Provider: UQ (University of Queensland) @EdX [course page]
Lecture/s: Jason Tangen, Matthew Thompson & Emma MacKenzie
Subject: Science / Psychology
Delivery: Intake-based asynchronous study
Recommended Load: 2 hours / week for 12 weeks
Completion Date: 06/03/2014
Description: The Science of Everyday Thinking discusses the psychological rather than intellectual reasons behind the numerous errors that human beings make. It follows the evidence for how situation can greatly affect our decision-making on a subconscious level and also offers some tools for improving learning and avoiding some pesky cognitive errors.
Strengths: As I have likely mentioned before, I have a fascination with Psychology. This course approached the study of Psychology by discussing something close to home: Everyday Thinking. So often we feel that we must be altogether different from others, but I found that talking about the similarities in how the human species thinks allowed me to feel a lot less detached from others. We all use mental shortcuts, we all make cognitive mistakes, we are all human beings living on this same blue ball floating in space. It was refreshing to study Psychology in the framework of the “normal” rather than the “abnormal” or “maladaptive”.
The material covered runs alongside the material being studied by the on-campus version of the course, with a video of some of the on-campus discussions being posted each Thursday. I found this added a bit more insight into how these other students were approaching their study and offered some neat comments to boot. This gave online students such as myself the feeling that they were not alone and that there were part of a wider community.
As for material, the course made use of videos, discussion boards (very active, and many on-campus students also made use of them which freaking rocked!), and quizzes for each work week followed by a more weighted final exam. Uncut versions of each interview was also made available. At the end of each week there was a page for extra content, such as readings, videos and suggested activities. Though this bonus content wasn’t compulsory, it did help discuss the elements covered during that week in further detail. There was also a week off in the middle to allow students to catch up, which I took advantage of.
At the end of the course the lecturers pose students with a challenge to make a positive change to the world on any scale. We are a part of the world and are given some tools and knowledge to do something positive within it. Extra marks were offered for folks that posted videos about their project, which resulted in a lot of cool ideas coming to fruition in just a short time. I wasn’t able to post a video on my own work-in-progress which is my ongoing studies of different subjects based on the material covered in week 5 on Learning to Learn. I won’t go into further detail on the methods, but it does help a LOT.
Weaknesses: No midgets juggling disgruntled mutant Capuchin Monkeys… And no penguins… 😉
Conclusion: When I first saw the listing for this course on the EdX website, I jumped at the chance to enrol. I know of a few people that have studied there and found myself quite fascinated every time that I drove past the campus during visits to Brisbane. Studying a home-grown MOOC on Psychology was quite a selling point for me, and I was stoked to have it as my first EdX course as well. The interface works for me and the content made good use of the format.
It was well worth the time spent, though I am kicking myself for not putting in some more effort in on the course earlier in the intake. I was seriously worried that I wouldn’t be able to pass, but somehow managed to scratch my way out of the mess that my early slackness had caused by doing well on the final exam. Let’s face it, when you go into a new endeavour it pays to avoid unnecessary distractions.
I highly recommend this course for anyone with an interest in Psychology and the human condition. As a part of the human species we have inherited the strengths and weaknesses that come with each successive generation. However, one of those strengths is reasoning which if employed can lessen the affects of some of those weaknesses and also be able to make more positive changes within this big blue ball and beyond. The question is: Are you up for the challenge?