Following a previous blog in which I mentioned MOOCs (massive open online courses), I took the plunge and signed up for a University of Edinburgh course on Animal Behaviour and Welfare – along with more than 23,000 other people from around the world!
As MOOCs go Animal Behaviour and Welfare is quite short at only five weeks. It involves about two hours work per week, although you can do more if you want as extra reading is available.
While the course will be almost finished by the time this blog goes out, you’ll be able to access course material after it’s complete. Latecomers won’t be graded or receive a certificate but – as with many courses at Coursera.org – future sessions are likely to be added.
The online systems are well laid out and easy to access. There is a quiz every week with multiple choice questions and, so far, I have done rather well. Unlike some MOOCs where you need to do all the extra reading to pass the quizzes, this one only requires you to complete the core syllabus.
I have chosen well with this MOOC, but they are all different – just choose a subject you are passionate about and then look at the course.
MOOCs vary widely in layout and depth of content. Before committing to one it’s worth checking the length of the course – can you commit to 10-12 weeks? How many hours per week is it? Do you have a spare evening or weekend day to complete it?
I like to sit down and do it all at once, so I prefer courses that require less than three hours work per week. I find five hours or more means lots of note taking during videos and learning more information than my little brain can cope with.
With Coursera you can get a certificate of completion if you achieve more than 65% in the quizzes and take part in discussion boards. However the mechanic for this requires you to sign up to get certificates for courses you sit over a full year – so it isn’t that cost effective for a single course.
I find the best way to approach finding new MOOCs is to sign up for the ones that catch your eye – you’ll then get reminders that the course is due to start so you don’t miss it.
As the start date gets closer I then look at the length of course, hours required and watch the introduction video, which can tell you a lot – there was a really interesting horse course, but every video was presented by the same person and it quickly got very dull.
So this week’s message is: “Go forth and find your MOOC Prince”. But beware , you may discover a few frogs along the way!