Biological, social and psychological ageing is the focus for discussion in Week 1 of the University of Pennsylvania’s Coursera MOOC – Growing Old Around the Globe.
5944 people from all over the world have signed up for the MOOC and 1500+ people are actively participating.
The MOOC has a truly international feel. Every continent except Antarctica is represented.
The age range also adds to the huge diversity, ranging from 11 to 80+ years. It is very encouraging to see both ends of the age spectrum represented.
The range of expertise is also very apparent. No specific level of expertise is required for the course, but there are many who appear to have a lot. I am not one of them. My level of expertise comes from personal experience of caring for an elderly relative.
Discussion has been very lively and very wide-ranging. 85 different discussion threads have been started. Most of these are of the ‘introductory’, ‘floating ideas and questions’ type as you would expect in the first week of the course. I expect it will take a while for people to find their level and know where, how and with whom they want to interact. For me some of the interesting topics this week have been:
- Whether 50 can be considered a biological marker of being old
- People’s perceptions of what is old
- Whether people of post-retirement age should continue to work
- The distinction between ageing and death
- Cross-cultural experience
- Social death
- The consequences of increased longevity and declining fertility
- How the elderly are depicted in literature and poetry
…. and there are lots more.
Some of these topics could be courses in their own right, such as the topic of death, – so it will be important, as in all MOOCs, to filter, select and focus on the threads of personal interest and use.
This is my first xMOOC and I am very much an advocate of cMOOCs (of the Stephen Downes, George Siemens and Dave Cormier type), so this will be an interesting experience on a number of levels.