News from the Parapsychology MOOC!

Well it’s now the middle of the second week of the Parapsychology and Anomalistic Psychology: Research and Education MOOC. We have 765 registrants from more than 50 countries. They are experiencers, researchers, students, young scientists, interested individuals, retirees, professionals — you name it! We have had four guest speakers so far: Dr. Alejandro Parra from the Instituto Psicología Paranormal in Buenos Aires who talked about clinical and counseling services and research at his Institute, Dr. Daniel Benor, a Canadian psychiatrist who has done many years of research into psychic healing, Dr. Ed May, the past-Director of the US Government’s StarGate (remote viewing) project and a physicist, and Dr. Everton de Oliviera Maraldi, a psychologist from the University of Guaralhos in Brazil, who reported on a survey of mediums, atheists and other individuals with a particular emphasis on dissociation, belief and identity. Tomorrow Dr. Kathy Dalton, a Research Fellow at the Parapsychology Foundation, will be talking about the role of creativity in parapsychological research. Carlos and I have given some talks, my most recent one on the geographical spread of mainly-university based research units as a way to characterize modern parapsychology, and Carlos’ most recent one being an introduction to the field as a whole.

So far so good! The social media teaching platform, WizIQ.com, has turned out to be very robust, although weather impacts local connectivity and sometimes it takes a while to get our speakers and our attendees situated. Tom Hodgers, an ESL teacher born in the UK who has lived and worked in Venezuela for many years, and one of our colleagues in our consulting business as well as a financial support of our teaching project, Natasha Chisdes have worked very hard in the chat list during live classes and on the Course Feed page to answer questions, help resolve problems and otherwise make sure everybody is having a good experience. Another colleague from the ESL teaching world, Nives Torresi, have also been helping out with the chat. And on the first day, Halina Ostankowicz-Bazan, also an ESL teaching world pal, did a lot of facilitating in the chat as well. Now we’re seeing learners helping each other as they get used to the interface and the various fixes for audio or video problems, or just pointing out that there’s a palette of emoticons at the ready.

We’ve had a lot of kind words, and a couple of rants. Most people who have written are thankful for the opportunity to hear the scientific side of the field online, and to be able to ask questions not only of their colleagues in the live classes but of the speakers who are active researchers in the field. Some, who are watching the WizIQ-based recordings, are enjoying the experience, even though the default time for the live classes has not been congenial for them. But some folks are pretty unhappy about the social media part of the experience and find the chat box and the hellos/goodbyes at the beginning/end of the lectures to be unnecessarily distracting. We’re making the effort to edit the recordings and upload videos that focus more tightly on the lectures themselves onto our YouTube channel, but that is slow going. Basically we want everybody to be able to have a way into the experience that fits their preferences and their learning styles, in so far as that’s possible. We’ll get there.

For us, it’s a wonderful opportunity to hear our colleagues speak, watch the enthusiasm of the attendees in the live classes, and enjoy and contribute to the very lively sharing of information and experience on the Course Feed page on WizIQ.com. Our first assignments from the folks who are seeking a Certificate of Completion are excellent, and a fairly good number of folk have taken the brave step of getting a free account, making an avatar, and exploring the alternate discussion venue we have set up in the Virtual World, Second Life. (Here’s the SLURL if you’re interested in checking it out: http://maps.secondlife.com/secondlife/Madhupak/148/83/61)

Because the course materials will be available long after the live portion of classes ends, we urge anyone who is interested to click on “Parapsychology MOOC 2015” above and send me a note, or go directly to WizIQ.com, make a free account, and then come back here and click this direct link to the course: https://www.wiziq.com/course/86144-parapsychology-and-anomalistic-psychology-research-and-education.

It may take a couple of weeks to find a moment to post again here, but in the meantime, Carlos and I are finding this experience very rewarding, exciting, and fun! Come join us!

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