Observations about my experience in a free Coursera MOOC.
So What's a MOOC?
First, for anyone who might not yet be aware of it – a “MOOC” is a Massive Open Online Course. With all the attention these have been getting lately, a few of us at The College of Westchester are taking some of these courses to better understand what they are delivering to the education marketplace, and what they aren't. I thought EmergingEdTech readers might appreciate some observations about how the course works and what my experience is like as I work through it.
Coursera's Operations Management Course
The MOOC I am taking is an Operations Management course from Coursera. Coursera has been all over the education news lately for their many partnerships with large universities. The course is offered by University of Pennsylvania professor Christian Terwiesch and it started last week.
In the opening week, Professor Terwiesch skipped right over course logistics (postponing them until a little later) and dove right into some content, which I appreciated but I'm not sure all participants would. The course runs for 6 weeks. The bulk of the course consists of about 40 brief lectures, typically about 8 to 12 minutes each. Grading will be based on five 10 point assignments and a 50 point final exam. A textbook is available but it entirely optional.
I've watched a handful of videos so far, and they've been pretty interesting and engaging. Each video so far has had one or two simple quiz questions that you need to answer correctly before you can move on. This is a nice technique to make sure you are paying attention and getting the fundamentals covered in the content. I did have a bit of a problem with the way some of the questions and answers are worded – for a couple quiz questions, I didn't think the choices provided as answers lined up really well with the way the material was discussed in the corresponding video.
In terms of mechanics, I had a couple minor glitches – the volume of some parts of some videos was quite low (I had a little trouble hearing it despite turning it all the way up). Also, in Firefox, the progress bar on the videos didn't work right, so it was hard to tell how far through each video I had progressed.
Impressions so far …
So far I can say that I am certainly learning some things and it is undeniably convenient, and free. I was concerned about my ability to engage with fellow course participants, but there are Discussion Forums (and Coursera has also linked in Meetups), but I have not yet engaged with either these. As for interacting with the teacher in a traditional dialogue of some sort, this has been precluded by the size of the course – there are tens of thousands of participants, so it is simply impractical to facilitate this.
Its still very early in the process and I have a lot to learn about how the whole course is going to roll out. I'll be posting updates here with additional observations every couple of weeks, continuing to share my experience.
Related Posts (if the above topic is of interest, you might want to check these out):
How will MOOCs impact the future of college education?
10 Emerging Education and Instructional Technologies that all Educators Should Know About (2012)
The College of Westchester is Participating in Carnegie Mellon’s Open Learning Initiative