Sunday, December 9, 2012

A review of the infographics MOOC

My first MOOC, an introduction to data visualization and infographics for non-designers, is almost over. I will soon review the last projects. The second edition begins in January, and there are almost 3,400 people enrolled already. I was preparing to write a postmortem, but The Global Sociology Blog has been faster. The image on the left is one of the exercises made by the mysterious Sociology Professor himself.

The amazing thing is that most reflections in that article match my own feelings about what went right —and, more importantly, about what went wrong— during the past six weeks. It was a rewarding experience for some students, it seems, and also for me, as this is an experiment I really wanted to perform as a first step toward certain long-term goals. I'll try to learn from my own rookie mistakes.

I was going to quote extensively from the review, but I prefer you to read it. Let me just bring up this paragraph:

"This MOOC, I think, defeats a lot of the negative stereotypes about the format: no one is going to take this MOOC and test out of anything. It is not going to steal students away from colleges and universities. But it certainly has imparted skills to people who wanted and needed them. The fact that the course was not populated by college students should also appease some fears. (...). The course is not a substitute for a full-fledged curriculum on the subject. It is a bite-sized introduction, and a very good one at that, but a limited experience nonetheless."

That's exactly how I feel about MOOCs, and about what their role in higher education may be. I've done two as a student, in Coursera and Udacity. They were workshops, not real college-level courses, and I am completely fine with that. I tried to bring that spirit to my MOOC: You can learn the basics in it but, to get real-world experience and become a data visualization and infographics professional, you may need to consider enrolling in our programs at the University of Miami...