Sunday, September 8, 2013

A MOOC leads to surprises - sometimes

People talk about education being a good thing, but what happens in school is not necessarily the best thing as it would appear. If you take a course in Economics, for example, the best thing that might happen is that you meet someone who, later, hires you into her company - or you marry!

The Massively Open Online Courses (MOOC) which have lately come into being are great except that you rarely, if ever, sit next to someone in a lecture all. You usually do these by yourself. It doesn't have to be that way. I enrolled in Coursera's Gamification, taught by a law professor at the Wharton School of Business. Immediately there was a weekly Meetup group every Saturday, so we talked about gamification.

The last MOOC I took was Songwriting, taught by Pat Pattison of Berklee College in California. It took more work than I could handle, and my handicap was that I never had music lessons. I survived five of the six week course, however, before I flunked myself out.

And, in the same way as school is like a box of chocolates ('you never know what you're gonna get"), you never know what will happen when you experience a MOOC. In my case, when Pattison assigned lyrics, I got words as my subject from my story, the Emeralda, a story about a doomed ship full of etching presses.

I came up with one song to satisfy the recording requirement. The surprise came when the exercise was the solution to a problem in the back story: A pet monkey! this led to my storyboard for that scene, the song being the subtext. I made a sketch and uploaded it with the canned music background (it was required) and my singing the song.

You can hear my one-minute song by clicking on this link.

My plan is to be part of a MOOC on printmaking - either as a teacher or someone in its team, and I know that whoever enrolls is going to get a lot more than what they expect.