It’s been age’s since I’ve written in this blog, because honestly, between work, and working on two certificates in education at Coursera, I haven’t had a lot of time to write about education.
But, with me finishing up my first certificate, and working on a second a third (just started one in Data Analytics), I realized I’ve got a lot to say about being a student in a MOOC. (A Massive Open Online Course).
MOOC’s if you’ve never taken one, are online courses with an instructor that have 1000’s of students in them. The ones I’ve encountered are largely on a timeline, and you have quizzes and assignments that are due on specific dates, so they can be peer reviewed (normally, there are a couple of exceptions), and grades can be issued.
Now the challenge with a MOOC, when compared with a self directed course, or alternatively a “small” online course are deadlines and motivation. Whenever you consider taking a MOOC look at the syllabus, and look at the deadlines, and keep a calendar of what is due when. Typically with these classes if you miss a deadline on an item, it becomes difficult to pass the class.
Some MOOC’s do allow for “late days” on quizzes, but I’ve found when it comes to papers and assignments, those are hard deadlines, and if you fail to meet the deadline, you get a zero for that item. Since a class may have 4-8 different quizzes and components, missing one puts you in a position where you have to get a perfect score on every other item in order to achieve a passing grade.
So, calendar calendar calendar. Also be sure to effectively manage your time. Many times I’ll look at a course and say “Ok, I know that I can’t assignment X until this date, but that week I’m going to be out of town, jammed up, sick, whatever, so I’ll do the assignment ahead of time, so when the submission time does open up, I can just upload a file.
Lets take an example of this. I’m in a class right now where there are five quizzes, one written assignment, and I have to review three papers. The assignment is due the third week of class. I looked at my work calendar and my personal calendar, and realized that week I was going to be very busy. So I sat down the week before, and completed the assignment. Now I know when that assignment is due, I can just grab the assignment and upload it (It’ll take five minutes or less) and I’ve got it done.
Also, if you can “get ahead” in these classes, do it! Some classes only roll out materials as the weeks of the class progress. This is particularly true for new classes. For well established classes, all the materials go up on day one. If they do, and you have time to “get ahead” do it. That way if something does interfere with your schedule, you don’t get hopelessly behind.
But if you do get ahead, and have questions, be aware asking a question about week three material during week one is considered “bad form” and you should wait to post your question until the appropriate week appears.