Remember MOOCs are Massive Open Online Courses. A smorgasbord of learning about practically any topic you can imagine offered by the world’s best universities. Generally For Free! My friend, the consummate student, turned me onto this singular resource last fall. I jumped in and signed up for two classes in subjects of ongoing interest. I am sorry to say I finished neither, partly because a lot of late fall stuff of life. I loved the lectures from Princeton on world history; I was in a state of some confusion with the lectures on Kierkegaard from the University of Copenhagen but I knew they would be excellent exercises in thinking if only I could focus. The other reason I so easily dropped the project was that it all felt a little bit like the Montgomery Ward catalog that arrived every spring and fall when I was a country kid in Minnesota. I picked out six or seven outfits I had to have, had to, had to… .. I usually got one or two. So the catalog was indeed a “wish book,” my mom’s name for such tempting tomes. Just like the alluring array of possibilities when I go on line with Coursera.
Do not give up, I said to myself, this is too amazing. And I didn’t. Now I am in the middle of Scandinavian Film and Television, again from University of Copenhagen. I’m watching all of the lectures this time. I could do more, join in discussions, read more and watch additional video, but there are too many other things in life that are taking my attention and sucking up my energy. What I want is information, knowledge, entertainment that’s not stupid. Although admittedly sometimes I want stupid entertainment, but only sometimes. I want Scandinavian film instead of NCIS. Well maybe in addition to NCIS.
The class is so smart and Scandinavian-serious. What I’ve learned so far is quite a bit of historical and artistic info about some films I’ve seen and many I haven’t. I am playing my Norwegian role and pretending I have a natural affinity for these mostly avant-garde and usually dark and stark visuals and stories. I do get it, being naturally an optimistic pessimist, believing the worst of people but always thinking I’ll only experience the best. Make sense? Why should it? I’m watching CNN’s dogged pursuit of Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 and I’m drinking my second beer.
“All right, Good Night” the co-pilot said. This is a good story to be told many times in Scandinavian and American crime novels. Probably also to be narrated by Malaysian and Chinese writers except they do not really do not do crime as well as we northerners. Actually many years ago an American mystery writer wrote a very scary novel about a hijacked airline and poisoned passengers still upright, but dead, in their seats when the plane landed. I keep envisioning that, having flown a lot during the past few years. However this post is about MOOCs.
A bit later. I’ve eaten my comfort food dinner and watched more airline mystery. I’ll go back into the contemporary world of dark Scandinavian art first thing in the morning. Looking forward to it. Now, even though I do not respect CNN as a NEWS organization very much anymore, I do watch when I’m obsessive about an event like this. And I do want to respect them. It’s just hard when they do Justin Bieber specials. Do the Norwegians and the Swedes and the Danes stoop that low? Will Aljazeera go there eventually? I was awake at 4am, now it’s 7:55pm, almost time for bed.