Rich despite scale or rich because of scale? MOOCs, SPOCs and residential education


When MOOCs "exploded" in 2012, they were all about scale: courses, instructors, and MOOC providers try to outdo each other on how many learners they were reaching. An unsurprising backlash came from the criticism that surely at such scales the learning experience would suffer. One unsurprising reaction to that backlash was the position that MOOC technology could also help better package curricular materials for local customization and reuse, that is, the SPOC model.

Both MOOCs and SPOCs have value, but lost in this discussion is a closer examination of which elements of both MOOCs and campus courses are rich because of scale, and which ones we should strive to make rich despite scale.

Professor Fox will give examples of both, based on both our work with doing research on MOOC data and our attempts to handle exploding demands for CS courses at Berkeley (our introductory CS course now enrolls over 1,000 students, and our upper division advanced courses routinely enroll several hundred).

Professor Armando Fox


Brief Biography

Armando Fox is a Professor in Berkeley's Electrical Engineering & Computer Science Department and the Faculty Advisor to the UC Berkeley MOOCLab. He co-designed and co-taught Berkeley's first Massive Open Online Course on Engineering Software as a Service, currently offered through edX, through which over 10,000 students worldwide have earned certificates of mastery. He also serves on edX's Technical Advisory Committee, helping to set the technical direction of their open MOOC platform. With colleagues in Computer Science and in the School of Information, he is doing research in online education including automatic grading of students' computer programs and improving student engagement and learning outcomes in MOOCs. His other computer science research in the Berkeley ASPIRE project focuses on highly productive parallel programming.

While at Stanford he received teaching and mentoring awards from the Associated Students of Stanford University, the Society of Women Engineers, and Tau Beta Pi Engineering Honor Society. He has been a "Scientific American Top 50" researcher, an NSF CAREER award recipient, a Gilbreth Lecturer at the National Academy of Engineering, a keynote speaker at the Richard Tapia Celebration of Diversity in Computing, and an ACM Distinguished Scientist. In previous lives he helped design the Intel Pentium Pro microprocessor and founded a successful startup to commercialize his UC Berkeley Ph.D. research on mobile computing. He received his other degrees in electrical engineering and computer science from MIT and the University of Illinois. He is also a classically-trained musician and performer, an avid musical theater fan and freelance Music Director, and bilingual/bicultural (Cuban-American) New Yorker living in San Francisco.

Date & time

10am–12pm 27 Nov 2014


Seminar Room N101 CSIT Building 108 North Road The Australian National University


Professor Armando Fox


Dean's Office
02 6125 8807

Updated:  10 February 2019/Responsible Officer:  Head of School/Page Contact:  CECS Marketing