In January 2013 I attended my first massive open online course (MOOC). MOOC are courses that universities give online for free. I attended a course called E-learning and Digital Culture from Coursera arranged by The University of Edinburgh. Together with 40.000 other students I started the course by trying to figure out what I had to do and if I had to read ALL the tweets and blogs, luckily, I didn’t have to.
The main reasons I attended this course is because I’m working with e-learning every day, and I desperately wanted to try a MOOC. The course was “about how digital cultures intersect with learning cultures online, and how our ideas about online education are shaped through ‘narratives’, or big stories, about the relationship between people and technology” (Course description).
Even if I tried to follow the tweets and attended a Facebook group I didn’t have so much interaction with the 39.999 other students. That’s because I couldn’t put too many hours into my studies. But I think I would get more from the course if I attended a some of the available study groups. In that way I would get more feedback on my blogs and assignments. But this time I choose to study alone. I watched the videos, read articles, wrote blogs and tweeted. It felt good to study in my own pace and focus on the topics that interested me.
I must say that I find the course was very interesting and engaging. It felt like we were a bunch of children running around in the forest, exploring everything we saw. But it was very rewarding and I got a lot of new thoughts. Probably a lot of students got lost in the forest but it was nice to read blogs about other’s thoughts and experiences. With thousands of hyperactive students it’s hard not to be engaging.
My final grade
As a final task we should create a digital artefact about one or more of the topics from the course. Afterwards we got feedback from three other students. I did not go for the highest grade when I created my artifact, and it’s not my best effort, but I was surprised by the large difference in the feedback. Below you see two student’s feedback.
“The assignment is just a compilation of famous quotations. The assignment didn’t achieve what real digital artifacts needs. The presentation is attractive but the topic is too basic.”
“This artifact addresses many themes of the course, from initial stand points of what it means to have technological power to create and define information and digital resources in society to what it means to be human, and indeed what it might mean to subvert and transcend our humanism… The author adeptly deals with the theoretical and psychological background of thinkers in history and highlights the overarching themes and ideas of those thinkers. Through this device the author cleverly introduces us to a wider notion of what it means to be human and what it means to think and learn. The author suggests that by gaining an increased understand of ourselves as humans and how we relate and interrelate within one and other as well as with our technologies that we will thereafter be in a better position to take control of our technologies for positive purposes. The author states that we need to fundamentally understand what is learning and education in order to move forward in a technological world where we can utilize these tools for instruction. We need to transcend our idea of what technology is and how to use it effectively in our current phase of human development…”
I think both are right, but that’s not the most important. All that matters is that I learnt something new from the course that I can take with me to the next picnic in the woods.