Home » MOOCs (massive open on-line courses) » Me and MOOCs – 1 Year on

Me and MOOCs – 1 Year on

As you may have noticed from previous posts I love MOOCs. They have restored my faith in education, something which I lost whilst going through the secondary school process myself. I have discovered just how much I love learning, something that I never experienced as a teenager, certainly not at school anyway.

As soon as I found out about Coursera I was away, averaging about 5 MOOCS a month. I even completed a MOOC about open learning; A MOOC about MOOCs.

Having some experience I now feel qualified (somewhat) to comment on them. Firstly, I still love them and strongly believe that they are the only viable way for me to continue my education as money and time are not in abundance. However, as time is so precious I am beginning to be a bit discerning about where I direct it. At the beginning I continued with a MOOC to the bitter end even if I wasn’t enjoying it or felt it wasn’t up to scratch. More recently I have “dropped” two MOOCs, the last one because I found the way it was organised to be overly complicated and time consuming. All the reading material was generated by the course organisers and was based on their research. I have no problem with this as such but I felt that I was part of an experiment without quite remembering giving consent or what the experiment was about.

I no longer feel bad about dropping MOOCs and I think this is something that providers need to be aware of. At the moment they are still relatively new and exciting and mistakes and quality issues are forgiven, especially as they are still free. However, learners are catching up and are now prepared to vote with their feet in the same way they would with any service they consider to be under par or not fit for purpose. At the same time providers are also realising that they have to up their game as demonstrated by the Quality Matters Programme. It is also discussed in this paper by Li Yuan and Stephen Powell

I still continue to be positive about MOOCs, and have enrolled for lots more, but I also take a more realistic approach to them. I no longer feel “grateful” and feel I should persist if it isn’t working. Perhaps this will be the most important measure of quality: Us. From the beginning I have felt I am part of something new and exciting. Something that means we can learn on an equal basis, globally and at our convenience. If we want it to continue we have to help shape it. This has been the best bit about my MOOC experience, social media and the creation of my PLN (personal learning network). Since my E-learning and digital cultures course social media has become more than a platform for posting photos of cute puppies (although this is still important!), it is a place for sharing, collaboration, learning from peers and discussion. As part of my Open Learning MOOC I even created a MOOC with John Baglow and Sukaina Walji. We may not have published it (yet) but the fact that we did it is testament to the collaboration and “openness” experienced by MOOCers and open learners.

If nothing else I am grateful for the PLN that I have gained. MOOCs started this but, again, it was Us that cultivated and shaped it. Even if I never take another MOOC I will still have my network who will continue to share my learning adventure. There are too many to mention but special thanks to Deborah Gabriel for your support and encouragement so far.


  1. Deborah Gabriel says:

    Ah, shucks, Nat Nelson, the feeling is mutual, you are definitely a cornerstone in this new adventure. I actually was thinking we should start a rating service or blog or forum where people could weigh in on MOOCS taken, started, stopped. etc. and people could leave detailed comments.

    You have taken many more than I have, but I think detailed feedback is the only way the big MOOCs will improve.

    On the other side, those of us who feel that learning should be for and about the learner will start creating our own MOOCs like you and John and Sukaina have.

  2. essgarland says:

    This so clearly articulates my feelings too and I agree on your ideas about quality. I haven’t taken quite as many as you and also feel the freedom to dip in and out of Moocs now due to study and work commitments. There has been so much to gain from the Mooc experience and mostly around the collaboration and networks and insight of others. Well done on putting these thoughts across so well. I like Deborah’s idea of reviewing Moocs too.

  3. Hi Nat – a thoughtful post reflecting on MOOCs after the initial excitement. Like you, I don’t feel too guilty about finishing a MOOC and the need to be more discerning. As someone said somewhere about ‘free’, if you don’t pay for the product, you are the product (I can’t remember the reference), and I think that MOOC learners are quite within in their rights to be discriminating about the type of MOOC they enrol in.

    Our fledgling MOOC is still percolating in my mind…

  4. Nat, this is a useful reflection. Well-balanced with optimism and realism. I appreciated your insights and was amazed that you’ve been able to juggle up to 5 MOOC’s in a month. I thought I was a moocaholic! 🙂

    It’s been great to have you as part of my PLN.

    • Nat Nelson says:

      Thanks Rick. Love my MOOCS although I am only doing two at the moment! How are you getting on? Are you doing any or are you too busy moving house and avoiding bad weather. I consider you to be one my original PLN, edcm lives on!

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