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26

February


Mooching with the MOOCs. Friday February 26, 2016

I waste far too much time on Facebook. If left to my own devices I can spend hours looking at rubbish all day, avoiding getting on with my life. Then, just occasionally, I find a nugget.

A friend recommended a MOOC called Learning How To Learn.

"A What?" I hear the moodscope collective cry.

A Massive Open Online Course.

MOOCs are available from a wide range of institutions, including some of the top American universities. They offer FREE online courses. You can choose to pay for a certificate, but if it's the course content that interests you, rather than the qualification, then it's there just waiting for you to take advantage of it.

I know from my own experience that at certain times, the idea of taking a course seems far too daunting. The pressure – usually self-applied by my ego – to complete and succeed can make the signing up too scary, and the very thought of the commitment to turning up at class each week makes me run a mile.

But MOOCs are a whole different world. They usually comprise short videos, each of 5 to 20 minutes. I say to myself "I'll just watch one video". I can choose when and where to watch it, I can watch it as often as I please. There are forums available for discussing the course with other students.

You needn't tell anybody that you've signed up, so, if it isn't for you, you can just drop the course, and, if inspired, may spot something else you fancy. Many MOOCS are just four weeks long.

I am currently enjoying 'Successful Negotiation: Essential Strategies and Skills' by The University of Michigan. Reading moodscope blogs and the comments they inspire, it seems to me that many of the tools outlined in this MOOC might also be very useful to other moodscopers as we negotiate our way through life and relationships.

Might learning help us through the difficult times? Are you ready to put another arrow in your quiver or string in your bow?

Susannah
A Moodscope member.

Thoughts on the above? Please feel free to post a comment below.


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Comments

the room above the garage Fri, Feb 26th 2016 @ 6:10am

Really interesting! I'm going to have a nosey... Thank you, ratg X.

Susannah Fri, Feb 26th 2016 @ 8:43am

Thanks, ratg. Having completed the excellent Negotiation Skills (I wrote this blog a few weeks ago) I'm currently loving a course called "Think Again: How to Reason and Argue" (debating, not fighting). The course is not running right now, but the videos, exercises and quizzes are all there. Google Coursera.org for a list of the courses they offer.

Alex Fri, Feb 26th 2016 @ 6:34am

^^^^ what ratg said. I know of a couple if others but they are specific to my faith, so will leave that, unless anyone wants to know (in which case Im delighted to say....just prefer to keep things general here)

And .......

"A What?" I hear the moodscope collective cry."

Snort snort snort.....love that....

Resistance is futile..... ;)

Cheers
Ensign Alex B. Nerdygeek

Susannah Fri, Feb 26th 2016 @ 8:44am

Hi Alex. I certainly didn't mean to patronise,but most friends I have mentioned MOOCs to, just look at me with worried eyes!

Mary Fri, Feb 26th 2016 @ 9:01am

Worried bovine-like eyes, Susannah? (giggle snort!)

Mary Fri, Feb 26th 2016 @ 9:03am

And Alex, you will have noticed that quite a few of us have some kind of religious faith here - and being the kind of community we are, we tend to be quite accepting. So - go on - tell us what your faith is and what the courses deal with. (You know that I am a common or garden C of E Christian, but I'd certainly be open to learning from other faiths too)

Lex Fri, Feb 26th 2016 @ 7:24am

I'm hungry. Please send links! Caroline has my email - I'm interested, very interested, Susanhah and Nerdygeek L€X

Susannah Fri, Feb 26th 2016 @ 8:50am

Hi Lex. I can give you links here! The MOOCs I have done are on coursera.org, and I have also heard good things about iVersity and FutureLearn. Learning How To Learn was excellent. It is presented (via coursera) by University of California, San Diego, and is about the latest knowledge in neuroscience about to learn stuff effectively. A lot of the information applies to life in general - especially the section on how to avoid procrastination.

Mary Fri, Feb 26th 2016 @ 9:04am

Avoiding procrastination... I must look into that - sometime.....

Susannah Fri, Feb 26th 2016 @ 12:19pm

The pomodoro technique is your friend :-)

Debs Fri, Feb 26th 2016 @ 7:39am

Love that idea Susannah - I'm on it! xx

Jennifer Fri, Feb 26th 2016 @ 7:47am

Hi Everyone. So agree in the value of something like this. Filling the mind with helpful stuff. And just yesterday I noticed a blog comment(sorry forget who from now)about www.futurelearn.com which I looked at last night. Brilliant. Never knew this all existed! Thanku!x

Susannah Fri, Feb 26th 2016 @ 8:57am

Hi Debs, Jennifer. So glad you're interested. Three years ago I quit a very challenging and stressful full time career to do something more gentle and part time. That has all been brilliant, and I'm very glad that I jumped. But having done a few MOOCs I realised that I was getting depressed because I was not being intellectually challenged. My work is now calm, and not all-consuming. I need something to buzz me up a bit, without the accompanying stress. MOOCs are fabulous for this, as the challenge is purely for personal development. I have also done a couple of work related MOOCs which I can log for CPD points (continuous professional development), required for membership of my professional association.

Lesley Fri, Feb 26th 2016 @ 11:55am

Susannah. I completely agree about part of depression being related to not enough intellectual challenge. Whenever I learn a new language I feel better and motivated. It is my drug of choice but have managed to end up not in good paid work as I have burnt out a few times. Not good at strategy at all. May have some form of ADHD methinks.

MaisyG Fri, Feb 26th 2016 @ 8:48am

Am in 4th week of Literature and mental health at Warwick university, it's brilliant. Only 4-5 hours a week, really interesting and not too demanding. Just right amount of interaction and thought provoking content. Very professional and inspiring course leaders. I'm signed up for two more in subsequent months - The many faces of dementia, and Understanding, anxiety, depression and CBT, can't wait - God, I almost sound enthusiastic, it's a miracle... I've promised myself the next one won't be about mental health!

Susannah Fri, Feb 26th 2016 @ 8:52am

I know just how you feel, MaisyG - I see a title and before I know it, I've gone and enrolled!

LillyPet Fri, Feb 26th 2016 @ 8:57am

Hi Suzannah,
Funnily enough I heard about MOOCs for the first time this week at my daughter's school. Sounds great and manageble. I like the idea of learning for pleasure without any pressure.
I recently went on a course about sensory processing and social communication difficulties. I was fascinated by the brain research about the connections between the frontal thinking area and the basic instinct fight or flight area at the base. I'd like to learn more about how repeated thoughts worries fears actually affect the brain.
If we are literally reinforcing those connections between worrying thoughts and fear responses repeatedly over time, maybe as soon as we become aware of it starting, we could nip it in the bud as it were and tell ourselves a different story. "I am better than I was..." "I am determined to... "I want to feel..."
Affirmations have felt false to me, though I'm sure work for others, but I'm finding that real positive thoughts that I know for sure are true, give me a sense of relief when I step in with them.

Over thinking? Moi? :) Thanks for your inspiring blog Suzannah! Hugs all round:) LP xx

Susannah Fri, Feb 26th 2016 @ 9:01am

Thank you for your very interesting thoughts, LP. Your course sounds like it had the magic ingredients of both interesting and useful :-) And yes, I certainly agree about the 'manageable' aspect. 4 weeks of a few hours can be manageable - but there is no pressure to keep to their timetable - you can watch the videos whenever you want, spreading it over months if you so wish.

Mary Fri, Feb 26th 2016 @ 9:12am

Thank you so much for this Susannah! As you know, I am laid up with a broken ankle at present and can only do stuff based around sitting with the ankle elevated higher than my heart! But my brain is not ill (as it is when I'm suffocating under the weight of the black dog - he's sitting by my side at present but seems to be obeying my commands to "sit and stay" fairly well), I have decided to learn Spanish for my next holiday to Tenerife and am using Duolingo on my phone. Just fifteen minutes a day and again, it's free. How fantastic is it that the precious gift of education can be ours for free! (And then I wonder about how the people who developed the course were paid.... because we all need to eat!), Do you think that we Moodscopers tend to overthink things? (Duh!)

Susannah Fri, Feb 26th 2016 @ 12:22pm

What a positive way to deal with physical incapacity. To test your language learning, you might like to take a peek at www.memrise.com We are so fortunate to have these resources at our fingertips.

Mary Fri, Feb 26th 2016 @ 9:20am

Oh - and this one is for the Gardener (looking forward to reading your contribution for today later - your thoughts yesterday on making a new home were so touching), thank you for the background on Shihardi: that just makes him more magical!

Lynne Fri, Feb 26th 2016 @ 9:57am

I am halfway through 6 weeks of Literature and Mental Health via Futurelearn. It has been painful at times but I really think it has been both interesting and helpful. It has encouraged me to engage with the Comments section (I am not in any social media) and so also with this blog when I saw MOOCs mentioned. Best wishes to all.

Susannah Fri, Feb 26th 2016 @ 12:23pm

Lovely to meet you, Lynne.

Ella Fri, Feb 26th 2016 @ 10:28am

Thanks for this Susannah. One of my favourites is The Open University's openlearn resources which are a mix of articles, videos, audio, as well as free short courses. There's loads to explore here. Some of the material is associated with (or originally sprung from) TV programmes - so there may be a series you've watched but didn't realise there were additional resources online. http://www.open.edu/openlearn/
Here's a link to the full list of free short courses http://www.open.edu/openlearn/free-courses

Susannah Fri, Feb 26th 2016 @ 12:30pm

Ooh. Thanks for that, Ella. Sounds well worth a peek.

Julie Fri, Feb 26th 2016 @ 11:21am

As 5 fruit and veg are part of the physical recommendations per day, learning is one of the five a day for good mental health, the other 4 being excercise, staying connected, giving something to another and being Mindful as seen on wheelofwellbeing.org.
I can't recommend futurelearn.com enough and look forward to discovering the other MooCs suggested above, thanks guys.

Susannah Fri, Feb 26th 2016 @ 12:24pm

I love the idea of 5 a day for mental health - none of us are too old to learn. Thank you for that, Julie.

Lesley Fri, Feb 26th 2016 @ 11:43am

I love MOOCs as long as I don't start doing too many and splintering my focus. Two favourites are Coursera.org which includes a fantastic course on "Preventing Chronic Pain: A Human Systems Approach" which I completed last April and revolutionised my understanding on long term pain and the factors involved in its genesis and management. Should be taught in schools from 16 years. Khan Academy also excellent. Just Goggle them if you are interested. Back to my Biomedicine revision which as a 53 year old I can manage thanks to many YouTube videos. What I need is a course which helps me make decisions as I indecisive - a habit I now understand that developed as a result of stress, anxiety and depression not attended to properly 25 years ago. Sunshine to all of you. xx

Susannah Fri, Feb 26th 2016 @ 12:29pm

Hi Lesley. I am toying with the idea of engaging in more formal study, and you are helping me along that route. Thank you. I did find a problem solving MOOC, but it really wasn't up to scratch, so I wouldn't recommend it! I do understand the problem of attempting too much - at one time I had 4 MOOCs on the go! I now apply some caution before hitting the enrol button.

Norman Fri, Feb 26th 2016 @ 4:15pm

Susannah hi! is there a MOOC on getting a second date??

Susannah Fri, Feb 26th 2016 @ 4:28pm

Ha ha! Would that be Successful Negotiation or Influencing People? ;-)

Susannah Fri, Feb 26th 2016 @ 4:30pm

I just checked out Open Learn as suggested by Ella above and see that there is The importance of interpersonal skills I wonder whether that would be of genuine use, Norman?

Norman Fri, Feb 26th 2016 @ 8:36pm

Neither it seems!

Norman Fri, Feb 26th 2016 @ 8:41pm

I have a lot of female friends and I've been told that female employees enjoy working for me more than other male bosses, so I don't think that is it.

Rebecca Fri, Feb 26th 2016 @ 8:13pm

Thanks for this Susannah, going to check it out.x

Anonymous Fri, Feb 26th 2016 @ 11:56pm

Thank you so much for this Susannah! Had never heard of it but am now signed up for a course starting on Monday. My choice "Critical Thinking"! Love Alice x

Susannah Sat, Feb 27th 2016 @ 8:07am

Fantastic :-) I hope you enjoy it. You'll probably find that the videos are available for you to start watching...

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