My first MOOC

The MOOC that went wrong: confessions of a learner.

So, here I am going on and on about the advantages of online teaching and then came the slap in the face. This is a story about an online teacher who became an online learner and failed. Anyway, let’s take things from the beginning.
During the Easter break a friend of mine, Lia,  sent me a link for a free online teacher development course, a MOOC. Now, before moving on, I will tell you what MOOC stands for. It is a Massive Open Online Course. So, as an online teacher, I thought to myself, “Hey, what a great opportunity! I am in.”
In fact, attending a MOOC, in my mind, at that point, was the best option for me for many reasons.

Reasons why the MOOC was a great choice:

  • I could study from home.
  • I could study whenever I wanted to.
  • There were deadlines so I did have time limitations.
  • There was a learner management system (LMS). I got to introduce myself and meet other students attending the same course as me. I got to make a profile, so it was not anonymous.
  • There was a discussion board with loads of Q & A threads and people asked and answered questions. The tutors also contributed to these threads so there was a lot of interaction.
  • There was an abundance of material available at the just the click of a button. No need to search for anything. I could also access further reading material if I was really interested in what I read.
  • There were videos related to the theme of the week. Follow up questions related to these videos were also there.
  • I could take a pre-knowledge test and see what I already knew about the material covered each week and if I had unknown terms the definitions were available immediately.
  • I would get a certificate of attendance and it would have looked great on my CV.
In fact, this MOOC had all the ingredients that were necessary to make it the perfect MOOC. The perfect (?) online course. Yet, I failed to complete it. I dropped out. Why?
Upon reflection, I think:
  • I was not motivated enough. The course was not on something completely new or something I needed to learn more about. It was not really connected to my needs as a learner.
  • I started it during my holidays. Bad, bad, bad idea! Holidays mean free time, time to relax and recharge your batteries. As a teacher who works all day long, I needed my free time and I had not acknowledged how tired I was. I seem to totally shut down when I actually find some free time.
  • I have realised that in order to attend distance courses, I also need some sort of face to face interaction with other learners and my tutors. I do not have to meet them in person, but some Skype time, some real time interaction, is necessary for me. It gives me the opportunity to express my concerns, my thoughts on whatever I am learning. I do not feel cut off.
As someone who teaches online, experiences the benefits of an online course and who knows the prerequisites of what makes a successful online course, I have not given up on the idea of MOOCs. I need to become a better online learner though!
I am really interested in seeing what you think about MOOCs so please feel free to share your thoughts in the comments section below.
Picture taken from: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Personal_computer

Till next time…

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11 thoughts on “My first MOOC

  1. Dear Joanna,
    I saw your blog post through Teaching English – Brtiish Council and felt instantly urged to respond.
    I am now currently taking part in Shaping the Way We Teach MOOC and seeing your listed negative points, I can say that I do not need to worry about failing or dropping out. I am as well an experienced teacher but I agree with you on the point that not all courses related to improving teaching can interest us. Next time maybe you should study the syllabus or try to find something that is designed for more experienced teachers such as yourself.
    As for motivation, well, if the topics bore you it's natural that you will not be engaged. It's true for the students so of course it's true for teachers as well when they take on the role of learners.
    Personally, face to face communication is not really important to me since I'm very busy and independent. Though considering your idea of Skype-lessons, I agree that some optional Skype-consultations, like office hours could be a really great idea. Moreover, if you feel cut off, why not use forums? You can discuss and express your concerns there. The MOOC I'm participating in has an _obligatory_ part related to discussion forums which means that students are required to participate in these online discussions.

    I hope you can find a more suitable MOOC for yourself later!

    Kind regards,
    Henrietta from Hungary

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  2. Thanks for reading and for your comments! I totally agree with all your comments. I think as a learner, I was not informed enough. The course was great and I am sure that many ppl will/ have gained a lot from it!

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  3. Well, this is your story. In my case MOOC has been a great course. The limitations you talked about aren't actually so, i guess.

    1) Online course are meant online (they will definitely have limitations of having face to face interaction.) However, this MOOC has given a chance of MEET UP (if you have noticed) where teachers decide to 'meet up' either on skype or personal.

    2) Holidays are meant for free time indeed but how much time would you have spared to do this course during your academic year when you will already be occupied with loads of work? I enjoy spending an hour or two daily for MOOC. In fact I am thankful to MOOC for having designed in holidays. Like I said, it depends on what you give priority to?

    3) About the motivation part, I have nothing much to say. I can only guess that the course content is not new for you.

    I wish you good luck with better courses around and Happy Holidays!!!!!

    Regards
    Mahesh

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  4. Hi Mahesh,
    Thank you for reading. I am happy to see that the MOOC you attended has worked for you. That is great! I am sure MOOCs have worked for many people because they are a fantastic opportunity to learn with many advantages (I have listed them in this post as well). As you said this is my story and my reflection. I think that next time I choose a MOOC, I will choose something connected to MY needs as a learner. I really look forward to my next MOOC (whenever that is) and will definitely write a post about my successful MOOC journey : ).
    Till then good luck with our studies 😀
    Joanna

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  5. Hi Joanna,

    I've been meaning to comment on this post since yesterday. 🙂 I think you're being a little harsh on yourself when you say you've failed as a learner. I've done two MOOCs so far, and both were very relevant to my needs – in case you're interested, I wrote a post on one of these, my very first MOOC, for the BELTA blog. You can find it on http://www.beltabelgium.com, under the blog tab.
    I started another two, both interesting, but not as immediately applicable, and I quit as soon as I realized I wasn't going to have enough time to participate fully. I was definitely motivated, but I'm the kind of learner who doesn't want to commit to any kind of training if I know I'm not going to have enough time (I'd signed up for these MOOCs a couple of months before they were run).
    As regards the reasons you list for not completing the MOOC, I'd add another one (not saying this is true for you, but think it could be for a lot of people) – there are no repercussions if you quit. No extra expenses incurred, no feathers ruffled..it's much easier than not completing any other kind of training, online or offline.
    I enjoyed reading this post and will definitely make sure I blog the next time I do a MOOC!
    Vedrana

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  6. Hey Vedrana! The reason you added is another reason why someone may quit a course more lightheartedly you are right. I look forward to reading your blog post about a MOOC you enjoyed, and once you find sth you think is Interesting (a future course) tweet me ok? We can be study buddies : ) I really want to give the whole MOOC scene another shot!

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