Semper Fidelis - Semper Discentes

Posts Tagged ‘Laurel Bestock’

A Moke in a MOOC

In Uncategorized on July 24, 2013 at 3:33 pm

I read a lot of detective/crime/murder novels.  In some of the older ones, the detectives, sitting around the squad room, will make some comment along the lines of:  “Well, we picked up some moke for the crime, but had to let him go.”  I had heretofore never actually looked up the word “moke”, but interpreted it as “poor sap” or “hapless individual” or some such.  The actual derivation of the word, I’ve found, is “archaic British, Australian or United States slang for ‘donkey'”.

That being said, and using ANY of the preceding three definitions, I probably qualify as a “moke”.

Being a curious sort, and penurious as well, I began searching the Internet a few weeks ago, hoping to stumble across some FREE online college courses that could help to fill in some of the gigantic gaps in my cranial capacity.  This is a fairly new concept, and some of the major universities in the country (and probably the world) are now offering a selection of these Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs).  At the “Coursera” website (, I found a Brown University online class called “Archaeology’s Dirty Little Secrets”.  Although this was a subject (one of many, many subjects) about which I was TOTALLY ignorant, the topic was intriguing, and something that I onlyunderstood on the most BASIC level.

I, therefore, signed up for the class, along with over THIRTY-SIX THOUSAND other intellectual sponges.  That’s the beauty of a MOOC.  Each week, the students are to watch a series of video lectures, read some  “enrichment” information (usually to be found online, and free), choose one of three “archaeological exercises”, and answer a series of quiz questions.  With so many participants, I suppose it goes without saying that the quiz questions pretty much HAVE to be true/false or multiple choice.  I can’t conceive of Brown University teaching assistants grading that many essay questions each week.  The archaeological exercises are graded in an innovative manner, as each participant must grade FIVE of his/her classmates’ submissions, whereby he receives five evaluations from other randomly-chosen participants.  It probably goes without saying that no actual college credit is awarded for successful completion of the class, but the acquisition of knowledge requires no Certificate of Completion.

I’ve just finished the final week’s assignments.  The instructor in the video lectures, Dr. Sue Alcock, is a personable sort, and the lectures are interesting, informative, and pretty basic.  Her observations challenge some basic ideas and assumptions that I suppose I’ve long held, clarify some important points, and inspire me to think about some new things.  Each week, her main colleagues, Professors Bestock, Houston, Leppard and Berenfied, update us on their own pet projects, including major archaeological sites on the island of Montserrat, at Petra (Jordan), Abydos (Egypt), and El Zotz, Guatamala.  Dr. Bestock, for the record, is “absolutely” fascinating, and her enthusiasm is infectious.  Graduate and undergraduate students also contribute interesting tidbits on archaeological basics–pot sherds, human remains, collecting and curating techniques, and the like.

I think the concept will catch on.  At present, check out the Coursera website, or merely Google “MOOC”.  You might find something you like.  Better than trolling the ‘net for pornography, anyway.

Maybe I should run out and buy a Brown sweatshirt.