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Jon Kennard


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Day one, week one.


So today is the first day of week 1 of the MOOC I have signed up to, Elearning and Digital Cultures, a four-week course put together by lecturers at The University of Edinburgh via Coursera.

I must admit, I'm a little sceptical and also a little nervous. Sceptical because historically the vast majority of my education has been classroom-based. This is not to say that online learning isn't effective, it demonstrably is, but more that in the past I've always, um, lacked motivation. It's not you, Coursera, it's me. But that was a problem for the teenage me not the mid-30s me. And besides, I run an online L&D community, I really should 'eat my own dog food', to needlessly appropriate some horrid business jargon.

And the nerves? Well, it's been a while since I've put myself through any formal learning. This is the mostly the 10 (with a bit of the 20), from the 70:20:10 model. Plus, what if someone steals my lunch money?

On to more serious issues - how do I approach this blog? Do I focus on the actual course content or do I talk more generally MOOCs and my experience of them? I think a mix of both is required, so here goes: Week 1's focus is on Utopias and Dystopias. How is technology portrayed on film (I'd say largely dystopian), in the press (agenda-led, but more of a mix), in education? This course endeavours to let the learner explore for themselves, with a very handy resources page filled with YouTube shorts and essays of various lengths designed as a jump-off to let us explore our thoughts on technology's role in the progression or regression of society. Having watched an introductory video from Dr Sian Bayne about Edinburgh University and its history of research, it's clear that the course leaders want to make you feel that despite the remote delivery method the course is grounded in a sense of place and legacy, even grandure, endorsed by its teachers and every bit as valid as if you were walking the well-heeled corridors of the campus itself. So far, so good.

One thing I really like about the course structure is they give you the whole thing upfront (in some quarters this may equate to flipping the training), so you can plan your week - or even month - far enough in advance so that you can find the time to cover all the required work. Kind of like when they made all the episodes of the most recent series of Arrested Development on Netflix available at once. It just means that if you know you are busy fior a few days you can work harder and faster now and then catch up further down the line. (It doesn't so far appear that certain content elements will be made available as the course goes on - it looks like everything is accessible now).

This flexibility kind of makes the average MOOC's non-completion rate all the more depressing.

So I scanned the course quickly and it seems like weeks 1,2 and 3 are reading and research-based, with week 4 where it all pulls together into an actual project (!) that you have to submit. A 'digital artefact', no less. Here's what the course says -

"During block 2 you will start drawing ideas together and creating a digital artefact which expresses, for you, something important about one or more of the themes we have covered during the course. This artefact should be published somewhere on the web which is publicly accessible. For your assignment, you will submit a link to your artefact, and you will be marked by and receive feedback from peers on the course. "

Right now though - it's about reading, research, and trying to pull together as many examples of utopian and dystopian futures as I can.

4 Responses

  1. Me too

    Same as Jon!  I've just started a MOOC on 'The Mind is Flat' delivered by Warwick.  Have started enthusiastically in week one ……….. though whether I'll be able to keep the momentum going to the end is another thing.  Like you, I haven't done any formal study for some time – so will certainly be a challenge.  I look forward to hearing more about how you get on!

  2. Elearning and Digital Cultures

    I did this one earlier this year. Having done this I felt I had a far better understanding of people's fear/love of elearning. I won't spoil it for you but do take part in the Forums and you will undoubtly enjoy reviewing your peer's digital artifacts.

    As a result of this great experience I have gone on and completed 4 further MOOCs this year.


    Enoy and Good Luck


    Simon Potter

  3. feedback
    Hi Simon – thnaks very much for that feedback, good to know!

    Am enjoying it so far but have yet to get properly involved with the forums.

    Am fully prepared to finish what I’ve started.


    ps if you have any suggestions for other decent courses please do let me know.

  4. I heartily recommend

    I heartily recommend Gamification with Kevin Werbach again with Coursera. It will change your perception on training and learning.



Author Profile Picture
Jon Kennard

Freelance writer

Read more from Jon Kennard

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