In praise of ‘the mooc’

Probably best not to read this if you are under fifty…

If you have been in teaching or education for a good few years, quite possibly with time in another career under your belt too, you probably dread the arrival of yet another wheel.

To use a description coined by Tom Sherrington in a recent presentation on CPD, when one of those “hyper-puppy evangelists of the new” tells you about the latest initiative, it is sometimes hard not to be a “jaded eye roller of doom” (thanks again Tom…) and this is even more difficult if that eager puppy is a member of your LG, so that you have no option but to smile sweetly and comply.

I would implore those hyper-puppies not to immediately dismiss the eye rollers comments as negativity; sometimes the voice of experience can foresee difficulties that could be avoided with a little more discussion; initiatives enhanced with a little more consultation.

Some new ideas are definitely worth a try, though, and often unless you actually try you will never be sure of their value. I have grown to love and appreciate the use of Twitter as far more than a chance to look at pictures of cats doing cute things (although it is pretty good for that too…) – it enhances communication at school between pupils and staff, staff and parents, and also as you hone your own twitter feed to reflect interests both business and leisure orientated it is a massive source of information.

Another new thing I have tried recently is a MOOC. (Image taken from Wikipedia)

I’d heard a lot about MOOC’s and had vaguely considered trying one but was generally too busy to think about starting. For anyone who hasn’t heard the term, it stands for massive open online course. These are run by various universities around the world and often attract thousands

of applicants, partly no doubt due to the price, which is nothing. They typically run for around six weeks and can be on subjects ranging from nuclear physics to fashion design.

Then I heard about one being marketed by the University of London Careers Group, Coursera, on the subject of employability, and even better it started during half term…I decided it was now or never, and promptly enrolled.

After this I received encouraging countdown e mails telling me how close we were to the start, with an invitation to sample some material. Being entirely free and obviously voluntary you can choose how much or how little work to do, although to obtain a certification at the end you probably have to complete certain set activities each week, and may have to partake, as I did, in peer assessment.

The course started with an evaluative exercise that I found very useful – draw up a timeline of your life over the past ten years, or two years or whatever period you choose, and divide it into career segments for each new job or course or other employment you were doing. Then put in an x axis

and rate each section for happiness/contentment or whatever criteria is most important to you. Which job gave you the most satisfaction? Why?

This is also a chance to evaluate which career areas are most important to you. Were you happy because you were earning lots and could take regular holidays? Or was it the knowledge that you were helping others every day? Or creating something beautiful or useful?

These exercises helped me to decide that my job at the moment is practically perfect in every way (nothing that a few more hours in the day and a good lottery win wouldn’t sort out anyway) with the possible lack of much chance to be creative. I enjoy writing and resolved to do more, such as blogging for instance…

As each week progressed and I watched the online lectures, completed activities, occasionally contributed to discussion forums and listened to suitable TED talks, I did at times find it difficult to fit in the two or three hours needed to do a decent job each week. I know I could have left bits out but would have felt that that was cheating – another result of age related work ethic perhaps?

Anyway, I am just about finished bar some final assessment, and have thoroughly enjoyed the extra challenge – I will also be able to use several of the activities to adapt for careers lesson plans in school, which is an added bonus.

I guess my conclusion is for a need for both eager puppies AND eye rollers to listen to one another; but most importantly to keep trying – you never know when you may find a really excellent new shape for that boring wheel…

And finally, speaking as someone who was recently offered a seat on the bus by a very polite young lady ( I restrained myself from punching her) you are never too old to MOOC, or tweet, or make any other animal noises you wish!

Sue Moreton IAG co-ordinator


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s