Man with mad hat signs up for MOOC! Will he finish?

I’m doing a MOOC! I’m doing a MOOC! I’m doing a MOOC! 

So Alastair is studying a Massive Open Online Course (MOOC).  Do you care? Why is he telling the world? Well, actually this is the third MOOC he has started and the other two fizzled away.  He just stopped doing the work and no-one noticed, no-one cared. It had been free to join so it was no big deal, he hadn’t lost anything.

Or had he?  

Well if education is truly valuable (and a privilege to those with language skills, technology access and above all the time) then maybe he should have treated the opportunity with a little more respect than he did; he could have stuck it out or formulated a more coherent reason for not finishing than the limp and pathetic:  ‘I got busy so never got round to it’ .

No-one really knew he started the last two MOOCs so no-one ever inquired if he finished or how he had benefited from his learning. This time the world may know! 

Alastair’s ‘third time lucky- MOOC’ is provided by the Open University via Futurelearn and is and introduction to Eco Systems. So far so good I have to say. We have looked at two contrasting ecosystem definitions and accepted that a core feature of ecosystems is energy exchange.  


This blog post may not in fact be read by anyone – but by placing it on  the web – it may be read. It could even be read by people whom I respect. It could be read by people to whom I would be ashamed to admit failure.    

ImageIf this man can go public about starting a MOOC, AND  wear such a mad hat then he is surely asking for public scrutiny.  His dress sense may be a lost cause, but if you see him – ask if her ever finished that MOOC on Eco systems!   




8 Responses to “Man with mad hat signs up for MOOC! Will he finish?”

  1. Terry Loane Says:

    You are not alone, Alastair! I too am on my third MOOC, and I too dropped out of the first two. My current MOOC is, like yours, run by Futurelearn. I am in week 4 of the seven-week course: ‘Begin programming: build your first mobile game’ and so far I am up-to-date with the work!!!

    Actually you are doubly not alone, because my wife Julia started the same course as you, ‘Introduction to Eco Systems’ on Monday of this week. I have just asked her how she is getting on with it and she released the following on-the-record statement: “I really want to do it. It’s just… I don’t know… Can I find the time? I have done a bit.”

    Will these three adult learners complete their MOOCs? The world has a right to be told.

    PS Julia and I do not wear mad hats:-)

  2. dontgetlost Says:

    OMG – public scrutiny – I just have to finish now.

  3. pmdwsn41 Says:

    Trend-setters all! My MOOC starts next week – England at the time of Richard III !!!

  4. Terry Loane Says:

    Actually, Alastair, I believe there is quite an important point tucked inside your phrase ‘public scrutiny’. I think that there are three things that cause many people to drop out of distance courses:

    1. People rarely complete courses that are completely open in terms of time, i.e. without fixed start and end dates – it’s simply too easy to postpone engagement if there are no deadlines.

    2. People are less committed to things that are free of charge – it’s too easy to sign up to something without thinking through the time requirements if you don’t have to pay, and you are far more likely to want to get something for your money if you have paid.

    3.People rarely learn successfully without social support and also, I would say, social pressure – in other words public scrutiny. If you sign up for a programme of learning that takes place face-to-face every Monday evening at 7.30, and if you are expected to have done some preparation before each session there is significant social/public pressure for you to do what is expected. It’s difficult (notwithstanding developments in various social media) to replicate this social support/social pressure/public scrutiny online.

    Clearly point 1 above does not really apply to the Futurelearn MOOCs as they have clear start and end dates, but points 2 and 3 do apply, and I think this explains why they might have a high dropout rate.

    btw, I will be interested to know how you find the comment/discussion facility within the Futurelearn course.

  5. dontgetlost Says:

    This rather feels like a confessional session – ‘I’m a MOOC drop out but I intent to reform’.

    Terry’s right about social pressure and I wonder if, in a spirit of mutual encouragement we should agree to expose each other if either fails to complete.

    I feel that the Time of Richard III sounds fascinating and I’m sure pmdwsn41 will complete (In fact, come to think of it, this sounds more interesting than my MOOC – maybe I’ll switch – after all it won’t cost me!)

  6. Terry Loane Says:

    It will be a great privilege to denounce you, Alastair, in the unlikely event of that being necessary. As my wife is doing the same course there might, of course, have to be a double denunciation. So it would then be a real Winter of Discontent, as Richard III would say. But I am confident that we will all ‘complete’ – to use the jargon of the funding junkies.

  7. dontgetlost Says:

    Here is my public update.

    Things are slipping but I am rushing hard to catch up. Here are three questions we had to address about flying (well gliding really) mammals.

    QUESTION 1 Identify one similarity and one difference between flying squirrels and colugos.

    Both are nocturnal
    Anatomical similarity sail of skin’, technically termed a patagium,

    Colugos move awkwardly in trees due to the encumbrance of the patagium and Flying squirrels are more nimble as their patagium is not so extensive.

    QUESTION 2 On the evidence of the video sequence, comment briefly on how flying squirrels steer during gliding.

    They steer using their tails.

    QUESTION 3 Write a sentence or two about the disadvantages and consequences of the gliding habit in flying squirrels.
    The patagium becomes an encumbrance when not used for ‘flying’. Neither animal flies but glides which means that unlike a bird they have limited manoeuverability once in flight. They are committed to a general direction even if they become aware of a reason to change direction mid flight (eg sight of a predator).

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