The University of Us
What is Us•U?
The University of Us is a new learning initiative starting in Lewes. The idea is to bring together groups of people to enjoy online and local learning in an informal setting, with the support and encouragement of a local tutor.
Why join Us•U?
If you have ever taken a MOOC or other online course, you will know how difficult it is to stay motivated. In fact, on most MOOCs, the drop-out rate is incredibly high (statistics vary, but for many MOOCs, it’s between 85-95%), but not because of the content or even the learning format. For most people, learning is a social activity – being able to meet and discuss things with others consolidates learning and makes it more enjoyable. Us•U taps into the online learning available, but brings it alive through local events and regular, informal meetings. Another way of looking at Us•U is as a means of turning those one-off local events (literary festivals, talks, public meetings) and visits to local amenities (Brighton and Hove Museum and Art Gallery, The Sealife Centre, Charleston) into opportunities for better, social learning.
When will it start?
Depending on interest, the first groups will begin towards the end of January, 2017 – the exact date will depend on when the selected online courses begin, and the availability of local, complementary events. Around the second week in January, preliminary sign-ups will take place, and introductory meeting dates and locations will be announced.
What’s the cost?
Cost is variable according to the duration of the course, whether specialist tutors or talks are part of the learning and whether, for instance, computer rooms need to be available. As a rule of thumb, however, 4-5 week courses that don’t need specialist facilities will cost around £50; 6-8 week courses requiring computer rooms will be around £100. While the MOOCs we use will be free, some people will want to pay for a certificate on completion (costs are variable). Tickets for local events or entry fees are also extra (but the expectation is these fees will be minimal).
What’s the commitment?
Each course will begin with an introductory meeting, in a local pub or rented venue; and once the online course begins, weekly face to face meetings will take place. Each group will have an online forum – separate from the MOOC forum – especially for your study group. The expectation is that your tutor and fellow students will use this as an informal space to ask questions, post interesting links, and support each other’s progress. In addition, you will need to consider the time involved in following the online course (which may be as little as two, or as much as six or more hours per week), plus the time involved in visits or attending events.
If you haven’t already provided your contact details, please fill in a contact form (at University of Us – Curious?). I’ll keep you posted as specific details of the first University of Us courses develop!