Almost all the way there!
I can also heartily recommend this course, should it run again. It is suitable for PhD students, as a forum for peer support, and also useful for anyone who supports researchers, whether as a supervisor, a librarian, a partner of a PhD student, or in any other capacity. The course is full of insights into the emotions that PhD students experience, at various times in the course of their candidature, and even if you have one yourself, you may have forgotten what some things were like, and almost certainly every PhD student has a unique journey.
A MOOC is not just about videos
The LSE blog features a post on MOOCs which reflects on how learning from video does not stick. Which is perhaps why it’s so important to read from the reading list too, to interact with other students, and to reflect on your learning. Blogging here has helped me with my course reflections each week, as well as preparing the final assignment which (in my case) focused really on one main theme from the course that I found particularly inspiring.
Interaction with others on the course: forums
In the aftermath of week 5 on loneliness on the MOOC, I reflected that there are a number of ways for MOOC students to connect with each other: the edX software for the course has a discussion board and it’s a part of the course that students post there, but these boards are difficult to navigate through. There are (or have been!) thousands of course participants and you certainly can’t keep on top of all of the forum threads. The advantage is that they are always there for you to browse through and reply to one or two comments, or leave your own comment, throughout the course. This is where I made my feeble attempts to encourage or support other course members, but I don’t think that the forums were the best place to interact. The livechats and Twitter offered other opportunities for interactions, though. I think that for many, the opportunities for interaction with peers was a really important part of the course, and there were Facebook groups and other participant chats that spun-off from the official channels for the course. If you’ve taken part in a MOOC, how did you interact with others and how did that work for you?
MOOC students are usually at the disadvantage of never meeting the teachers face to face, but those who were also at the host institution*, the ANU, were invited to come along to the actual live chat event in week 5, for pizza and nibbles!
There’s been a really healthy Twitter hashtag for the course. Another of my regrets is that I didn’t really have time to really engage with the chat on Twitter, about the course. However, for those course participants not on Twitter or struggling to engage there, the Storifies from course co-ordinators have been really helpful, summarising tweets around the themes. Participation on Twitter was a bit of an optional extra in the sense that it was not a requirement of the course, except that it really would have helped me to feel more connected with other students, if I could have found the time.
How much time does it take to take part in a MOOC like this?
MOOC’s are a great and concise way to learn something new and to meet others involved in research around the world. Although, this community of learning is digital in nature, it’s a great way of having a forum for peer-assisted learning, development – something at Piirus we are always looking to support.
*Correction made after comment. ANU is not in Melbourne, as originally, incorrectly stated, but in Canberra!
Do you want to blog here about a course that you think Piirus blog readers would be interested in? You can propose a guest blogpost for us!