Are Moocs innovative per se?
In the history of science and techniques, the rules of innovation are very rarely defined on basis of the tools nature or ingenuity. Instead, Human is at the center of any process of technical evolution. Guided by an instinctive need for survival or a constraint of use, he invents instruments and adapts them for practical purposes. Like any other technical or pedagogical device, MOOCs are tools representing a new evolution form in the transmission modes of knowledge. They are not, in themselves, generators of innovation, but make it possible to introduce methods that can be original and inventive through the human. History is full of examples demonstrating this interactive relationship between the needs for societal transformations and the evolution of techniques that man converted into innovative artifacts and tools. When writing first penetrated the world of teaching among the Greeks and Romans, the rhetoricians could only accept this intrusion forced by the technical evolution of writing supports and endured the degeneration of the ars memoriae and therefore the need to “better” preserve the science of scholars on tabulae and parchment. When Codex replaced rotulus and volumen, it was through a need for a more flexible and accessible medium to read the sciences of trivium and quadrivium. Medieval society has benefited from this progress in order to better disseminate sciences and knowledge. Printing has also shattered the boundaries of knowledge dissemination and helped to change considerably the conditions and rules of learning. The book allowed silent reading and individual access to knowledge. The advent of digital technology has also transformed access rules to knowledge (temporality and spatiality) felt as necessary in the path of technological transformations of the time. Virtual classes, videoconferencing, on-line teaching devices (LMS), etc. are all expressions of a need to better adapt to the technological breaking that invades all areas including education. In short, MOOCs do not constitute a pedagogical novelty per se; neither did correspondence courses, digitization of contents or LMS and tutoring. They only take up the characteristics of distance education platforms, which have implemented the principles of constructivist pedagogy developed long ago by psychologists like Piaget, Vygotsky, etc. Their major contribution is in their name: the massification of learning that reflects a universal societal need to make knowledge accessible to the greatest number of people who do not have the means (or time) to take training in none of the previous forms of learning. MOOCs are therefore a form of response to social issues developed and defined in other transversal projects such as education for all and the society of knowledge and expertise that gradually transforms the information society.