Boats or Birds? The challenge of lifelong learning and 13 upcoming MOOCs for educators


I took this picture a couple of weeks ago at a point overlooking Bombay’s Backbay area where the city forms an upturned C in the Arabian Sea. I was just gunning for the fishing boat but when I looked at the picture later, I realized that I’d also caught this bird mid-flight. As I pored over the image, I was struck by the extent to which it represents the challenge of lifelong learning. The ray of light or the illumination through dark clouds is the elusive epiphany we seek through all our professional and personal development activities. It’s not easy to find because there’s a whole ocean of learning waiting for us and not all of it is appropriate or relevant. The decision we must take is whether we want to process that learning as boats or birds. If we choose to be birds, then we audit all that’s out there with a bird’s eye view, ever seeking to widen our horizons without burdening our cognition with depth in a skill or subject. Or we could choose to be fishing boats, finding the best spot before casting our nets and trawling the depths for deeper learning. 

Whether you decide to be a bird or a boat, the lifelong learner is definitely spoilt for choice and stressed for time. I managed to take advantage of a lull on the work front to complete several MOOCs in the last couple of months: MoMA’s Art & Activity, Fantasy & Science Fiction, Assessment & Teaching of 21st Century Skills and ELearning Ecologies. I’m not sure how may of these upcoming ones I’ll be able to participate in fully. They do sound really promising though. 


1. Storytelling for Change from Acumen on NovoEd | Starts September 3, 2014. 

2. Powerful Tools for Teaching and Learning: Digital Storytelling from the University of Houston on Coursera | Starts on September 8, 2014 

Creativity & Problem Solving 

3. Creative Problem Solving from the University of Minnesota on Coursera | Starts September 3, 2014 

Languages & Linguistics 

4. Chinese for beginners from Peaking University on Coursera | Starts September 15, 2014 

5. Corpus Linguistics from Lancaster University | Starts September 29, 2014

6. Shakespeare and his World from the University of Warwick | Starts September 29, 2014

Teaching & Education 

7. The Art of Teaching History from Rice University on Coursera | Starts September 22, 2014

8. Advanced Instructional Strategies in the Virtual Classroom from the University of California on Coursera | Starts September 29, 2014

9. What future for education? from the University of London on Coursera | Starts September 29, 2014

10. Digital Literacies 1 from San Diego State University on Canvas | Starts September 22, 2014 

11. Five Habits of Highly Creative Teachers from Northwest Colorado on Canvas | Starts October 6, 2014


12. Innovation: the key to business success from the University of Leeds on FutureLearn | Starts September 15, 2014 

13. Decision making in a complex and uncertain world from the University of Groningen | Starts September 15, 2014

Happy learning y’all! 


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