Students’ thoughts and expectations

April 26, 2013 § Leave a comment

Credit: Karen Horton

After six weeks of lectures about  Communication Science and one week to complete the UvA MOOC exam, students posted many discussions and opinions about the course in the forum and also social networks. Did they enjoy it? Did the course meet expectations? And why did they decide to do the MOOC in the first place? Of course, as this MOOC had more than five thousands enrollments, this is not very easy to evaluate. However, a qualitative approach may introduce some thoughts on the subject, and interesting stories as well.

After the exam, I kept in touch with some students who successfully completed the UvA MOOC. They all had different backgrounds and ages, some were very active in the forum, others shared ideas and Twitter or Facebook, but they all had the in common the interest in Communication Science. For some of them, the course came up at the right time. Saskia Whitehead-Van Dijkum, a 63-year-old Dutch student, explained her own personal reason to enroll: “I undertook this MOOC course because a friend sent me the link at the time that my brother was in coma. That made me think about communication.  In his case, the lack of it.  He struggles to say more than a few words now after two and a half months”.

A regular user of the forum, Saskia lives nowadays in a remote area in New Zealand and has traveled to many countries. “The forum was interesting because it exposed me to the level of thinking of others.  It drew some people out in expressing themselves rather openly, and also connected me to others in our learning experience,” she explained. Another Dutch student, Cornelie Hemmes, saw the forum as practical tool to interpret theories in social studies: “I got nice ideas as result of my own questions, and others also put new views in the form of questions and reactions. All ideas I read could give me more ideas and tools to study the topic”.

Although the UvA MOOC did not offer a certified diploma or credits (such as many courses on Coursera or Udacity), some students considered completing for professional interests and enrichment. One example is Gerard van Hoogenhuyze, who was skeptical about e-learning but wants to start his own business: “This was a great experience. First I was against online courses, because of lack of human contact. But I think that some issues can be thought through MOOCs and practical issues in classes. It can be an effective and efficient format in future. So my opinion changed by experience. And as I am willing to start my own company, this experience will be very helpful”. For Eric van Oevelen, theories are already being put into practice. The UvA MOOC was the first one on the format that called his attention. Eric works with public relations and communication consultancy in the Netherlands and is willing to do other MOOCs: “This experience gives more backbone to my daily tasks and I feel that in a few months I will urge to learn once again. In addition, the forum was very good to help to improve my skills and express myself in English”.

I believe that for those who completed the course, it was quite hard not to enjoy it. Sameer Mirjat, from Pakistan, could summarize very well his experience on the UvA MOOC Facebook’s wall: “It is amazing to see and experience different people from different cultures and religions, with no discrimination of educational background or professional setting, sit in a virtual classroom that provides immaculate and thorough information from an expert of the industry. Being a part of such an extraordinary ‘experience’ is just fascinating”. I couldn’t agree more. Can’t wait for another version of the course in September. I’m sure the experience will be even more exciting!

Did you complete the UvA MOOC as well? Share your experience, tell me your thoughts about MOOCs and how you’re managing them 🙂

Good news: is already possible to enroll! Go to http://mooc.uva.nl/portal

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