This summer, I’ve decided to take a couple of MOOCs – Massively Open Online Courses – these are online “courses” that are offered for free over the Internet. Last spring/summer, I participated in two MOOCs: MobiMOOC and EduMOOC. I found them to be very different, but also useful experiences. Recently, George Siemens posted a description of the different types of MOOCS – MOOCs are really a platform. The MOOCs I’m taking this summer don’t really fit within the framework provided by Phil Hill (quoted on George’s post), as they are provided by companies that produce products, rather than higher education institutions. I do think the MOOC provides an innovative, perhaps effective, and certainly well targetted marketing tool.
Anyways, the MOOC I just completed was hosted by Google, called “Power Searching with Google“. It was a short six-lesson MOOC that was run on July 10 – July 23; although, you can still access all the lesson content. Originally, I had planned to complete the MOOC while travelling, using my iPad. Unfortunately, I quickly discovered that the videos did not run on my iPad, limiting me to the audio transcripts. Then I discovered that Google Search itself doesn’t have the same features from the mobile Safari (or mobile Chrome) browser. For these reasons, I quickly gave up on completing the MOOC in real-time, and decided to review the content when I returned home.
By doing the MOOC after the official course, I missed the opportunity to participate in any of the group discussions and the live chats with experts. Frankly, I don’t see what value either of these would have added, given the course content and the compressed format of the course. I believe this course is focused on skills rather than critical thinking, and I don’t see a huge value in discussion. Online discussions take time, and this course only spanned one week, with one class per day. Of course, I didn’t participate, so I’d be interested in hear from those who did. Did you find the discussions or live presentations valuable?
The course content consisted of six classes, each containing several short video clips (3-5 per class of about 5-minutes each). I found the content itself to be very useful. I went into the course thinking I wasn’t a very good searcher. The early lessons convinced me that I wasn’t actually that bad – I knew of some of the features and tricks. As I worked through the course, I found myself amazed at the different things that could be done, that I had no idea about. I learned about many techniques and tricks, which might prove to be useful – only time will tell.
I did find that the presenter, Daniel Russell a Senior Research Scientist, spoke too slow for my liking. Fortunately, I have an app called My Speed on my Mac that lets me easily adjust the speed of video playback. At about 1.2 or 1.3 speed, I could work through the material faster without getting frustrated at the speakers pace. I originally purchased it when I used the Khan Academy videos to review first year statistics. I highly recommend this little app if you like video as a presentation medium, but find it too time consuming to watch.
Overall, I think it was a great use of two half-days. I expect that I’ll gain that time back in more productive searches – but if not, I’ve found some great video clips for courses I might be teaching. If you don’t have time to complete the entire course but want to see some of the highlights, I recommend the following lessons:
- How search works (Class 1 – Lesson 3)
- Reading the Search Engine Results Page (Class 2 – Lesson 4)
- Web organization (Class 3 – Lesson 1) – explains how to build more effective queries
- Search-by-image (Class 4 – Lesson 1)
- Credibility (Class 5 – Lesson 1)
- Using Books to verify a quote ( Class 5 – Lesson 3)