After many exposures to the concept of MOOCs and other knowledge sharing platforms, I thought it was time to do a MOOC myself. Major influences in this were Alec Courosa and Sidneyeve Matrix through her Twitter account and her online course CDS502 (Online Strategy) through Queen's University that I was fortunate enough to participate in last year. As well, teaching an interdisciplinary studies high school course on social media last year has very much piqued my curiousity about learning online and in trying to keep up with all the changes to digital literacies.
The MOOC that caught my interest was Cathy Davidson's course from Duke University - of course, the possibility of being connected to the Cameron Crazies was a ridiculous but fun idea - called The History and Future of (Mostly) High Education: Or, How We Can Unlearn Our Old Patterns and Relearn for a More Successful, Fruitful, Satisfying, Productive, Humane, Happy, Beautiful, Socially-conscious, Socially-Engaged Future. Needless to say, the English teacher in me was immediately attracted to the title! The hashtag on Twitter is #FutureEd if you are interested in joining or following the conversation.
Six weeks is the length of the course and the video lecture style is both engaging and very well put together with animated "chalkboards" summarizing Prof Davidson's main points. For a visual learner like me who likes to take notes while I read, this has been excellent. In fact, I'd love to know what program they used to put the videos together to make them professional but (hopefully) not too onerous. In this course there is not necessarily an emphasis on assignments and achievement on those assignments - these can be done and one would assume that the learning would be more solidified through the course by completing the assignments. The assignments are purely voluntary which appealed to me since in Ontario we are just starting up a new semester and I still have my many other involvements in rugby to deal with in life as well. This was helpful as I want to complete the course but wasn't sure of the workload and balancing with these other commitments. The fact that a student can earn a certificate of achievement simply by completing quiz questions as they come up on each video was enough for me to be able to say I've completed this within reasonable expectations.
The question at the end of the first intro assignments leave multiple possibilities. I did the quiz which leads to the certificate - not sure if my motivation was to earn the certificate or to actually see what I had learned. Also, there is an essay assignment that will be peer reviewed on having to "unlearn" something. I'd like to do the assignment, however, I think that the time I've spent on this blog may preclude me from meeting the deadline. There are also other participatory assignments the most notable of which asks "who is your favourite teacher?"I do like this question, and I've answered it on numerous occasions in my coaching development education; only, I've done it on paper and not on video as the assignment suggests. In the MOOC, the best part is that I know I've done it and it doesn't matter if I submit the assignment. Even better since it just gives me a chance to solidify and remember the learning I've done and then mentally add to it with people who have influenced me since. And there are many! I am so lucky to work with people at school and in rugby who teach me by challenging, cajoling and straight up telling me to learn.
Anyone can be a teacher and anyone can be a learner. I LOVE that this course is encouraging teachers and anyone who wants to learn to learn. Learning for learning's sake is such a wonderful and laudable goal. Now, if only this course will help me discover the secret to making sure that others feel the same way!