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25 Tips to Make the Most of a MOOC

25 Tips to Make the Most of a MOOC

Massive online open courses (also known as MOOCs) are quite popular these days. A huge, or massive, version of open online courses, these classes bring thousands together, often around the world, to learn simultaneously. Discussions, connections, and learning are the focus on MOOCs, but with the low level of commitment and their overwhelming nature, it’s easy to get disconnected. Read on, and we’ll share 25 ways to stay in the loop, on task, and get the most out of your MOOC experience.

It’s easy to lose interest and drop out of a MOOC, but don’t let that happen. Find at least one other person to keep you connected to the course, and you’ll be much more likely to stay on track.

Be sure that you’re easy to find if your coursemates would like to connect with you. Share your Twitter, blog, and even a friendly image so that they know how to find you.

A great way to get connected with others in your course is to post a thoughtful reply to a discussion, or create your own discussion. Just be sure to get out there and get involved, you’ll find much more value in the course if you participate with others.

If you really want to get the most out of your MOOC experience, take part in all of the major projects along with the class.

Help out your classmates. If they seem to have trouble with a concept that you feel you understand, step in and offer some assistance. You just might learn something yourself.

A MOOC is, by definition, massive, and there will be lots of posts to your course groups that you can read, but you don’t have to. Remember that you don’t have to read every single thing. Save time by getting a daily digest of posts and scanning it for interesting conversations that you’d like to take part in.

Do your classmates a favor: get to the point. Be concise in your discussions, questions, and answers so that everyone else can quickly skim through your contribution to the discussion.

A great way to help others better understand what you’re getting at is to use descriptive titles. That way they can skim and decide if they want to read your discussion or not.

As you begin to understand the course content, you may have reflections of your own. Share videos, concept maps, and more to share with your classmates, and have them to reflect on later.

Don’t be afraid to speak up if you have a question or an interesting discussion to spark. You’ll be able to better understand a concept, and may even be able to shed some light on information for others who were wondering, too.

A great way to stay on top of discussions without being overwhelmed is to join sub-groups, where you can share what’s really important to you in the course.

Although you’ll certainly be participating in online discussions, a blog is a great place to collect and share your own thoughts on a course. It’s a good idea to have an online home for your conversations that will live on even after the MOOC is over. Try to post to your MOOC blog at least once a week, and reference to it when applicable.

Chances are good that plenty of MOOC discussions will be happening on Twitter. Be sure to get on the service and find out what the course hashtag is.

With tools like, you can create an archive of all of the great resources you’ve found in your MOOC.

Use your usual email address for a MOOC, and you’re bound to get overwhelmed quickly. Create a dedicated email address that you use only for MOOC learning, or set up filters to keep posts out of your run-of-the-mill inbox.

Yahoo! Pipes are a great way to stay on top of MOOC post aggregation. You can bring in RSS, Google Groups, even Twitter and Flickr.

Do you just want to follow along? Get credit? Start your own learning module? Have a clear idea of what you want to get out of a MOOC before you even get started.

Determine where and when everything is so that you don’t get left behind. Find the materials, important links, and times of the sessions that you want to participate in.

It’s easy to get behind when there’s so much coming at you all at once. That’s why getting oriented and determining your goal is so important. Decide what you want to participate in, and then schedule a time to do just that. Plan when you’ll read discussions, remember sessions, and carve out time for readings so that you’ll always be available to give learning your full attention.

When no one is holding you accountable, it’s tempting to let things slip. But stay committed and stay active, and you’ll reap the full benefits of the course.

If you’re going to do the work, why not get credit for it? Many MOOCs offer the option to get a certificate for course participation; find out what the requirements are and what you’ll need to do to get one.

It’s rumored that star performers in MOOCs just might be snapped up by dot-coms in need of star talent. Students who ace problems and never miss a quiz, engage in high-level discussion, and show their passion for the subject really stand out, and some employers are beginning to take notice.

As Inside Higher Ed explains, you can use MOOC in your prior learning portfolio to get actual college credit for your work, even if it’s not directly from the MOOC administrator.

MOOCs are an educational marathon; don’t give up before you’re done. Put in the time and effort necessary to stay with it, persistently connecting, building your network, and learning.

MOOCs can be overwhelming; if you need a break, take a little time off to relax and start again. Pick things up next week with a new topic.
August 21st, 2012 written by Site Administrator

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Doing by Learning (and vice versa)

Let’s get some vocabulary straight first.


MOOC stands for Massive Online Open Course.

Massive” stands for the scale, a MOOC is open to an indefinite amount of students, and that can mean a positively huge amount. At this point the number of students registered for the EDCMOOC has reached the 36 000 mark, and counting. Instructors cannot possibly keep track of the amount of interactions and content produced by tens of thousands of students, so students organize themselves, turning a myriad of social platforms into their learning environment.

Read more on learning in a MOOC:

Online” means that the courseware is online and the learning is meant to be done online. It’s not just open courseware that belongs to a real-life course, the content is structured for online use.

  • There are several big providers…

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Commentary by Allan

“Life is the gift of nature; but beautiful living is the gift of wisdom”
— Greek adage

This past fall I signed up for an online class from edX, which is the new online extension school started by Harvard and MIT (and now includes other schools). I was excited because edX classes are free, and I wanted to see what college age kids were learning in computer science. The class I selected was “Software as a Service” (SaaS) from Berleleyx, and it was to have lab exercises on Amazon’s elastic compute cloud, teach object-oriented programming using Ruby, and apply an Agile development methodology. Fun!

Unfortunately, I became a statistic because I was unable to complete the course. At the time I signed up, I was working for a local client and able to do class work in the evening. But, my life is not static. By the…

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Jenny Connected

ETMOOC which is being offered by Alec Couros and his conspirators has just come to the end of its first week – which focused on Orientation.

ETMOOC is described as a MOOC with a ‘weak centre’ which marks it out as being very different to OLDSMOOC, which I have been ‘observing’. OLDSMOOC feels as though it has a strong centre, even though it is distributed across a variety of platforms.

This week I attended ETMOOC’s live Orientation session and an Introduction to Twitter session and from these sessions ETMOOC does feel very different to OLDSMOOC. For a start it has a very different audience who this week have been asked to introduce themselves in the ETMOOC Google Community. My email inbox became so inundated with posts that I had to set up a filter.

At the beginning of the week I was very struck by Tomas Lorincz’s introduction and…

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This is exciting – starting with three courses at San Jose State (via Storify). Summary from Udacity Newsletter.

 To start off the New Year right, we just launched a pilot program that makes U.S. college credit possible with some MOOCs. As Sebastian Thrun announced in his blog post: “Udacity is thrilled to announce a partnership with San Jose State University to pilot three courses—Visualizing Intermediate AlgebraCollege Algebra, and Elementary Statistics—available online at an affordable tuition rate and for college credit. To my knowledge, this is the first time a MOOC has been offered for credit and purely online.” To see the play by play, check out our Storify page on this announcement.

These credits are accepted in the California State University system, and in the case of Statistics, in the University of California system as well. All three courses launch January 30th for…

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The Research Bunker

Online education has been around for well over a decade now and it continues to evolve. One fairly recent model that’s getting a lot of attention in higher education is the Massive Open Online Course (MOOC). The definition of a MOOC is still somewhat imprecise at this point, but broadly speaking, the term refers to an online college-level course that is (1) free, (2) does not require students to be registered at a particular institution and (3) has no upper limit on enrollment. The driving principle behind MOOCs is to make education accessible to as wide of an audience as possible, eliminating the barriers of distance and cost – consistently two of the most often-cited reasons why people don’t pursue higher education options, based on RMS’s research findings over many studies.

There are a number of prominent providers of MOOCs, perhaps the most notable of which is edX, which…

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Anticipation for the upcoming MOOC “eLearning and Digital Cultures” is almost palpable, and it’s not just down to the massiveness of the course, which has enrolled a staggering 36,000+ up to press. It’s down to all the network-focused pre course activity that’s built up around it.

I signed up way back in September so some level of expectancy on my part is understandable, but what’s truly awesome is the level of enthusiasm that’s developed amongst expectant participants in the mean time. In mid November the course team issued a mail shot extending an “early welcome”, (this links nicely to my previous post on hospitable pedagogy!!), encouraging participants to try out some of the social media services that they anticipate using during the course. As a result, there’s been sustained activity around the course hashtag #EDCMOOC, but even more fantastic is the level of participant-led networked activity initiated in…

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All MOOCs, All The Time

Very thought-provoking statement from George Siemens on Twitter:

I think competency-based learning is where things are going. Learning unit reduced from courses to competencies.

If he is correct (I believe he is), this has a lot of implication on the things we usually talk about in relationship to MOOCs:  economics, the University (and the entire formal education system), the student.  We don’t talk as much about the social and cultural role of education (to be fair, we don’t talk about it much these days at all), and we talk less about the role of educators and instructors (except when we question their veracity and effect on measurable metrics).  It all ties together though, and if we are looking at competencies, we are looking at a marginalization of the educator (at best).  It might help a bottom line, but what effect does it have outside of economics?

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Puzzling Mix

Two days have passed since the collaborative #etmooc experience. I'm catching up: The weather is much improved and I have a reliable Internet connection with which to move data. The point of this post is the cMOOC (connectivist Massive Open Online Course) as described during the #etmooc Orientation Week Activity.

A few days before #etmooc began I read in a research paper where elaborative interrogation and self-explanation were found to be highly effective learning techniques (Dunlosky, Rawson, Marsh, Nathan & Willingham, 2013). The self-explanation part I understood right off: framing what I read or experience within what I already know. I'm coming to understand, finally after a couple years groping for meaning, that the elaborative interrogation piece comes (best for me) from connecting with others of like-mind.

So there you are: dawning understanding of how research, educational technology and social media come together to foster learning.

More later.


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