The value of MOOCs

Many students in Oakham’s Upper School have partaken in the study of a MOOC this academic year. Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) allow individuals to learn through video tutorials, activities and discussions. Participants are not constrained by time or physical location, and these courses are available to anyone, usually for free, regardless of their software set-up, experience or level of educational achievement.

A typical week’s work would include partaking in discussions with other members, reading articles that are recommended, and either attending a live session or watching a recording (e.g. a lecture). The main idea is that a cohort progresses through a defined course, which enriches their programme of study or furthers their academic interests.

Whilst assistance was provided in selecting a course and in initial planning, the students have been truly independent in their academic enquiry.

The following students have written up their experiences…

My name is Toby. I’m in Sixth Form, and I do A-Levels Maths, Biology, Chemistry and Economics. I am currently doing two MOOCS: Anatomy: Musculoskeletal and Integumentary Systems and Introduction to Psychology as Science 1. These MOOCS are helping me with my decision about future courses, and whether I should go down the Physiotherapy or Psychology path. The Anatomy MOOC contains information about the functions of muscle, as well as an introduction to joints, the skeletal system, the integumentary and some skeletal muscles. What I found the most interesting is that there are lots of little quizzes at the end of this course to complete, and I think this is one of the best ways to learn the information. There are also labelling quizzes to consolidate the different parts and names of the bones, joints and muscles etc. Some of the things that I have learned from this MOOC have also appeared on my Biology syllabus, which is really useful. For the psychology MOOC, I am studying the mind, human behaviour, the function of the brain and all other biological processes that controls the behaviour in the mind. It explains the research methods used in psychology, and it is very interesting to investigate the distinction between awareness and consciousness. One key case study I learned was about Phineas Gage, who had an accident in 1848 where he suffered a terrible injury to his brain, yet stayed conscious the whole time. Phineas Gage was said to be a legend in the annals of neurology, as he not only suffered from the injury but also had a major personality changes after the brain trauma. Personally, I really enjoy doing these two MOOCs, as I get a lot out of them, and once I get stuck in, it’s almost impossible to stop because it’s so fascinating to learn all this new knowledge! I fit in my MOOCs during my prep time, free periods and weekends when I feel a bit unproductive. I would definitely recommend MOOCs to people who are interested in certain subjects or careers and who are willing to put in the effort for extra reading.

My name is Ruben and I am in Sixth Form, studying Business Studies, Critical and Contextual Studies, Economics and Geography. I am currently completing: . I have been learning about Thomas Edison and how film started to develop. I have found this very interesting so far. As my MOOC continues, I feel that my opinion of the Hollywood industry is changing. It simply amazes me how just a single moving picture was entertaining back then. This background knowledge helps me understand the industry more, and how it has developed to be the dominating force it is today. It is also useful to just know the history of Hollywood, as it adds to my general knowledge. As my knowledge about the Hollywood industry expands, I feel more and more lucky that I have grown up in a developed and modern society. I certainly used to take many thing for granted, such as technology.

My name is Max and I am an IB student. My Higher Levels are Maths, German and Economics. The MOOC I am working on is called “Finance Fundamentals: Investment Theory and Practice” ( and provides basic information on the different ways of investing money and how to plan a portfolio. The four main topics covered in the course are “the spectrum of personal investments”, “devising investment strategies-principles and practice”, “investment in practice: practices, styles, history and performance” and “investment and human behaviour”. In particular, the module on human behavior and its influence on investment decisions is fascinating. I personally underestimated how important it is to think about how people might deal with big losses when planning a fund portfolio. So far I have spent a bit less than 30 hours on my MOOC. I try to do it step-by-step whenever I find time during term and I spent time on it over half-term. During the course, I have noticed links to my Economics course in IB. I think MOOCs are a very good way of acquiring new skills or information. Because it is an online course, which you can work on whenever you find time, it is the perfect activity if you have a very tight timetable. I have had a very good learning experience so far. In particular, being able to comment on lectures is a great way to interact with people or to ask particular questions about the topic. There is always one educator present in the comment section, who is able to answer any questions. I can recommend this specific MOOC on Finance Fundamentals to everyone who has an interest for Economics or Finance. Previous knowledge is not required and the different topics are very well explained.


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