Mandy Harcup

Encouraged to enrol on a MOOC, and then write about my experience, I decided I had better first find out some information on what MOOC stands for and what a MOOC is. For those of you unfamiliar with this turn of phase, MOOC stands for a ‘massive open online course’ – originally designed to make distance learning available to the masses, where courses were intended to be free of charge.

So after doing an initial internet search on MOOCs and finding searches advertising ‘Free Online Courses’ – great I thought, free courses, I want to know more. So I searched Wikipedia where I read about background information and discovered how MOOCs have increased with popularity since 2012. MOOCs main appeal was that its online courses could have unlimited participations with open access via the web.

Although each MOOC has its own unique structure and style, I discovered that students on a MOOC were to learn from each other, by sharing knowledge through discussion and experiences.

Interestingly, there are two types of MOOCs: ‘xMOOC – Focuses on scalability’ and ‘cMOOC – Focuses on community and connections’ (illustrated in the image).

George Siemens (2013), co-creator of the first cMOOC, reported that they were‘based on the idea that learning happens within a network, where learners use digital platforms such as blogs, wikis, social media platforms to make connections with content, learning communities and other learners to create and construct knowledge.’ Whilst xMOOC are based on a more traditional classroom structure with a lecturer in control of the learning process, along with quizzes and assignments to monitor student learning.

So after researching MOOCs I decided to register with FutureLearn – a provider of free online courses. I found creating an account and choosing a course was nice and easy. I decided I would start off with a short course and chose one that said it was two hours a week for two weeks – short and sweet, I thought.

Disappointingly, a few days into my free online course, I received an email from FutureLearn stating that I would need to upgrade, at a cost, to experience the full range of benefits the course offers. The upgrade would costs between £24 and £69 – the actual price would not appear until I had almost completed the course.

During the first week of the course I felt like I spent longer than the recommended 2hrs per week working through course content and exercises – perhaps this was just because this method of study was a new experience to me. I enjoyed participating in online discussions, however, I would of liked to see more discussion from other participants, this could of been an idea time for the ‘lecturer’ to encourage train of thought and direct should the discussion stray off course.

Due to illness I was unable to participate in the second consecutive week of my course. Although I hadn’t upgraded I knew I still had access to course materials for another 14 days after the course had finished – if, however, I had upgraded I would have had unlimited access to course content for as long as the course exists in FutureLearn.

I successfully worked my way through the second week content until I reached the assessment section which was titled ‘Assess your Understanding – Test’.  If I wanted to take this test and receive a Certificate of Achievement I would have to pay £39, this I didn’t want to do. The last step of my course introduced the next course in the series, asked me to complete a questionnaire and showed a promotional video on the University of Leeds.

Did I enjoy the course, did I learn anything from it and would I do another?

The course covered managing identity online, the objective was to consider our online presence and how what people say online can have major implications on people’s real lives. We looked at defining and applying a personal code of practice for online communication, history of glossaries and enhancing our online identities using social media tools.

Would I do another course? Yes, I’d probably do another one in this series. I did enjoy the course and have put some of the practical skills into use, I’ve tried to tidy up what can be found if you searched my name and in doing so found it’s not so easy to remove everything.  On social media I’ve changed quite a few settings so I don’t receive so much unwanted advertisement and I’ve put security steps into place so that other people cannot see information on my Facebook page, should they type my name in the search box. One of the setting I’ve put in place is, if other people want to upload photos onto my page instead of happening automatically, I now receive notification and have to give permission, however, this doesn’t stop the photos appearing on their page.

On a more critical note, I did feel that, perhaps due to the shortness of the course, there was a real lack of discussion from other participants and a lack of presence from the online course leader to encourage direction and dialogue. I never did know if my contribution to the course was correct or not.  My main disappointment was, if I wanted to complete the course and receive a certificate then I would have to pay for it… so the course wasn’t entirely free!

References

MOOC poster (March, 2013). What is the media & cultural studies of the MOOC?Retrieved from:
http://blog.commarts.wisc.edu/wp-content/uploads/2013/03/MOOCbetterwordbubble.png (Assessed: 11th April 2017)

Massive open online course (n.d.). Wikipedia. Retrieved March 30, 2017 from:  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Massive_open_online_course

Mathieu Plourde (2013). MOOC poster (by licensed CC-BY on Flickr). Retrieved from: https://www.flickr.com/photos/mathplourde/8620174342/ (Accessed: 29th March 2017)

Touro College Online Education for Higher Ed (August 2013). What is the Difference Between xMOOCs and cMOOCs? Retrieved from: http://blogs.onlineeducation.touro.edu/distinguishing-between-cmoocs-and-xmoocs/ (Accessed: 30 March, 2017)

Siemens, G. (2012). MOOCs are really a platform. Retrieved from:  http://www.elearnspace.org/blog/2012/07/25/moocs-are-really-a-platform/