Sometime this summer I signed up for a course on Coursera: Foundations of Teaching for Learning 1: Introduction. It looked suitable because it only lasted four weeks and had something to do with Education. I had looked and was unable to find any free MOOC courses on educational technology. The course started last week. The course is the first in a series of seven, all on Teaching for Learning. This one introduces the format and expectations of the series and begins to discuss what it is to be a teacher.
My first impression, besides excitement and fascination, was intimidation. There was a Welcome discussion forum where we were all invited to share where we’re from. I saw fellow students from Pakistan, Nebraska, Spain, Indonesia, Mexican-born living in the USA, Poland, Polish living in the UK, American living in Nigeria, Greece, England, Lithuanian living in Spain, French living in Spain, France, California, Las Vegas, Russia, France, Romania, Las Vegas, Brazil, Spaniard working in India, Wales, The Congo, Somalia, Belgium, and on and on. You know how pages on Facebook and other sites now expand when you come near the bottom? The course intro page was like that, but it was caused by the continual addition of new posts on the page. I thought, there’s no way I’m going to get to know everyone in the class.
I found a forum thread asking if there were any other corporate trainers in the course. I responded kindly, as did 10 other people. I then found another thread under the topic “Study Groups” entitled “Post-secondary education”. I posted there and asked to join the group. If I’m going to get anything out of this course, I need to meet people, and it seems the natural way to do that is to find mutual interests or other commonalities.
The first two video lectures were unimpressive. The instructor, a Professor Emeritus at the University of Cambridge, UK, is fully credentialed. About half of the lecture was him speaking into a camera, the other half were PowerPoint-like slides, and sometimes the video of him talking appeared overtop the presentation. His speech and demeanor were casual and conversational, which made the whole presentation slower than I had anticipated. And he had that annoying habit of reading or mentioning everything on the slides. Ho hum.
The first assignment is a very brief assessment of teaching attitudes and self-perception. I see that there will be 700 and 1000 word papers that will be peer-graded, plus quizzes. More to come…