Last spring, as each day brought announcements of new MOOCS, I decided that this was something I needed to know more about. After all, I had taught college classes for more than 20 years both face-to-face and and on several distance platforms. My unit, IT-Client Support and Services, also provided the campus support for our LMS and other online instruction support. Obviously, this new area was something I needed to know about.

I signed up for “Introduction to Databases” from Stanford. At the time, they were using the platform that later became Coursera. I had a basic understanding of and experience with databases, but I knew my knowledge ended somewhere in the middle of a first semester course. This was the perfect opportunity to learn a subject that had eluded me through many web tutorials and and “Dummies” books.

Turns out, I really picked a winner for my first MOOC. The course was well-paced, provided ample support through a lively discussion forum, and was expertly taught by Dr. Jennifer Windom. And I worked my way through all of it and achieved my certificate! Remember, this was something I had failed at numerous times through my many self-learning attempts.

Several months later, I gave this presentation to the upper academic administrators to inform them about MOOCs. Definitely a room full of skeptics!!

Now that I’ve retired I’m engaged in several more MOOCs to get a feel for the whole world of MOOCs and to keep learning. I’ll report back on these later.

Linux on the Education Desktop??

I’m still working my way through the NECC podcasts and today I listened to March of the Penguins: Linux Comes to Student Desktops by David Thornburg.

Thornburg makes a very convincing case that all of education should be moving to an open source platform and especially endorses Edubuntu, an education friendly version of Linux. Thornburg goes through a whole list of cost savings ranging from the operating system to the basic apps to educational apps. He cites numerous companies, including Sprint and Microsoft, who use Linux for many central business processes. Brazil uses Linux exclusively on all government computers. Recently, the state of Indiana has adopted Linux for all of the public schools. This rollout is in progress for the 06-07 school year.

Although all this sounds good, it will be most educational to see how schools and districts make the transition Linux from their current comfortable positions with Windows and Mac OSes. Perhaps the trip point will be the Microsoft release of Vista.