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Online learning

MOOCs and SPOCs are courses that people can follow online. MOOC stands for Massive Open Online Course: a course that participants can follow for free via the Internet. SPOC stands for Small Private Online Course. A SPOC can be followed entirely online, just like a MOOC. However, a student may only take part if he or she is invited or selected, or in return for a fee.

Who are MOOCs and SPOCs intended for?

A MOOC usually attracts tens of thousands of participants. People who have no money to follow a university study programme, people with no access to a university (as is the case in many African countries for example), but also university graduates who wish to study a subject at academic level. MOOCs allow them to follow university courses in an accessible way. Many renowned international universities now offer MOOCs. These can be found for example on Coursera and EdX.

Just like a MOOC a SPOC can be fully followed online. However, there are usually some restrictions when it comes to participating. A student may only take part if he or she is invited or selected, or in return for a fee. The limited number of participants means that a SPOC lecturer can offer more personal guidance than an MOOC lecturer. The lecturer can also check essays or group assignments himself. 

Leiden University MOOCs

Since 2013 Leiden University has developed a number of MOOCs. The MOOCs can be followed via the Coursera platform. Lecturer teams are coached in developing MOOCs by the Centre for Innovation. This team includes experts in creating videos, digital didactics, community management and project coordination.

Using MOOCs in your own teaching

You can use MOOCs for your own teaching in one of three ways:

  • You can download videos from an MOOC and share them with your students for example via Brightspace. To do so you need permission from the MOOC lecturer.
  • Some courses are permanently accessible, which means that you can refer your students to a specific knowledge clip or literature at any time. The advantage is that your students can also complete the in-video multiple choice questions to test their own understanding of the materials. For this too, you should ask the MOOC lecturer permission to use his or her materials.
  • You can have your students follow an entire MOOC. To do so you can create a closed copy of the MOOC for your own students. This option is available for MOOCs on the Coursera platform. 

Creating a MOOC or SPOC yourself

If you wish to develop your own MOOC or SPOC, please contact the Online Learning Lab. They will discuss your preliminary ideas with you and advise you on the further procedure. In consultation with your ICT & Education coordinator you can then submit a proposal to the ICTE Steering Group. Your proposal should include the following:

  • How the proposed MOOC or SPOC will enhance Leiden University’s reputation
  • How the proposed MOOC or SPOC contributes to educational innovation
  • The course’s objective
  • Your intended learning objectives
  • Whether you will use this course for your own teaching or research

Once your proposal has been accepted, the Online Learning Lab will support you through all the phases of the development and implementation process. The development lead time for a MOOC or SPOC is 6 to 9 months. 

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