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Vive le Project Management: Review of One of the First French MOOCs

The first thing you need to know about ABC de la Gestion de Projet is that it is in French, naturellement. In English, you would call it The ABCs of Project Management. It is, in fact, one of the first French MOOCs. La Gestion de Projet was taught by Rémi Bachelet, an Associate professor at école Centrale de Lille and was held on the Canvas platform.

first French MOOC

by antheap via Flickr

As for me, a young French mother of two and still a student, I’m quite used to distance learning, having done all my college work that way over the last six years. My degree is in educational design so when it comes to MOOCs, especially one from France, you can imagine I have my eyes wide open. There was one other French MOOC last fall called ITyPA, which stands for Internet, Tout y Est Pour Apprendre, which translates to Internet: Everything Is For Learning. However, I learned about that one too late to catch up and participate in it.

I also tried my hand at two English-language MOOCs last February by registering for Elearning and Digital Cultures and Fundamentals of Online Education. Even though I understand English, I wasn’t sure I could understand what was expected from us. As I wasn’t able to feel at home on these courses, after a few hours, I decided these just were not for me.

Then, in April, I found two new French-language MOOCs. The first was MOOC ReSoP , which stands for Réseaux Sociaux Comme Outils Pedagogiques, or Social Networks as Pedagogical Tools, which was produced by the Belgian organization Pedago-TIC. I followed the first week of this class very carefully. The first videos were too  long and boring, explaining how to register and change settings on Facebook and Google+. I knew (almost) everything already, but I hoped I would learn more as the class continued.

But then, la Gestion de Projet began and nothing else mattered anymore ;-).

from Manon Silvant

The first certificate French MOOC: a new home for a student’s heart

I warn you, I will only make compliments about this MOOC. But let me tell you why. Of course, we can talk about the content of the course itself. The videos and readings are clearly the result of many years of teaching experience. They were clear, concise and attractive. But that’s just the icing on the cake! It was clear this MOOC has been prepared by people who knew about project management.

The platform, Canvas, was very easy to learn in a very short time, which is, according to me, one of the most important points that determine if I will follow a MOOC to the end.

The first week of class was made so that we understand how the MOOC was going to work. A Google+ community and a private Facebook group were created. From the first day, I had a chance to chat freely with one of the MOOC creators. Their availability throughout the five weeks never failed, and this was one of the most important parts of it. [pullquote position=”right”]If you had a question, you sent it and had an answer by one of the creators, usually in less than an hour and at worse within 24 hours. This never happened to me in my “real” online distance learning life![/pullquote] Moreover, the Google+ community was very active and any question usually got an answer in a few minutes.

A MOOC that is new, yet smart and innovative

The subject, project management, was not especially my cup of tea. When it comes to net present values and these kind of calculations, I usually feel a bit dizzy. But when it comes to learn how to prepare, handle and report on a project meeting, it became far more interesting.

This class offered two different certifications: basic and advanced. If you chose to work for the basic certification, then you only had to obtain 70% of all the multiple choice (yet difficult) questions. I chose to work toward the advanced certification, for which I needed to meet the 70% requirement plus complete case study assignments each week, which were reviewed by four of my peers. We had an example case that we worked with throughout, practicing the different types of analysis and reporting each week. Over time, it became easier to understand how these exercises would help a project. The requirements were well stated, so what more could you ask?

As far as peer review is concerned, people had mixed views. As for me, I loved it, even if I was not the best reviewer people could dream of. (And I apologize for that.) [pullquote position=”right”]There is so much to learn from the work of your peers. You can see there was not just one way to answer and not just one way to present the work.[/pullquote] Sometimes, you found great ideas that you would then try to reuse, and sometimes you found great mistakes that you will try to avoid. But both ways, there is a lot to learn.

Before this project management MOOC began, the creators decided to add a third certificate option — the project team certificate. I didn’t feel brave enough to try this last option. But the aim of it is brilliant: to reuse everything we learn in the course on a real project.

By the way, 3,600 learners registered in this MOOC, more than 1,300 got the basic certificate, and 440 achieved the advanced certificate.

Is this MOOC more useful than a master’s degree?

Okay, maybe I’m overemphasizing it a bit, but that’s my feeling. While I was taking this MOOC, I began the internship for my last year of study. I’m working as an educational designer in Burgundy University. What I’ve learned during this MOOC is quite relevant to the job I have to deal with daily. Being an educational designer is above all being part of different projects, so project management is important.

The professor gave us templates that come with Creative Commons licenses for us to use freely in our daily life. For my first meeting at my internship, I applied what I’ve learned during this MOOC and even filled in one of the templates. At once, during the meeting, my screen was projected on the wall, everybody was able to see that I was doing the contact report (even if no one asked me to do so and no one had been told to do the minutes). I felt so proud that, as an intern, I was able to bring so much value to my work.

You know what? There are two ways to conclude this review. First, if you speak French, go for it. The MOOC will start again this fall, and you can only benefit from it! And, last but not least, I’d like to send a big thank you to Rémi Bachelet, the teacher, and all the volunteers around him, especially Matthieu Cisel and Yannick Petit.

 

 

 

 

Manon Silvant (1 Posts)

I'm a a young mother of two and have been an online student in the six years since high school graduation. The internet is my second home. I work for a French university as an instructional designer, and I'm also a sometimes e-learning consultant. My research focuses on distance learning for parents (especially young mothers). I would love to telecommute to be able to handle my family life and take care of my children and husband more. Oh by the way, I’m French ;-)


2 Comments

  1. Sounds fantastic – great to read about both your determination and such a well-designed course. So….when will the English version be up?

    • Hi Liz,

      sadly there are no plans yet to translate #MOOCGdP in english in the short term

      this is at least a two-months full time workload .. I’m just too overworked for that !

      best