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Preliminary Comments After a Week of MOOCing

  1. The start date for this is problematic for any professor taking the MOOC. Most of us are just beginning teaching for the semester and are faced with other start-of-session duties. The same is probably true for many others enrolled in MOOCs–and one of the reasons, I suspect, that so few finish them is simply that other projects and priorities get in the way. As there is no boss breathing down one’s neck, no lessons to plan, no children to feed and get off to school, the MOOC has nothing in it requiring our immediate attention. That is, it can be put off while plenty of other things cannot be. Without human contact, this is even easier to do.
  2. The number of comments on the various threads is overwhelming. It is impossible even to read them all. Many are repetitive and others are simply posted because that is what one “ought” to do. There’s not much hope of conversation within the whole, though students can develop smaller venues for discussion–and some are doing so. The trouble with this, of course, is that any one of us students may be missing the best discussions.
  3. The focus of the first week seems to have been on four short films. They are rather fun to watch, but I did not find them that illuminating, even with the prompts from the professors. I think, for them to be successful, they need to be incorporated into a stronger and more clearly directed apparatus.
  4. The question at the heart of the week concerned technological utopia/distopia. I was a little surprised that the origins of this rather simplistic dichotomy are not explored in the little movies, the prompts, or even in the articles presented.
  5. The range of knowledge and experience relating to the subject matter is extreme. Perhaps it is up to us students ourselves, but there should be ways of filtering us into appropriate discussion channels, each according to her or his needs and experiences.

So far, this is a fascinating experience, but I have not really had time to process it–which may be one of the core problems with MOOCs in general. I am sorry this is so brief… later, I hope, I’ll be able to add more.

About Aaron Barlow

English faculty, New York City College of Technology (CUNY) and Faculty Editor, "Academe."

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This entry was posted on February 5, 2013 by in MOOCs and tagged .
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