My first MOOC: diary of 1 of 24,000 students following a truly “Massive Open Online Course”

130225_MOOCMassive Open Online Courses are all the rage. A truly exciting and massive one (over 24,000 students enrolled!) is the Learn Creative Learning MOOC organized by MIT Media Lab, which will run from February- May 2013 . Since MOOCs are so new, still much ground needs to be broken about what they are, what they mean, and how to organize them. Having enrolled in this course which is so close to my heart, I decided to keep a diary of observations as “an average MOOC student”. I hope they help myself and others make better sense of what this phenomenon means, what deep impact it could have on learning in a globalizing society, but also how to practically organize and “tinker” such courses to realize the vision. Would be interested to hear your own experiences and comments!
6-8 February 2013
  • Registration was difficult. No confirmation mail received. Amazing how much stress this generated. Even though all materials are open, also for non-enrolled, the sense of risking “not belonging” was strong. Is this one of the secrets of courses, and continued reasons of existence for physical universities?
  • Managed after 5 times to enroll through an Android client, of all devices! Really experienced a thrill when I finally received that confirmation mail!
10 February 2013
  • Got an e-mail from an assistant to an earlier mail from me to the team that my application would be processed manually this weekend. No longer necessary, but nice to receive this human touch. They must be overwhelmed.
11 February 2013
  • Over 24,000 people enrolled! This is truly a Massive Open Online Course..
  • A bot subdivides the masses into learning groups, clever! The bot mail didn’t say how large our group is or who my peer members are. Would be nice to get that sense of awareness. There is “the mother of all Google+” communities supporting the whole course. Each group has its own “mini mailing list” (ours is and is advised to start its own G+ community as well. Wonder if anybody will take the initiative? Normally, I set up these things myself, but now really too busy with too many deadlines…
  • Many introduction mails from fellow group members coming in. I’ve also sent mine. Would be nice to have a mailing list archive for future reference, but also to check whether your own mails have actually been distributed, as I often do when sending mails to the Community Informatics Researchers mailing list.
  • My introduction mail to the group bounced! Instructions in the bot mail said to “hit the reply button”, which I did, but apparently didn’t work. Now how do I introduce myself to my coursemates?
  • I posted my problem on the general course G+ forum.  Immediately got lots of encouraging comments. Nice to feel the buzz!
  • Also a second attempt to introduce myself failed. More people seem to have that same problem of recurring bounces. It made me lament: ” Team: please help! Even though I have been admitted to the course, I know feel like an inivisible ghost, not worthy to be seen by my course mates…”
  • One of the replies to my Google+ post helped: turns out the reply address was wrong. My introduction mail has been received. Feel so much belonging now 🙂
  • (4 pm, Dutch time) Getting ready for our 1st live lecture, with 1080 classmates from all over the world, and counting…
  • (4:05 pm) Yes, we’ve got live video, but I can hear no sound! 😦
  • (4:20 pm)  I hate computers! Checked everything before start of class, YouTube worked fine. When the live stream started, I could see the video, but no sound! 😦 Spent a full 15 minutes checking the PC, finally having to restart it. So, virtually late for class even though physically I was in time!
  • Getting introduced by the speakers to the main course ideas & team, really feel excited! Highly interesting speakers and themes ahead in weeks to come
  • Student 2.0: switching from Google+ for video via Twitter for backchannel comments to Evernote for note-taking, and back!
  • This course big experiment: how to move in #MOOCs from massive, one-way video presentations to small group interactions?

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