A MOOC course is a hybrid between an asynchronous (self-paced) and a synchronous course. The course must be completed in a number of weeks. At the same time, you can basically go at your own pace during these weeks, but that can be a dangerous path to follow. So, how can you avoid being left behind during the course? Many would say time management. That is true, but there are also some other skills you also need to master.
- Prioritize tasks: a MOOC course has lots of information to digest, don’t fool yourself into believing that the first thing you do is watch the lecture videos. The first day the MOOC opens (or the first day you log in) read the syllabus and familiarize yourself with the course pages, the course navigation and where all that important information is in the course pages. Then you can watch the videos, some course have notes to download, if you can, download the notes and print them out. This will help you in taking notes when you watch the lectures. DO NOT attempt to take the quizzes just yet or start working in the assignments unless the instructor tells you to do so. If you are able to see the quiz questions and assignment descriptions beforehand you may do so, but I really doubt you will know what they are talking about at this stage.
- Distribute the work: this is where that time management skill comes in handy. The course usually has a series of lecture videos to watch during the week, distribute the time to watch these videos during the week. After watching a video, do not attempt to do something else. Believe me, you have done plenty. You may take a break for a few minutes or a couple of hours but don’t try to attempt another task immediately. Also, dedicate time to work in the assignments and quizzes at different times when you watch lectures. You need to spend some time in the discussion forums as well, plan this at a different time from other tasks, if during you assignment work you have questions, make a note of them and then try to resolve them during your discussion forum time.
- Spend time offline: this is especially true for reading assignments, if you try to do your reading while you are online, you will be tempted to watch cat videos, check your Facebook page, your tweeter feed, etc. Work on your assignments offline too.
- Play well with others: participate in those discussion forums and give a hand to your fellow student, this will be beneficial to you in the long run. Also, think about the questions or answers you want to post. I suggest you write first on a blank document in your favorite text processor, then you just copy and paste it in the discussion forum box.
- Don’t chew more than you can swallow: unless you are a full time student and you don’t have to work for a living, don’t take more than one course at the same time. One is plenty enough, especially if your days are filled with other responsibilities.