Personal Learning Experiences with MOOCs and Open Educational Resources (OER)

I will be starting the Shakespeare in Community MOOC next week (along with many others) and I was pleasantly surprised to see an email about it earlier this week from Dr. Jesse Stommel – a leading thinker in the field of learning technologies. As a current EdD student in this field, I have followed some of Stommel’s work, specifically his blog and Hybrid Pedagogy website. I admire the work that Stommel is doing as an open educator and I look forward to participating in this course and learning from the notable scholars at the University of Wisconsin-Madison as well as my fellow participants.

This is what I love about these MOOCs. As someone who identifies as a learner, I get to participate in virtual learning communities that enrich my understanding of topics that interest me. I have to confess, that I am also currently enrolled in Stanford Online’s Ten Premodern Poems by Women a ten-week course lead by  Professor Eavan Boland. And while I have only finished two MOOCs thus far (I received a certificate for one – Internet History, Technology, and Security), I have been a lurker in many others. I have always learned quite a bit from both the professors and the participants in MOOCS and in this way I am learning more about topics of interest, pedagogy, and open educational resources (OER). These have been rich experiences for me. What I find most valuable about these courses are the contributions by educators who curate their content in a way that allows the participants to learn with OER. Dr. Charles Severance is a great example of this with his extensive work to produce open source materials including the textbook and resources that I use in my high school computer science classroom and Sakai – the LMS used by the university that I currently attend.

Dr Stommel and Dr. Severance are just two pioneers of MOOCs that we should celebrate – they are actively working to provide access to resources/information to anyone who can access the Internet. Yes, I understand that there are many complications and controversies surrounding with MOOCs and online education – I’m not saying it’s a perfect system that works for everyone. However, I am enjoying my experience learning from these educators who work hard to leverage the technology available to them to lend their expertise (and share their own intellectual property) to anyone who wants to learn.

Of course, I am not just participating in these courses because I am interested in the content, I am also interested in the pedagogy and the learning technology tools that are used. There is always so much to learn!

As for the course that starts next week, of course, I am already following @hackshakespeare, and I’ve already downloaded the PDFs to my reading device (and promise to start reading soon!) – I’ll be ready to go when the course opens up next week!

I look forward to writing more about Shakespeare in Community, and my other MOOC experiences here. Please share your own experiences and observations in the comments.

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Thoughts on Writing a Lot

I will begin a graduate program in September 2014 and will soon be writing a lot. Writing is hard work. I recently purchased and read Paul Silvia’s [How to Write a Lot](http://books.google.com/books/about/How_to_Write_a_Lot.html?id=SmtoQgAACAAJ). In his book, Silvia states that writing is a skill that we can all learn how to do; as a teacher, I agree with Silvia. I started this blog to get into the practice of writing more. After reading the book, I have developed a writing schedule and hope to recruit some of my cadre mates to a writing group — once my program starts.  I want writing become a more natural part of my weekly — and eventually daily — life. My writing goals for the next couple of months are to write more often and more efficiently. Silvia and other experts agree that I will only improve with practice, a schedule, clear goals, and good habits.

I will use this blog to develop my writing and to begin exploring dissertation topics. I will also use this blog to build the habit of writing and posting.

As Silvia advises:
– I will determine and allot time to write regularly. (I will start with four hours per week)
– I will use my scheduled writing time to read articles to write about.
– I will recruit fellow grad students to form a writing support group.