Saturday, February 2, 2013

Mucho MOOCs
Until I was ten years old, I lived in Pennsylvania. On February 2, Punxsutawney Phil would let us know if we would have an early spring or if we were going to have more winter. I had no idea other people cared about Phil until the Bill Murray movie came out. Groundhog Day was for everyone? Who knew?

Punxsutawney. What a great word! 
I have to admit, I feel a little sorry for the guy. He must be so confused by the guys in the top hats. Has he ever bit one of them? I'd see it as a bit of justice if he has.

Well, it's an early spring for 2013. 
I wonder if he has a position on Climate Change.

Anyways, I'm now enrolled in three MOOCs-- #etmooc and two Coursera classes--Fundamentals of Online Education and An Introduction to the US Food System: Perspective from Health.

Here is what I have learned this week.

Lesson 1. Try doing a search in the Student Introduction forums. In the US Food System class, I searched for Bellingham and I found Viva Farms in the Skagit Valley. One of the people involved with this farm emailed me back, and she is willing to communicate with my research students. Amazing. The MOOC went from feeling really huge to really local. I hope to establish a connection with this organization for my future courses. 

Lesson 2. Big time universities and teachers with fancy degrees mess up just like I do. Week 1 in the Fundamentals of Online Education  has been kind of a nightmare. I didn't have time to check in until today, but apparently there are many issues with the group assignments. I got the emails, but I didn't check in. Turns out having 41,000 people use a spreadsheet function is a bad idea. I'm not sure that assigning groups in a MOOC is a good idea design-wise. I think you should let students get what they can when they can. What etmooc has done with the BlogHub is the best design I've seen so far. For me, scrolling through the many groups makes me want to crawl away in fear. (Or hide like a ground hog).

That being said, I love the videos and the readings Dr. Wirth has posted. Check out this report on Faculty Focus about Teaching with Technology.

Her lectures are clear and concise. I thought that how she introduced each video by talking to the screen before she showed her slides added a personal touch her lectures. She went over ideas and theories I already knew, but I was still engaged while I sat in front of fire with my dog on my lap. I sipped coffee while she reminded me of theories I know and trust. I may not have a group, but I have plenty to read and consider thanks to Dr. Wirth's class. And it's free.

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