When I first started this course I was in chaos. I didn’t really understand the point. Even after the first week and you hear and see several definitions of what a MOOC is and how to participate in one, your mind still rebels. I’m one of those people like Hermione Granger, grades are everything to me. Grades show you are learning something and that you must be a little intellectual. I get quite sad with anything less than an A or 90, whichever formula one uses. So with this class where there are no specific assignments, no papers, no road map, I was lost. It was very frustrating at first. After making it to the end of the course though, I feel this type of learning environment is very beneficial.
To all those who are new to the class, or to anyone coming in the January term, my biggest advice is don’t give up. The point of this course is free learning. Something I wish I had seen in this course while I participated, was more interaction between students taking this course for credit. Learning about one another and making connections is what this class is about. We all have different background stories, each of us must have at least one interesting hobby or story to tell. And those things are what would help spark a discussion and lead on to new learning. The one thing everyone must do is force themselves to make a blog post once a week. And it doesn’t have to be about that weeks topic. Anything is better than nothing. I think this class had real potential, but you cannot make connections and learn all by yourself, or else you wouldn’t be in college. In fact I think more courses should be offered like this. The thing is, while in high school we are molded into thinking in linear terms. Something is either right or wrong. If a teacher doesn’t like your style or your voice in writing, then you will get bad grades, even if your grammar and spelling are spot on. Another problem is we are constantly told what to do. In the “real world”, that’s not how life works. you don’t get tidy directions in life, you don’t always get directions at your job either. A lot of bosses prefer someone who can be given a task and can complete it on their own, and effectively, without the boss have to walk them through it step by step. Most bosses don’t care how you reach the end result, as long as it’s a good result and accomplishes the task they gave you. Creativity is one of the most important things in life. So if you don’t know how to be creative or forge your own path, then this class is right for you. It will push you, frustrate you, and make you want to quit. And that’s when you keep going.
Use this class to learn how to boost your creative skills. Don’t be afraid to try something new and even more importantly, don’t be afraid to fail. Failing at something helps you learn something new about yourself and whatever you are working on. Sometimes failure teaches you better than success. It allows you to see what doesn’t work and makes your mind struggle to find something that will. The weeks topic in this course are just a springboard to get your juices flowing, get you thinking about something new. A class like this can also help you maybe find a new passion, or just help you learn something new. This class has shown me that grades are important, but it’s the effort and thought you put into your work that’s more important. My biggest problem with this class is that I would go off and do a bunch of learning on my own and then forget to come and blog about it. I have a personal blog on a site that wasn’t registered in Grasshopper, so I would forget to use this blog which I setup for class. Another problem I had was posting about the things I enjoyed. I felt like learning is about “useful” knowledge”, but this class is just about learning and connecting in general. There really is no right or wrong. As long as you are participating and trying and putting yourself out there, you are bound to learn and do just fine. Don’t think of this as a class persay. It’s when you put it in that format that you worry over all the little things, like you would in a normal classroom setting. Be more concerned with exploring the things you are interested in and trying to connect with the individuals in the course. Like I said earlier, my biggest annoyance and regret was that we didn’t have enough people fully participating in the course this term. It’s hard to learn and share when no one responds to you or puts forth anything of their own to comment on.
At the end I began to really enjoy the course. After I figured out how to engage in Google Hangouts, it was fun to talk verbally with the others in the course. The final project was pretty fun too. I was nervous while giving it, but it was fun creating the slideshow and sharing something I am passionate about. It was even a learning experience for me, because while I liked the topic I did my presentation on , Japan, I’d never actually fully explored and learned the history and culture of it. I learned quite a lot of interesting things. This course is the motivation one needs to actually put forth more than the minimal effort to learn and be creative. Because of this course I have wanted to get back into being creative, so I’ve found several books on being a more creative person and mixing some spirituality in there. I’m glad I didn’t give up on the course. In my mind I kind of compare it to quitting a substance. The first few days are chaotic, you don’t know what to do with yourself. A few weeks in you feel like you are beginning to understand the flow. Close towards the end you feel like giving it all up and going back to your old ways, and then you get over that final hump and it all clicks into place and it’s easy and enjoyable.
I’m going to keep trying to be creative because I know how important it is in life, no matter what career you are going into. I want to be a successful writer, so creativity is very important. Making connections in my profession is highly important as well, that is if I want my books or whatever I write to sell. I think one of the biggest things about connecting with others is understanding and compassion. You have to realize there are 1000s of different ways to live this life, and we must respect each other, understand where we came from, and meet on common ground. In a world that is becoming more and more interwoven everyday due to technology and social networking sites, we are going to come closer and closer together as a people instead of races. I think one of the greatest things is that there are many cultures, each one unique and different, but once that is peeled away all people pretty much want the same things, friendship, love, happiness, something to look forward to and have a purpose in life. I think technology can be very useful, as long as it’s used right and people are willing to be open.