Provider: The Open University @FutureLearn (UK) [course page]
Lecture/s: David Rothery
Subject: Science / Astrophysics
Delivery: Intake-based asynchronous study
Recommended Load: 3 hours / week for 8 weeks
Completion Date: 05/11/2014
Description: David Rothery and his team of experts discuss the history of space exploration, what we do and don’t know about Moons in our solar system, the role that space exploration plays in the establishment of other hubs of human civilization, the obstacles that scientists face in furthering knowledge of other celestial bodies, and the role that celestial bodies such as the Moon have played on human art and culture throughout the centuries.
Strengths: The course brought together a bunch of different resources, ranging from the Virtual Microscope, archival footage, interviews with experts, images from the notebooks of figures such as Galileo, Google+ hangouts, games etc.. and uses a layered approach because science relies upon the building of knowledge and invention over time. This also avoided me feeling like I was being bombarded by a bunch of information because laying the groundwork also helped put the information into context.
Though the course itself doesn’t require a background in physics and geology, some knowledge can assist in learning the concepts much quicker. You don’t need to be a nerd to find the material interesting, just some curiosity about history and science. It is this same curiosity about the world beyond our own planet that inspired our ancestors to take those various steps needed to take us from simple tools to creating vessels that now venture to the edge of our solar system in order to gather data.
Weaknesses: No free cake. Seriously, they didn’t even post a recipe. 😀
Conclusion: I got a lot out of the course. The resources helped connect past and present events together. The games and external tools were pretty neat as well. I also got a lot out of the periodic Google Hangouts as well even if I wasn’t able to watch them live. I felt engaged and learnt a lot in the process. As a result, I frequently find myself recalling traits of certain Moons at odd times. The course also made me even more optimistic about space exploration.