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Technology has changed the way we work, live and play. It has rendered current occupations obsolete and is creating completely new industries and jobs. Online education has shown great growth and potential for good reasons, especially in increasing the accessibility to quality education worldwide. Students and teachers are allowed to learn new skill sets that will help them in the marketplace using new technologies.

And as the space grows, it is inevitable that MOOC is a word "missed" when we talk about the educational technology space especially in the higher education sector. In fact MOOC is the most talked about topic which can be seen across various forums and events worldwide, according to EdTechReview's event team.

The name that MOOC has made for itself is because of the fact that Massive Open Online Courses are built on the premise of making high quality instructional content available to any learner, anywhere, anytime. MOOCs have achieved this goal on one hand, as they make top educational resources available, for free or for very low prices, to people who otherwise wouldn't have access to them.  With big name of universities like Harvard and Yale offering those MOOCs on different platforms you can see the high quality of the education on offer. Because of which, there is no question about the growth of MOOCs. Coursera and edX are two of the biggest MOOC providers, who dominate the market, according to the report and summary by Dhawal Shah, Founder, Class Central.

Yes, MOOCs offer an incredible range of topics for online learners from different parts of the world with different learning budgets; but then what is wrong with MOOCs?

Completion rates of MOOCs are lamentable. Based on a study by Harvard University researcher Justin Reich, an average of only 5-7% of the students actually finish their courses. Research and reports have questioned the underlying model of MOOCs, its learning outcomes, completion rates and whether they meet the needs of the learners.

Why not MOOCs?

  • MOOCs fail because they're one-size fits all solutions.
  • There is a serious completion rate issue.
  • The fact that Online learners are learning in silos, whereas they want to interact with each other to share and learn from their peers.
  • MOOCs provide limited opportunities for interaction between instructors and the learners. It is hard for a learner to complete the entire course with next to no direct communication with and feedback from the instructor.

As EdSurge puts it, simply increasing the number of educational opportunities isn't enough to make an impact on learning.

So the question is: If not MOOCs then what?

The answer is POOC (Personalized Open Online Courses). POOCs make learning more than just one-to-many knowledge broadcasting but a social learning activity involving peers, learning facilitators, subject matter experts, mentors and work place supervisors.

  • POOCs are better because they allow personalization of learning delivery.
  • They adopt models like "Blended Learning with EASE" (Econtent, Activity, Support, Evaluate – Refer Fig 1)
  • It embraces blended Learning, online support, and comprehensive community engagements/immersions.


Fig1. Blended Learning with EASE


Personalization is the key to the successful delivery of learning through a MOOC model. In order to personalize the learning experience, courses have to be delivered either through blended learning, virtual, or on-campus fast track modes. There should also be regular mentoring and facilitation to maintain learner engagement.

POOCs allow flexible, anytime, anywhere learning without compromising on peer interactions, interactions with instructor and continuous mentorship.

Lithan is pioneering the delivery of personalized open online courses (POOCs), which leverage on MOOC technologies for education massification (i.e., very wide outreach) combined with an innovative cooperative learning pedagogy that deliver mass learning customization. Modular courses provide learning outcomes that map to specific bite-size competencies, which stack together in multiple ways to provide various job role qualifications, skills mastery, and academic degree pathways – all delivered just-in-time.

POOCs trump over MOOCs in that POOCs deliver:

  1. "Bite-size" learning outcomes (or competencies) required by employers.
  2. Courses that closely link learning to the industry by incorporating internships, placements, and by actively involving the workplace supervisor in the learning process.
  3. Courses that incorporate innovative pedagogy that are designed and delivered through a blended learning, flipped classroom and collaborative format. Learners study course materials in advance and classes are meant to facilitate peer-to-peer learning with personalized coaching. 
  4. Anytime, Anywhere delivery leveraging on technology to support delivery of flexible, competency-based, cooperative learning programmes across geographies, at any time, via any smart device connected to the internet.

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