I had the best intentions. Truly, I did.
When I first heard about MOOCs, the concept intrigued me so I decided to register for the Coursera Gamification course. Imagine my excitement starting a course with thousands of others around the world. I made a commitment that no matter how hard it was, I was going to stick it out. I was going to finish the course even if it was free. To my credit, I did.
But a few months later, I signed on for the How to Reason and Argue MOOC on Coursera and this time it was different. Initially I was amused by the Monty Python video snippets but the more it delved into how to analyse an argument, the more I realised that there was a lot more than meets the eye. And we’re only into week 2…10 more to go!
Today during my lunch break, up to video lecture 18, the lecturer dissected a paragraph and highlighted words that were considered to be argumentative markers, evaluative, assuring or guarding statements. He talked through the words and sentences, he deliberated what they could mean and how the author argued his point. My screen was awash with annotations and it was at that point the realisation hit me, “Helen, you’re not going to finish this course are you?”
It had to come to this. I’m a MOOC dropout.
(I wonder if there’s a tee-shirt on Cafe Press for this?)
The cynic would say that I should reason and argue why I should continue the course but if anyone knows me, I’m not a person who pontificates, deliberates and reasons for long periods of time before she makes up her mind. Mostly, I go with my gut and it told me (the doubt crept in lecture 2.1 on Argument Markers) that this is not the right course for me – at this point in time in my life.
Of course, I can say the usual excuses such as I work full-time and cannot find the time to view the videos but in all honesty, I think it’s the content for me now.
It’s too deep (should I be using ‘too’ as it may be considered a negative evaluative word – if you’re reading this Professor Walter Sinnott-Armstrong please don’t read too much into it as I actually mean it to be a positive evaluative word describing your content – and I’m smiling while I’m saying it), it requires concentration and reflection. I can’t do it justice by viewing videos in my lunch hour or in-between other commitments. There are too many other distractions.
And no, just because I’ve got a Greek background does not give me a licence to reason and argue like Aristotle. I wish it did, but alas, no.
If you’re thinking of doing this course, don’t let my post stop you but think whether you do have the time to commit to learning. What I have seen so far has been enjoyable. It’s already got me thinking about how sentences are structured to create arguments and how to pick out people who don’t have an argument for what they are proposing. Sure the course may be free but it doesn’t mean that I didn’t want to finish it but I want to do it justice.
So for now, I will quietly bow out of the How To Reason and Argue Course and who knows, in the near future when I can commit the time and the focus to the content, I will revisit.