MOOC, SPOC, MOOR And The Walking Dead - The Journey Continues

When Technoduet first published its list of MOOC Providers about six months back, there were just 26 names.  Now it has 40 and growing.

Not only number of MOOC providers has multiplied, MOOC themselves have diversified.  We now have SPOC, MOOR  and even a MOOC based on a popular TV series. The maturity, diversification and popularity of MOOC are all going up.


SPOC, acronym for small,private on-line courses is a recent bold initiative by Harvard University, something they term “post-MOOC”.  Unlike MOOC, SPOC aim at small and private versions of on-line courses.  The courses are still free, but with a restricted access to tens or hundreds rather than thousands of students.  This way the challenge of teaching and assessing thousands of on-line students with all shades of academic strengths and all colors of background can be contained.

There might be 3 types of offerings of these courses, MOOC  for the thousands, SPOC for the hundreds and traditional on-campus for the tens enrolled at the physical campus.

Harvard and the University of California, Berkeley are among the first to walk this road of SPOC.


MOOR, which stands for Massive Open Online Research, is yet another first from University of California, San Diego. UC San Diego computer science and engineering professor Pavel Pevzner is offering ‘Bioinformatics Algorithms – Part 1 (,’ a MOOC that incorporates a substantial research component for the first time.

This course will run for eight weeks starting October 21. All students taking this course will have the opportunity to work on specific research projects under the leadership of prominent bioinformatics scientists from different countries, who have agreed to interact and mentor their respective teams.

This will be an entirely new experiment of incorporating research in a MOOC with a large number of scientists belonging to different countries mentoring even a much larger number of students distributed globally.  


University of California, Irvine is offering yet another first ‘Society, Science, Survival: Lessons from AMC’s The Walking Dead’(, a MOOC based upon the popular TV series ‘The Walking Dead’.

This eight week course starting Monday, October 14 will be offered on Instructure’s MOOC platform, Canvas Network.  This multidisciplinary  course will be taught by a team of UC Irvine faculty belonging to different disciplines:  Michael Dennin, physics; Sarah Eichhorn, mathematics; Zuzana Bic, public health; and Joanne Christopherson, social sciences.

This MOOC is a one of its kind experimentation in the sense that an academic syllabus has been formally infused with contemporary media and that too on a massive open scale.

These are some of the new ground breaking experiments that some of the bolder MOOC providers are undertaking.  What the future unfolds, only time, courage and the ingenuity of the human mind will tell.