For the next 11 weeks, I will be learning about the origins, development and structure of the internet. I am taking a free online course taught by Dr. Charles Severance of the University of Michigan. There are several thousand other students taking the course with me. The course is offered by Coursera as a massively open online course, or MOOC. My classmates are joining me from all over the world.
The content is very relevant to the work I do and to the interests of this blog. I hope to share some of the things I am learning from time to time. Even though life is very hectic for me right now, I wanted to take this course because it fills a gap in my professional knowledge. My masters in information sciences did not dig very deep into the history and structure of the internet itself. I know the basic story — ARPAnet, CERN, Vint Cerf, Mosaic, Google, etc. My brief introduction to internet history focused primary on the social/cultural history. I want to know the fuller narrative. I want to know more about the technical aspects and how they have development. What, actually, is the internet? How does it work? Where is it?
This will be my second MOOC. I took a shorter 4 week course last month on Instructional Design for Mobile Learning last month. Like most people who sign up for a no-cost, online, no accountability course, I did not finish that course. I learned a few things and was fascinated by how it operated.
I am interested in seeing how MOOCs operate, since online educators, librarians, higher ed administrators and state government are getting pretty much obsessed with the prospects of delivering low-cost education at web scale. Whether web-scale, mass education is possible remains to be seen. I do know that MOOCs can deliver on the promise of low-cost, personalized, continuous professional development.
My first MOOC operated on the Canvas platform and felt like a really fun social media platform for smart people who liked to share their learning. It was a fun, collegial and inspiring learning environment. Pretty much like the best seminar class I ever had in grad school.
This experience will be different. The course is longer. The structure is more buttoned-down. Activities and lectures are released weekly. Activities, quizzes and exams are graded. Things are due on time to ensure some level of accountability. There are honor codes and, for a small fee, potential for a credential of sorts.
So I am looking forward to getting into this new classroom as a student and seeing what I can learn about online teaching that helps me be a better teacher and librarian. And I am going to try not to let this disturb my goal of writing four short stories in the next two months.
This is the kind of weirdness I do for fun.
Summer vacations are for wusses. 🙂