Sunday, 13 October 2013

MOOC's and me

It's been a few weeks since my last blog post and I have been meaning to write for so long now. My 2 week September holiday disappeared in a flash and I'm thrust into a hectic final term. My holiday was consumed by house jobs, school work and coursework with MOOC's. This post is all about the exciting and challenging journey with MOOC's over the past month. These courses are all free and are a tremendous opportunity to learn.

At the end of Term I enrolled myself with 8 of my Year 12 students into a Coursera course titled "Understanding Media by Understanding Google". It is a 6 week course offered Free by Northwestern University. It involves online video lectures, lots of readings, quizzes, tasks, peer assessments. We have now finished week 4 of 6, and all the students are performing very well. I'm also enjoying the course, and it has taught me a lot about the company Google and the way they operate. More importantly I have exposed my students to a new learning area, new tools, new lesson formats, and a global learning place.

At the same time I enrolled into a History course for my own interest and to grow my own knowledge in my subject area. I'm a senior Modern and Ancient history teacher, and I love learning about what happened in the past. So far I have found this course quite intense with the workload. The weekly lectures are over 2 hours, and then there are essays over the 12 weeks. I finished my first essay last week, and then did the peer-assessments this week. Tomorrow the next essay task is up and I have a week to write a 1000 word essay on a topic from the past few weeks. I'm learning a lot and I'm finding it fascinating.

About the Course

This course explores the history of the modern world since Chinggis Khan. It focuses on the connections between societies from the time of the Mongol conquests and the gradual, but accelerating ways in which connections became ties of inter-dependence. The relations between societies are what will concern us. The forces pulling the world together vary from religious to economic, political to intellectual. These forces bring the world together, but they also create new divisions. Nowadays, we call this "globalization." That term has tended to emphasize the drive to worldwide integration; the view of globalization taken in this course emphasizes disintegration as well as integration. We will tackle some very basic questions: How do we explain the staggering wealth of China in the centuries up to 1750, as well as China's recent ascent? Where did the United States come from, and where is it headed? What are the significance and legacies of empire in the world? How have world wars and revolutions shaped the international system over time? What exactly is globalization, and how does today's globalization compare with the past? How has the relationship between humans and nature changed over the centuries?
In the holidays I also enrolled in a course for teachers, 'Foundations of Virtual Instruction'. This course covers the foundational background of virtual instruction and I can see the benefit in my own teaching practice. This course I have signed up for their Signature Track to receive a Verified certificate. This could be quite useful for my resume one day, and will add to my professional knowledge. Two weeks in and tomorrow we receive our assignment, developing a synchronous or asynchronous lesson plan. This course will lead into further studies on Virtual Instruction next month.

I have three different instructors from three different universities. I have learnt more about online delivery of teaching thee 4 weeks than what I had learnt in two years of teaching hybrid classes (online and day school). Each one has their own style and own delivery method. I'm looking forward to harnessing some of the best qualities and applying it to my own online teaching next year.

These three courses are keeping me busy, and I'm also very busy at school at the moment. Exciting times ahead over the next few weeks as I juggle multiple things.