What Makes an Effective MOOC course? | Coursera Community
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What Makes an Effective MOOC course?


What we all have in common here is we have all been involved in Coursera courses. Some have been better than others, some have impacted us more than others. Think of a course you enjoyed and share with us why you thought it was so effective. Was it the Instructors? The reading material? Videos? Discussions? Assignments?
What do you think makes an excellent course?

6 replies

Userlevel 5
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Great question, @Judith!

Your questions also make me wonder whether what makes an effective MOOC (massive open online course) is different from what makes an effective in-person class.

When I reflect on all of my learning, both informal and formal, online and in-person, the instructors have had a big impact on my experience. I imagine that this is a matter of personal preference and learning style. I really value connecting with people and learn best from people who convey passion for the subject they're teaching!

I'd love to hear from other community members about this!
@Laura , now that!s a great question as well, to compare online to in-person courses! I used to think they were so different but see more similarities now than less. A good Instructor can stimulate discussions that can really propel your learning. I thought that there is no way a MOOC can compare...but that’s not entirely true. Ina good discussion thread, you have a few moments, or longer, to think about it and give your most thoughtful response.
i agree that an Instructor must have passion, but along with this there must be a sensitivity to the learners. In high school, we were often brats and knew which teachers we could ask a question to who would go off passionately talking and talking about it, so we didn’t have to do more classwork. LOL!
I think a good teacher needs to inspire passion in you! You need to do the work, the studying ,discovering and learning. I have seen some very inspirational MOOC videos that led into excellent discussions. Creating thoughtful assignments is a good way to help learners discover their passion for the subject too.
I would also love to hear from others!
To answer the question that @Judith and perhaps touch on the follow-up question that @Laura asked, one of the best MOOCs hat I have taken is one from HarvardX on the edX platform in their PredictionX series: Lost Without Longitude. It was about the tools that allowed navigators to finally become able to determine longitude at sea, how and when they developed.
What made it so nifty was the way the course was structured; instead of being the usual linear, start at module A and work through the class in sequence sort of thing it was interactive and you could enter at multiple points and do each module in a manner that made sense to you. There were links to closely related topics in each module so you could navigate around easily and, of course, there was the main progress page where you could see all of the modules and track your progress to see that you had gotten them all.
In each module there were links to articles about the item that was the topic (eg. the compass, the cross staff, or the astrolabe to name just a few of the navigation aides looked at in the course) as well as copious pictures from many angles, and video where an actual object was examined closely and its workings explained.
With the non-linear layout it became possible to flip back and forth between items and see how they related to each other, complimented each other, or were a great improvement on the last.
I do not think that the same effect could be achieved from an in-person class, It would almost have to be an online class to integrate all of the topics and their sources in that fashion. The videos were designed so that you felt that you were sitting at the table with them while the object in question was being examined. It had a very personal feel to it that I think would have been lost in an in-person setting.
What was consistent with the best in-person classes that I have taken is the passion the instruction team brought to the class.They were clearly excited about the subject and it carried over and infused the learner (me, in this case) with the same passion.
i think the designers had a great deal of fun thinking outside the box with their design, and I think it proved to be a viable and exciting creation. While the format would not work for every MOOC, it was a success here and I hope they, and others, keep experimenting with new and unique ways of presenting a course.
@Halla , wow! That sounds like an amazing course, to use technology in such a creative way to help you learn more effectively . It sounds like it was an incredible experience. Thanks for sharing.
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I think, the most important point is the instructor. The instructor should have the passion for the field he teaches,because this have in my opinion a big impact to learners. But learners should have also the passion for the topic they which are study. Personally i also appreciated the discussions forums at the courses.
@Marcus , it is so good that you appreciate discussions. I, too find them such an important way to learn and think. I have often had passionate Instructors who loved their subject, devoted their lives to the subject, but were unable to break it down so that students could understand what to do. A good teacher should be able to inspire passion in a subject you might ot have thought you could be passionate about.

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