30 January 2013

MOOC - Fundamentals of Online Education

After rushing home from work on Monday evening I sat down to get started on the two MOOCs I've signed up for.  Where to start.....as this MOOC involves the most work I thought I'd get signed up, join a discussion thread or two and maybe watch a video/read something.  Two hours later, I hadn't passed the first hurdle - adding my name to a Google spreadsheet along with hundreds of thousands of other people.  Needless to say, there were a few technical difficulties.

I switched between to the two MOOCs for a couple of hours (using up my precious study time) and noticed that there were a few other people who'd signed up for the same two courses as me.  Participants contributing to both forums (one on Facebook) were getting pretty annoyed and some had even unenrolled from the course.

I decided to hang in there - and suggested to others that they should persevere.  My experience from the previous MOOC I did last year is that the first week can be daunting and chaotic but by the end of the first week everything settled down.  My view is that these courses are free and experimental so they're not going to be perfectly organised with state of the art technology and backup systems if something goes wrong.  And let's not forget the participants, who range from very experienced, semi-experienced and totally unexperienced MOOCers.  Also, some participants have very limited computer skills - which is why they're taking these types of courses in the first place - and are prone to accidentally deleting and/or renaming sections of a spreadsheet!

Something I like about this course is is that there is a course outline that sets out what you are going to do, guides you towards discussion forums and gives you an idea of how much time is involved for each activity.  For people like me who have busy and changing work schedules, it's really helpful to be able to plan a slot to do some studying.  

So, before even looking at the materials, I've learned two useful things about online education :

  1. NOT to allow thousands students to organise themselves into groups using a Google spreadsheet.
  2. Course contents giving estimated study time.
OK - so maybe I already had an idea about these, but it's nice to have your ideas confirmed.

Another MOOC x2!

So, I joined two MOOCs (12 hours study total per week) and planned my time to make sure I would be able to do it.

It's really interesting to note that the two MOOCs are operating in very different ways.  The University of Edinburgh's E-learning and Digital Cultures is a kind of free for all, join any discussion, pursue any interest and create any online "artefact" kind of affair.  The Georgia Tech's Fundamental of Online Education:  Planning and Application, is slightly more organised with guides as to how much time each activity will take, guiding you to discussion forums and with deadlines to complete the work.

More about each course as I get more involved - hope I don't miss the first deadline for the Fundamentals of Online Education as I'm off to the BETT conference in London and will have limited Internet access!