Digiformag Logo - Le magazine de la formation professionnelle
, E-learning, Professional training

MOOC, COOC, SPOC, SOOC: what’s the difference?

Table of content

Are you a trainer or training organization considering embarking on e-learning, whether for reasons linked to your business, to develop your brand awareness or simply because you are keen to start your digital transformation? The question is not whether or not you are making the right decision (you are) but how to get started with e-learning. There are at least four types of digital training, which we will now present to you in detail, enabling you to understand the specific characteristics of each one and choose the formula that suits you best.

What does MOOC mean?

A MOOC (Massive Open online Course) is an online course taught by a professional trainer, often free of charge and generally accessible on a platform specialized in this type of course in digital format. MOOCs are often provided by schools or universities but also by training organizations. No prerequisites are necessary. MOOCs are open to everyone, often by simple registration, and made available via the portal of the institution providing it. Learners benefit from high-quality online classes, as well as the opportunity to apply what they have learned through practical exercises, quizzes, practical cases, etc. The themes developed in MOOCs are extremely varied: communications, web development, management, economics, digital technology, information sciences, languages, the arts, etc. The subjects addressed are varied, through rich content.  If the learner wishes to obtain a certificate or qualification once the training is validated, they often have to opt for the paid version of the MOOC. This option can be interesting for a learner who wishes to valorize their new skills on the job market, for example. Including this type of qualification on a CV is a definite plus when searching for employment.

The major advantage of this type of course is its accessibility, from every point of view. MOOCs are courses that are accessible to everyone, at any time and wherever they are, provided they have a computer, a tablet or a smartphone connected to the Internet. Depending on the learner’s needs and interests, they can provide an entry point into a new field or enable the learner to update their professional knowledge. Classes usually last ten minutes or so and stretch over several weeks. Students, employees or self-employed people taking part in MOOCs can therefore combine these courses with their academic or professional constraints.

The main disadvantage, on the other hand, is that as they are often free of charge and do not generally involve any interaction with the trainer, only a minority of those registered actually complete the course (around 10%). It is, in effect, difficult to foster learner engagement without any personalized interaction. To avoid this, opt for a format in which you offer a mentoring system for those who wish or create a learner community on social media or via a forum. You can also set up blended learning, i.e. a course combining both online and face-to-face classes. Courses combining both types of content are very appealing to students.

What does COOC mean?

A COOC (Corporate Online Open Course) is a digital course also taught by a professional trainer, based on the MOOC model. It includes a theory part in the form of online videos and a practical part with exercises, quizzes and serious games or group work to enable the students to interact with each other.

Contrary to MOOCs, COOCs are only open to a limited number of learners. The reason is simple: they are provided by companies to their employees, to enable them to develop their skills and expertise. They may also be proposed to customers, prospects, suppliers and partners, to present a product or service, or to job applicants as part of a recruitment process.

By spreading information about one or more aspects of their profession or company in this way, these companies offer a service while at the same time enhancing their brand image and awareness. Whether providing keys to the company culture or to a product or service, or using this training format to enable employees to improve their skills, COOCs contain the same ingredients that make MOOCs so successful: possibility of completing the training when and where the learner wishes as long as they have an Internet connection; training delivered by an experienced trainer; possible creation of a community of learners to share information and experiences and the practical application of what they have learned via videos. A certificate of completion may be issued for the entire course or even for certain modules enabling the learner to acquire specific skills.

The main advantage of a COOC is the flexibility for learners to organize their learning as they wish according to their schedule. They are easy to set up from an organizational point of view: there is no need to find a specific time and place to get everyone together. COOCs are primarily calibrated for companies and are designed in their colours (and therefore benefit from a good image as they show the company’s investment in this training offer). COOCs also address knowledge or issues specific to the company. This way, they are effective in capturing learners’ attention.

There is still a risk of abandonment during the course, however, as with MOOCs, and it is therefore important to keep the troops motivated! The training company responsible for designing the COOC must therefore remember to include rewards (scoring, internal certification, etc.) and perhaps even a learner community. This is because interaction is the best way of encouraging engagement among participants.

What does SPOC mean?

A SPOC (Small Private Online Course) is also presented primarily as a MOOC that learners must pay for. The content format is the same. It consists of videos presenting the theory and the validation of learning via various forms of practical exercises (quizzes, practical cases, etc.). The difference here is that SPOCs are private. They are reserved for a group of people in the same company (intra-company SPOC) or from different companies (inter-company SPOC). They are relatively selective as they address an audience specialized in the field. It is therefore possible to follow SPOCs designed more like personalized courses.

Like SOOCs, SPOCs focus on exchanges, both between trainer and learners and between the learners themselves. When designing a SPOC, you can include a system of individual or collective coaching. This can motivate learners while maximizing their chances of success thanks to a high quality (and quantity) of support. You can also use social media, forums and videoconferences to bind the community together and, given the limited number of participants, give learners a sense of belonging to a real class in which, over the weeks, they can get to know each other and create real connections. Herein lies one of the major strengths of this type of course! Given the limited number of learners, the trainer can respond to each participant individually when the need arises. This is why it is essential that SPOCs only offer a limited number of places.

A certificate of completion is issued at the end of the course and a report is made available to the managers and heads of training, etc. SPOCs are a very popular training tool among companies.

What does SOOC mean?

A SOOC (Small Online Open Courses) is a digital training course open to all. Like all the other types of training presented here, the difference with SOOCs does not lie in their form. They consist of videos presenting the theory and practical application via exercises, quizzes, practical cases, etc.

They target a relatively expert audience, however, through specific course titles. Above all, they focus on the social aspect. SOOCs use social media in particular to encourage exchanges and contact between the participants and between learners and the trainer. This can be a private Facebook group, the social network proposed by the platform that hosts the training, via the personal login details of the learners, or a discussion forum.

The learners are thus encouraged throughout the training to discuss the course content and the practical application exercises, as well as to share their best practices, monitoring, resources, professional anecdotes etc.

It is important when designing this type of training to include time and resources for management of the learner community by the trainers or by a community manager. The latter, as well as moderating comments and responding to specific topics, must also publish a variety of posts to engage the learners.

It is also important to include a way of measuring the results of the training: time spent on each module, time to complete the course, number of connections, number of messages on the social networks or the forum, etc., in order to draw up a precise report for the training manager.

Advantages and disadvantages of e-learning methods


Simple definition Online training, open to all, accessible anytime and anywhere. Online training, open to employees, new recruits, customers, prospects and partners of a company, accessible anytime and anywhere. Online training, open to a limited number of people. Online training for professionals in the context of their continuing training.
For whom? For learners who wish to discover a particular field or develop their knowledge. For employees, new recruits, customers, prospects and partners of companies. For professionals who wish to acquire more skills. For professionals who wish to acquire more skills
How much time to create it? Several weeks Several weeks Several weeks Several weeks
Advantages Accessible to all, often free of charge. Enables each person to obtain training on a wide variety of subjects. Popular with learners, who keep a handle on their schedule and can complete the training when it suits them. Includes follow-up and regular exchanges with the trainer, which motivates the learner to continue to the end of the course. Popular with learners for the exchanges with other learners and with the trainers, enabling them to forge links.
Disadvantages The learners have no contact with the trainer or with the platform during the course. This format does not prevent learners from potentially becoming demotivated during the course. Limited number of places on the course. Non-personalized follow-up of learners by the trainer.


The most read

Differences for TVET Colleges and Universities in the UK - Digiformag

Differences for TVET Colleges and Universities in the UK

the power of mentoring for individuals and organizations

The Power of Mentoring Programs for Individuals and Organisations

Thinking Of Joining Vocational Training? Here’s How To Prepare In The UK

TVET - Woman learning to increase professional skills - Digiformag

What Is TVET? Here’s An Overview

Top 7 Effective Teaching Methods For Adult Learning

MOOC, COOC, SPOC, SOOC: what’s the difference?

Choosing your teaching method according to the course content

What Makes an Effective Vocational Trainer? Equip These 21st-Century Skills

©2024 Digiformag – The Digiforma training magazine for training organizations and trainers – All rights reserved | Legal Notice | Contact