#introphil MOOC – First Week Impressions
After one week I’m really enjoying the Introduction to Philosophy MOOC and this is encouraging as I’ve no background in the subject at all. Thankfully, the academic level seems very basic and IMHO the lecturing style and performance of Dave Ward (and his jumper) featuring in the first week videos is very good. For me anyway, these five short videos were just the right length for single study sessions and they have a degree of clarity and a lack of verbal distraction (errs.. and umms.. etc) that I’ve rarely experienced in ‘live’ lectures. Some participants found Dave’s Scottish accent difficult but, being Scottish myself and having lectured to audiences of diverse nationalities, I’m fairly sure there should be no real problem for anyone with a reasonable grasp of English. In any case complete transcripts of all the lectures are available for download. The existence of Dave’s jumper though was a problem for some – ‘jumper’ is ‘sweater’ in American – not a potential suicide!
I think xMOOCs should become more like cMOOCs but I don’t think it’s necessarily all one way. As a beginner, would I have learned as effectively in a cMOOC offering a similar course without the scaffolding provided by a competent ‘teacher’? The introphil forum is overwhelming with hundreds upon hundreds of people discussing everything under the sun. This is excellent and there’s a reasonably good spirit of tolerance and respect among participants but I doubt if we could teach each other the basics of philosophy very well without teacher!
I must have contributed something to a ‘Meaning of Life’ forum because every few seconds another Meaning arrives in my email. There doesn’t seem to be a forum search box on every page and you can’t search for people by name unless they happen to be mentioned in the body of posts. With so many participants (around 90,000 evidently registered) the forums do not seem fit for purpose and my impression is that the well-meaning instructors are struggling to cope.
Occupy the MOOCs !
Looking through the massive introphil forums I came across an interesting contribution by a young lady from a so-called underdeveloped country – I can’t find it now of course! Looking at her profile, she was registered for around 16 different xMOOCs running this year. Now maybe she’s a budding genius with the time to participate and distinguish herself in so many academic areas. Or maybe she has a real but casual interest in a multitude of topics and intends to participate in as many MOOCs as she can whenever she has the time. Or maybe she’ll just login to download everything and study it at a later date and if she happens to be a teacher, pass it on to others. Maybe she even intends to print it up and sell it at cost – or even at a profit! Does it really matter much what she does? Of course the more that goes into a MOOC by way of sharing and connecting with other participants the better the learning experience but many are not fortunate enough to fully participate. Let’s just be grateful that MOOCs are here to stay with a stupid name that might actually help to draw a sharp distinction between them and traditional courses, on or offline. Let’s accept that, on the whole, MOOCs are or should be FOR the ‘lurker’, the ‘toe-dipper’, the ‘dropout’ and not necessarily be considered deficient just because they don’t live up to the learning objectives of traditional courses. Learners of the world unite – Occupy the MOOCs!
Yesterday the Comment Scraper came up with 145 comments from 36 posts covering about a week of etmooc activity. (I’m only archiving the output now as discussed here.) I’m going to try aggregating comments from WordPress or Blogger introphil blogs in the same way – from small beginnings at present! It will be helpful if such blogs include introphil as a tag or text in the body of posts.