Completing a MOOC! By @MissWeightman

Self-initiated online learning


I recently successfully completed a MOOC (Massive Open Online Course) called Assessment for Learning in STEM Teaching. It was lead by Dylan Williams (co-author of the Inside the Black Box) and Christine Harrison (Chair on Association of Science Education) and provided by the University of Leeds via The course looked at intended dialogue, hinge point questions (HPQ), eliciting evidence from learners and how to differentiate and move learning forward using this evidence.

This is a re-blog post originally posted by Ruth Weightman and published with kind permission.

The original post can be found here.

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OnlineLearningMOOCI have already written a post about intended dialogue and am in the process of writing about HPQs, so here I will take you through the ups and downs of completing a MOOC.

The Advantages.

I found this free course very engaging and easy to follow. Weekly activities were available online which mainly consisted of watching videos, reading, commenting and replying to other teachers thoughts in the forum. I also completed quizzes and made my own HPQ which I received feedback on. Activities were varied and the course had a good pace to move through and reflect on many aspects of AfL in STEM teaching.

Because the course was completed online I was able to do parts of it when it was convenient for me. I can also access the course to go over certain activities and refine my understanding. I was emailed reminders and notified when somebody commented on one of my comments which meant 15 minutes here and there and a good hour or two session when I was ready kept me reflecting on and developing ideas.

The course leaders, Dylan and Chris, are highly regarded in Science teaching and in the study of AfL and I felt I was learning from some of the best practitioners around at the moment. The course also had mentors who commented on our comments providing insight, advice and links which would help us.

The Disadvantages.

Although the course was well structured and supported, there was one massive drawback - other people completing the course. Unfortunately many people seem to think an online course means an easy certificate for their portfolio. I saw people copying others comments and putting them up as their own more than once. Other course mates told me they had peer assessed HPQs that been copied from the internet (one person marked 3 people’s questions which were word for word the same). I also recieved some one word feedback on my work after spending over an hour feeding back to 2 people. It was frustrating.

I also, because of the reason above, feel the $30 ‘certificate of participation’ redundant. I would have bought one but by knowing so many people bought them who did not work for the course I felt my depth of understanding and improved practice in the classroom were worth more than any certificate.


I will be doing another MOOC with in a few weeks and I look forward to it. There are definitely advantages to be had and I genuinely feel my teaching has improved as a result of my completion of the course. I would advise all teachers to complete MOOCs to deepen and take control of their CPD.

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