- Some institutions are attempting to go in a different direction with MOOCs, targeting specific populations instead of a general global audience.
- In one of two examples covered by Campus Technology, the University of Michigan’s new MOOCs in Mandarin for Chinese audiences are profiled, one of which, called “Model of Thinking,” has seen nearly 23,000 students register.
- The second example is Harvard University, which is now offering what it calls SPOCs — small private online courses — to alumni, who have been intensely supportive of the idea, flocking to the first seven programs.
Campus Technology’s article highlights the two initiatives at Harvard and the University of Michigan as a break from the traditional MOOC philosophy of offering courses to anyone with an Internet connection. Of course, one might argue the “shift” at the University of Michigan to offering courses in Mandarin will give it the potential of reaching far more people than it could with its English-language courses — more than twice as many people speak Mandarin than English worldwide. Both new initiatives are giving institutions interesting data about participants, helping further fine-tune MOOC models and delivery methods while also informing professors about pedagogy. The broader the reach with these courses, the more we learn, it seems.