How will MOOCs and SPOCs effect the eLearning world?
A MOOC is a Massive Open Online Course that allows unlimited access to distance learning via the web. The term was first used in relation to a 2008 course called Connectivism and Connective Knowledge, which consisted of 25 fee-paying students and over 2200 online students who took the course for free via RSS feeds, Moodle discussions and Second Life meetings. From there, MOOCS went from strength to strength, becoming a key buzzword within the education industry. In fact, The New York Times dubbed 2012 ‘The Year of the MOOC’.
When Harvard University announced they were launching a MOOC last year, more people signed up for it than had attended the university since it was founded in 1636. And in the UK, over twenty universities recently joined forces to launch an online platform called FutureLearn.
Yet the popularity of MOOCS could also prove to be its downfall due to the practical issues of fulfilling such high demand. How can you successfully teach and accurately assess thousands of students with varied abilities on one course? And then there’s the prickly issue of how to fund such an enormous enterprise. One other cause for concern is the high dropout rates. A recent study of Duke University’s first MOOC, on the topic of bioelectricity, revealed that of the 12,725 students who signed up, only 346 attempted the final exam.
That’s why some educational outlets have already moved on from MOOCS – to SPOCS. In a nutshell, SPOCS are MOOCS minus the unlimited access. The acronym stands for Small Private Online Course. As the name suggests, SPOCs offer a finite number of places to participants who are selected to take part if they fulfil certain criteria. Hmm, that sounds awfully familiar.
But what effect will MOOCs and SPOCs have on the eLearning world?
Do you use MOOCs and/or SPOCs? How have they effected your learning experience? Let us know here.
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