So the MOOC has come to an end. Overall I had a great experience with the course. The readings and discussions – even though I most lurked – were thought-provoking and informative. Although I don’t see myself creating fully virtual classes anytime soon, I think that the lessons I learned will be equally useful in my role supporting flipped and blended learning environments.
The last two weeks of the course covered some interesting topics – at-risk students and creating community. It’s interesting because literally all of the keys to success with “virtual” instruction align with aims of good teaching in a face-to-face environment. The only thing that changes in a virtual environment is the mode of communication. Good teaching is good teaching. You can’t build a great classroom without building a strong sense of community. Similarly, it is imperative that you identify at-risk students to ensure that everyone learns, is challenged, and gets the proper level of support. These general observations are true in any educational environment.
One huge takeaway I had from the course was that I am not a huge fan of the Coursera LMS. I do think that it is okay for the large MOOC environment, but there was still an overall lack of quality interaction that left me wanting more. For one, I would have loved the ability to do live chats from within the site, whenever I was browsing. I also would have liked the threads to be a lot less clunky. As an everyday Reddit lurker I have come to appreciate the smooth flow of conversations and discussion that it provides. Coursera truly fell short in this category in my opinion. Overall it was still a useful platform that did it’s job well. When you consider the cost of the course – free – it makes up for any shortcomings in the software.