For those who are not familiar with it, NaNoWriMo is National Novel Writing Month. It takes place in November each year. It is a challenge to writers around the world to write a 50,000 word novel. The structure is simple, put the challenge out there and let participants register their daily word counts. The premise behind it is that writing takes practice, and the more you practice the better you get. To help people write, there are write-ins at local coffee shops. I happened across one at Starbucks on Wednesday – tables of people drinking coffee, headphones on and laptops out, writing. The idea is that getting together to write in a group motivates people write more. Setting target number counts helps people write. The focus is strictly on volume, not quality.
The connection between NaNoWriMo and MOOCs had not occurred to me until the folks who created MOOCMOOC (a Massively Open Online Course about MOOCs) created DigiWriMo (Digital Writing Month) to align with NaNoWriMo. In DigiWriMo participants are challenged with creating 50,000 words of digital writing. Of course, digital writing is not defined so participants are free to structure this challenge as they wish. Several people ask for validation of their thoughts: "does code count?" for example. As with most cMOOCs, what counts is what you, as the learner, decide counts.
Now that I see this connection, I find myself wondering, was NaNoWriMo really the first cMOOC? or are there others out there even older that would be clasified as a cMOOC today?