The five things I learned about myself from taking a MOOC

I  took the Coursera Gamification course in September for various reasons. I am interested in gamification in education. I am also interested in MOOCs and how they are going to change education. What better way of learning a teaching method than as a student, right?  I found I learned less about MOOCs, and more about myself and what I prefer in my education. These may not be what everyone needs, but in further assessments of teaching it is always good to know more about you. Here are the things I learned about myself:

1) I need accountability.

This isn’t new in education that people need to believe that someone is watching on level. Without any accountability, I did do lots of work avoidance. The online videos would tell me to go post a discussion comment on something, and I didn’t because I knew no one would know. When I peer-graded, I did as little grading as I could possibly do. It wasn’t malicious, I just knew (and saw) that my peers did the same thing.

2) I need grades.

We received evaluations on our assignments. I was taking the class for fun. There was nothing tied to the grade I got in the class. But somehow every week I was breathless to find out how I did. There was something still very emotional about getting a grade back, much more than any other evaluation I could have given myself. Perhaps it was my 18 years of education which had conditioned me this way.

3) I need community.

The way that MOOCs are currently designed, there is mass instruction, but not mass community. I go to school because I want to learn with other people. If I didn’t want to learn with other people, I would learn from a book.

Currently there is loads of noise in the MOOC system. It is who says the most interesting thing and more who is shooting that loudest that is heard. I tried to connect with people on the twitter hashtag, which was somewhat successful, but since tweet is somewhat fleeting, I quickly lost track of people I followed. There was no method for me to keep track of them. This was really disappointing for me and I felt very alone despite having a half a dozen of my friends in the class with me.

4) I need to challenge authority.

As an instructor, I am aware that instruction is an imperfect art. You often do not get it right the first time and for every student. Often in the course, I found I needed to be able to ask questions in context of what I was learning and found I could not. I also found questions that were badly worded and needed to be changed. But alas, I was one of 100,000 people taking the class. There was no avenue for critique. So in the end, I felt powerless in my own education. This, I think, is the exactly opposite of education.

5) I delight in learning.

Despite the feelings of powerless and aloneness, I really delighted in applying the concepts that I had learned. I learned more than I would have just by scouring the internet. I felt at times like I could have learned more if I had read a book about the subject but I also felt like with my busy schedule, I would never have read said book, so it was a moot point. Learning, even distanced with any sort of other incentive (such as a degree) is a delightful experience for me.

For this reason, I would definitely do a MOOC again!