The future of learning is changing. Now that MOOCs, Mass Open Online Courses, are almost getting main stream, I decided to take one myself. What will happen if you’re eager to learn and have unlimited choice? You can find a MOOC via a directory and can sign up in a jiffy. The FutureLearn.com platform is easy and anywhere to use. A new world opens up to me.
MOOCs, Mass Open Online Courses, are the new way of learning. They provide a self-study framework in an area of interest in and you can learn on your own pace. No more obliged presence in an auditorium where you’ll fall asleep, but everything via the Internet.
I had already heard of MOOCs via a colleague of me, but somehow never took the dive to start one. When browsing social media and in the mood of new year’s resolutions, I came across some interesting free MOOCs (Essential Business MOOCs For January). Even if it was free, there was still some sort of threshold for me to start. What happens if I quit? Will I be put on the black list? Can I attend another? The same colleague assured me it wouldn’t be a problem, as about 90% of the participants quit during the MOOC. Indeed, 90%, he said, but don’t ask me (or him) for the statistics. Anyway, I decided to give it a try to see where I ended up.
MOOCs? Dime a dozen
As I’m quite late joining this trend, I was astonished by the number of MOOCs there are available. Only via the “Essential Business MOOCs for January” link I found many others, ranging in many different areas of expertise and hosted by many different colleges and universities. I decided to go for “Managing People – Engaging Your Workforce” at the University of Reading, a course for when you would take up a leadership role. Hosted on the FutureLearn.com platform. The course takes 10 weeks and requires 4 hours per week.
While browsing the directory on the FurtureLearn platform, I saw another interesting course “Introduction to Forensic Science“, a topic which looks interesting to me, but where I (except for the CSI TV-series) have no feeling whatsoever with. The course takes 10 weeks, requires 3 hours per week and I can start right away.
The FutureLearn.com platform feels refreshing and new. I’m easily registered and can immediately start my “Introduction to Forensic Science” MOOC. For the “Managing People” MOOC I have to week another week because it’s not started yet.
Week by week
The course is divided up in weeks and the weeks into small learn nuggets. These nuggets are reading material, videos, exercises, assignments, opinions, open discussions. The teachers regularly request to voice my opinion in the comment box and I’m impressed by the thousands of comments in an open discussion. To avoid a too theoretical approach on the subject, the teachers created an exercise with a crime to be solved, based on a real case. It’s that good composed that I feel like a true CSI officer solving a crime.
After the first week of the “Introduction to Forensic Science” MOOC, I must admit I’ll never look at a CSI episode in the same way again. It’s clear that fiction and non-fiction are two worlds apart.
When I complete the assignments before the end of the first week, I have to take a small test and pass without a flaw. Only 2 left to wait for week 2 with the next assignments, exciting!
As said earlier, we don’t need to be in a dusty auditorium somewhere, everybody learning at the pace that the professor maintains. Via the FutureLearn platform I can learn anytime, anywhere. It’s possible to read an article on my smart phone on the bus, view a video on my PC during a lunch break and go through any of the materials with my iPad on the couch. Talk about flexible…
The course encourages using social media to talk about the topic. The “Managing People” MOOC even provides guides for setting up Facebook groups, using Twitter and using Google Hangouts.
One of the open discussions for the “Introduction to Forensic Science” MOOC is hosted via Google Hangouts and directly connects me and hundreds of others to a professor in Scotland. During his explanation we can up and down vote at any point in time. No worries, if you cannot use Google Hangouts, everything is also streamed via a YouTube channel!
What’s in it for me?
After each MOOC you get a statement of participation and if you pass the exam (if any), you can get a statement of attainment. Of course the exam is taken at your home and you have full access to the Internet. And of course you have to pay for the statements. I’m not sure if I would take (pay for) such a statement, because to me the added value is more into what I learned.
I wonder if I’ll keep up for the whole 6 and 10 weeks of both MOOCs and what stays in my memory after a hard day at work. To be continued!