and learning about grammar is glamorous:

… both words are derived from the word for ‘learning’, as in ‘grammar’ schools.

Grammar and glamour are essentially the same word, derived from the Greek, ‘grammatikos’, meaning ‘of letters’, which covered the whole of arts and letters. In the Middle Ages, ‘grammar’ generally meant ‘learning’, which, in the popular imagination, included a knowledge of magic.

So, grammar has origins that are glamorous and magical.

It is clear to me, listening to the presenter, Associate Professor Roslyn Petelin, that this is an important point.

Not to wax-poetic, but listening to Roslyn reminds me of listening to an orchestral performance. Just as each musician has a part to play in the overall composition, so to do her word choices. As well her choices on sentence and paragraph structure.

Simply put, I get caught up in what she is saying. I start to get a glimpse of the glamour of grammar, and begin to appreciate how important grammar is. Not just in creating informative and well understood writing, but also writing that can inspire and induce feelings.

But then she says the word MOOC, and it brings me out of the flow of the video.

To continue the orchestra metaphor, hearing the word MOOC is synonymous with the cymbals being used overly enthusiastically at entirely the wrong time.

The trouble is, I don’t have a good answer as to why.

In a reply to my tweet about this, the UQx team ask some really good questions:

  • Is it the abruptness of it?
  • The hardness of the C at the end?
  • What would make it less jarring?

I feel that it is the abruptness of the word is part of the issue for me. MOOC is an acronym that means Massive open online course, and to me it is a word that is hard, sharp and spiky.

In reflecting on this, and writing this post, I understand that this is my own personal issue, as others will have no problem with the word. In the grand scheme of things, it is a very minor thing.

But I did find that this was an interesting thought exercise, and something worth pondering. Thoughts, reflections and learning are why I started the course, and I am determined to see it through.

1 Response

  1. John Davis says:

    I’m glad someone else finds that word annoying! 🙂 I can’t put my finger on why it so jarring either. Maybe it sounds like someone trying to use a cool, happening word when they shouldn’t. Also, it just seems like a silly place to use it – just say “course” haha!