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Texas University launches Synchronous technology through SMOC

Dr.T.P.Sethumadhavan

University of Texas recently launched Synchronous Massive Online Classes (SMOC) enrolling around 10000 students Worldwide. University started the programme with introductory psychology classes through synchronous technologies. It is just like a late night Television show and a real time research experiment. Professors lecture in to a camera and students watch on their computers or mobile devices in real time. This paves the way for shifting the static model of higher education to a new technology mode where students get more options which forces schools and professors to compete for their attention. Unlike Massive open online courses (MOOC) which can be watched whenever, the SMOC requires students, professors and teaching assistants to be online at the same time. MOOC which started two years ago attracted more than five million students around the world and prompted dozens of top Universities to launch classes in conjunction with companies like Coursera and EdX.

SMOC is not a free education just like MOOC. Texas University charges US students 550 US dollars for enrollment. International students have to pay 900 US dollars. New York University is also trying to exploit the potential of internet to disrupt the higher education.

SMOC classes are live. Studio will be like a live demonstrating room. .Professor will sit behind the table. A small audience in the studio will make the atmosphere feel more electric. In between relaxed banter, the professors show video clippings of experiments and divide the online audience in to groups in chat rooms to discuss what they saw. To grade the students, a quiz will be given at the beginning of every class. Among tools developed for the course is an algorithm to detect cheating by measuring how students answer the quizzes.

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