It’s February 15th, 2015, and the live portion of the first ever Parapsychology MOOC has drawn to a close. The class recordings, PowerPoints, the Poster Sessions, the YouTube videos, and all manner of additional materials will be available on the site for at least a year. We — Dr. Carlos S. Alvarado and Dr. Nancy L. Zingrone — have been thrilled to present this first ever MOOC on scientific parapsychology, Parapsychology and Anomalistic Psychology: Research and Education, which started on January 5th.
The course was and still is free to all learners. By the time the live classes finished we had three lectures from us, several discussion forums in WizIQ, the social media teaching platform we used for the course, and in Second Life as well in our installation, The AZIRE (Alvarado and Zingrone Institute of Research and Education) Library and Learning Center, as well as 23 guest lectures from some of the best and brightest in our field.
As we’ve gone along we have always made a point of thanking the artist RadiantSkies from our favorite stock illustration/stock photo site, www.123rf.com, who made the Parapsychology Wordle we purchased for use as the course logo. His/her Wordle was so good we wondered more than once if he/she was a member of our community.
We have also made a point of thanking our donors and supporters at the beginning of almost every live class. These are the folks who made our organizational/facilitation work possible. When we announced the MOOC we had made a commitment to carrying it off to the best of our ability but we were not sure how we were going to manage that financially. Our close friends Natasha and Jonathan Chisdes of Chizfilm.net have been contributing over the year, and Natasha is the Core Associate of our little consulting business, Alvarado, Zingrone & Associates. Dr. Philip S. Morse, a colleague of Carlos’s with whom he has been writing a book and recently has partnered with on a Facebook page and a website, both called “Compelling Evidence for the Afterlife,” also donated to the support of the course. But the most important partner has been Lisette Coly, President of the Parapsychology Foundation, for whom we have worked or volunteered, on and off, since 1998.
Not only has Lisette partnered up with us to issue the Certificates of Completion to those among the course learners who are completing requirements for the certificate, not only has she attended almost all of the live classes in real time, but she has also allowed us to work on the course during these past six weeks, when we should have been working on the various projects she hired us for in January that will contribute to relaunching the Parapsychology Foundation this year and next. We could not be more grateful for her support.
€In that last live class we declared that getting the MOOC done really needed a village, and our Course Team constituted our village. Initially we got Natasha involved because well, Core Associate, and then we asked Tom Hodgers, a colleague of Nancy’s from the many teaching networks on WizIQ.com, who hails from England but has lived for many decades in Venezuela. Tom was very helpful for most of the class, only leaving us when other MOOCs he was involved with heated up. He copied the chat logs and posted them for the students, answered questions about the technicalities of having good audio and video as an attendee, and otherwise made the registrants feel welcomed and well-appreciated. Natasha contributed to this as well in the chat box of the live classes when her schedule permitted.
We believe strongly in the importance of using the webinar frame to build a community and the work of Tom and Natasha as the weeks rolled out was really valuable in this regard. Nives Torresi and Halina Ostancowiz-Bazan, colleagues from the teaching network on WizIQ also joined us. Both EFL teachers like Tom, Nives in Italy and Halina in Poland, they also helped to create community in the chat box of the live classes, and later on provided a lot of moral support when Nancy was beginning to get a little bit overwhelmed with the work involved.
In addition to that 23 active researchers and theorists in the interdisciplinary problem domain known as scientific parapsychology presented live classes on their own area of the field. These folks all developed detailed and high level talks that ran from 45 to 90 minutes depending on the speaker. They all stayed in the live classroom for at least 30 minutes after their presentations finished to answer the great many questions asked by the attendees. And a good number of them even participated in the course by hovering around the Course Feed, answering questions and making comments, and attending the live presentations of their colleagues. Without these giving professionals — none of whom asked for a cent of compensation — we would not have had a course, much less a free, massively open online course. So we thank them most of all.
On February 14th, we had our last live class, advertised as our “Closing Ceremonies,” but which was actually called the “Not-Quite-Closing Ceremonies” when we finally presented it. It had to be not-quite-closing because we will have several events over the next few months, including but not limited to further discussion forums and learner projects. And new registrants are still coming into the course as we speak, knowing full well they will be working their way through the materials over the next year, with more limited access to the speakers and other learners. We, on the other hand, will be there to help them get the most out of the experience.
As of today, the 16th of February, we have 850 registrants including some of the guest speakers, the course team, our supporters and ourselves. If you are interested in joining the course, which will be open and available for at least a year on the WizIQ social media teaching platform just click on the ParaMOOC15 Schedule page, which is on the drop down menu from this page. There you will find all of the live sessions that took place with links to the presentations.
If you would like to have access to the PowerPoints for the presentations, the stand-alone PowerPoints that were included in the course extras, or the articles, YouTube videos, final projects, and so on, either send us a note on the contact form on that page, or go to WizIQ.com and create a free account. Once you have done that click on the following link to the course and you will be in! Nancy will send you a welcome letter and you can begin to explore the Course Feed where all the discussions have taken place and are still taking place and the Course Schedule where all the materials of the class are listed. We would love to have you join us. Here is the course link: https://www.wiziq.com/course/86144-parapsychology-and-anomalistic-psychology-research-and-education.