My first encounter with Open Education was when I enrolled for a ‘Public policy challenges of the 21st century’ course on Coursera in the year 2015. I thought I was familiar with what to expect because I had in the previous year done an online course in research methods which required payment first to access. Also, I assumed the content is available for reading but restricted to download or reuse. I later discovered that 85% of the learning materials were in video format and my worry was whether I will be able to complete the course with internet data challenges. The good news was that all files were open to being downloaded which I did whenever I had an opportunity to access the data.
The motivation was that I was able to download the learning resources and revisit them whenever I needed. That was something new to me. Also, I was able to access a sponsored certificate which again I didn’t know can happen prior to enrolling. I thought just like the previous course in research methods, I will be granted to the learning resources for free up to a certain level. To date, I have interacted with Open Education online content on Coursera, edX, Openlearning and FutureLearn.
My first impressions for Open-Education
a) Access to educational materials at no cost: Open education availed an opportunity for me to learn at zero cost.
b)The course discussion contributions with a globe perspective: The diversity of the participants created a pool of experiences from every part of the continent which I had access to from Uganda.
c) Continuous learning: I still got feedback on discussions for a course done already. The curiosity in me always pushed me to go back and read what ‘future learners’ on the course have contributed to my post. By the way, curiosity never killed the cat-they lied!
Frankly speaking, I hard mixed feeling about the method/pedagogy in the first 2 weeks of the course but then the discussions where involving and I was lost in the ‘open’-I guess!
- The tendency to miss out on the discussion which happened every day-In a week, my participation featured 3 days at most.
- Challenge (a) was caused by a lack of access to internet data on a daily basis-I had no regular job to be certain of data access.
- Access to data wasn’t a guarantee to access the online course. Data speed often weighed-in to curtail me from reaching my course site. It was annoying, stressing and agitating experience to be aware of your data which is expiring in the next few hours and cannot be used to access what you want.
- Complete engagement during discussions was a challenge to me. You don’t know how your point will be perceived by someone you haven’t physically engaged with, so you choose to keep in the middle lane.
- At that time, I wasn’t comfortable with the idea of having no course facilitator/mentor/guide.