Teachers Conducting MOOCs
Teachers are conducting MOOCs on WizIQ. The MOOCs are organized by full professors, associate professors, and instructors from higher education in North America and around the world. The topics include English Language Teaching, Moodle, Second Life, Healthy Living and Sustainability, and now Parapsychology and Anomalistic Psychology: Research and Education.
Educators serve local and global communities. They are passionate about instruction and learning and share because they are in the business of making changes. Teachers conduct research and share their findings on journals, books, in lectures, conferences, teacher development workshops, and in MOOCs.
Going Beyond Schools
Maybe, I’m a rebel, but I have always learned outside the schools I attended. I believe education should go beyond the classroom. I have been organizing online courses outside my school since 2006. I began conducting MOOCs on WizIQ in 2008. I was curious about why others had similar reasons for conducting MOOCs outside their colleges. I decided to ask Nancy about the MOOC and how what motivated her to organize it.
Research-Based Parapsychology MOOC
These days Dr. Carlos S. Alvarado and Dr. Nancy L. Zingrone are using the teaching account on WizIQ.com to organize a series of conferences and courses on scientific parapsychology and psychology. For example, on November 1st and 2nd, 2014, we hosted the Parapsychology and Psychology: Research and Theory Online Conference.
In January of 2015, the couple is hosting the first ever Parapsychology and Anomalistic Psychology: Research and Education MOOC on WizIQ.com. The MOOC reached out to colleagues and friends in psychology, scientific parapsychology and anomalistic psychology to come to the MOOC and present their research and their own educational activities.
Parapsychology and Anomalistic Psychology
Parapsychology and Anomalistic Psychology: Research and Education is a month-long course featuring researchers, students and educators in these interesting fields with 841 Learners enrolled in the MOOC. The MOOC is organized by Nancy L.. Zingrone PhD and Carlos S. Alvarado, PhD, and hosted by Nancy on her WizIQ teacher’s account.
In January of 2015, an international group of lecturers will come together to talk about their own research into the many topics of scientific parapsychology from research into such phenomena as extrasensory perception, psychokinesis, precognition experiences, remote viewing, psychosocial and psychological studies of the people who report experiences, clinical issues surrounding the experiences, exceptional experiences in general, the transpersonal aspect of psychic functioning, and skepticism about the phenomena and the field.
- Lectures by an international group of scientists and educators
- Focus on the scientific study of seemingly psychic phenomena
- Topics include: Extrasensory perception, Remote Viewing, Psychokinesis
- Topics also include: Precognition, Experiments, Case Studies, Surveys
- Information on University-Based Education in the Field
Also on hand will be individuals who can talk about the academic programs in their own universities that lead to academic credit in the topic, and to conducting research for accredited masters and doctoral theses. The course will contain material for further learning including tutorials, videos, book lists, and opportunities for discussion with colleagues.
Attendees may earn a certificate by completing one of the following tasks:
- by writing reflections on 10 of the 30 presentations and turning it to upload to the course schedule, or
- by completing a project in the Virtual World Second LIfe (we’ll teach you how to set up an account, and mentor you through the Second Life process if you need it), or
- by successfully completing four of the quizzes, or
- by filming a presentation to share with other attendees and/or on the Parapsychology Online YouTube channel.
More information will be added to the Parapsychology and Anomalistic Psychology MOOC over the next couple of months. Opening ceremonies will take place in the first week of January 2015.
Who are Dr. Zingrone and Dr. Alvarado?
Carlos S. Alvarado has a PhD in Psychology from the University of Edinburgh. He is a Visiting Scholar at the Rhine Research Center and Assistant Professor of Research at the Division of Perceptual Studies of the University of Virginia. He is also an Associate Editor of the Journal of Scientific Exploration, a member of the editorial board of the Journal of the Society for Psychical Research, and a two-time past President of the Parapsychological Association. Alvarado’s work has centered on survey research on out-of-body experiences and other psychic experiences, and the history of psychical research.
He is the recipient of the 2010 Parapsychological Association’s Outstanding Contribution Award and was the Program Chair for the Association’s 2001 and 2012 conventions. Alvarado has authored over 275 papers published in history, psychology, psychiatry, and parapsychology journals, and is the author of Getting Started in Parapsychology (New York: Parapsychology Foundation, 2002) and one of the editors of Research in Parapsychology 1993 (Lanham, MD: Scarecrow Press, 1998). He also writes the blog: Parapsychology: News, History and Research.
Nancy L. Zingrone obtained a Ph.D. in psychology (University of Edinburgh), doctoral candidacy in history (Duke University), an M.S.Ed. in higher education with a teaching specialty in psychology (Northern Illinois University), and a B.A. in psychology (Mundelein College). She has conducted experimental, historical and survey research mainly on the psychological characteristics of psychic experiencers.
Her research has been published in such journals as the Australian Journal for Clinical and Experimental Hypnosis, History of Psychiatry, Imagination, Cognition and Personality, the Journal of Near-Death Studies, the Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease, and the Journal of Scientific Exploration as well as in the parapsychological publications European Journal of Parapsychology, the Journal of Parapsychology, Journal of the Society for Psychical Research, and the Revista Argentina de Psicología Paranormal.
She has been a teacher and learner on WizIQ.com since 2009, a course designer and instructor for the Rhine Education Center (since April 2013), the manager of The AZIRE Moodle (since January 2013), an online adult education teaching tplatform on which a half dozen colleagues teach a variety of courses, as well as the curator of the AZIRE Learning Center in the virtual world Second Life (since September of 2009), and the manager of the Chilbo Education Village on the Madhupak sim also in Second Life. Visit her YouTube Channels: Teaching and Learning Online, and Parapsychology Online.
Scientific Parapsychology and Research
Why scientific parapsychology with active researchers ?
Carlos and I have been in the scientific parapsychology community for more than thirty years. We are both research psychologists with an interest in the paranormal and have done research ourselves on the psychological characteristics of people who report such as experiences as telepathy and out-of-body experiences and the like. Because there are so few opportunities to learn about the best work in the field, we decided to found a teaching business that set the bar high on our classes with trust that our learners to find what they need among the options we offered.
We made sure that our course was as multinational and multigenerational as possible and that it highlighted the work of people who are tackling the subject matter in a serious fashion even though the field as a whole — scientific parapsychology — is generally dismissed and/or reviled in the academy (virtually every entry on our field in Wikipedia pays homage to the hostility towards this line of work, the inaccuracies and biases visible in those entries one of the reasons why I avoid using Wikipedia whenever possible).
MOOCs and Awareness
Why did you feel it was important to do a MOOC on this particular topic?
We felt that the majority of folks in the world just haven’t come into contact with the real scientific work in the field, and a MOOC was a way of accomplishing that goal. That one of the most frequent comments we heard in the course was “I had no idea this many scientists and university professors were even interested in these topics much less doing research” has made us think we were very right about that, and also made us realize that in addition to getting the “real work” out there to prospective researchers and educators, the MOOC has the possibility of just raising the knowledge level about the field and the phenomena in general.
How long did it take you to get the MOOC set up?
So we started in early November, while we were working on our online Conference on WizIQ, “Parapsychology and Psychology,” which was fee based with a regular registration, a student price and quite a lot of scholarships available. We set up our wish list of speakers to include women and men, all the topics usually covered in the field, and with real science where individual researchers have differing approaches and perspectives and differing points of view on the evidence. By January all but one of our 24 guest speakers were committed to the project. While we were working on setting up the schedule we also started to map out the structure and procedures of the class.
Marketing a MOOC
You had over 800 participants. What type of marketing did you do?
Marketing was done on our Parapsychology Online Facebook page, YouTube channel, and through any other outlet we had going, from Scoop.it to Pinterest to Reddit. We spread out the links to the initial announcing blog as far as we could to groups we thought would be interested, and also joined groups on Facebook that I thought might be interested. Our marketing was picked up by a variety of individuals who were very excited about the course and giving us advice about who to invite as a guest speaker, and the sharing that was done by those folks really grew the attendees. We also got picked up by a number of widely-read blogs and online magazines, and were able to market our course to attendees at a local conference in November as well. But the sharing activity of a number of people who became learners in the MOOC had the biggest impact, with the marketing reach of some of our speakers, of the Parapsychological Association and of the Parapsychology Foundation as well and then our efforts. So the call for attendees basically went viral in a small way, but certainly big enough to bring in the now 840 enrollees (still getting enrollees this morning and the live class portion of the course ends)
Learning in a MOOC
How many learners were active?
As is common with many MOOCs about 10% of the enrollees are visibly active, and about 5% are really active. One of the things that we really find gratifying is that learners have built their own networks and several have started private discussion courses on WizIQ to keep their contact with each other going with a specific focus on their shared experiences or interests. In training our speakers we also spent the last five minutes or so of practice classes letting speakers know what they could use their free WizIQ accounts for, and how it would be beneficial for them to try it out for teaching, for online discussion forums for their own students and so on. Having some of those guest speakers start talking to us about how they will use WizIQ, and also being able to inspire a Foundation in NYC to start thinking about how it can use the WizIQ institutional account to begin a regular online schedule of lectures and courses has made us feel wonderful about the process as well. Bringing in new teachers and new institutions to the WizIQ family is a way for us to give back to WizIQ, given how much WizIQ has benefited us over the last six years.
What type of experience did you anticipate?
We tried to build the most flexibility into the course in terms of learners’ options for interacting with the materials and each other, and setting up a plan to earn a certificate. We also had as a goal seeing how far we could go with just being on WizIQ and using WizIQ resources without being too multi-platform in the teaching. We couldn’t manage without Google calendar though, but it wasn’t such a hardship living without Moodle, for example. We just wanted the complexity to live in the content and not in the structure. So we also tried to make sure everything we did was consistent in terms of how we described things, where we put things, and so on.
What kind of problems did you have in the week-by-week format?
The challenges that were inherent in the frame were: not being able to use a topic format for a course that included live classes. We would have liked to have set up the course schedule as sections with tutorials in one section, “Poster Sessions” (stand alone powerpoints used as tutorials but not connected to a presentation) in another, then certificate-related, the weekly classes etc. As we’re heading out into the world this year with additional weeks we would have preferred to be able to just name the weeks instead of having to add a calendar of weeks just to accommodate a monthly live discussion forum.
We also really missed the old course schedule page where you move all the options around without triggering notifications about time changes. And we wished the discussion threads were easier to find after the fact. Looping newly commented on threads back to the top automatically helped with that, so the way WizIQ threads discussions wasn’t as big of a problem as we anticipated.
We also really would have liked to be able to reorganize the learner list in some way or at least search it. That would have made getting in touch with folk a lot easier. And we would have loved to been able to do an IM in the class that included multiple learners and not have the all or one at a time option. This would have been good for people who have taken quizzes or are doing similar things for the certificate, or just the whole certificate group.
And we would have liked to been able to some how pull out or highlight questions in the chat without that operation being visible to the learners. That would have made managing the questions and answers period after each live lecture much easier. But in generally the experience has been totally positive.
What are your plans for the future?
Our plans are to teach some private fee-based classes, from now on, maybe 3 or 4 a year, put on at least two private fee-based conferences a year, and restart our free “Virtual College Fair” series, as well as do another occasional free live classes and of course another free MOOC next January. We’re also working with one of our institutions to help them set up their institutional account and start rolling out regular fee-based events and courses as well as occasional free offerings to the WizIQ community as a whole.
Any final thoughts on WizIQ?
Well WizIQ really rocks! That’s for sure. We had so much patient help from WizIQ support for our students, and our recordings that was a big plus. And the social media aspect of the WizIQ teaching platform is just amazing. So we’re definitely here to stay. Oh and for more information on our MOOC, you can watch the talk I gave for Connecting Online 2015 here: https://www.wiziq.com/online-