For the last three years, I worked at British Council Riyadh. For various reasons other than that we were in Saudi Arabia, those three years were fairly painful. The Council in Riyadh had a pitifully poorly trained management which made working for them like walking through sludge!
So when we decided to leave BC Riyadh, despite having fabulous offers in hand (and in Saigon – which we both absolutely love), my husband and I decided to take a break and recoup. We wanted to spend time with our baby as a family and watch her grow, and we wanted to grow as a couple. We wanted to write – both of us love to write beyond blogs and emails – those stories that were screaming to be told but are hard to put down into words while working full-time jobs. We wanted to spend time with family and friends in India and reconnect with them (me) and grow new bonds (the husband).
For years, I have regularly scouted EdX and Coursera for great courses I would love to take. More often than not, I would find the time to take only half a module or so before something came up at work that consumed all my time and energy. But while I’m on this sabbatical, I have the time to study a bit, seriously.
The first course I enrolled for this year is a University of Michigan MOOC called Leading Ambitious Teaching and Learning. I’m halfway through the course now and have really enjoyed the learning process. The videos and the content are engaging and delivered well, and they really prompt teachers to make connections with their contexts.
Unfortunately, the forums and discussion boards are neither interactive nor well-moderated which makes for a rather isolated learning process. That is the downside of most MOOCs though and of distance-learning and the whole model of MOOCs needs to be rethought to design learning as a social process of co-engagement and cooperation – incidentally two aspects of ambitious learning and teaching that this course seems to highlight the most.
In a few posts to come, I will post a series of notes and thoughts that emerged from this MOOC on ambitious teaching and learning. Perhaps the teachers among you may be enthused to head over to EdX and enroll in this course too!