Principles of Written English is an online introductory level university course designed for learners of English. The course has attracted 40,000 registrants around the world. It is offered by Berkley University of California for free through EdX. EdX is a non-profit created by founding partners Harvard and MIT whose mission is to bring the best of higher education to students of all ages anywhere in the world, wherever there is Internet access ( http://edx.org ). The course will continue five weeks and includes a required final essay.
Luckily, I am one of the registered students of the course and this article is all about my first-week experience with the course. This experience with BerkleyX ColWri2.1x led me become familiar with MOOC (Massive Open Online Course) in general; get to know the specific features of the course; and acquire new friends around the world.
Becoming Familiar with MOOC
MOOC is an online course aimed at unlimited participation and open access via the web. In addition to traditional course materials such as videos, readings, and problem sets, MOOCs provide interactive user forums that help build a community for the students, professors, and teaching assistants (TAs). MOOCs are a recent development in distance education (Lewin, T., 2013).
When I joined EdX, the site recommended registering with edX Demo course. It is “a fun and interactive course designed to help” new students “explore the edX learning experience”. They say, “It is perfect to take before you start your course”.
Inside this demo course, I found the “sort of interactive tools” available including “videos, readings, interactive questions” and so on. Also, I come to know the different ways of answering the questions, “with hints and grading techniques”. It even kept track of my progress in the demo. Mastering this edX demo course is a huge time saver for new students who are new to the system and/or the courses.
After finishing the demo, I registered with College Writing 2x: Principles of Written English offered by University of California. It is an ongoing course—at the time of this writing. So far, we’ve finished week 1 tasks—the readings, videos, and homework. During this time, much of what we’ve covered related to grammar review. So no difficulty at all but the review is still necessary for the course.
New Friends around the World
Truth be told, this course was designed to enable each and every student to interact with the other students. The course has a discussion forum; Facebook page,https://www.facebook.com/groups/CWP2X/ ; and Twitter, @maggiesokolik for the teacher and a hash tag of #cwp2x for the course.
It has come to my surprise that this course enabled me to be friend with my English language heroes. I used to listen to VOA’s wordmaster program in 2006-2007s and I was a huge fan of both Avi Arditti and Rossane Skirble. After I followed Maggie Sokolik—our course teacher—on Facebook, I tried to see who she follows. And there I saw my teachers, Avi and Rossane. Wonderful!
Also, there are some other high profile people that this course introduced me including Evelin Pena Jerez, a Venezualan EFL teacher; Javad Nickpayam, CEO and founder of Dropfun Co. ltd.; and Anxo Perez Anon, a journalist from Spain.
Getting to Know the Course’s Specific Features and It’s Resource
I had no difficulty to navigate the course’s content since I had learnt it in the edX demo course. So what included in the course’s navigation were almost features specifically related to the course.
One specific feature of the course that worth’s mentioning is that the course has 40 course facilitators around the world. Also, the course has 5 teaching assistants. And every part of the course includes help topics and tips much to our satisfaction.
On the other hand, the course is resourceful—whether readings, videos, and/or homework. Only during week 1, we reviewed grammar terminology that specifically relate to grammar, parts of speech/parts of writing, and parts of the sentence. Every section contains its own readings, videos, and interactive assignments.
Wonderful! What a fascinating first-week I had with Berkley UC’s writing course. The course is truly user-friendly and there’s nothing more I can ask for the admins.
It made me aware of a current trend of education that is based on MOOC, a recent development in the field of education. Also, I had the benefit of learning how to navigate an online course. And this was a joyful experience. Finally, I have new friends around the world including my English language heroes and other top-profile persons. Some of them are from Pakistan, Venezuela and Spain. This course made geographical differences non-existent. Happy to be part of College of Writing 2x: Principles of Writing.
3 – edX Demo course page https://www.edx.org/course/edx/edxdemo101/edx-demo/1038
4 – College Writing Principles of Written English https://courses.edx.org/courses/BerkeleyX/ColWri2.1x/3T2013/info