SPOC - Small Open Online Courses

With the immense popularity of the learning opportunities provided by MOOC’s, there is no wonder why some universities have begun to look at more exclusive versions of the program. Harvard is launching the next generation of online classes with SPOC – or Small Private Online Courses.

The desire to take a MOOC from Harvard has been immense: more people have signed up for offered MOOC’s than have ever attended in each of the 377 years of the school’s history combined. The SPOC is the next generation of the concept. Rather than thousands of people being able to access the information, SPOC attendance is limited to tens or hundreds. Enrollment requirements and applications can be used for a selection process, and it could potentially be used to collect tuition and offer credit at universities, as well.

Rather than replacing MOOC or the traditional classroom experience, SPOC can be seen as part of a tiered accessibility: MOOC will allow the most people to access the coursework, with those in an SPOC getting more specialized information and the students in the classroom receiving even more direct attention and information from the instructors.

Professor Robert Lue, chair of Harvard’s online experiments academics committee, sees SPOC as an “almost inevitable evolution” of the learning experience, and that the current experiments of MOOC are a “remarkable moment of possibility.” He cautions universities against using MOOC classes as a highlight reel of on-campus course availability, as they can be putting themselves behind the curve of educational innovation.