The UvA MOOC Exam

April 18, 2013 § 2 Comments

IMG_20130418_193941After eight weeks of lectures, readings and debates about Communication Science, the first UvA MOOC ended with an exam. For many students in regular courses, the exam is the most stressful part of the program. Even for those who study hard, it is not easy to pass through without being worried. And if we consider a course of Humanities (such as Communications), things might be even more difficult. Sometimes there’s no correct answer. We have to deal with many different theories and analyze them in different contexts in order to have best answers.

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MOOC forum: does it enrich e-learning?

April 5, 2013 § 2 Comments


Credit: Cikgu Brian

As part of the learning experience of a MOOC, students not only watch lectures and read articles or texts. They also have the chance to virtually engage with other students, teachers, and monitors of the course in a forum. There, they can ask questions, send opinions and post other additional materials they might find interesting. Although MOOCs do not present a learning formula, within its interface, the forum is the first option for interactivity. Indeed, courses developers are looking for other interactive possibilities such as social networks and wikipages to enable connectivism, but forums always have been popular among e-learners and online communities, even before web 2.0. Along with e-mail, it was one of the first digital tools to be used in courses.

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DIY MOOC: How we are recreating our education

March 29, 2013 § 2 Comments

How can we build our knowledge online? Credit: Oliver Berger

How can we build our knowledge online? Credit: Oliver Berger

Although I only experienced learning without Internet in a small period of my life, I must say that I can’t image one without another. With full, everyday access to this medium, our relation with technology changes, in the same way as our jobs and even personal lives. And I believe the web can offer incredible opportunities for users interested in building their own career path, improving their knowledge in a specific field or even get expertise in a totally different area. This is probably why MOOCs are becoming so popular. With their digital tools and flexibility (for schedule and assignments, for example), students have many possibilities to create the course they want to do on their own. With access to lectures and further readings, they have the liberty to explore what they want: create communities (online or even offline), build their own websites about the topic, write a blog about it, even enroll in a complete course or many other possibilities.

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Evaluation and motivation

March 20, 2013 § 3 Comments

How students are evaluated in a MOOC? This question is always raised when we start to talk about Massive Open Online Courses. The concept of providing free open courses is amazing, but MOOCs’ credibility still depends on how students are assessed and will successfully complete the course. And indeed, good courses are not only made by excellent professors, but a team of great scholars also helps the course (and the University) to become prestigious. Elite schools still have their diplomas highly recognized by the labour market and academics. Therefore, institutions encounter a challenge when developing a MOOC: how does the quality of the course can be guaranteed, and at the same time, the institution can provide a diploma for thousands of pupils, who have  a wide range of different ages and backgrounds.

the Raven

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All-powerful audience

March 13, 2013 § Leave a comment

wordle moocLast week’s UvA MOOC lecture was  about the linear effect-oriented approach of communication, mainly developed by the media in the 20th century. Between the First World War and the popularization of television, many theories were developed to somehow explain how the “all-powerful media” constructs different realities and influences its audience. It was very interesting, for example, to see the classic example of radio broadcast “War of the Worlds” being deconstructed by theorists Paul Lazarsfeld and Herta Herzog. What used to be an example of the “bullet theory” effect (immediate, precise and short term), had to be reviewed: what was behind the panic? Media’s own exaggeration and a mix of decontextualized understandings? Those might be still current characteristics of the present media, but it’s easy to see that online, audience power has increased and became appreciated.

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Being social in a MOOC

March 8, 2013 § 8 Comments

Social media and digital learning environments are now combined. As part of the MOOC experience, students are requested to join debates and course’s topics on social networks, such as Facebook, Twitter or Google +. The idea is to go beyond the regular e-learning platform, or the virtual class – instructors want to encourage students to learn and share ideas where they feel most comfortable at. I believe this is a great thing about MOOCs. Not only we can learn everywhere, but it is also easier to be in touch professionals/students with similar interests. Have you ever, for example, joined a Facebook Group of a MOOC class? It is amazing what people can share out there.


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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.

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