The following interview was conducted by MoocLab member @Ankit Khandelwal .
Ankit Khandelwal has pioneered the UNESCO endorsed “Zero Cost MBA” using MOOCs with a “quest to acquire skills to become a future global manager”. With over 20 completed MOOCs to his name, Ankit is an experienced MOOC-er and is keen to hear about other people’s MOOC journeys and had a vision to take the benefits of MOOCs from the perspectives of as many people as possible.
MOOC’s are not unknown to many self-learners. Those learners who come from different parts of the world, belong to different age groups and are engaged in different professions, giving this virtual mode of education a totally different flavor. As an enthusiastic MOOC student myself and having invented my entire Zero Cost MBA project out of these online courses, it is always my pleasure to meet and interact with passionate MOOC students across the world.
So going further in the interview series of bringing MOOC insights from people around the world, in this interview we have spoken to Iris Soliman. Iris has been taking MOOCs since 2013 and has completed many courses. She has not just taken the courses, but also translated a few of them into other languages. She has also acted as a community moderator in 2 courses so far and is very enthusiastic about this new format of learning. Read the excerpts from the interview done via e-mail.
Hi! Iris, welcome to this interview series. Can you tell us more about yourself?
Well..I am Belgian with Egyptian roots (from my Dad's side) ; Much later on, I got a high school degree in chemistry..I tried university but I failed, and I started my working life by volunteering for an NGO that started its fight against cluster bombs (at the time). I work as a translator for two years right now. And I am quite keen to learn new things (either personally or for professional purposes).
How did you get to know about MOOCs?
At a time I couldn't help thinking about the path I wanted my life to take..So my Mum came with an article in the French weekly newspaper Courrier International, mentioning a number of businesses offering MOOC's (including Coursera). A couple of days later, I found a MOOC entitled 'International Organizations Management' (offered by Geneva University, or rather 'Université de Genève'). My MOOC journey then started in late 2013.
How did you adapt to the different style of learning offered by MOOCs, especially in the initial days?
At the beginning it was difficult to manage the study time for a course in English (my mother tongue being French) and family life, but it went well afterwards..
What challenges did you face while taking these many courses?
I didn't face particular challenges, as I was highly motivated
What were your favorite courses and why?
Wow! that's a pretty good question..More seriously, I'd definitely recommend those MOOC's:
· International Organizations Management;
· Malicious Software and its Underground Economy;
· Terrorism & Counterterrorism: Comparing Theory and Practice;
· The Power of Markets;
· Droit international et droit comparé : regards croisés
· and many others...
They were my favorite courses because I am interested in international organisations, law and computer sciences, among-st others.
You were also community moderator for a few MOOCs. Can you tell us more about this experience?
Yeah indeed, I was a moderator. For two Leiden University's MOOCs: Terrorism and counterterrorism: Comparing Theory and Practice
and The Changing Global Order. Having been supported myself by TA's (teaching assistants), I felt honored to do it, too..and I met students who really made very valuable contributions to the courses' discussions forum. Even though I was a moderator, I continued learning.
Do you have any advice to perspective MOOC students on how to get the best out of MOOCs?
Don't hesitate to ask help, if any question / help request arises. Award yourself with whatever you want, each time you pass, as it's not a meaningless moment. Now if you failed a MOOC, enroll for its next run. Don't discourage yourself.
How has taking MOOCs helped you on a personal and professional level?
Well, I definitely met professionals in fieds I studied through MOOCs. And I gained more working experience in translation.
MOOC's are not for everyone. Do you agree with this statement? If yes, then what kind of qualities must a person possess before thinking about taking MOOCs?
I don't think so, as I met a 80-year-old woman who wanted to know more about Linguistics. Definitely be positive: you can't know in advance whether you'll pass or fail before ending the MOOC(s).
What kind of improvement can be made in MOOCs in your view to make them more effective?
Maybe subtitles should be a bit better written, above all if the MOOC has to be translated later on.
Is there any interesting event/incident you want to share with us?
Shortly after I started working as a translator, I have been accepted as a member of the Coursera Global Translator Community.
Is there anything else you want to share with us from your very extensive experience of taking MOOCs?
Don't hesitate to use the discussion forum and/or the social media, to discuss with your peers and/or the Teaching Staff. I extended my professional nework like that.