MOOCs and SPOCs: Why are cross-learning methods booming?

The walls fall apart in the world of knowledge and know-how. We are learning differently and test new ways of learning. Online formats like MOOCs, SPOCs and last but not least COOCs and SOOCs have multiplied during the last few years. But what encourages the creation of those ways of learning? What is their added value? How do they develop and why?

Cross-learning methods

The fields of knowledge and know-how become more and more informal. When we are talking about cross-learning, we are referring on one hand to knowledge acquired during lessons and on the other hand to knowledge acquired on your own. Those two learning methods fusion, which is called cross-learning.

Moreover, the new technologies – which are already creating new usages themselves – allow to connect personal knowledge and competences with a more academic education.


Learning contexts in transition

Also the learning contexts lead to new trends. Today, we learn from wherever we are and whenever we want, in a more entertaining and user-friendly way. Knowledge and know-how adapt to those multidisciplinary learning contexts. The education also becomes adaptive and new technologies and applications respond to new needs, including a development of usages for remote education.

Why organizing a MOOC?

Massive Open Online Courses, probably the best known of the new learning methods, have arrived three years ago in France’s world of teaching (and some years before in the USA) and exploded in 2014. By the way, in the end of 2013, the Minister of Research and Superior Education launched the FUN (France Université Numerique) platform to promote the use of open online courses.

A construction of a user ecosystem around this new learning mode has been observed. Not only is there proliferation of the online courses, but also of editors and consultants of MOOCs platforms.

As a reminder, a MOOC (recognized by the French dictionary Larousse in 2016) is an online course open for everyone. It can be for free or not, according to the chosen solution. The participants are geographically dispersed and meet around one or more speakers online who give their course via video conference.

There are two main types of MOOCs:

  • The xMOOC that aim to validate acquired competences by delivering a certificate
  • The cMOOC whose learning objective is open and whose learning content is mainly created by the participants themselves

The massive aspect represents the new form of learning: existing solutions on the market and their technologies are facing a constant growth of audience. We are heading towards a collaborating society with the need to have new educative resources and to create scenarios for educational activities within platforms and adequate softwares.

Why organizing a SPOC?

In a smaller circle, the SPOCs (Small Private Online Courses) work in the same way as their seniors, the MOOCs, but are reserved for a more restricted, private audience which will be selected in advance. The concept of massification doesn’t apply here.

By tightening the seats you gain in efficiency. The experience has shown that following a massive online course tends to be less engaging. According to Francois Germinet, President of the French University Cergy-Pontoise and of the Digital Committee for the French University Presidents Conference (CPU), the difference is the target: “MOOCs address to a large public, from students to retired people, from passionates to amateurs.”

As the more selective version, SPOCs should only apply to about thirty people, which allows the organizing team to supervise the students and to guarantee a better follow-up as well as a closer relation.

MOOCs for marketing, SPOCs for the diploma

With a reduced number of people and a closer follow-up the SPOC is diplomatic, contrary to the MOOC which only delivers a certificate. Between the universe of companies and of universities, the MOOC transmits knowledge, know-how and information.

After the MOOCs and SPOCs, more specific forms for companies and specialists tend to emerge now, like the COOCs and the SOOCs. We will take a closer look at that topic in another article.

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