In addition to printed material I’ve been reading, lately, the onset of the summer holidays (still wired for work but with no pressing reasons to be) seemed like the ideal time to continue my poetry education via MOOCs I started way back in January and abandoned part-way through as work life, etc took precedence. So here’s what I’ve been up to, online:
Format: a three-week course comprising videos, articles, texts/lyrics, memory quizzes(!) and forum discussions
My verdict: a comprehensive introduction to life and works of Scotland’s bard. Does what it says on the tin but this one failed to engage me in the way that other MOOCs have done (videos were mini lectures rather than debate between academics or tutor-student workshops/tutorials and I felt ‘talked at’).
Literature and Mental Health: Reading for Wellbeing (The University of Warwick via FutureLearn):
Format: a six-week course comprising video discussions, poem/novel/play texts, articles, surveys (for research purposes) and forum discussions.
My verdict:interesting discussions on the physiology and treatment of stress, heartbreak, bereavement, PTSD and trauma, depression and bipolar, ageing and dementia, and the benefits of reading/sharing literature for therapy and wellbeing. What niggled me: Stephen Fry’s dismissive remark regarding ‘free form’ poetry during a week 1 video discussion (in fact, the wealth of contemporary poetry was largely ignored throughout the course).
Whitman’s Civil War: Writing and Imaging Loss, Death & Disaster (The University of Iowa via novoed.com):
I’m a late starter to this MOOC (week 3 of which starts tomorrow), but the beauty of this beast (as far as I’m aware) is it’s available year-round and one can begin at any time (provided you don’t wish to join in the discussions on the online forum – which I don’t). I’m currently engaged in week 1: Circumstance & Documentary. Each week there’s an introductory video (engaging discussion between academics; approx 40 mins) followed by a series of reading texts including study notes and afterwords, then a question for discussion via the forum.
I’ll let you know how this one goes but, in my experience of MOOCs to date, UK universities have much to learn from those in the USA.
Which MOOCs are you currently engaged in, have enjoyed to date or are looking forward to this coming autumn? I’d love to hear your views and choices via the comments box below.