Saturday, May 31, 2014

Getting Back to My Blog-An Update of the Past 3 Months as an Online Learner at EdX

With the end of the year in sight (4 More Days!!), I found my self with some time while at my daughter's gymnastics practice to catch up on my blog.  My last post had been about my starting a MOOC course on Alexander the Great through EdX, and I had every intention to update the blog with progress and insights.  That was on February 7, the best laid plans....

The course is over, and here is what I learned, beyond a great deal about Alexander, about online learning while taking the course:

  1. Dedicate a Time to Learn.  The approach of "I'll do it when I have time" simply doesn't work.  This is the surest way to fall behind and have to scramble to catch up.
  2. Avoid Playing Catch Up. When you stay on top of your lessons you have more time to fully engage with the material, and thus deepen your learning experience.
  3. Online Learning Must be Active Learning.  While on your own, this can not be sit and get learning.  You need to engage with the material, and reflect on your learning.  Whether this be through taking notes on lecture videos or readings, actively participating in class chats/discussion boards, or through journaling about you lessons you need to do more than simply watch videos or read the material.  The first few weeks of the course I did this, and found as I took the tests that I really was not internalizing what I was learning.  When I created an Evernote Notebook for the class, my learning deepened, my retention improved and I had a much richer experience.  When I fell behind, and got into catch up mode the last week of the course, my learning dropped and I felt that while I was doing well on the quizzes, I was not learning as much.
  4. Engage with Other Learners.  This was my most difficult struggle throughout the course.  I am not a great discussion board conversationalist and I found engaging with others to be very difficult.  There were a couple of reasons for this, beyond my own dislike of text based discussions.  The first being the sheer number of posts, most of them very well done.  With several thousand people taking the course it was impossible to read all the posts and comment on them.  The second reason was I did not budget enough time to engage with my fellow learners.  I while I enjoyed writing my posts, I often did not have enough time each week to read the work of others, let alone craft a meaningful response. 
  5. Don't Worry about your Grade, but Worry about your Grade.  While I was not overly concerned about my grade, this was learning for learning's sake, it was definitely motivating to try and not only complete the course, but do so in a manner that would allow me to earn a certificate.  I am proud to be one of 1039 who successfully completed the course for a certificate, I am also proud that I am listed on the course honor roll.  Finally, I believe that caring about earning the certificate, and the percentage at which I passed each assessment, helped to deeper my learning.

Tomorrow, I'll take a look at what I learned about teaching an online course by taking this course.