What the heck is a MOOC?!


This week in CA 260, we were given the below links and asked “How would CA 260 be different if it were taught entirely online (maybe as a MOOC)? Do you think you would enjoy it more or less? Do you think you would get more or less out of it as a student? Why?”

Firstly, you may be asking yourself the same thing I did: “What the heck is a MOOC?!!” Do not confuse it with a MOOK, which is defined as “a stupid or incompetent person.” However, ironically, a MOOC is “a course of study made available over the Internet without charge to a very large number of people.” (aka. Massive Open Online Course) So… if you are an incompetent person in a subject (i.e. a mook), you can use a MOOC to learn about said subject. (See what I did there?)

After reading the article is was surprised to see so many different options available in online learning. As a 35-year-old going back to college, MOOCs have been phenomenal resources throughout my college experience. I have personal familiarity (and possibly some partiality) to Smashing Magazine. One of my professors (Alma Hoffmann) is an editor for Smashing Magazine. She has posted several great articles that have helped me in my Graphic Design and Scripting courses. I can honestly say that she has been a profound and wonderful influence during my college experience. She writes the way she teaches, very easy to understand and puts her love for the subject into her writing. (Sorry, had to take a minute to brag on her amazing skills!)

Additionally, throughout my college experience I have also used Lynda.com and Khan Academy.

However, to answer this weeks question: “How would CA 260 be different if it were taught entirely online (maybe as a MOOC)? Do you think you would enjoy it more or less? Do you think you would get more or less out of it as a student? Why?” – I can honestly say that I would HATE (is there a stronger word I could use here?) having an entirely online class for a subject such as Web Design or Graphic Design. Here is what I have learned throughout college: You cannot ask an online tutorial a question! Maybe it is my generation. I was not raised with all the technology that today’s millennials have had, so maybe it is just me and a generational difference, but here is how my online tutorial experiences usually go (especially my Graphic Design courses):

  1. I go to the recommended/assigned tutorial.
  2. Within 30 seconds, I have no idea what the person is doing.
  3. I rewind the video at least 5-6 times, trying to figure out what the person is clicking on.
  4. OK, I found what they are clicking on.
  5. But now I don’t understand what they are talking about.
  6. I pause the video.
  7. Now I am going to “the Google” to look up that word.
  8. Wait, I still don’t know what half the words in the definition are.
  9. Now I am Googling the definition to the definition i just looked up.
  10. Alright, now I’ve got it.
  11. Go back to the video.
  12. Play ten seconds of the video.
  13. Repeat steps 2-12.

There is a lot to say for the personal experience you can get in a classroom. While online tutorials can be AMAZING in enhancing a persons learning experience, it is just that… An enhancement. I have learned quite a bit from MOOCs. Don’t get me wrong –  they are a GREAT tool. However, there is a lot to be said from getting one on one assistance from someone who has already mastered a subject and has already made many of the mistakes you may be making and can help you understand more clearly.

Lastly, to answer the specific questions posed in this week’s discussion: If CA 260 were taught entirely online, I would never have signed up for the course, or if I had to take it online, I would most definitely be struggling more with the content. Therefore, I would not enjoy it at all and I do not think I would get the same level of understanding by taking it online.


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