Mumbai Capital

MOOCs are passe, say hello to SPOC

Emeritus's paid online education model is 'small and private' with personalised feedback

Online education start-up Emeritus Institute of Management is betting on a feedback and outcome-based paid executive learning model to achieve the desired completion rates, which its better-known counterpart, Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) failed to do.

Despite beginning with a lot of promise a few years ago — including turning known methods of education on their head — the free education model has suffered from completion rates of barely 5-7 per cent. This means only up to 7 per cent of enrolled students complete a MOOC.

Emeritus, on the other hand, calls its model SPOC (small private online courses), which it says is different from the MOOCs model. “The difference is, ours is small and private versus massive and open. Ours is also outcome-driven,” said Ashwin Damera, Co-Founder and Member of the Academic Board of Emeritus. “A key element missing in MOOCs is structured assessments and personalised one-to-one feedback.”

Emeritus Institute of Management offers executive courses in collaboration with the executive education arms of Columbia Business School, Tuck at Dartmouth College and MIT Sloan. “The diplomas will have accreditation of the founding schools unlike the MOOCs model, which does not have accreditation to any institute,” he said.

The startup offers six to eight-week courses in topics like design thinking, negotiations, corporate finance and innovation. It also offers one-year diploma courses in business management.

“In the Indian context, professionals can now access SPOCs like ours at a fraction of the cost of an IIM or ISB education,” said Mr. Damera, who developed the executive education model based on the leadership and management training needs of mid-management employees.

Bridging a gap

The foundation for the model emerged when he first identified the gap in executive training while evaluating training options for 350 global employees at his maiden startup Travelguru. He had sold the startup to Travelocity in 2009. He has also invested in other startups such as Ping Networks and VoxPop.

The similarity with MOOCs is that Emeritus too delivers faculty lectures on video, leverage technology for their learning platforms. However, they also provide many missing elements in the MOOCs model, like offering feedback and enabling peer-to-peer learning in small groups, said Mr. Damera.

He added that there is an entrance exam for selection, and learners are asked to write essays and give references before selection. “Students work in small learning groups, most classes have project work or simulations and live tutoring to make the learning stick, and a mobile app to foster social learning.”

More on the list

The grading system, Mr. Damera said, is not limited to multiple choice questions, but based on project work, proctored exams and manual grading of assignments.

Since it started in October last year, the firm has offered 400 courses and has 4,000 learners on its platform. About a 1,000 learners are from India, while the rest come from markets like the Middle East and Africa, Singapore, Asia Pacific and Malaysia.

The firm counts Flipkart, Amazon, Pitney Bowes and Infosys as some of its corporate clients and claims a completion rate of 90 per cent.

It plans to add 30,000 enrolments in the next 12 months and take that number to 100,000 in the next five years.

“We would be small in terms of enrolments. We are planning to add diploma courses in digital business and ecommerce, banking, technology and management by end of this year and add more industry partners,” Mr. Damera said.



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Printable version | May 26, 2020 2:58:24 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/mumbai/business/moocs-are-passe-say-hello-to-spoc/article8665294.ece

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