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Colleges Use MOOCs for Blended Learning

This spring, two Massachusetts community colleges launched a blended learning pilot program utilizing in-class sessions and material from an existing Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) offered through edX by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

The courses are known as Small Private Online Courses (SPOCs), a term coined by edX President Anant Agarwal, and offer credit to students upon completion.

“On campus, it’s not about bringing it to scale,” Agarwal told the New York Times. “It’s about improving the pedagogy, finding the best way to teach the material. On campus, we can blend online videos and interaction with professors.”

The blended introduction to computer programming course moves learners along at a different pace at each institution.

“That’s one of the beauties of the blended model, that it can be infinitely personalized,” Argarwal told the New York Times. “You can add as much or as little classroom time as is best for your school. And professors can add their own assignments, their own readings.”

While students in one of the two classes have not yet reached the midterm at this time, the later class is moving along well with the format. So far, the students have indicated that they enjoy the blended model as do their professors.

“The students were immediately engaged in the course, and they love the instant feedback online,” Harold Riggs, professor at MassBay Community College told the New York Times. “I can still do things my own way.”