This MOOC (Massive Open Online Course) entitled “Exploring the Student Affairs in Higher Education Profession” may just be the closest experience to being in a formal student affairs course for those who have not taken a course in student affairs and higher education. This is one of the reasons why I chose to enroll in this MOOC. While I have more than a decade of student affairs professional experience in my formal role as IT staff. Through volunteer positions (FYE discussion leader, summer bridge program instructor, org advisor), it is only through self-directed learning that I have been able to learn about some of the fundamental principles/theories and history of student affairs. I’ve always believed that to be an effective student affairs IT professional; I need to have the practical experience and theoretical knowledge to be able to contribute to the mission of my university and the purpose of student affairs, which I understand as creating the environment and providing support towards holistic student development and learning.

There are other reasons why I am in this MOOC, which include the following:

  • A better understanding of MOOC. I need to experience MOOCs firsthand to determine the values and pitfalls of this form of online learning. I read enough articles about the merit and shortcomings of MOOCs, and it’s personally intriguing. As a higher ed professional, online learning (including MOOC) is an area I need to be more knowledgeable about to better prepare myself and my department to provide infrastructure and services to support online learners, instructors, and student service staff. In addition, I am interested in learning theories, computer-mediate communication, and how technologies factor in/impact learning and communication processes.
  • Create connections with other students. Much of my “alternative professional development” has been through social media, mobile, and e-books, as well as my virtual Professional Learning Network (PLN)  consisting of folks I met through Twitter. These folks share my professional interest in student affairs/higher ed, technology, and leadership. Beyond the resources (videos, documents, web pages, etc.) provided by the course,  I expect that the biggest value I will receive from this MOOC is the new connections and interactions I will have formed during this course is over. I can’t think of any other venue that provides me with a platform to discuss with many aspiring and current student affairs professionals. Tap into their mindsets would be one of the biggest values from this experience.

I completed the first module (out of eight) this evening, and since students can go through the course at their own pace, I hope to complete it in the next few weeks. Given that this is my first MOOC, I am excited about this experience and to be able to learn about student affairs in a topic I am comfortable with.

What’s your experience with MOOCs? What’s your take on it?