MOOC Wrap Up


My 5-week experiment in on-line learning is drawing to a close. Though I’m sure there is as much variation in the MOOC experience as there are platforms ( and learners),  I nonetheless fell that having actually completed a MOOC allows me to weigh on the debate, discussion and media frenzy over these courses in a more informed and meaningful way.

In terms of what MOOCs mean for the future of post-secondary education and university teaching, I’ll leave that discussion for another day. But in terms of personal comment on the MOOC experience, here goes:

1) YOU make your MOOC experience: Know how to filter

The Coursera E-Learning and Digital Cultures MOOC was set up to provide numerous ways for students to connect with each other: a forum, course blog, Twitter hashtag, Google+ groups and hangouts, Facebook group; the list goes on and on. It would be impossible to follow all the channels of communication, nor is it expected.  Choose the channels you’re comfortable with and have time for ( in my case I limited my interaction strictly to Twitter) and ignore the rest, even if you have occasional FOMO pangs. Similarly, this particular course divided readings into “Core” and “Optional”, so you could decide each week how deep you wanted to get into the theory.

Along the same lines…

2) Know your learning style

Whether or not you subscribe to a formal theory of learning styles, every adult learner should try to develop a sense of the ways they best learn and retain information. Do you like to read and article and mull it over? Discuss in groups? Move straight from theory to practice or philosophize about abstract concepts until dawn?  Also important for every learner to think about is how to learn different types of information. Getting your head around heavy theoretical concepts, learning history, improving your conversational skills in a new language all require very different types of of learning and practice.

3) The strength of MOOCs could be their downfall for some learners

The strength of MOOCs, that they “put you in the driver’s seat”, works well for focused, driven, organized learners who work well independently. But as I wrote about in this blog post, information doesn’t necessarily equal learning, and the role of the teacher, while always important, is crucial for those that need more guidance in their learning.



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