Taking self-directed, online courses is arguably much different than studying through a traditional brick-and-mortar institution. Have you ever wondered what it would be like to be a student following an open education course? How about a Saylor.org course, specifically?

We always love hearing feedback from students who are following Saylor.org courses, particularly those students taking the course from start to finish. So when we ran into our friends from Education-Portal.com at the Open Education Conference and they asked if they could have a writer work through one of our classes and blog about her experience, we were thrilled! Starting in mid-November, one of Education-Portal.com’s writers, Sarah Wright, began taking Saylor.org’s English Literature Shakespeare course (ENGL401). Sarah admitted knowing little about the English poet prior to taking the course and she wanted to learn more about him after having enjoying several movies based on his life and works.

We were excited to hear through Sarah’s first two posts that she is learning quite a bit about the life and works of Shakespeare. After completing Unit 1, she wrote:

“At this point, I have a much more thorough understanding of what Elizabethan England was like from a sociocultural point of view. A strict hierarchy governed life at that time, and it seems that social mobility would have been very difficult to achieve. According to one of the readings, you’d even need a license to beg on the streets. I also learned that Shakespeare himself was a great admirer of Queen Elizabeth, which surprised me for some reason. I suppose I’d always assumed that because he can be somewhat cheeky in his representations of royalty Shakespeare had a bit of a rebellious streak when it came to authority. But there seems to be evidence to prove the opposite, and it was interesting to read about that.”

She was even able to continue her previous enjoyment of Shakespeare works brought to life via film. She noted:

“I was very happy, however, that watching film adaptations of Shakespearean plays were part of the syllabus, though optional. I took full advantage of this option and watched an adaptation of Hamlet that was produced in 2000 – parts of the film seemed terribly dated, but that helped to create a contrast that showed how timeless Shakespeare’s narratives are. I’m starting to see why he is held in such high regard.”

While much of Sarah’s notes and feedback were positive, she also gave us some hints on where we could make some improvements for our students, namely pointing out that our time estimates were not always accurate. (We take this sort of feedback very seriously, and we’ve have already begun to make adjustments to create more precise time estimates.) She also noted some of the pains of being an online student, such as the difficulties of completing online readings, a point that propelled us to launch our Tools & Resources blog series.

Check out Saylor.org Student Diary: First Impressions of Shakespeare Online and Saylor.org Student Diary: Historical Discoveries to read more, and be sure to keep an eye on Education-Portal.com’s blog for the next post. We’re extremely grateful that Sarah is blogging about her experience as a Saylor.org student. We eagerly await her next post to hear what else she has learned through the Shakespeare course as well as any suggestions she has for Saylor.org.

Are you currently working through a Saylor.org course from Unit 1 through the Assessment? Interested in writing about your experience for The Saylor Journals? Let us know by sending an email to [email protected]


Photo credit, JISC