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There’s a whole lotta learning goin on. . .

In Tertiary Education,websites on September 13, 2013 by mrsdilemma

Recently I delved into the possibility that my brain was turning to mush and decided to do something about it.

I always loved being a student, I was the consummate researcher and dove headfirst into an assignment or research project like my life depended on it – I guess I missed that, so, I enrolled in an online MOOC; a Massive Open Online Course. The purpose of a MOOC is to learn through a multitude of different media channels, trading blackboards and chalk for digital tools that foster collaboration and interactive learning. MOOC’s are currently offered by a number of different providers; Coursera  ( http://www.coursera.com ) and edX ( https://www.edx.org/ ) to name just a couple, they are bringing content from the worlds most prestigious universities to people anywhere there is an internet connection. Courses offered cover a broad range from Archeology through to Zoology.

I choose one through the Standford led provider –  Coursera and eagerly awaited the rapidly approaching start date. I stuck with a topic and time period I knew and loved; The Ancient Greeks. The course was outstanding… the exact remedy to my malaise.

Participating in a MOOC ( for free ) challenged me in different ways to what we would consider ‘normal’ study – time management is utterly key, the ability to just focus on the readings provided and not delve further was challenging for a research geek like me and the ability to re-sit a weekly quiz without penalty was frustrating. . . .

But it also got me thinking about tertiary education as a whole and how our institutions will have to adapt, change and transform themselves to keep up with technology and how we use it. Are the blackboard lectures we insist our students attend really vital? Can they be streamed online? Can tutorials be replaced by Google Hangouts? or is the conversation created by face to face communication so vital to our education system that we can’t do without it?

I hope we can find a middle ground that satisfies the need to keep students on campus, involved in university life and the digital separation MOOC’s can create. In a university city the discussion becomes much easier but in the rural heartland of New Zealand, outback Australia or a tiny tropical paradise the equation changes. I would like to see the same courses offered to these two disparate groups of students, and perhaps MOOCs offer an opportunity that each and every university should embrace and consider at each and every opportunity.

In 2013 where will online education go?  Will Universities consider the opportunities MOOCs offer – I think we will start to see the development of credit applicable MOOC’s and the creation of the powerful collaborative hybrid course – part MOOC, part face to face.

These are questions that I don’t have answers to but I am so pleased that we are in a situation that we can even ask them.

I have completed another course since and start my third next week, and I can’t wait. bring it on.