So 2012 was the Year of the MOOC, and now 2020 is being touted as the Year of the SPOC?

But, stop me if you’ve heard this before … isn’t a SPOC (Small Private Online Course) what universities, colleges, training centres, etc. been doing for years? The only difference is it’s got a fancy new name. Right?

  • Small – by definition the cohort of (paying?) students will be smaller than a MOOC, but some would argue even MOOCs weren’t that big either.
  • Private – private, as in not accessible to those not on the invitation list, or not permitted to access.
  • Online – yes, it’s online, and it’s not new.
  • Course – yes, it’s a course in it’ sown right. It might even be part of some larger ‘course’ for CPD or qualification. This ‘course’ may be known in your organisation as a module or unit or other such currency of ‘learning for credit’.

According to the AdvanceHE “SPOCs are small (tens or hundreds of learners) restricted-access courses”, but I’ve seen MOOCs with those numbers, and no one suggested renaming them to a SOOC.

So, does that mean online learning has matured, just not how we name it? Can the course be online and call it an ‘online course’? By enforcing a title like MOOC or SPOC we’re limiting it’s reach or impact. My next thought in this wandering narrative is whether the same course can work in an open and private setting?

Photo by Rozan Naufal on Unsplash