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Are you on the MOOC bandwagon?

posted Oct 23, 2012, 6:20 PM by Christine Gordon   [ updated Oct 23, 2012, 6:33 PM ]
I've recently fallen in love with MOOCs (massive open online courses). These free classes allow anyone to learn just about anything! I've taken a handful now and while they range in quality, I've found them very empowering and informative. I've taken a few from,, and have now just started a class with Stanford's Venture-Lab, mentioned in the previous post. This Venture-Lab class is called Designing A New Learning Environment (DNLE) and the irony is that, for me at least, this MOOC format is itself a (relatively) new learning environment!

There's a lot of debate about where exactly something like Coursera fits into the larger education world, and I found this article particularly interesting. In summary, perhaps something like Coursera is more comparable to a (totally awesome, dynamic and interactive) textbook than a university class? That being said, however, one of my Coursera offerings (A History of the World Since 1300 from Princeton's Jeremy Adelman) is one of the best history classes I have ever taken. Ever. But in the interest of evenhanded-ness, here's a blog from one of my fellow DNLE students about her recent experience in a not-so-good Coursera class. 

But, what makes my most recent MOOC adventure, the DNLE class, so amazing, is it's use of teams. Only a week in and we've had to form teams based on shared passions, interests and goals. We haven't actually done anything as a team yet, but it has been great (virtually) meeting everyone. The peer-to-peer interactions in this class have been superb; already we are networking, sharing resources and generating dialog. I cannot wait to see all that comes of this experience!

And, the beauty of all of this is that not only am a I learning as a student, but it is encouraging me to reflect upon the experience as an educator as well. I think we're in for a major restructuring of how we define, and engage in, education. And, I think, the line between educator and learner is blurring. In all of my MOOC experiences I have seen participants range from homeschooled teenagers to PhDs and MDs - this definitely shakes things up!

How do you see the future of education as we move into a more digitized and globalized world?