Highlights of history

March 4, 2013 § 1 Comment

I found this week’s UvA MOOC topic fascinating: a short history of communication science. It is interesting and also very difficult to grasp in only eight short videos – a challenge I must say. From Greeks’ sophists to modern media theories in the 19th century, the field has been through many developments. In addition, I found important that the lecturer emphasized again the scope of the course. In the very first video, Rutger de Graaf explains that yes, communication occurred before Ancient Greece, but only during this time there were proper records and studies of communication as a “science”. It is also interesting how uses a specific vocabulary to introduce the student into an academic topic. This is not easy because students have many different kinds of backgrounds. However, more complicated words and expressions such as ‘meta level’ are explained within the speech.

When I want to know more…

Again, the division of  the topic into eight small fragments was a good choice. After watching everything I had all important characteristics’ of each period in my mind. However, I felt that I wanted to hear more about the history of communication – mostly in the Greek/Roman period. The ‘little box of nuance’ is a great place for that. Links to original books such as Aristotle (Rhetoric) are good, but in this case I would look for a different kind media, maybe a Philosophy lecture on Youtube, for example. It is extremely important to read original pieces, but as this MOOC is a short course, it would be good to have shorter texts, articles or maybe more videos about the topic. I’m not quite sure how to deal with all the extras yet.

Credit:  Sharon Drummond on Flickr (CC)

Credit: Sharon Drummond on Flickr (CC)

As a MOOC student (and mainly because of my lack of time), I fell that I want to learn passively and I’m always looking for mediated content (for instance, when I watch programs on History or Discovery Channel). I do like to learn on my own, but it feels that if I’m doing this course to have fun, relax (and learn!), it would be interesting to have content already “interpreted” to a language that I would easily understand. As I’m enrolled in another MOOC: Internet History, Technology and Security – provided by Michigan University via Coursera – I could also experience another type of format which was nice to explore. The lecturer made a 24 min documentary to introduce the history of computation. He went to Bletchley Park in England, showed how first encrypts machines of World War II worked and interviewed specialists in the field. This is not an easy (or cheap) format to invest, but I believe it’s a good one when History is the topic, and you have a lot to talk about.

What do you think it is the best format to learn History on-line, and where would you look for more information?

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§ One Response to Highlights of history

  • Hi Juliana, I would like to add my thoughts about the “little box of nuance”. The video’s, quizzes and discussions in this MOOC make me curious. I would like to learn (read or watch) more about some topics.

    But, to me there is a huge gap between the level of the course and the literature in the “little box”. Reading an academic study with ten pages or more needs a lot more effort.

    So, for me the course would be even better if not all the extra information was that difficult. I image that the Internet offers articles and video’s that are more popularly written.

    Right now I feel disappointed and kindly rename it to the “little box of nuisance”.

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