Wednesday, September 11, 2013

New Semester, New MOOCs

Well, new semester, new experimentation with xMOOCs (I didn't see any cMOOCs on the docket this fall).  I decided to try out a few MOOCs on subjects that are interesting to me, as always, while I try to find my way toward a potential dissertation proposal.

The first two MOOCs are on coursera and they are "Online Games: Literature, New Media, and Narrative" from Vanderbilt and "Video Games and Learning" from University of Wisconsin - Madison.  Video Games and Learning begins next month, so I have some time to take in Online Games: Literature, New Media, and Narrative before that one starts.

Right off the bat, I see that Online Games: Literature, New Media, and Narrative has two tracks, a "regular" and a "distinction" track. The difference in the distinction track is that you have to participate online in the LOTRO MMORPG (free) and to complete three peer reviewed exercises.  My time is limited this semester so starting a new RPG when I am already invested in Star Trek Online is a bit too much for me. I'd like to engage (and get that nice little distinction mark), but in all honesty the "distinction" for this course is just "regular" activities in other Coursera courses, so why bother? :)

This brings me to the first "issue" with certificates.  Sure, they might not be particularly worth something at the moment, but at some point those "with distinction" might matter. Also, sure, these are all offered on the coursera "LMS" but they are from different institutions.  You still see the "coursera" logo on the the certificate very prominently (not the University logo), so it would make sense that "Certificate of Accomplishment" and "Certificate of Accomplishment with Distinction"  is standardized somehow.

In any case, those are the two coursera courses on the docket.  The other two are the Mozilla Badge MOOC offered through coursesites, and the Virtual Linguistics Campus MOOC on Pragmatics.  When I was a linguistics student we did a quick overview of Pragmatics, so my knowledge is limited, thus I wanted to expand upon it a bit.  This MOOC sounds perfect! The Phonetics & Transcription MOOC that they ran last spring was pretty interesting. It felt more like a self-paced course, so I am wondering if they've tweaked their formula or if they are going for the European model of education that focuses on reading periods and lectures instead of what we see in the US.

The badges MOOC sounds pretty interesting, but this first week was a little underwhelming. It seemed that the "MOOC" consists of weekly hour-long webinars, along with suggested readings around a certain topic. Until I started poking around a bit only to find out that the groups and the activities were hidden away (not on the main menu) Hmmm... Let's see how this goes.
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