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MOOC Downsized Equals SPOC

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December 4, 2013

The SPOC is set to follow the MOOC.

Harvard, Cal-Berkeley, and a small number of other American universities are planning to launch a smaller version of the massively popular MOOC, or "massive open online course." The new version has the acronym SPOC, which standards for "small private online course."

SPOCs will still be free to enter, but numbers will be restricted, Harvard officials say, citing a very large number of entries in MOOCs in the past few years. Harvard figures show that more people signed up for MOOCs in one year than in all the years that Harvard has doing business. (It was the first university founded in what is now the United States, way back in 1636.)

Harvard is moving ahead rapidly, launching a SPOC version of a national security strategy course at the Kennedy School of Government. The online version of the in-person course will be limited to 500 entrants, and participants will be chosen based on their academic credentials and on the substance and semblance of a submissions essay on the topic of the U.S. Government's response to the current civil war in Syria.

The course will not reward students will anything other than study. (Officials estimate that students wishing to keep up will have to put in at least eight hours of study a week.) As with many MOOCs, Harvard's national security strategy SPOC will not result in formal academic credit.

And even though some Harvard officials say that they are in a post-MOOC environment, the massive online courses will continue, as will the in-person, for-credit instruction.





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