A new twist on massive open online courses -- a "synchronous massive online course" (SMOC) -- is now underway at The University of Texas at Austin. Unlike MOOCs, which are mainly off-campus, the university's SMOC is offered both to registered students as well as off-campus participants. While many universities offer online courses, these are typically closed to non-enrolled participants.
The SMOC, which launched this semester, represents another next phase in the disruption of higher education. The course, Introduction to Psychology, will be streamed two nights a week, live on the internet. Students are encouraged to ask questions and interact with the instructors and their classmates in real time through interactive chat rooms. Participants earn three hours of transferable academic credit that will appear on an official transcript of the university.
Whether or not this variation of MOOCs takes off, it represents the continued opening of university programs beyond the unsustainable tuition structure that is, in essence creating a form of "demand destruction." The education industry is beginning to respond with new delivery models.
Universities aren't necessarily giving away the store, either. Exposing potential students across the globe to instructors and coursework means good PR and marketing for their institutions