Firstly, let’s get the jargon out of the way: what is a MOOC? It’s just an acronym, standing for Massive Open Online Course. Anyone can enrol, there’s no limit on numbers. Having seen other people on Twitter chatting about their experiences, I decided it was time to dip my toes in the water and find out what it’s like to participate in a MOOC. I started by looking at the list on Coursera and picked out Statistics 1.
Next, let’s tackle the obvious question: given that I teach statistics, why am I doing an introduction to statistics course?
Obviously I’m hoping to learn something new – even from a basic course. In particular, I’m looking forward to learning how to use R (a statistical programming language), something I’ve meaning to look at for a while.
I’m also hoping to pick up some ideas that I can use in my own teaching. Towards the end of last year I got a lot of requests for help from A Level students who were struggling to use statistics effectively in their work for other subjects. I quickly realised that the statistics module I was teaching as part of A level maths doesn’t really help with that. Having a positive impact is (obviously) about more than just delivering exam results, so I want to find ways to support these students. The course instructor for Statistics 1, Professor Andrew Conway, is a psychology lecturer, so I think his perspective on the language and use of statistics will be very interesting.
(I’ll update this post as I progress through the course.)
Photo: Crowd by James Cridland on Flickr. Used under Creative Commons Licence.