There’s been a lot of talk about online education these days, and more specifically, MOOCs, or massive open online courses and what they might mean for higher education. As a teacher interested in technology, I’ve long been curious about what online education might look like, and how effective it might be; as a lifelong learner, I found the idea of taking free Ivy League level courses intriguing as well.
I decided to choose Coursera for my experiments, based on what I read about their model and the wide array of courses offered. My first attempt was back in the mid-summertime, Listening to World Music, a course that touched on material that has long interested me, but unfortunately, I wasn’t in the right state to be able to give it my full attention. At the same time, I signed up for Modern and Contemporary American Poetry, which overlaps one of my passions (American literature) with one of the areas in which I am not as comfortable (modern/contemporary poetry). Coincidentally, both of my choices originate at University of Pennsylvania, only one of the many elite institutions offering courses through Coursera. Over 30,000 people have signed up for the course, including Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin, of Illinois.
Luckily, ModPo commenced as I began to come out of the mental fog I’d been drifting in for months, and one of the first signs to me that I was truly coming out of it was when I found myself watching a video discussion of “Danse Russe,” clenching my fist and muttering, “Get back to the new mother! What about her?!” I went to the discussion forum and posted my thoughts, went to Twitter and tweeted at ModPo, came here and started working on this long-abandoned post. Then the professor commented on my post, and two other classmates, and someone up-voted it as a “thoughtful post, worthy of attention,” the discussion continued to build, and I felt a real glow, the same way I would have if I had been seated around that table at the Penn Kelly Writers House and had made a point that furthered the discussion in a new way.
At this point, I definitely am having a worthwhile learning experience, and can feel myself stretching mentally in useful and exciting ways. Next post: once the reading load got heavier, writing my first assignment, and critiquing my classmates’ work……
- Are We Ready for MOOCs and other MOBILE LEARNING (studentforce.wordpress.com)
- Coursera doubles university partnerships (insidehighered.com)
- What You Need to Know About MOOC’s (learningwithtechs.wordpress.com)
- Slip Sliding Away: The Open in MOOC (opencontent.org)
- The MOOC Challenge (insidehighered.com)