Paul's Internet Landfill/ 2019/ Wishful Thinking 007: MOOC Club

Wishful Thinking 007: MOOC Club

MOOC stands for "Massive Open Online Course". Basically, it is a way to participate in a university-level class over the Internet. Many MOOCs are free of charge if you do not require a credential for completing the course.

In principle, MOOCs are fantastic ways to make education accessible for all. There are many topics it would be nice to learn more about, and taking a MOOC would be a great way to learn about them. There is one big problem, however: commitment. As you are aware, I have no time management skills, no self-control, and no discipline. If I started a MOOC then I would not complete it. I probably would not even complete the first assignment.

Nobody else is as lazy as me, but many other people have problems getting through MOOCs. I feel that one way around this problem is structure. Meeting with a committed group to work through the MOOC provides the structure and discipline required to actually get through the material. Furthermore, having other people taking the same course as you provides you with study partners with whom you can work through exercises.

It is not clear to me how one would go about organizing a group of people to form a MOOC club. Would we all commit to taking the same course at the same time? Would we all watch the videos together? Would we meet on a regular basis?

Maybe the best way to proceed would be to (somehow) get a pool of people together who are potentially interested in MOOCs. Then somebody proposes a MOOC to take. If that person gets a sufficient number of signups, the MOOC proceeds. You could probably create a fancy online system or use Meetup for this, but a simple email list might work too. I think populating this pool with interested people will be a big barrier.

Another problem is that these groups tend to fall apart easily, as people get busy. Never missing a meeting is one important strategy for staying together, but this is not sufficient. The noshow strategies I have written about before might help here.

I kind of want this thing to exist, but I am not committed to making it happen, even though I am unemployed again and therefore have nothing better to do. I feel that MOOCs are a good resource that many of us do not take advantage of because we lack structure to help us succeed.