Outside of the day job I like to dabble in music. Having been writing and tweeting about MOOCs at Jisc for the last few months I decided to actually sign up for one with Coursera and enrol on the Berklee College of Music Songwriting course.
At the time of writing I'm three weeks into the course. I am pleased to report that I'm finding it more stimulating and engaging than I initially expected an online learning experience to be.
Each week I log onto the clear and minimalist course portal, where a news feed keeps me updated with announcements, reminders and anything important I need to know. A new lesson is released every Friday, comprising a series of video lectures and quizzes, along with a peer review assignment.
All the work is done within the portal and can be saved and returned to at any time. Once the weekly assignment is complete I then read and grade five other students' work. An average mark is applied to each assignment with results available to view a few days later.
I can engage with other students and the tutor at any time through the easy-to-use and well-categorised message boards. I have already shared some ideas and comments on aspects of the course with fellow students in America, Ireland and Australia, and have also been able to get opinions from around the world on the current state of my songwriting.
Support is always available and I am enjoying being able to study in a way that totally suits my schedule and works around my day job.
It goes without saying that this MOOC is a totally different animal to the university degree I studied for when I was 18 and it is not really appropriate to compare them from a social or personal development point of view. But as a freely available source of genuine knowledge and peer review it is really rather good.
Five interesting experiments in online learning
A look at any newspaper would suggest online learning has stagnated into a big xMOOC monoculture. But Jisc has always been interested in the emerging stuff, the practice that is currently off the radar – and for me this is primarily in the open class area. Here are a few examples of things I am watching with interest.
Phubu (Phonar for us by us)
Phonar made such an impression with students at Coventry University that when administrative changes meant that the staff involved could not lead the course in 2013, the students took matters into their own hands! A student led open-class, across multiple channels. Will end with an exhibition in May 2013.
Talons (Bryan Jackson)
Bryan is a compulsory-level teacher at Gleneagle Secondary School, British Columbia, Canada. He has responsibility for the gifted and talented programme and has made open classes a feature of their learning. We’ve been invited to share with and support his students as they learn guitar.
H817Open (Open University, Martin Weller)
Martin has been one of the leading lights in UK open education for years now, but this is a new venture for him – he’s opening up participation in his masters level online education course. At the time of writing this has yet to start, but we're interested to see what he does with it.
P2PU has been around for a few years now, but the school of open is a newish venture aiming to support educators in learning more about openness. Their emphasis is on collaboration and working together... real practice what you preach stuff.
DS106 (University Mary Washington and elsewhere)
DS106 (emphatically ‘not a silly mooc’) sets the standard for open classes, sharing and creativity. An unstoppable multimedia juggernaut that includes a radio station, daily creative challenge and vibrant community amongst its many assets.
FutureLearn – a hope for the future.
At the time of writing details have been light, but if the Open University can successfully bring its existing knowledge and insight around online delivery to the world of the xMOOC then there is potentially a lot to be excited about.
You might also like...
Take a look at David Kernohan's blog - MOOCs and Open Courses – what's the difference?
Read our press release on the launch of Futurelearn.
Have a read of Jeff Haywoods blog – No such thing as a free MOOC.
This article originally featured in issue 36 of Jisc Inform (UK web archive).