Fountain of Knowledge: MOOCs free online courses

I have been fortunate that lockdown has enabled me to explore those things on my ‘to do list’ that I never quite get chance to do. This includes reading pedagogical books, watching educational live streams (see ResearchED ) and signing up to my first MOOCS (a free online course database).

After enjoying browsing through the vast amount of courses available, in what seems like endless subject areas from institutions all over the world, I decided to choose: Testing Times in the Classroom: Challenges of 21st Century Education, provided by the University of Exeter through Future Learn. This seemed like a good choice in the current climate, I wanted to explore the pedagogy surrounding current education but also hear the thoughts and views of teachers and educators across the world during the crisis. I am currently only in my second week but so far it has lived up to everything I had wanted.

Each course works differently but this is a four week course, which releases tasks, articles, interesting questions to consider, polls and discussion forums each week. There are a number of activities that are easy to work through, manageable, engaging and you can easily stop and start according to busy schedules. It outlines a requirement of four hours each week, however this could go up or down depending on your level of commitment to the discussions, reading and adding to the comments as you go. It also doesn’t matter if you fall a little behind as you can still access the previous week’s activities.

What I have found surprising is the variety of learning techniques used. I was expecting quite a basic structure of read, write, discuss, however each week has been filled with about 15 steps that can be traced in a progress bar at the top. This has been an added bonus, not only am I developing my understanding into the challenges that face education today but I am also seeing how to design an online course, which could be key if virtual learning continues.

Exploring key ideas within education from the perspective of so many others from across the globe including India, Philippines, Taiwan, Australia, Spain and China has been a rare opportunity. Where else could you discuss educational ideologies and pedagogies from so many different world views? So far we have discussed the differences between education and schooling, what key challenges we think are prominent today, which educational philosophy we support and what if you could reimagine education – what would it look like?

Moving forward I have two weeks of the course left and lots of ideas for designing my own online course. I highly recommend signing up to a MOOCs and giving it a go. I have gained more from the course than I expected and I look forward to trying out another course in a different area to see how it compares… maybe the Science of Wellbeing with Yale or Science and Philosophy with the University of Edinburgh.

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