So, I’ve attempted to squeeze some MOOC activity in between everything else I’ve been doing over the past few weeks. It’s now getting near crunch time, when I’m supposed to create a digital artefact to demonstrate that I’ve followed the course to its conclusion.


Lots of text, though it has been interesting and useful text, and I’ve not resented reading it. However in a digital age where deep reading is apparently a dying activity, it seems rather a conservative approach to the learning process. I guess I was expecting something a little more futuristic – an alternative to what I’m doing most days at this stage of my PhD research, which is…reading books and monographs! And it’s been traditional text. Almost as if the hyperlink had never been invented over 20 years ago.

Cheap and cheerful videos: a lot of people got very excited by and involved in the videos, I guess because this seemed different to “old-fashioned” learning. However I felt that they were skewed towards the creative thinking of marketing minds (I’ve been a marketeer) and short movie makers, probably because this output is free and readily available. It would have been good to experience some really tough and meaty learning materials rather than these rather show-offy shorts. But because they were visual, short and sweet, learners spent a lot of time deconstructing, commenting on and discussing them. Each video was, to my mind, a blind alley.

History: Very few students seemed to connect the way learning is developing now with the way it has developed in the past, yet there is surely a continuum. Although a proportion of the students was/is over 60, few looked to a past beyond the 1990s, fewer beyond the 1960s and even fewer to prehistory. Throughout human development, the species has learned how to learn, from the hazardous hundreds of thousands of years when we were ungainly, flat-footed creatures, mere prey to predators, who nevertheless learned to survive, to manufacture tools, and eventually metals. We learned agriculture. We learned warfare.  We learned the industrial revolution. And so on. Each step of learning how to learn involved change, some small, others massive. We are just at the latest point on that continuum.

Nostalgia: utopianism is a form of nostalgia for a time that has never existed, that exists beyond fixed time. Lots of people got involved in discussing whether technology (whatever that means – a stone axe is technology, where would we be without that technology?) was utopian or dystopian. Hmm. Robots and AI and stuff. Hmm. In theory it is possible for a robot to be programmed to behave better, ethically and morally, than any human (assuming it never goes wrong), to never hurt another robot or a human, to spend its working life helping old ladies cross roads. Again, e-learning-wise, a blind alley.

Logistics. Lots of forums, lots of comments, not much debate (proportionally). People said what they thought/experienced and that was it. Perhaps the lurkers read some discussions and were enlightened and changed by them, learned from them. How will this be measured, by themselves as well as those facilitating the learning processes (so that they can be improved)?

My research environment includes “academic” people who struggle with email, let alone e-learning. So far I’ve picked up some useful/valuable potential tools and knowledge from dabbling in this MOOC. I’ll reserve my final judgements for after it’s finished…