When choosing the right MOOC to attend, the main points to consider are:
- The course length and estimated weekly workload - You can check this out before the course begins.
- Who the instructors are – there is often a short biography of the course instructors. Knowing who your teachers are and their academic background is important. It might also a great motivation to choose a course, especially if it involves popular online teachers! More important is perhaps to check if they are experienced in online teaching or if this is the first time they are putting together a MOOC. This might give you an idea of how well organized and planned the course will be.
- The course syllabus - You want to make sure this is what you are really looking for before you begin a course.
- The course format – will it be delivered by video, audio, written text etc? Although, sometimes it finally proves not so terribly important, a lot of people are attracted to the variety of ways a course is delivered.
- Don’t judge a course by its videos. Some online courses are amazing with their graphics and animations and artfully shot sequences, while others just show a professor in front of a camera. Test out a class for a couple of weeks to be able to evaluate the instructor’s commitment and knowledge. Just because an online course environment is not very hi-tech, it does not mean that the instructor(s) are not going to make it worth to attend it.
- Course Schedule (Scheduled MOOC versus Self-Paced MOOC) – Some courses allow you to join the course anytime that you want to, while others need you to follow the university semester program. Keep into consideration any other commitments that you have and try to decide wisely between the two types.
- Determine the amount of time you have to devote to a course – Even though courses allow you to generally work at your own pace, there are still requirements that have to be met in order to successfully complete the course. Especially if you are seriously considering to complete all the assignments offered so that you can claim a certificate at the end of the course. Think about how engaged you can be and then determine how much time you’ll have to spend on the course each week. Most courses today give you an estimated amount of time needed to devote each week. Check that out before you join.
- Tangible portfolio – In other words, keep in mind you need to prepare a collection of materials that validate your skills and reputation. So, go with a portfolio that will let you increase your chances of getting hired in the future. Choose a course or a series of courses that will help you create a project in the end that showcases what you learn to a prospective employer.
- Remember: there is no consistency between classes. The various platforms hosting the courses might set the framework and provide support but it’s the professors and schools behind each course design the curriculum, create the content and set the class requirements. Make sure you pay attention to its assignment policies, once you’ve registered for a class. Different Universities, different instructors, different planning. Some courses do not ask you to submit anything until the very end. For others, you might be asked to engage to submit some work even in the end of the second week. Not to mention the professors who are trying out classes for the first time, so the result is that policies may change as the professors learn what works.
Remember though! Whatever you do, make sure you enjoy the trip!
About the Author
Author: vicky papageorgiou
Vicky Papageorgiou is a foreign language teacher (English, Italian, Greek) with approximately 20 years of experience with mainly adult learners. She holds an MA in Education (Open Univ. of Cyprus) and an MA in Art (Goldsmiths College, UK) and she has just completed a PGCE at University of Wales Trinity Saint David. She studied in Greece, Italy and the UK but also participated in an international project for the McLuhan program in Culture and Technology for the University of Toronto, Canada. She blogs about Edtech and ESL and Art.
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