Advice on using MOOCs

For Newcomers to MOOCs

  • For some MOOCs one still has to wait for a course start date. The priority for aggregators everywhere is to make all MOOCs available 'On Demand'.
  • Some MOOCs use only video lectures, some only have lectures to read, the majority have a mix of both and some have a huge amount of supplementary reference work to be researched.
  • Some have weekly video conferences where you can ask the professors questions directly.
  • You are not obliged to complete any course.
  • You can work at your own pace and you can't fail.
  • Getting behind is never a problem.
  • The coursework remains available after completion of the course.
  • You are not obliged to purchase a certificate or any other form of verification.
  • It is useful to follow all of the course leaders but only the students who appear to really know and understand the subject well.
  • Also 'Follow' your fellow U3A group members as that will dispense with the necessity of having a closed email group.
  • Unless there are only a few, read only the 'Most Liked' comments and don't get side-tracked by socialising.
  • Join the course Twitter feed, Google+ page and Facebook page.
  • Turn on the subtitles if the lecturer is foreign or has an accent that you are struggling to understand.
  • Download and print the transcript of the video lecture it may make things easier to understand.
  • If you were not able to participate or have missed a live online discussion session with the lecturers, remember that these live sessions are recorded and can be watched at any time.
  • Always join in with comments even if you don't think you know that much.
  • Don't let student comments with bad English or bad grammar put you off as they are normally people in foreign countries whose first language is not English. Always respect others.
  • When making comments remember that the world is watching you so try and place insightful, relevant and respectful comments at all times.
  • If lots of good web links are provided and time is short, save them so that they can to be viewed later. Maybe make a new folder within your bookmarks, that once used, can easily be dumped.
  • Don't be intimidated by the 'Peer-Graded' assessments, most students started knowing as little as you did and they are always optional. Most people really enjoy doing them and getting positive criticism.
  • Don't feel constrained by the need to complete the whole thing, one doesn't need to start at the beginning and follow through to the end. Most MOOC producers are more flexible, seeing the course as equivalent to a textbook which one can also just dip into, an intellectual buffet from which students can pick and choose the bits which are most to their needs or taste.
  • What is guaranteed however is that you will learn a lot!

And remember . . .

  • If you can't see the text, zoom in with (Control and +) on your keyboard or use your screen reader.
  • If you own a Mac, 'Highlight' the text, then 'Right Click' for the contextual menu and choose 'Speech' for the text to be read to you.

See the sidebar links for some short talks and articles from TED about the MOOCs idea.