About a month ago, while reading one of my video game sites there was an article regarding a literature class online that included gameplay with Lord of the Rings Online. I remembered this class was the subject of an article on Massively about a year ago. I put it on my to do list then forgot about it. The class was called "Online Games: Literature, New Media, and Narrative". Massively (now MassivelyOp.net) had another recent, small article on the game stating that it would be offered at Coursera once again.
I followed the article link and discovered the world of MOOC (Massive Open Online Courses) for the first time. These courses are offered by different universities on various subjects. They are free but are not for credit. Although Coursera, Edx, Udacity & Futurelearn will give certificates for a fee. I've read articles written about these courses, the good, the bad and the questionable. One cheery article centered on a university honors student who used these courses to supplement his college courses and receive extra credit. Other articles wrote about the lack of accountability on the part of the students, the problems of plagiarism and the questionable ethics of peer grading. It was all very intriguing to me.
I signed up for the literature class, then got excited about different subjects. The end result is that I enrolled in two additional courses. Which I'm not sure was the right choice. These classes are very close to college level courses and require almost the same amount of work. All of it requiring self-motivation. So if you aren't a self starter, you may not complete the courses and there is no oversight from these internet classes that tracks your work (most especially if you are not paying for any completion certificate). Ultimately, you will only learn according to the amount of work you put into these classes. You must seriously assess the amount of time you can dedicate to study before signing up for more than one. Which I did not, and now I'm scrambling a bit to complete the reading homework and course assignments.
But I have to say that my experience so far has been enjoyable. The online courses requires students to watch what amounts to an hour or hour and a half lecture split into a serious of small videos each week.. Depending on the depth of the course, you may have to take notes during these small lectures. At the end of the week is a quiz testing you on information learned in the video lecture. Depending on the class requirements, you may also be required to write one essay which will be peer graded. In addition to your essay, you will have to peer grade other students in the class. The classes will require at least 4 and up to 8 weeks of work or more.
I can attest that the work load is close to a real university course. One class I enrolled into, "Greek and Roman Mythology" offered by Penn University, is a 10 week course filled with many books to read. I just finished Homer's Odyssey and will be starting an essay for it. The Peer grading experience I haven't had yet but it should prove interesting.
From what I've seen so far, I would definitely sign up for more classes just for the fun and learning opportunities.
If you have the time, check out Coursera
and sign up for one class. The MOOC is an interesting experiment and it must be experienced by any internet fan.
Labels: culture, internet, literature, MOOC, technology