This article discusses the differences between MOOCs and SPOCs, xMOOCs and cMOOCs, and SMOCs and SSOCs, and then proposes a framework for improving learner motivation and selecting the right teachers in these events.
- Course objective
- Course content
- History of distance learning
- Definition and classification
- Target audience
- Student population
- Teaching staff
- Learning goals
- Quality assurance
- Evaluation criteria
- Student assessment
- Return on investment (ROI)
- Digital and social media use policy
- Concluding information
Categorized by size, openness, time lag in communication, and pedagogy
The difference between a MOOC (massive open online course) and SPOC (small private online course) is mostly one of size. The relative sizes affect openness: the “massive” size of a MOOC allows for open enrollment, whereas the smaller size of a SPOC requires a formal and possibly competitive application process.
Most MOOCs are asynchronous, which best accommodates the “massive” number of learners. When MOOCs and SPOCs are synchronous, they are called SMOCs (synchronous massive online courses) or SSOCs (synchronous small online courses).
MOOCs also can be categorized by underlying pedagogical approach:
- xMOOC: ‘a term inspired by Harvard University, which used the prefix ‘x’ to indicate (offline) courses in the university’s course catalogue for which online versions were available’ (Kaplan and Haenlein, 2016, p. 448); these are usually structured over a fixed timeframe, with content stored in one centralized location.
- cMOOC: These are usually unstructured and without a fixed timeframe, with decentralized content.
Improving learner motivation and selecting the right teachers
MOOCs and SPOCs require a high level of motivation on the part of the learner. To improve learner motivation, the authors propose a “5C” framework, which identifies 5 elements that can improve learner motivation in a MOOC or SPOC, and 5 characteristics that make for the best teacher in these types of environments.
5C frameworks (Kaplan and Haenlein, 2016, p. 445)
When designing a MOOC or SPOC, improve learner motivation by:
- Adding elements that make learners feel like they are part of the group
- Using adaptive learning techniques to provide challenges that are appropriate for the cohort and learner
- Giving the learners control over the times and locations in which they learn, and control over how they learn
- Encouraging competition within the group by providing points, games, and badges
- Checking in during the course to answer questions and post timely information that is relevant to the material (such as news articles)
When selecting a person to lead the MOOC or SPOC, look for a person who is:
- Charismatic and telegenic
- An expert in the field
- Likely to stay with the company for a while