7 ways to make the most of MOOCs

 In eLearning

In a recent blog post I looked at the status quo with massive open online courses (MOOCs) and outlined how I hoped they’d develop.

With 2015 fast approaching, I’ve made a pre new year’s resolution to continue with MOOCs – as a student, and in other ways – next year. Watch this space to find out more!

However, before I commit to more MOOC study, I wanted to reflect on some simple ways to get the most from it. I’d love to know your tips – just comment below or tweet @bloomrecruit with your thoughts.

1. Be realistic

If you’re like me, the joy of learning something new is almost irresistible. However, when courses are so freely accessible it’s easy to take on too much and end up skimming the surface of it all. Better to focus on one topic, research courses with an eye to how they will fit into your lifestyle, and be realistic about what you can achieve.

2. Know yourself

I found myself most motivated by the prospect of being able to apply my learning. I even set myself personal challenges outside the course to make sure I did just this. If you’re like me, I’d suggest building on this personal motivation, focusing on MOOCs that offer structured learning of new skills rather than something more nebulous.

Above all, think about what motivates you as well as what you want to learn.

3. Schedule study time

One of the reasons I managed to complete my MOOC work was that I scheduled a regular time to log on. I blocked out the time each week and within it, I focused on what I wanted to get out of the course, making sure I didn’t start anything that fell outside that as my time was limited. I may have missed out on some extra tools and tips, but I came out of the course having achieved my personal learning goals and maintained a life.

If you have a long commute, a child whose music lesson you need to wait through, or a long journey planned, that could become MOOC time.

4. Value your time

How could I know whether courses were any good when there were few testimonials? I found looking at reviews of institutions’ paid-for courses helpful and, and where I can’t find convincing evidence of quality, I cross MOOCs off my list. I’d prefer to wait for clear social proof before signing up more of my time.

5. Sign up with a friend

I recently heard that colleagues within one Auckland organisation had signed up for a MOOC as a group. This seemed a fantastic idea: it removed the isolated feeling of studying alone, created an on-hand study group and support network, and provided a group incentive to continue studying.

If you feel like joining me in a MOOC, please let me know! I’d love a study buddy next time around!

If you can’t convince a colleague to join up with you, search for nearby students within the MOOC interface.

6. Make the most of experts

I found the tutors’ guidance invaluable. Many MOOCs focus on peer-marking, but I found I could contact experts directly via forums and ask specific questions. I also followed them on Twitter to make the most of their expertise and set up email alerts so I could keep up follow their comments outside the MOOC.

Now the MOOC has ended I’ve got a back catalogue of their articles, tweets and links saved for future reference.

7. Don’t give up on other forms of learning

It’s clear that MOOCs have come a long way and have a long way yet to go before they work at their best. Meanwhile, other forms of learning – I’ve recently become interested in team-based learning for example – continue to deliver the goods. While the MOOC format is being finessed, let’s keep up the good work we’re doing with what we know works – and striving to find new ways to deliver learning.

What’s worked for you when working on a MOOC? Want to join me in a MOOC next year? Let me know!

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