As it’s clear from this blog and my other blogging home, I’m a bit of a fan of Rome. So I decided to do a free MOOC (massive open online course) with Coursera on Roman Architecture to see what I could pick up, and to exercise my brain a little as well.
I’ve taken online courses before, but in English Lit, which was more within my comfort zone. I loved the whole experience there, including engaging with both tutor and fellow students in real time through the forums on the course. I’ve gone on to maintain contact with a few of my classmates through Facebook (and Goodreads to a lesser extent) where we continue to share our thoughts on our reading and more.
Those were paid-for courses, and it gave a little taster of the Oxford experience – so detailed feedback, email contact and more, with a finite set of people able to enroll on the course.
A MOOC was always going to be different – this one apparently has 40,000 people signed up. Whether they’ll all finish is open to question, but that’s not really the point. People are learning in different ways, sharing experiences, and interacting on a subject that interests them. They’re dipping in to varying degrees, and that’s all good.
Like the Oxford courses, here the online discussion forums are active ways of sharing with fellow students, with the staff at Yale, and also with a worldwide set of experts. All for free.