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MOOC Challenge Mid-Term Report
November 7, 2012 - 8:27pm

A couple of months ago, I invited people to join me in “The MOOC Challenge.”

Now that I’m half-way through my MOOC – A Crash Course in Creativity, taught by Tina Seelig through the Venture Lab at Stanford University – I’ll give you a mid-term report on the course. 

There are no required books for the course, although students can read Seelig’s book, InGenius.  I’m really into this topic and had already purchased the book well before hearing about this course, so am reading along and enjoying it.  Truth told, it was because the author of this book was teaching the MOOC that I signed up for it.  And I haven’t been disappointed.  Surprised sometimes, but never disappointed.

I’m not sure how many people started this 7-week course with me on October 17th, but a quick check on the student search today yielded 39,668 students quite literally from around the world.  When I logged on to the course earlier this afternoon, the course landing page told me that 6,598 of my fellow students had logged on today.   So a pretty large group.

Each week the professor posts a short, 2-4 minute video about some aspect of creativity (e.g., paying attention, reframing problems), along with a short passage, taken from her book, on this aspect of creativity.  She also links to various other sources, including further readings, YouTube videos, TED talks, and Stanford eCorner videos.  Some of these are really interesting – for example, check out this video from a student team asked to make something of value from rubber bands or this TED talk titled “Weird, or Just Different?” or this 1977 video, Powers of Ten

The assignments so far have been a mix between team assignments (two of the three so far) and individual.  The first assignment was team-based and asked us to find as many things in common with our 3-4 other teammates – the teams having been built by a computer algorithm, although some teams formed themselves from groups of friends and co-workers, as well as others who used class forums to find teammates.  Sadly (for me), none of my teammates responded to emails about the assignment and I ended up doing this team assignment as a team of one.  Looking through the class forum posts, it appears that there were many other students in similar situations, so I suspect there were some very small teams and other teams of one.

The second assignment was individual and had us observe various retail establishments to generate insights, ideas and potential innovation.  I did all of my observations in and around Harvard Square and did, indeed, notice quite a few things I hadn’t noticed before!  And now, I find myself much more observant when going into other business establishments, again looking for insights and potential new ideas. 

The assignment due later tonight was team-based and asked us to create as much value as we could from one loaf of bread.  This time I had someone reach out to see if I’d like to be on his team and he has been a wonderful teammate – putting together the team, encouraging discussion, summarizing, etc.  Thanks, Arun!  Our project was based on the many meanings of bread and how they might be combined to create different types of value for different people.  Think of bread as both a food item and money. . . .

So far, so good.

How is your MOOC Challenge course going? 



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