Massive online open courses have been launched with much fanfare and have been a significant disruptor to the education system, but SPOCS are now emerging from their shadow. Not a Star Trek derivative, but a small personalized online course.
If you are serious about your professional development and lifelong learning – what are the benefits of SPOCs? Let’s kick off with a quick quiz to get you thinking. How would you answer this question . . .
Q. Why should I do a Small Personalized Online Course?
- They are asynchronous and that gives me flexibility
- I get support and expert advice from the course facilitator, I’m not left in the dark!
- I have time to consider and clarify my thinking, I’m not under the gun to produce an answer on the spot
- I enjoy the interactivity and being part of the online community
- They are cost-effective
Answer #1. Asynchronicity is the reason of choice for many course participants. Asynchronous learning puts students, rather than teachers, at the centre of the learning process, and uses online learning resources to deliver information outside the constraints of time and place. You can do your learning whenever and wherever you want to. All you need is an internet connection and computer. This is a plus for most busy professionals why are trying to fit their professional development into an already hectic life and work schedule.
Answer #2. Support and expert advice. Our SPOCs are facilitated by industry experts with extensive knowledge, expertise and empathy. They are available to help course participants with any queries and to moderate online discussion forums. Because they work in the industry they can provide insights and practical guidance to course participants. This contributes to high completion rates – over 80% for our courses, compared with 4% or less for many MOOCs.
Answer #3. Time to consider and clarify my thinking, I’m not under the gun! Many course participants appreciate the ability to reflect on and review the course materials. Then they can make a carefully thought out contribution to the online discussions. There is time and space for discussions to be developed and explored fully. This is not always possible in face-to-face courses, or courses that have to done at fixed times, where the opportunity to contribute is limited to a small number of participants and is tightly constrained time-wise.
Answer #4. Being part of a learning community. MOOCs typically stream lectures, but many course participants are looking for a human connection beyond the streamed lecture. Our SPOCs provide this by the combination of the course facilitator (see Answer #2) and online discussion forums which together provide a supportive learning network. This contributes to a much lower attrition rate for SPOCS and means that the majority of participants successfully complete the course.
Answer #5. SPOCS are cost effective – typically less than half the cost of face-to-face training, especially when productivity gains are factored in. This is appealing to course participants and employers. Although many MOOCs are free, this needs to be weighed against MOOCs not providing the same level of support and their significantly lower course completion rates.
SPOCs provide a higher level of student support and they are emerging as a sustainable model for specialized learning using online education to deliver more targeted and customized courses.
Can you think of any other reasons you would do a SPOC? Share them with us, we’d love to hear from you!
Note: Sometimes the ‘P’ in SPOC refers to private, but we prefer personalized because it is more descriptive of our course aims.
Continuing Professional Development offers small personalized online courses to customers around the world. Click here to find out more about our online training and development courses.