2 June 2013

MOOC - week 1

Don't laugh - that's my assignment for week 1 of the Coursera Pennsylvania State University MOOC "Introduction to Art - Concepts and Techniques". You had to introduce yourself by way of art, preferably using the techniques covered briefly (drawing with pencils, charcoal, ink, pastels, paint). So this is me, being grumpy in a coloured pencil sketch, facing the lovely Carmarthenshire countryside, which I photographed as I ran out of time to try and paint it...

I do like art - I regularly get annoyed at failing to create art - but the main reason I signed up is to experience the MOOC effect. We have been discussing them at work for a while now so I got quite excited when my course finally kicked off last week. I'm hoping to reflect weekly on how it's going...

Things I like

  • I believe it has about 54,000 students taking part and they come from all over the world. It has an amazing global community feel to it all.
  • Finding other people from Wales - the forum threads often gravitate to local sub-groups. Virtual ex-pats? 
  • It is really well done - it must have cost a bomb to produce. The site has been very robust, the materials are slick, the forums work well once you are used to them. There was a glitch with a survey not working but that got sorted pretty quick.
  • Watching art videos - I grew up watching Tony Hart so, although I normally dislike learning via video, I can watch someone do art quite happily. 
  • Anna Divinsky seems really nice - a calm, cheerful presence at the helm.
  • The launch really felt exciting when it all exploded into life. The forums have been a constant buzz of chatter, social media less so than expected but if you search on #artmooc, there is activity. 
  • I have learnt as much from looking at other students' work and "artist statements" as I have from the course materials themselves.
Things I don't like
  • Initially the forums seemed a very fast-moving, overwhelming place. I think we could have done with a quick overview of how to use them. At first I was getting zillions of emails every time someone posted a comment so I had to work out how to unsubscribe from some posts. Only today did I realise you can click on someone's name to see what else they have posted (i.e. their artwork).
  • This is very intolerant and shows me up as a complete prig but...people who don't read or don't follow the instructions... 
  • The hard part for me is thinking how to approach an art assignment. Some guidance on this would have been really good, perhaps showing how different artists go about developing ideas. Technical videos are fine but if, as they say, they want us to challenge ourselves and push our boundaries as artists (eek!), I'd have welcomed a bit more guidance.
So, week 1 over. I'm feeling very positive, nervous about the time commitment but keen to see what comes next. We start the real assessed stuff tomorrow...


  1. Congratulations on getting your first piece done on time!

    I like the fact that the drawn figure is situated on a photographic background, if you hadn't said it was because you had run out of time, I would have though that it was an "artistic" comment on urban-dwelling (wo)man's dislocation from the land.

    Like you, I was a bit confused when I first came across the course discussion forum as many people seemed to be posting artwork which they had completed a while ago, rather than pieces they had specifically created for week 1 of the course.

    Enjoy week 2!

  2. hello

    I enjoyed your post and it made me think about the bigger picture of the course that little bit more.
    I am a fellow student and found you through twitter. Like you I intend to blog about my course experience and now I'm thrilled to have found a like minded person who isn't too far away (Wales is just across the water from where I am in Wexford, Ireland)

    1. Thanks! Did you blog in the end? Hard to find time for everything...