Written by Elisabet A. Werang, VDMS Alumna from Widya Mandira Catholic University, Kupang.
In my first year in college, a lecturer of mine told us that, one day, all things we were learning at that time will be considered as “ancient” knowledge and those who still hold to that knowledge will be “expired” to society. I remember it made the class laugh because he used the term “expired” as if we were some kind of canned food. I looked at him and the picture of what I would become once my “expired date” comes projected in front of me. A dead end.
Now I’m an employee, teaching undergraduate students in a private university. Do I feel my current knowledge is enough to teach them? Never. The clock is also ticking towards my “expired date.” And I believe most of you feel the same.
Fortunately, there are many solutions to solve this problem. I’m a bookworm so it was very predictable that I went right to the library, started reading more journals about education, and downloaded more books about English teaching and learning. But it was too time-consuming for me. I started to watch educational videos on YouTube. Crash Course channel by John Green is still my favorite. But I felt a lack of consistency. I need a scheduled kind of learning and a tangible accomplishment to motivate me to move forward. Then I was introduced to Mass Open Online Course (MOOC) through Coursera.org.
I started taking MOOC in October 2015. A friend of mine suggested me to take a short course called Shaping the Way We Teach English, 1: The Landscape of English Language Teaching. It was a program of the U.S. Department of State, administered by the University of Oregon through Coursera.org, covered many interesting topics such as Authentic Materials and Realia, Pair and Group Work for Collaborative Learning, Critical and Creative Thinking. It was fun, informative, and useful for me as an educator. I still use many teaching methods discussed in the course in my own class.
The wonderful experience made me take another course called Learning How to Learn offered by the University of California, and then a specialization course of TESOL 1 consisting of four different courses offered by Arizona State University, and then a specialization course in Creative Writing which consisted of five different courses offered by Wesleyan University. Now I’m currently enrolling for TESOL 2 of Arizona State University. As you see, I officially became an addict.
How to join?
It’s very simple. Let’s check the steps one by one.
- Go to https://www.coursera.org/ and register yourself. It’s FREE.
- Coursera will send a link to your e-mail to confirm it before you can continue using the service. You just need to click it.
- Browse the topic that you are interested to learn. Coursera offers a wide range of subjects to be learned. Art and Humanities, Language Learning, Business, Math and Logic, and Data Science are just a few of them.
- Check the date the course is offered and your own availability. If you’re happy with the schedule, enroll for the course. Otherwise, put it in your watchlist and enroll for a later date. A course usually takes 5-6 weeks to complete.
- Voila! You are ready to learn according to the schedule.
Easy, isn’t it? However, there is something that I need to tell you: most of the courses are not free. But, fear not, my fellow wanderers for I have the solution! Most of the paid courses are the ones entitled Specialization Course. It consists of a set of courses, a capstone project, and a certificate. If you really want to get the certificate, feel free to pay or apply for a grand to help you pay it. But if you just want to join the course without getting the certificate, go to each course page and enroll for them separately as auditor. The only difference is that you won’t get the certificate and your accomplishment will only be shown on the accomplishment page on your account.
Since it’s online, you need a good internet connection. But if you’re living in a remote area or in a place that doesn’t always have a good internet connection like me, here’s what I can suggest you to do: go to any nearby universities, schools, Telkom, or any other public places that provide free WiFi or WiFi ID. I usually do this twice a week. First, for downloading all the videos and files for offline learning on Monday or Wednesday and second, for submitting the assignment, doing peer assessment, join the discussion forum, etc. on weekend. I spend 2 to 3 hours a week with my online learning.
To be noted the site can’t be accessed using a low mobile phone browser (opera mini, safari, etc.) so for those who want to access the site using a mobile phone you can use the Coursera application that can be downloaded from Google Play Store or Apple Store. I personally really enjoy the app. It’s very useful. I can even do the reading assignment during my 30-minute-angkot-trip to campus in the morning.
How the teaching and learning process works?
Coursera provides a platform for many universities from all around the globe so the teaching and learning process really depends on the university that offers the course instead of Coursera. However, basically there will be lecture videos, quizzes, small projects (making a lesson plan, taking pictures, creating a short video about a certain topic, etc.), writing prompts, peer assessment, discussion, and other kinds of assignments, and a final exam. At the end of the course you will receive the information about your accomplishment.
Some people literally back off once they know that the language of instruction in Coursera is English. They keep saying that it’s difficult and so on and so forth. But actually you will meet many learners who use very basic English as classmates. Look at the bright side: you can gain knowledge in a particular area and at the same time improve your English as well.
Updated knowledge is not the only thing you will get by joining this learning community. While your accomplishment will make your CV look impressive, you will also build a network with your fellow classmates from all around the world and also get to know many brilliant professors, researchers, and experts from well-known universities. You can even have a peek at how learning abroad feels like.
Ready to prolong your “expired date”? Join me at Coursera now!
A2A E – Newsletter Vol. 55 | IX | 2016