I have finished my 5-week “Critical Thinking in Global Challenges” class from the University of Edinburgh. It wasn’t a bad experience. I don’t think I learned anything new in terms of content or that I couldn’t have learned with a Google search. I could have been more engaged and participatory, probably, but I watched all the videos, did all the required quizzes and homework, posted to discussion forums “just because,” and completed all the optional exercises. The course said it would require 3-5 hours of work per week, but I never spent more than 1 hour, probably because I read fast and was already pretty comfortable with the critical thinking framework outlined by the course. If I had completed ALL the global challenges rather than selecting just one as the course suggested, it would have taken me much more time to watch videos and do work.
It was more interesting reading the thoughts of other participants around the world. I chose the infectious diseases challenge, and I liked seeing what people from Thailand said about their experiences with cholera and malaria or India’s epidemic of Dengue fever or avian flu in Hong Kong or that a person from Slovenia had roughly the same story of infectious disease that I did, growing up in the U.S. There were over 600 contributions to my Week 4 discussion board.
I did the optional final critical thinking “essay” on emerging zoonotic malaria vectors in Southeast Asia, using and citing three sources. I write and cite a lot, so again, this wasn’t very taxing for me.
Next up: “Leading Strategic Innovation in Organizations” from Vanderbilt University. It’s 8 weeks long and offers three different levels of engagement: basic, advanced, and studio. Each one requires increasingly more work and hours per week. The drawback I see with the studio option is that participants are encouraged to enroll with colleagues or friends to work on the project together so they can hit the ground running. People tend to get tribal with collaborative projects, despite the “strategic innovation” in the course title. Wouldn’t that be great? Innovating by working with total strangers based on their online bulletin board pleas?