Monday, 22 January 2018

Take Aways from a FutureLearn Course

An inveterate MOOCer, I recently signed up to a three course writing programme with the University of Reading on the FutureLearn platform. I completed the beginner programme back in August, and in October started on the next level (here). I have written about my experiences on this particular course here and here.

As the last tasks on the course, we usually just get to say thanks to the moderators, complete the course survey, then pootle off into the sunset. I decided that I would reflect on what I had learned instead.

The course took me 8 weeks to complete - as I needed to take a couple of work breaks - over the five week course. As I went through, I printed to pdf - or downloaded - all the course resources. Where I had pdfed materials, I had popped text notes on them detailing what was useful, recording my discussion board comments, and linking ideas to future applications for my own learning (yes: I like to get value for money out of learning!).

So, to sum up the course and provide feedback to the co-ordinators on the final discussion board of the course, I went back through my notes, and made a list of all the things that I found useful, and fed it back:
  1. Credible source questions: authority, audience, currency, accuracy and viewpoint ('agenda', I would call this last one - then if we replaced currency with au courant... or another word starting with 'a' meaning timeliness, we would have five As! And I think this may be worth another idea all on its own...)
  2. The SQ3R model
  3. Considering the building blocks of text: paragraph, sentence, clause, phrase, and word.
  4. Paragraph structures: topic sentence leader, supporting sentences, concluding - or bridging sentence. 
  5. Body: working through situation – problem – solution.
  6. Academic writing features: describing the situation; outlining the problem; considering solutions; evaluating solutions.
  7. Structuring the introduction: segue from general to main issue, provide evidence, thesis statement, outline structure.
    And the conclusion: restating the main points, restating the thesis statement, and future implications/predictions.
  8. Four questions to ask about tenses:
    a. Does the verb relate to the present, past or future?
    b. If the action or state started in the past, is there a present effect?
    c. Does the verb related to a completed action or state in the past with no present effect?
    d. Should I use an active or passive form?
It was quite surprising how much you can pack away in a few weeks. I feel very lucky: I have been able to piggy-back on those who pay because they want the certification, while I audit the materials and suck up the learning.

What a deal!


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