Today I started working on a MOOC I am taking through the Canvas Network, “Human Element: An Essential Online Course Component.” I’m very excited about this 3-week “course” because the subject is an interest of mine. As a student now in my second online master’s degree program (MLIS from Univ. of Alabama, now M.Ed. with emphasis on online instructional design from Univ. of Alaska Fairbanks), I have personally experienced the difference in online courses that have a rich human element and those that have virtually none. It’s much easier to become and stay engaged in courses where the instructor and/or classmates have a strong social presence.
In my current graduate program, I discovered that my personal experience is not unique: Research has shown how valuable social presence is for learning. When I saw this MOOC, I signed up immediately. I look forward to further exploring the impact of human element on learning in online courses, discovering and discussing strategies for including it in course design, and connecting with a diverse group of dedicated professionals via this MOOC.