Published on 2012/05/01

Diary Of A Lifelong Learner Enrolling In Her First Massive Online Open Course

Marianne Dombroski is at the starting blocks for a new MOOC about online education. Photo by TableAtNY.

“Hello and welcome to each of our 2500+ participants from around the world! Thank you for joining us for this open course; we look forward to learning together with you. Remember, this course is set up so you determine your own level of participation.”

I’ve enrolled in my first Massive Open Online Course, better known as a MOOC. Open Courses are a concept whose time, it seems, has finally blossomed. For the lifelong learner, the prospect of enrolling in a MOOC can be both daunting and exhilarating. This course, Instructional Ideas and Technology Tools for Online Success, is taught by Dr. Curtis Bonk of Indiana University, and it officially begins on April 30.

Anyone can enroll in a MOOC. Anyone. What you do in the course, and with the knowledge acquired through completing the course, is up to you. One credential that completers of the course will walk away with is a Mozilla Open Badge, which holds value for the owner of the badge in how it is viewed by others. A cumulative collection of badges, over time, can be representative of an individual’s interests, commitment to those interests, and accomplishments.

I can’t speak for the other 2500+ people who have signed up for this course, but I would guess that one thing most of us have in common is curiosity. Speaking for myself, here are just a few of the reasons I am enrolling.

  1. I am intensely curious about ways in which technology can help improve the educational experience, and most importantly, scale to serve the populations who need education the most.
  1. I am considering beginning an online Masters Degree program in an area related to Education Technology. Nothing like a free MOOC on the subject to see if I’ve really got the chops for it.
  1. I’ve been obsessed with how online communities can support the educational experience since I worked for a long-gone education start up company, an early iteration of the higher education enterprise portal, in the early 2000s.
  1. I’m excited to see who else will be taking the course, and think it will provide a phenomenal networking opportunity and shared experience among its students.
  1. While the instructor, Dr. Bonk, is well known and highly accomplished in his field, and I value the experience of learning from him, I am equally intrigued by the opportunity to learn from others in the course. Given the subject matter, it is evident that the interaction will be facilitated in such a way as to maximize learning from one’s peers.

I also have some apprehensions about enrolling in the course, namely:

  • Will I be able to hold my own in a cohort of professionals in the field? I am assuming that most enrollees will be education professionals. This may not be the case.
  • Are there any prerequisites I am missing? I always like to be prepared.
  • Will I be motivated enough, and available to participate in the live sessions? If I miss the live sessions, will the recordings be sufficiently engaging?
  • What if I am a drop-out? A statistic?

It’s going to be a fun ride, made even more exciting to be part of by all of the coverage this course, and MOOCs in general are receiving from education and technology publications these days. From the perspective of a lifelong learner and believer in social learning, I’d say it’s a “can’t miss” and a “must do”.

Can’t wait to get started. Stay tuned.

The EvoLLLution recently did a recorded Q&A with the instructor of this course, Dr. Curtis Bonk. Take a look here!

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Readers Comments

Patricia Bowman 2012/05/01 at 1:33 pm

Hi classmate! I’m excited to get started this evening!

It’s interesting, I’m also working in the higher ed industry and was thinking about an advanced degree in online or adult education – this should be a nice introduction to the subject matter!

I am, of course, worried that the material isn’t going to be quite on point, or that it won’t actually help my decision-making process… but it’s free, so it’s a pretty small hurdle to leap!

I wonder how they afford to put these kinds of things on?

    Marianne Dombroski 2012/05/05 at 1:45 am

    Hi Patricia, thanks for the comment! All the activity in the course is a bit chaotic, but I’m enjoying the reading and the one lecture to date. I still have a bit to catch up on before the next one. Learning a lot about my own motivation and propensity for procrastination. Hope you stick with it, and enjoy!

Ingrid Ramos Nakamura 2012/05/17 at 4:36 pm


As you know, I too, signed up for the course. I have attended one live session so far. There are so many people on it, it’s crazy! It took me a second to catch on since I missed the first live course. For example, the survey tool was not invasive enough for me! I kept answering the questions on the chat tool. Though it is kind of neat to see everyone’s answers flash by along with their names. Now I know I should use the survey tool and answer in the chat tool if I want Dr. Bonk to potentially see my answer in real time as coming from me and perhaps reading it aloud.

Ingrid Ramos Nakamura

Marianne Dombroski 2012/05/17 at 5:54 pm

Thanks, Ingrid! I was on the live session yesterday and made the same boo-boo regarding the chat tool. I watched the number of folks in the live session climb from 80 to about 260, and back down to 150 when the professor ran over time. I loved his energy and the interaction. Also scrolling the folks online and being able to chat with those whose names I recognized. I won’t write any more – that’s for a follow up article here.

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