Advice on using MOOCs

Abergavenny U3A

A member wanted to organise a Philosophy group at Abergavenny U3A. The leader, who had not studied philosophy before, based group discussion on a Coursera MOOC from Edinburgh University, 'An Introduction to Philosophy'. She downloaded the material and convert videos to an MP3 format, as her group were happy to listen, rather than watch. Group members found they are able to concentrate better when just listening, and there is no need to watch as the videos are mostly of stationary people. She also download every bit of extra material that comes with the MOOC; where a transcript is provided I email it to members of the group to bring along if they so wish. Each episode is divided into 3 or 4 bits, which are convenient stopping points to discuss what we have heard so far, giving a nice balance between listening and talking.

People were very positive about the MOOC and the group went on to a second, also from Edinburgh University, the Philosophy of Science.

Tips – providing the transcript would help those with hearing difficulties to participate. This could work with shared video content as well as with an audio only version as described here. There is a free programme called Audacity which you can use to make sound recordings (though an upgrade is required to do MP3).
Check for copyright problems – in this case Edinburgh University have told us that they are happy for MOOC content to be shared. Many other MOOCs have Creative Commons licensing which means they are available with relatively little copyright restriction. Creative Commons License details for each course will be available through a link. But always give attribution to those who created a course.