Wednesday, 02 March 2016 14:29

MOOC, COOC, SPOC: What’s the Difference?

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Many learning and training professionals are, by now, familiar with the term “MOOC,” but the truth of the matter is that MOOC is only the beginning when classifying technology-friendly modes of learning and training.

MOOC, of course, stands for Massive Open Online Course. The importance of this course is that it is open to a lot of people — students or employees — at the same time. MOOCs represent a distance-based approach to e-learning wherein many learners may participate in a collaborative and interactive fashion. Course contents are distributed using a Web platform under a per-course or subscription model. The unique features of MOOCs include mass participation, social collaborations, interactive forums, and open-ended outcomes. MOOC adoption employs various technologies and solutions including Big Data, analytics, gamification and Cloud.

There are a few key market factors to consider with MOOCs, including low-cost certification, leveraging various technologies (data; smartphone, tablet and wearable device proliferation; and flexible learning experience), cost reductions for corporate training and others. Arguably, one of the main growth drivers of today's MOOC industry is cost reduction for learning and development (L&D) programs at major corporations.

Similarly, COOC stands for Corporate Open Online Course, which is self-explanatory. They’re MOOCs for businesses large and small.

SPOC stands for Small Private Open or Online Course. Contrary to MOOC and COOC, the aim of a SPOC is to offer a small group of people a tailor-made course. University of California Berkeley Prof. Armando Fox coined the word in 2013 to refer to a localized instance of a MOOC course that was in use in a business-to-business context.

SPOCs support blended learning and flipped classroom learning, which variously combine online resources and technology with personal engagement between faculty and students. Early research results point to improved learning and student outcomes using such approaches, as pointed out by Will Oremus in a Slate magazine article. They can include video lectures, assessments (with immediate feedback), interactive labs (with immediate feedback) and discussion forums such as those used in MOOCs.

Reiterating, the target audiences for these three online courses are very broad: individuals, students and workers enrolled by their companies. Their main advantage is that learners can register just by clicking online. They can train, whenever they want to from home, and they no longer have to go out. A lot of people who are at work all day are now able to train this way in the evenings.

Basically, the aim of all three — MOOCs, COOCs and SPOCs — is to offer free training. When you produce a video for an online course, there is no difference in the cost whether it is watched by one person or thousands.
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