I’ve recently completed a MOOC (Massive Online Open Course) from Oxford Brookes University called TOOC (Teaching Online Open Course.) Students were taking TOOC for credit or as a ‘free’ course (I was in the latter group.)
It’s not my first MOOC or even the first one I have completed; I’ve lost count of the number of online courses of various types I have taken over the years.
For some this may not qualify as a MOOC as the numbers are kept deliberately modest (for a MOOC) but it still had a relatively large cohort when we consider supported online courses in general.
What stood out was that it had a very high level (time and quality) of engagement of participating staff (teachers and teaching assistants) and this, for me, proved to be the most important part of the course.
The high level of engagement of staff was obviously encouraging the same of many students (yes, a fraction of the cohort were seen to be present but not everyone is going to post to forums on any course, just as few students ask questions in lectures.) In fact, the importance of building and maintaining presence was something that was introduced early on and I know many of us were seeing a practical demonstration of this and its effects.
This isn’t to disparage the quality of the resources but I doubt they alone would have had me engage with the topics each week and keep going to the end, and I doubt if they would have made me think so deeply.
I would urge anyone to take part in TOOC when it runs again to be a part of such a course, to take away a very positive experience of online learning and meet many wonderful people into the bargain.
I actually miss turning up online each week.