Reflecting Allowed

Maha Bali’s blog about education

What’s wrong with FutureLearn?

| 8 Comments

I want to reflect on my discomfort with FutureLearn as an online learning platform. I love the MOOC I am currently taking on it, offered by U of Nottingham, focusing on sustainability. I love the teaching staff, participants, reflective exercises and the content. But I am frustrated with the
FutureLearn platform.

I think there are two main things that are bothering me:

1. The linearity of the content, the way it is presented boxed up and sequential, where you tick boxes that you’ve finished each part. I would not like this in a normal course I am taking, but I really dislike it in a MOOC, where I am likely to want to dip in and out of different parts. I know I can still do so, but it is more difficult to differentiate the resources from the discussions from the assessments. I can’t see a big picture and this does not suit my learning style.

2. The discussions. I hate that there are no separate discussions that can be a) learner-initiated, and b) searched, threaded, and organized in some better way to allow people to truly interact. The idea of “following” people misses the point that sometimes you want to “follow” a thread and see if people are responding to you (Coursera does this better)

As it stands, I am occasionally dipping into the online discussions if I find anything worth responding to in the top five or so posts by others, or if I have some burning comment to add.

I am resisting following the content sequentially (even though sometimes the sequence makes sense… But I need the flexibility)

Otherwise, I think I will focus more on Twitter and blogging, and see if the facebook group turns out well. At least the Twitter and blogging aspects can be a form of advocacy for sustainability beyond the course.

But FutureLearn: i am so disappointed in the platform. I have experienced many others (WebCT, Moodle, Blackboard, Coursera, Canvas) and this is one of the most uncomfortable for me. I was expecting better because i have great experiences with UK online education (my MEd from U of Sheffield, and Edinburgh’s #edcmooc on Coursera), and i thought a UK MOOc platform would be as thoughtful as those experiences, but I don’t like it.

I’m not alone in this, am I? Someone posted on Twitter questioning the sustainability of the MOOC when you find 100s of comments on each topic each day. This is no surprise first week of a MOOC and I expect them to dwindle down over the weeks… But still.. There should have been a better design to help folks deal with info overload. This is a small problem with 20 students but a huge problem with a MOOC

8 Comments

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