Fancy a MOOC?

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“A  what?” I hear you ask.

” A Massive Online Open Course” I reply

“And what…?” you ask…

Okay, it’s a free, interactive, educational course provided by some of the most prestigious of the world’s universities and available to anyone with a computer.

There are no entry requirements and enrolment is unlimited. Moocs are offered in a wide range of subjects, are aimed at large-scale participation and offer open access via the internet. They are supported by top universities and colleges and are available through a number of web-based platforms – including edX, Coursera and Udacity.

“Sound good, what’s the catch?” you ask

“Well, although they are similar to university courses, MOOCs do not tend to offer academic credit. There are also problems with the peer review system. The diverse nature of MOOC takers means that they don’t share a common knowledge base and educational background. This can affect the quality of feedback and limit the discussion in the forums

I have to say that my experience is rather limited, I’ve only completed one so far, but it was enjoyable, stimulating, and it made me write, with a purpose, for an audience, every week!

I’ve just completed Fantasy and Science Fiction: The Human Mind, Our Modern  World. provided by Coursera [1] , which required that we read a prescribed science fiction/fantasy classic and write a 320 word essay “that aims to enrich the reading of a fellow student who is both intelligent and attentive to the readings and to the course. Each essay should be between 270 and 320 words.”

Submissions had to be submitted to a strict deadline and were reviewed by five of your fellow students. Studies were supported by video lectures by Professor Eric S Rabkin from the University of Michigan.

“So what is the down side?”

To get the most out of them you need to be an experienced and self-motivated learner.The quality of the feedback and the forums varied in quality. but it depends on what you’re looking for: Knowing that your work will read, graded and commented on by perfect random strangers does make you think carefully about what you write and who you’re writing for.

Anyway, I’m hooked. I’ve signed up for four more courses:

Start writing Fiction with Future Learn and the Open University

Writing for the web with Coursera and The University of Michigan

Programming for Everybody with Coursera and the University of Michigan

The Art of Drawing and Painting   OPEN2STUDY Open University Australia


So, soon I should write a better blog, publish my fiction, understand how my computer works, and be able to do my own illustrations. Well, you’ve got to have a plan! Come back soon and I’ll let you know how I’m getting on.

I’d love to hear about your experiences with MOOCs and distance learning.

Please share them with us below.


4 thoughts on “Fancy a MOOC?

  1. “To get the most out of them you need to be an experienced and self-motivated learner”
    I’ll check it out, they might have a course to teach me determination! These courses are great, I’ve just signed up for some history courses at FutureLearn (U.K).


  2. You have created a monster Marilyn! I’m a few weeks in on three courses, between Coursera and FurureLearn and signed up for a rediculous number of others. I’m barely keeping up because of my lagging self-motivation. I always thought one choice would be way over my head, but I’m giving it a go. The peer marking works in my favour, I think. Learning heaps, thanks. 😀


    1. He He! Don’t worry if you’ve bitten off more than you can chew, just take as much as you want from them. You can always go back and take them again if you don’t finish or get the grade you want. They do vary in format and some will suit your learning style better than others. Good luck and enjoy!

      Liked by 1 person

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