I participated in two courses over the last few months that were very much alike in terms of course structure and assessment mechanisms, but my experiences in these two courses were very different. The first course became a chore that I quickly abandoned, but the second was so interesting that I finished the course and earned a certificate, even though I was under no obligation to do so.
Tales of a MOOC Dropout, by Cindy Londeore
Learning via MOOCs was a different experience than what I have encountered in traditional classrooms. I think that the online availability and flexibility are two of the most important characteristics of MOOCs. Because of these two features, I managed to do the following in the MOOCs I enrolled in: (1) I took the courses on my own time, when it was convenient for me, instead of taking fixed schedule classes; (2) I took courses from different universities and professors without worrying about course registration, tuition fees, and accommodation; and (3) while taking one of the MOOCs, I got busy with my final exams and had to drop in the middle; however, I could go back to the course, even after it ended, as I have access to the course archive. Moreover, I have a list of courses I want to take to enhance my skills, and because of the availability of MOOCs, I am more confident than ever before that I can achieve this goal in the near future.
What I Learned From And About MOOCs, by Bahaa G. Ghobrial
My online participatory experience happened within the world of Epicurious.com, playfully billed as the site for “people who love to eat.” The website itself includes an informational food and recipe database, message forums, interviews with celebrity chefs, and abundant tips and ideas on cooking. Even though the website appeared to be overwhelming and full of activity, it still seemed manageable. I entered this world and took advantage of it by letting my own interests and passions on the topic drive my decisions on how to fully utilize the site. For a few weeks I immersed myself into the world of cooking and recipes, and was a willing and eager participant into this easily overlooked, yet fascinating world.
Culinary Creations from the Online Chef, by Mary Bisheh
The three paragraphs that you have just read are snippets of stories where people tell about their experiences of learning online. (Click on each link if you are interested in reading a full account). Soon you will be able to tell your story too. Before we delve deeper into the world of MOOCs, let's talk about learning.