Connections and the year of the MOOC

Have you ever had one of those weeks when you felt particularly whole, grounded, and connected to the world? You feel that everything in the universe is perfectly aligned to convey a certain message to you. It’s a cozy, personal, intimate feeling.  Last week I also experienced this peace and connectivity…

It started when hubby and I saw the new Tom Hanks movie, Cloud Atlas. Firstly, I loved the movie. I am no film critic of course, but I am a sucker for any movies about reincarnation, other worlds, forbidden love, and/or life.  My favorite quote from the movie:

“Our lives are not our own. We are bound to others, past and present, and by each crime and every kindness, we birth our future.” –Sonmi 351girl

Wow…totally. Maybe these intertwined life story themes have become somewhat cliché (Magnolia for example), but I still enjoyed weeping for the entire 3+ hours…thinking about all the fantastic people I’ve had the privilege to know and love.

These bubbly, nostalgic love-feelings carried into the next days and spilled over my lovin’ cup when I read my daily source of news on CNN Facebook. Speaking of connectivity, one of my Facebook friends who I met earlier this year at a wedding shared a link to a free online communications course given by the University of Amsterdam. Since I was already toying with the idea of taking business courses to increase my big-person skills, I was totally stoked! Maybe it was my Cloud Atlas-induced state, but I reflected:

“What if I didn’t go to that wedding, and meet this guy (who btw lives in Romania)? What if I didn’t accept his friend request? Would I have ever heard about this course? Sure, its an online course, but based from a university in my city…yet no one has mentioned it to me. “ 

I immediately registered for the intro to communication science course, which starts February 20th, and then watched the introductory video .In the video, Dr. Rutger de Graaf goes on to tell that the course format is a MOOC, or massive open online course, based on a new course concept from Stanford and MIT.

Other elite institutions are offering free courses?! Whaaaa?

It’s true, and it’s about time. The nonprofit start-up from Harvard and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, edX, has 370,000 students. Pretty impressive! But a mere drop of water in an ocean compared to Coursera, who has over 1.7 million eager students all over the globe. MOOCs have been around for a few years, but for 2013 many more top tier universities are partnering up to spread knowledge on a huge scale.

education21-300x214Talk about a utopian education system. The only requirement to take these courses is a connection to the Internet. Further, since the courses are done online, there are no size restrictions like a typical classroom. Contrary to traditional online courses which charge tuition, carry credit towards a degree, and limit the enrollment, the MOOC system is free, credit-less, and, as the name suggests, massive.

Giggity Giggity! Just as Facebook connects you with friends, family, colleagues, and acquaintances, new MOOCs are connecting the world through education.

In my typical schedule-stuffing style, I also registered to take a course on the US food system and public health on Coursera. Needless to say, the first lectures have given me an overview about the way humans exploit the earth for food—it’s quite depressing.  Did you know that there is actually plenty of food on earth to feed everyone, but rather inequitable distribution is the cause of hunger? Serious food for thought.

Scary thought....

Scary thought….

What are you learning this year?

“We are connected to everything”-Ani Difranco




  One thought on “Connections and the year of the MOOC

  1. Masud
    February 4, 2013 at 3:32 am

    Reblogged this on vizualbusinessbd.

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