My experiences so far on learning via Stanford MOOC

December 2nd, 2012

I’ve enrolled in a MOOC (massive open on-line course)¬†at Stanford University. The course, on Designing New Learning Environments is curated by Prof Paul Kim, and is done entirely on-line. I was surprised, when watching the first couple of lectures how relevant this is to my current work. Prof Kim has an interest in making education accessible around the globe, even in the most disadvantaged communities.

By the way, the lectures are also good – short, up to about 10 minutes with whoever is speaking in the bottom right of the screen and images filling the rest of the screen, not more words or graphs or tables, but images that illustrate the points made in the lecture.

It’s way more interesting than I thought it would be.

There’s weekly lectures or reading, and assignments – nothing too daunting, but challenging enough to keep me interested and engaged. What I miss is interaction with others. My own fault, probably, though I’m not prepared to take all the blame. This course lasts for 10 weeks and I’ve been travelling, and with intermittent, often dodgy internet, through weeks 2 – 7. It was during those early weeks that teams were formed, to later collaborate on a project. I didn’t form a team, not knowing how I’d be able to stay connected, and didn’t join a team for much of the same reason, as well as being unable to trawl through all the hundreds of teams and find one that interested me.

The search function on the course web site is disappointing – it doesn’t allow me to easily find people with similar interests, though I know you’re out there.

I’m now devouring much of the additional information that I was unable, or unwilling, to access while travelling. I’m reminded how much a little bit of discipline – as is provided in this MOOC with assignments and deadlines – while leaving me to do my own self-directed inquiry encourages (in me anyway) a deeper and more satisfying connection with the content, if not yet, with my fellow MOOCers.

2 Comments so far

  1. Barry Peddycord III on December 2, 2012 2:59 pm

    I took Armando Fox and Dave Patterson’s Software Engineering MOOC on Coursera this past summer, and the one thing I never expected was to interact with my peers. One of my only posts on the message board was a simple advertisement for a chat room that I liked to hang out in, and we built a sizeable study group of about 12 students where we would talk about the material. Not only did it make the course more fun, but I got to connect with a Ph.D. student at Berkely who had research interests very similar to my own.

    I think the trick is to find your classmates on the social media platforms that *you* use… not try to find them on the MOOC platform itself. Maybe you live and breathe Twitter – connect there… maybe you can’t go without using Google+ – it’s as good a platform as any. The chat room worked well for me because I was always there… it made interaction as natural as being with my peers in person.

  2. Viv McWaters on December 2, 2012 4:46 pm

    Thanks Barry, that’s useful advice. My ‘go to’ platforms are Twitter, Yammer and sometimes FB – so I’ll look for others there.

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