After I retired from my Project Manager -job in Denmark almost four years ago, I discovered the fascinating world of MOOCs. The abbreviation stands for massive open online courses that are available on the Internet for free or for a modest fee. Since all the learning materials are available online and all the assignments are delivered via online learning management systems, one can study any time and anywhere where there is access to the Internet.
MOOCs are a paradise to someone like me who is interested in learning many different and new things. In the beginning, I took several courses about neuropsychology and social entrepreneurship. I could take a course with the same title produced by different prestigious universities in different countries and compare them. I was fascinated by how up-to-date the Neuro-economics course at the Moscow business school was compared with a similar one of the University of California.
A challenge with many courses I have taken is to form a global learning team and work together virtually in many different time zones. A couple of times I ended up doing most of the team assignments and all the other team members also received certification for completing the course. The downside of this method is that the other team members may not have learned all they would have learned had they done the work too. But it surely democratises learning, because the courses don’t require any previous knowledge of the subject or ways of academic learning.
My current free course “Systems Practice” by +Acumen. (the world’s school for social change), is also based on teamwork. However the other nine who signed up for the same team seem to have dropped out during the first month. I also encountered difficulties after delivering the first two assignments and could not discipline myself to continue in October.
One of the course catalysts, Fiona, recently noticed my lack of progress. She wrote to me from England suggesting that we could talk about my problems with the systems mapping in a videoconference. Never before has any teacher or professor at any of the physical schools or universities that I attended offered to help me without my asking for it.
Today Fiona and I talked over an hour via Zoom. She shared many stories about her community work and experience with systems practice. That motivated me to reread the course workbook and check how fellow students on other teams were working with their systems mapping and strategy development. It is not an easy subject and possibly I will not complete this course that ends on November 21. Nevertheless I will have a possibility to sign up for the next Systems Practice course that starts in February. Or I can choose another of the thousands of MOOCs offered on tens of different digital learning platforms.