MOOCy Monday — New Year, New Course

moocMOOCs, Massive Open Online Courses, were initially the reason I started this blog. It’s been meandering off topic a bit — cough — but MOOCs are very much an important part of my life ever since I discovered them last spring (I’m always late, they’ve been around for a while).

With my dog Jack’s accident and death, I lost track for a while, but by now, I really am back in the mood for learning new things. And I’ve signed up for many courses, more than I could ever actively participate in.

So, why do I sign up to so many? Because I’m afraid that they will disappear and I won’t have the opportunity to peruse them later. By signing up, I  can download the lectures, download the captions for the lectures, and additional material. I also get access to recommended reading, to discussions and more. Even if I won’t be able to participate in the course, if I have access to all that information, I can always, in my own time, work through the material. I find this a marvellous opportunity and am utterly grateful for that. I initially started out with coursera.org, but by now have explored several other providers of online courses. There is so much there, I hardly know where to start…So, how do I chose the courses I’m taking? I don’t need to take any for work or career, I have a good and secure job and have been at it for a while. So what else? I’m certainly not the model client for these online courses, I’m one of these older lifelong learners who hop on every opportunity to learn all the things I never had the opportunity to learn. And I’m interested in many things. But that’s not what makes me chose my courses. My desire for creative fiction writing is what makes me chose my courses.

I’m sure many of you have heard the phrase, “Write what you know.” Sensible advice, isn’t it? Sure, but sadly, I constantly feel that I don’t know enough. And so I take the courses I think will help me the most with the two genres I love to write in: Fantasy and Science Fiction.That makes me take courses about history, astronomy, imagining other earths and similar courses. They are excitingly intersting, and just listening to the lectures spawns many ideas.

Not being a native speaker adds to the insecurity, and so I take English writing and grammar courses wherever I can find them.

Did you ever try your hand at world building? My writing life started out in fan fiction, writing happily about characters and worlds someone else has created is a lot of fun, and, contrary to common perception, can produce some outstanding results. However, you’re stuck in someone else’s world, always on the brink of illegality. stammering phrases about fair use and not trying to sell stuff and the like. But eventually you want to move on and write about your own ideas. And for that you need characters and world building. And that, I find, is very difficult. A lot more difficult (difficulter and difficulter) than I initially thought when I fantasized about my first own fictional world (which was explored in a NaNoWriMo and put on ice since).

So, to get a better grip on what makes us tick and how different characters and temperaments work, I soak up everything about psychology and philosophy I can get my hands on, too.

To make things short: right now I’ve started a course: “Learning how to learn” which is a four week course and very, very interesting. I started listening in on Introduction to Astronomy and already know that I need to invest a lot more effort in that, I got lost at Azimuth already… and I will actively participate in “Think Again”,  a course I started last fall, but stopped when I was invited to CTA for English Composition I. Think Again is about reasoning and making a good argument. If you can do that, you can also see through good and bad arguments in other people’s publications, and I find this a very useful skill to have.

So, that’s it about MOOCs for today. I plan to write about MOOCs every Monday, if I can. You may have seen the change in design of this blog (if you actually read it here, and not through a reader)–I can’t get enough of NASA images and they, like nothing else, illustrate what my flights of fancy are about. I took off some of the widgets, since now the widgets are in the footer and not in a side bar. I’ll make separate pages for some of the content that was in the widgets, like the community, and the blogs I visit.

So, the MOOCy Monday is part of my planned posting scheme which I’ll hopefully be able to maintain.
On Wednesdays, I’ll chatter about writing: Writerly Wednesday. On Fridays, I’ll chat about everything and nothing: Flighty Friday — and the weekend is reserved for the pets. I’ll post about the kitty on occasion on a Caturday Saturday, and on doggy and pet stuff in general on Woofy Weekend.

That should keep me busy. When will I find the time to write ‘that novel’ I want to write (publish? who said anything about publishing?) — hopefully in-between blog posts. As many writing coaches and coaching web sites suggest: with practice comes more writing. I’ve experienced this, too. When I write regularly, it goes easy. When I don’t, words don’t want to come… let them come, but not necessarily on the blog. Almost 1000 words, we wouldn’t want to have a tldr; here, do we? So that should be enough. See you on Wednesday. 🙂

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