A new episode in my life in the internet is going on; I study literature on the course ‘Fantasy and Science Fiction. The Human Mind. Our Modern World’. This is my third week on the course and I am writing my essay about Edgar Allan Poe today. I took a break in writing and came here to tell why I am committed to these studies. All important things are excellent:
- the course is well organized and it helps to proceed in learning and monitoring with other participants
- the expert Eric Rabkin loves literature and languages and us, his students. I can feel it when watching his videos.
- the learning environment / platform is clear and everything works there, no problems at all
- the best parts for learning are 1. writing an essay after reading the material and choosing the theme and 2. giving feedback to the fellow students about their essays anonymously (randomly selected four students)
- receiving the feedback, which the students write to me, listening it and pondering on it
It is obvious that learning needs structures, rules and guidance. Following the pedagogical structure I can find my strength and creativity. I am guided to “write to enrich my intelligent, active, attentive fellow students”, so I have to do my best. I have to focus and find the perspective which I can offer as enrichment to them. The essay must be short, only 300 words, so I have to select the content carefully. I have to respect others as our teacher respects us – the atmosphere is one of the most important things in open online studies.
I was astonished that I learned so much about the peer assessments, which I got from the four fellow students. The assessments differ greatly but I can learn from everyone. Someone corrects my English, someone the structure of my essay. It is useful to know what leaves unclear to readers. I have already learned a lot, for instance to focus my sayings better, to say more clearly what I mean, and do not trust that the reader can guess my meanings.
This course reminds me about my experiences as an online teacher. I have found the same principles while teaching online myself and now I can see their effectiveness on a global online course. The studies are well organized. Human development needs guidance to emerge, it needs supporting structures and challenging assignments. Lisa Lane shared in her blog a definition of three kinds of MOOCs: networked-based, task-based and content-based. This ‘fantasy and science fiction’ course is both task-based and content-based, but it is still more: it is based on emerging learning process. It supports the students’ learning process from simple to higher, more complex levels. This improvement is the aim of all online teaching and learning. Have we lost this simple truth and have to find it again and again?