You may have signed up for a Massive Open Online Course, or a MOOC, already. And if you signed up, you may have dropped out; most people drop out of MOOCs. Some say completion rates (from sign-up to completion) are around 15%, but could be as high as 40%.

But if you are still signing up for them, then we should talk. Because either you plan to, or are already, trying to learn something new. And that is exciting since there is a great deal of information out there for the taking. The masses just need to figure out how to complete these MOOCs to get to that exciting new information!

Another of my MOOC adventures starts today, Disciplinary Literacy for Deeper Learning is presented as a MOOC-ED by The Friday Institute. It is a self-paced, simple Moodle course. I have signed up and not completed courses from The Friday Institute before. In hindsight I do not think the Learning Management System (LMS) is particularly intuitive and that may have overcome my enthusiasm for the content. But this time I have experienced so many more LMS platforms and am intrigued by the content – so I feel I stand a solid chance.

To look at barriers from an end-user point of view is important. While we hope to acclimate our staff to any/all LMS(s), we can also predict that we will always be on-boarding new LMS users in the form of students and parents at least. I want to identify my past challenges in completing this/other MOOCs and see if I can successfully confront them. One perceived obstacle is the overwhelming “expectations” – maybe not so much the formal/defined expectations as the perceived ones.

Look at this number of unread posts (did your chest tighten a little too?)

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This is the first hurdle to clear – 92 posts is a lot – when you think about it as every post being of the same value to you. Completing #K12BlendedLearning MOOC via Coursera (twice) helped cement this for me – I don’t have to participate in ALL those discussion, at least not at the same engagement level. The course itself attempts to break participants up into groups. On Day One I see that there are already two groups. I am in Group A, but if I wanted to do so I could also peek into Group B. As it happens I did and see some interesting people in that group. I subscribe to the discussions I want to follow; I am not responsible for responding to everyone in my group, but I am responsible to engage with people I think can further my learning and help those who engage with me to learn. No matter how many times I have to come back and review that last sentence I will – my hope to to guard against over-investing in aspects of the course which under-produce for me.

Here is another area to intentionally address: doing the reading. Clever MOOCs might offer you differing levels or a variety of paths so as not to make the experience lock-step, to customize it, and hopefully the instructional designers considered not overwhelming participants! Out of the possible X number readings I selected these seven. But was I missing out on the other articles?

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To combat my fear of missing out on any of the reading, I use a curating service to bookmark and tag articles to find easily in the future. I tagged everything “Disciplinary Literacy,” “#contentliteracy.” When I added the science articles I added “#scichat,” for social studies articles “#sschat,” for math articles “#mathchat.” Every article from this course also contained the note “MOOC-ED.”

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Learn just enough about the platform. I have heard that not everyone geeks out over looking over a LMS like a Faberge Egg or a fancy sports car, hmm. In that case, you will want to identify only the features which deliver you benefits. For instance, many MOOCs have huge discussion areas with so many threads and posts that it would pass the threshold of diminishing returns to read them all.

MOOC_ED Discussion Posts by Participant-min

Typically a LMS offers a way to sort by poster, to subscribe to desired threads. Find these tools within the LMS to engage in meaningful conversations while limiting your time reading through posts.

Will I make it through this MOOC?

I don’t know for sure, but I am certainly hopeful and preparing to do so!