I’d never thought of taking a course about mountains, but when I heard that Class Central was starting a study group for the Coursera Mountains 101 online course, it piqued my curiosity. And after watching the course’s first video, I was hooked.
First of all, the course is nothing like any other MOOC I have ever seen. It takes us on a panoramic journey around the world’s highest lands, from Canada’s cinematic parks to the peaks of the Tibetan Plateau, to explore their unique features, biodiversity, and challenges.
It is an interdisciplinary course, with specialists from various fields including researchers, mountain guides, and even a literature professor. The beautiful views are accompanied by an informative and often poetic script that urges us to visit those magnificent places.
Mountain biodiversity is the most threatened by climate change, since as we learn in the course, temperatures increase more drastically at higher elevations and in the Arctic. So glaciers take the brunt of global warming.
Being more down to earth, when it comes to content and assessments, I found the course somewhat challenging. I had to keep referring to my notes since the quizzes mention many technical terms, locations, and dates. So if you are like me, not great when it comes to history or geography, you might need to retake some of the quizzes.
We had a forum where we could discuss the course. It was full of insightful comments, which deepened my understanding of what we learned in class. Even before starting the MOOC, I was delighted to see my peers sharing their favorite mountains, most of them from their respective countries.
We had weekly forum threads, where everyone discussed their favorite parts of the course. Initially, @dhawal and @manoel started these. But later, other learners took over. These made for a stimulating learning environment where diverse ideas were welcomed.
We also had weekly Zoom sessions with David Hik, the course co-instructor. The sessions were an opportunity to deep dive into the course material and ask questions. The MOOC was recorded in 2016. So during the Zoom sessions, David also told us about the current state of mountains worldwide and some of the challenges mountains and their people face.
During our first weeks of study, Zac Robinson, also course co-instructor, climbed Canada’s highest peak. Upon return, he managed to join one of the Zoom sessions, and he gave us a first-hand account of how the expedition went. It was an extraordinary adventure.