Getting ready to MOOC

September 7, 2013

Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

I am getting ready to take a 3 week course through a MOOC (Massively Open Online Course.)  This particular class is called “Understanding Media by Understanding Google” via Coursera.

The topic of MOOCs has been much discussed in higher education circles and in the media (2013 is sometimes cited as the Year of the MOOC in various publications.) Often articles are critical, and just as often MOOCs are seen as a threat to the traditional higher education experience.  For example, several pieces have been written about MOOCs in Inside Higher Ed (search for MOOCs to see a variety of observations).  Some programs boast great results with their students and high student satisfaction; others say that low forum usage and completion rates (often cited between 7-17%) make the learning experience watered down and unsuccessful.

So, I decided to see what all the fuss is about.

I have taken online classes before (notably through Simmons and ALA continuing education.) Each of these was a valuable learning experience.  When taking an online course, you need to:

1. Set aside the time to do the readings and assignments

2. Set aside the time to contribute to the online discussions or forums (sometimes these are as valuable as the class!)

3. Be dedicated and consistent.  Because these were generally asynchronous (you can do them anytime, anywhere), you are completely responsible for setting up your own checkpoints and learning experience.  Just like in a traditional course, you will get out of it what you put into it.

The differences that I see so far between a traditional online class and a MOOC are:

  • A MOOC is often free, so the incentive to complete the coursework because you have paid for it is not there;
  • An online course generally has 1 or 2 instructors, and a limited amount of students.  My course so far as 40,000 participants!
  • Completing a MOOC is not necessarily something that employers or colleges will “give you credit” towards continued professional development.  The online courses I took through both ALA (accrediting library body) and Simmons College gave me “legitimacy” that perhaps a MOOC will not.

As my class begins in a couple of weeks, more differences may become apparent.  I plan to complete the course, and observe the learning experience, and then sum it up in this blog.

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2 Responses to “Getting ready to MOOC”

  1. […] halfway through my Coursera MOOC on Understanding Media by Understanding Google (see previous post here.)  It is fairly intense.  I am still doing about 4-5 hours of work per […]

  2. […] the course was great and the professor engaged and committed. Going back to my first post on the MOOC, I had set three goals for […]

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