It’s quite fascinating how fast education has evolved over the last decades.
In 2000, we could barely hear the term Massive Open Online Courses, or MOOCs. Fast forward to 2021, almost every student has taken an online course.
According to Class Central, MOOCs have reached 220 million students in 2021 accounting for the Big Four course providers globally.
Initially, MOOCs promised accessible and affordable education to millions but often left students feeling disconnected and disengaged. However, a new paradigm is emerging.
This one prioritizes impact, engagement, and community. It's called Micro-Community Courses (MiCCs). A revolutionary approach to online learning that is reshaping the landscape of digital education.
Today, we’ll deep dive into:
- what are micro community courses?
- its three building blocks and seven levers
- advantages of MiCCs
- the differences between MOOCs vs. MiCCs vs. Cohort-Based Courses
- where to start creating your micro-community courses
What are micro community courses?
A term coined by d.MBA, Micro-Community Courses, or MiCCs, represent a departure from the traditional MOOC model. They are focused on creating impact as a goal and are designed to engage and create intimate connections among students.
If we dissect the term micro community courses, it means:
- micro - small cohort of learners
- community - with similar goals and mindset
- courses - learning together provided with content
According to d.MBA, MiCCs are composed of three building blocks: community, culture, and content.
Each building block has levers:
- Motivated Students: In Micro-Community Courses (MiCCs), the process of student selection is meticulous and designed to ensure that participants are genuinely motivated and committed to their learning journey.
This means that MiCCs go beyond mere enrollment; they require students to undergo an application process where their motivation and dedication to the course are assessed. This careful selection process sets the stage for an engaged and driven community of learners.
- Intimate Communities: One of the defining features of this learning model is the creation of small, tightly-knit learning communities. These groups are deliberately kept small to encourage strong peer interaction and foster an environment where students actively engage with each other.
In these intimate communities, individuals are more likely to connect, collaborate, and share insights, which significantly enhances the learning experience.
- Clear Structure: It stands in contrast to the often chaotic and self-paced nature of MOOCs. Instead, they offer a structured learning environment with well-defined timelines and deadlines.
This structured approach ensures that all students progress together through the course, providing a sense of cohesion and shared progress that can be lacking in MOOCs' more flexible formats.
- Positive Reinforcement: Upon completing the course, students become part of alumni communities. These communities serve as a source of positive reinforcement and ongoing engagement.
Graduates not only gain a sense of belonging but also access continued learning opportunities within the alumni network. This connection to a supportive community encourages further growth and participation.
- Constructive Feedback: MiCCs place a strong emphasis on feedback as a fundamental component of the learning process. Feedback is not only encouraged but also prioritized in micro-community courses.
Students receive feedback from both their peers and mentors, providing them with valuable insights to improve their skills and understanding. This feedback loop contributes significantly to the overall quality of the learning experience.
- Safe Sandbox: It recognizes that true learning often occurs through practical application rather than passive consumption of content. To facilitate this, MiCCs offer a "safe sandbox" where students can actively practice and apply their newfound knowledge.
This hands-on approach allows students to experiment, make mistakes, and ultimately gain a deeper understanding of the subject matter.
- Great Content: While content is undeniably important in MiCCs, they acknowledge that it's not enough on its own. It prioritizes delivering high-quality content but also ensures that it's presented within a clear and well-structured framework.
This approach goes beyond simply disseminating information; it focuses on ensuring that students truly understand and can apply what they've learned. In essence, this type of course recognizes that content is most valuable when it's complemented by effective teaching methods and a supportive learning environment.
These seven levers are the guided principles on how to design a micro-community course. These came up from the key metrics that d.MBA follows: student ratings, completion rates, and alumni stories.
So, by the time you design your course in a MiCC approach, don’t forget to consider these levers as primary guidelines.
a. High Completion Rates: MiCCs consistently boast completion rates exceeding 90%, ensuring that the majority of enrolled students finish the course.
b. Engaged Learning: The intimate communities and structured format of MiCCs foster engagement, interaction, and peer learning.
c. Constructive Feedback: It prioritizes feedback, allowing students to grow and improve their skills throughout the course.
d. Real-World Application: It creates a safe space for practical application, bridging the gap between theory and real-world skills.
e. Motivated Students: The rigorous application process ensures that students are motivated and committed to the program.
MOOCs vs MiCCs vs Cohort-Based Courses: The Differences
For those course creators, instructors, and edupreneurs who have heard of the cohort-based model, you might think this is just the same with CBC. So let’s dive in and compare the three: MOOCs, MiCCs, and Cohort-based Courses:
MOOCs vs MiCCs
The reason MOOCs are failing online education is because of their low completion rates. A study was shown by MIT where researchers documented "low retention rates and enrollment declines". What does it mean? The rate of completion of courses by students plummeted from 56% in 2016 to 3.13% in 2018.
MOOCs emphasize scalability, reaching millions of students around the world. Due to the quantity as a core, it often limits students to interact with each other, give and receive feedback, and engage during the course. In short, the aspect of community is invisible.
Despite this fact, MOOCs and micro-credentials are still popular in academic institutions. Apparently, higher education is using MOOCs and micro-credentials to modernize its degree programs.
On another note, MiCCs focus on quality, impact, and motivating every student who is part of the cohort. These courses build a culture of safe space and high-intensity support from peers. It’s intimate, with a maximum number of 50 students per cohort.
MiCCs, like cohort-based courses, have solved the number 1 problem of MOOCs—as they have high completion rates often exceeding 90%.
MiCCs vs Cohort-based Courses
Meanwhile, Bootcamps are using more often the modern learning approach in online education—the Cohort-based Courses (CBCs). Similar to MiCCs, cohort-based courses have also solved the low completion rates of MOOCs. CBCs have been an efficient learning model for bootcamps, accelerator programs, online MBAs, and other online courses.
But, what is the difference between MiCCs and CBCs? Which one is better?
After analyzing the two learning models, they have one major difference: the cohort size. The cohort-based learning model can have a small cohort size of about 20 students to a larger size of 200 students. It depends on how you will design your cohort.
What is the difference between cohort-based vs. micro-community courses? Cohort-based courses can be larger than 50 students and have a small emphasis on the community. Meanwhile, MiCCs are more intimate cohorts of fewer than 50 students and have a strong community focus and extensive peer learning feedback.
Which learning model is better?
Now that we have identified the similarities and differences of these three pedagogies, let’s answer the question, which one is better?
Because education has no one-size-fits-all model, there is no better structure than the other. It highly depends on how you define your course objectives and course design. Each learning model has their usage and advantages. and disadvantages.
Maximize Technology to Launch Your Micro-Community Courses! 🚀
As technology evolves, learning evolves too. Therefore, you should maximize the power of tech by using a learning platform.
Teachfloor is thoughtfully designed to help course creators, instructors, and edupreneurs make the best courses and educational programs for their learners.
In fact, it is one of the forerunner LMSs that has transformed and impacted the lives of many through education technology. With Teachfloor’s cutting-edge technology, learning organizations of all sizes have executed their learning community, educational programs, and online courses seamlessly.
Here are some of the notable features of Teachfloor that can make you successfully launch your micro-community courses:
- Peer review and instructor review
- Built-in community, perfect to start your MiCCs
- Multiple integrations and embedded content
- Cost-effective pricing model
- User-friendly interface
- Ready-made templates
- Responsive support