This review is by John Osmond. John is originally from the UK, and is now an English teacher in a Hong Kong secondary school. He’s interested in technology, especially how it can be used in and out of the classroom, and in lifelong learning.
I took EWA1.1x (English@Work in Asia: Job applications) in October/November 2015. It’s about job applications: what you should do before you apply for a job, what you should put in your CV and application letter, and what kind of online presence you should maintain. It’s linked to EWA1.2x, English@Work in Asia: Job interviews, which followed straight after in November 2015.
It’s been a long time since I’ve updated my CV or thought about my career goals. I guess some of things covered in the course are common sense, but I found it really helpful to have all this content put together in easy to understand bite-sized chunks. By the end of the course I wanted to be much clearer about my career objectives and how I put that down, first on paper, but also how to manage an online presence – this part would be completely new for me. My goals post completion – have a new CV that looked good, and have the beginnings of an online presence.
I joined the first run of the course which was kind of exciting. I think being the first run has both advantages and disadvantages. I could see the course team had put a lot of effort into making sure everything was working properly and that questions were promptly answered on the forums, but at the same time I guess that there would be teething problems as the students started accessing different parts of the content, and I suppose doing unexpected things!
There are two instructors: Bee Dy and Jessica Xia. They work at the English Language Centre of the Hong Kong Polytechnic University, but judging from their accents, I think they are from the US. One strange thing was that the spelling used in the course followed British conventions – so I have a feeling that the team behind the course comes from a diverse background and had a range of expertise.
While both instructors did deliver a lot of useful content, the main content came from ‘industry experts’ that had already been interviewed. I remember seeing in the course videos these senior executives and academics with a wealth of experience and advice to share – but then Bee and Jessica would appear in later videos summarizing the key points that had been made. Overall it was a great combination: Bee and Jessica as enthusiastic and knowledgeable facilitators plus the interviewees giving sound advice.
As I said above, I found the content of the course excellent. Lots and lots of very useful information, both in the content videos and in the handouts provided. I know at times I was a passive learner during this course – for example, taking time out to watch a series of videos I had downloaded on the commute to work. But, I think I got the most out of the course by interacting in the discussions, and this is where it got really interesting for me. I usually go into these courses thinking what am I going to learn – what will I get from the instructors and course content videos – and yes I did gain from them. But by visiting the forums, I was not only able to learn from those much more experienced than me, I was also able to share my life skills with those younger and less experienced than myself.
By visiting the forums, I was not only able to learn from those much more experienced than me, I was also able to share my life skills with those younger and less experienced than myself.
This was fascinating for me – I still remember the online conversations I had with senior managers from Brazil and teenagers from Hong Kong. I believe that providing this platform for sharing was one of the great successes of the course, but at the same time it is really up to the course participants to make the most out of it.
The course lasted 5 weeks, but the final week was mainly for completing the peer assessment. So it’s possible to do everything in 4 weeks. Week 1 is about leadership and creativity – finding out about yourself and matching your strengths and abilities to what your potential employer’s needs. I remember some participants commenting that they did not really want to be a leader, so they were unsure how relevant this was to them. The reply – perhaps from other participants – was that everyone has some potential in this area and potential employers are looking for this spark. Week 2 went on to CVs – I found it very useful. Week 3 was about cover letters – I wasn’t sure whether they were still relevant, but the course convinced me that they still have a role to play, and Week 4 was about an online presence – a LinkedIn profile. I learned a lot in that week!
There’s a self-assessment in Week 1, MC quizzes in Weeks 2 and 3, and a peer assessment in Weeks 4 and 5. I found it fairly easy to pass the course – I think I needed 50% to complete it. With the peer assessment you have to grade other student’s work. This means you have to go through a training process – but that was useful and not that difficult, and then grade I think 5 other submissions. For the peer assessment we had to write part of a LinkedIn profile. As I said before, this was quite challenging for me, but reading other examples was interesting and I got lots of useful ideas.
I think I was spending around 4 hours a week on the course. This is similar to what was suggested by the course guidelines. Actually watching the videos and reading the content took around 2 hours each week – the rest of the time was interacting on the discussions! So, I guess you could spend less time, but I really do recommend spending a bit more time learning from the other course participants and sharing your own ideas.
I found this a very rewarding course to take. The course content was clearly organized; videos were short, informative and of a very high quality; instructors were enthusiastic, helpful and knowledgeable; content was useful and delivered in bite-sized chunks; and the other course participants were great to interact with!
The course is running again May 2016, and I’m joining again just so I can share more with the other students! It’s followed by EWA1.2x, English@Work in Asia: Job interviews which is another course I highly recommend.
Class Central is looking for reviewers and regular contributors. If you’ve ever finished a MOOC and want to write a critique to help future students considering taking that course, we want to hear from you. Drop us a mail.