Well, here we are, one month on from my original MOOC post (which you can read here) and I know you’re all just DYING to hear how I’m getting on! It’s been a mixed bag so far, for a variety of reasons, so here’s a quick update to let you know where I’m currently at:
At present I am signed up for three MOOCs (I added a third on becoming a more confident trainer, also from Open 2 Study, which seemed manageable at the time…) and have commenced work on all of them.
One of my biggest challenge at present is time. Time is something I just don’t seem to have enough of when it comes to MOOCs! Alongside my MOOCs I am also doing another Level 4 qualification which, because it has a deadline and I’m paying for it, takes precedent every time. I’m also working funny hours and have had a slew of other commitments to attend to. So, honestly, it’s been harder than I thought to keep up with them all. Three was definitely too many! I’m not concerned about the Microeconomics one – it’s nice and flexible so I can pick it up at my leisure, but I already missed the week 2 assessment deadline on the other two. I honestly don’t get the deadlines – they are pesky and completely pointless! The Open 2 Study two are both reasonably low maintenance – though they’re supposed to be four hours a week they’re probably nearer two if you have half a brain. But the time constraints are really irritating as a week is no time at all if you’re busy. And, though it’s not much time, it’s not helped by the fact that they are…
Boring! Oh. My. God. The Open 2 Study ones are so incredibly boring that I literally dread watching them. Where Saylor really go for a variety of teaching styles and materials, Open 2 Study go for nothing but video with some optional reading (why not make it mandatory?) Saylor are also very factual and to the point with their information; they explain things thoroughly and then back up the information with anecdotes and real world examples. Open 2 Study on the other hand just have someone talking at you. There’s some use of anecdotes on the Trainer course, but pretty much just lists of information on the Project Management one. And everything is delivered very slowly and precisely and in an incredibly dull manner. I take nothing away from the content (which is solid in all cases), but the structure is completely disengaging to me personally.
I have a multi-modal learning style (you can find out what yours is here) with a slight preference for reading/writing and kinaesthetics. It’s no surprise really – I’m a person who loves variety in all areas of their life so why should learning be different? It’s disappointing though that the organisations providing some of these courses are not utilising a wider range of teaching styles – particularly considering Open 2 Study is backed by Open Universities Australia (like the OU in the UK). Though I’m not a qualified teacher/trainer (something I’m working at changing), I regularly deliver courses myself and even I, with my fairly basic and self-taught knowledge, understand that you have to use variety in teaching methods if you want to engage your students.
So how am I feeling about it all a month on? A little disillusioned if I’m honest. I had heard prior to starting that they are a mixed bag, and that’s to be expected when you consider the different levels they’re working at, the different audiences they’re targeting, and the huge range of topics they are covering, but I still feel a little let down. If you’re going to do something then you ought to do it properly or not at all in my opinion. My feelings for the two providers are incredibly polarised – I am actively missing my Microeconomics course and can’t wait to get back to it once my paid course is complete, but I honestly doubt whether I’m going to be able to sit through another six-plus hours a piece of the Open 2 Study ones. I suspect I will become a drop-out statistic of the Trainer course but will just about hang on in there with Project Management. Doing so, however, will not be pleasant.
As it stands with Microeconomics, I have a bigger and more complex goal at present. Presuming I can see the course through to completion, my aim is to go on to complete the complementary Macroeconomics course and also one on maths or stats. Then, if I’m feeling particularly ambitious and that way inclined, what I would really love to do is to undertake a paid-for economics diploma for graduates. This would not only provide some proper recognition for my (not insubstantial) learning, but it would also be incredibly interesting to see how the two courses compare in terms of content, teaching, and so on. But that’s all pie in the sky for now – there’s a long way to go before I reach that point and for now it’s just a dream!
In the meantime, watch this space! I’ll write another update in a month or so to let you know how it all turned out. Maybe I’ll be in a better mood about MOOCs by then…