09 September 2012

On doing a MOOC

Fifteen years ago, I worked with some cutting-edge educational technologists to devise a module on "Resource-Based Learning"  for a Master's course which I directed. I rapidly found that even with small cohorts, the time required to tutor students and join in online discussions vastly exceeded my time allowance (even not counting the initial preparation time).

Ten years ago, a colleague and I launched an online Research Methods module for another Master's in Education, but I conducted mine as a blended course, using an early version of the "flipped classroom" approach as it is now known. Worked well, and was manageable for me, even allowing for a 110-mile round trip to get to the face-to-face sessions Perhaps now we would do it with Skype or similar technology.

And I worked with the UK Open University on developing re-usable interactice "assets" which could be incorporated into online practice-oriented courses in nursing and social care.

Around the same time, I wrote these pieces (here and here) on resource-based learning. I claim a certain  degree of prescience in them. And I've got a record as a designer, author and tutor...

But a few years later, I did an online course on online tutoring, as a student, and blogged it*.

I hated it.

I admired how it had been devised, and particularly the skill and patience of the tutors, dealing with obnoxious participants such as myself. No, to be fair, I was the only obnoxious participant. (The others were, I think, pre-disposed to enjoy/like/value/endorse it, because they [or--more likely--their institutions] had paid to participate. I got it free, as a part of my employment package; it seemed curmudgeonly to turn it down, but I did not approach it with high expectations.)

At the most basic level, all I can remember about it is resenting it. There was apparently some substantive content -- but most of it was about the management of online courses which frankly doesn't have much academic hinterland, and I won't mention the set text, because it was useless. So I'm a sceptic, even a cynic about online learning. Now...

Jonathan Rees (an historian) has long been a concerned observer of online courses on his More or Less Bunk blog. But with the advent of a free CoursEra Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) on World History since 1300 (AD/CE it appears, although it doesn't specify) he is signing up and planning to share his experience through the blog.

So--- Let's join in! OK, the projected time commitment may be a little onerous (but not obligatory), but there are no prerequisites and it is free.

Sign up here.

I shall particularly be interested in:
  • how much difference it makes that the course will be much more information-heavy than stuff I have done previously, and therefore probably more suited to online delivery.
  • the experience of participation and whether and how any sense of community and mutual support develops.
Incidentally, it probably makes more sense to post comments on his blog rather than this one--the bigger the community the better!

*  [1]   [2]   [3]   [4]   [5]   [6]   [X]

1 comment:

  1. Hi James I just want to say THANK YOU for the dissertation structure guidelines on your other site (there was no where to post a comment on there ). It's by far the most useful and accessible guide I've read- much better than Chris Hart!!!


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