Tips for new MOOCers

Back in April, I attended my first ever MOOC. What is a MOOC you ask? A Massively Open Online Course, for a great introduction check out this video. I found the course to be useful, but also frustrating. It lacked a little in design – or at least that was my thought at the time, now that I know a little more about MOOCs, I'm starting to "get it".

I'm planning to take another MOOC – eduMOOC. This one is on the topic of "Online Learning Today…and Tomorrow". At seeing the introductory page, my immediate impression is that a lot more thought has gone into the design of this one.

That being said, one thing I'm finding lacking in these MOOCs is advice for those that are new to MOOC and those that are new to learning online. You see, I did my Masters online, so I have experience with online community. I have a sense of what is necessary to contribute to the community and to foster conversations that will help my learning and the learning of my fellow participants. 

So as an experienced online learner and not so experienced MOOCer, I figured I'd offer a few tips for getting the most out of a MOOC:

  1. You don't have to read everything. Especially in the first couple of weeks, there will be 100s if not 1000s of posts to the google group. I receive a daily digest and scan it. If there is an interesting conversation, I then go onto google groups and join in.
  2. Join a conversation. If you find a conversation interesting and you have something to add – a person perspective or insight, whatever – join in. You never know if your insight will help spark an insight in someone else. It is these sparks together that keep the community alight!
  3. Start a conversation. Do you have a burning question? Ask it. Chances are you aren't the only one with the question. Did you have an ah-ha moment when you read something? Share it! Chances are your ah-ha moment may inspire an ah-ha moment in someone else.
  4. Ask questions that promote responses from different perspectives. MOOCs bring together people with a wide range of experiences and interests – asking questions that promote sharing of diverse perspectives provides value for both you and the other participants in the course.

Technically the course starts next week, June 30, but already people have started to introduce themselves. If you haven't tried out a MOOC before, I encourage you to do so. You can sign up directly on the information page here. It is free, so why not?

If you are an experience MOOCer reading this and you have some tips to share, please leave a comment.

14 Comments on Tips for new MOOCers

  1. For engagement, perhaps many MOOCers are trying to avoid the round of introductions and get stuck in there, interacting in the periferal spaces, such as here, and at where I'm curating items with intent to explore that tool and see what kind of engagement it collects.  So far it's attracted a few followers.  I've put RJH's tips there.  Let's see what happens :-)

  2. Hi Rebecca,
    You make a good point about the desire to read everything – I certainly feel that way. I know that I do not “need” to read everything, but I still have that desire. I find myself sifting through this particular MOOC in search of the conversations that I suspect are happening – but I haven’t seen that much engagement yet – at least compared to the one other MOOC I attended (MobiMOOC), were we saw a lot more conversation in google groups. I wonder why this MOOC is different.

    • Morning Rebecca,
      Engagement, hmmm, so far I'm also wondering about engagement.  I think there must be a lot of people out there following the MOOC who haven't yet broken the ice.  It's the morning here in Sydney and I'm just looking for how to catch up on the seminar but looking at Twitter there is not too much happening there.  Maybe all the information is too overwhelming at first – where to start, what to do?  Perhaps people will join in when they see a conversation that they can contribute to.  Those first few posts are the most difficult! – oh, on writing this there are tweets coming up.  Yippie!

  3. Thank you so much Rebeca for your advice and also for sharing your experience. Your post is both usefula nd calming to my head already throbbing since I saw the amount of links and references. I was exited and now I have more confidence that I can do it. :-) The part that I still have to work on is Learning Objectives :-) Thanks again.

  4. Hi Rebecca 
    I am following your advice and taking the plunge into MOOC.  I am in your MDDE 615 class.  I may just hang around the periphery on this MOOC to get my toes wet or perhaps just damp.  

  5. Good advice Rebecca. It IS easy to get overwhelmed. Especially if you approach a MOOC assuming a sort of predetermined structure and purpose will reveal itself if you just read enough or pick the right strategy. Yes there's structure and intent here but I think the learning is in what caught your attention, why and how did you follow it.
    Most of us here are distressingly good at "taking a course" and it just might be the power of a MOOC is in its ability to knock us off our horse and to push us beyond our comfort level. Ask questions that embarrass you, talk to strange people with ideas that fire your imagination, learn about yourself as a learner and try things just to see how badly you can screw them up. 

  6. Great info. to know. Yes this is my first. Right now I feel like I am in a great big ocean with a little paddle boat. Trying to figure out how to join a discussion. I know there should be a reply button, buI don't see it in the discssions. I only seem to speak person to person. Any clues?

    • Hi Randy,

      I'm not sure. I wonder if you are not logged into the group or are not a member of the group – if your account doesn't have you as a member, you can't actually post.



    • You have to join the google group. Ask to become a member. Then you will see the page with reply buttons so you can participate. I went through this. Leaving to join the live presentation now

  7. May I suggest a possible additional item? – New MooCers may want to be selective in which new technology/programs they decide to figure out in order to participate in the eduMOOC.

    • Cjp864, Great suggestion! It is funny that you mention it here, because someone else mentioned in on my learning objectives post – and it is something that I've done this MOOC – I've decided to learn a couple or a few different technologies for sharing. I've also decided to follow the twitter backchannel. I didn't do that for my last MOOC, so I'm wondering what I missed!

  8. Rebecca,
    Thanks for your advice. I especially found #1 and #3 helpful. Asking a question or making a provocative statement is  a good way of starting a conversation and get meaningful learning out of the experience.

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