Mind Body Scribe: Exploring Compassion, Contemplation & Challenging Circumstances

Graphic recording is a full body and mind activity. But what goes on inside our minds and bodies when we scribe? Do periods of "creative flow" lead to healthier psyches and stronger immune systems? Do the skills and habits of graphic facilitators lead to improved problematic social behaviors and emotional problems while enhancing biochemical markers of health? Thaddeus Pace is a biological psychologist at Emory University, exploring how compassion meditation and other complementary practices may improve the health and well-being of children and adults in challenging circumstances. “As a biological psychologist, I’m very interested in what connects stress to health, and I’m also interested in novel ways to intervene to make us healthier people.”

For more information about Tad's work, check out his POP! TECH talk here:



00:00 | Introductions

01:30 | What goes on in our bodies when we scribe?

05:24 | The impact of stress on health

08:00 | Studying stress

09:00 | Meditation & focused attention

09:50 | Stress study results

12:00 | Scribing as a meditative state

13:50 | The connection between stress and learning: Cortisol

24:30 | Other brain chemicals: Norepinephrine & Dopamine

36:00 | Q/A 37:30 | How can we find data to support the positive effects of facilitation?

49:50 | How do we communicate the importance of “touchy-feely” stuff?

52:20 | Special Alphachimp Announcements

Learn visually. Alphachimp University. Click to see courses.

Learn visually. Alphachimp University. Click to see courses.

The Stress Maker, The Deal Breaker & The Cuddle Chemical

Earlier this week, I posted a short video addressing the #1 factor preventing most people from even attempting to scribe.

In this follow-up segment, I run through three essential brain chemicals all facilitators and educators should know.

Are you familiar with the brain chemicals responsible for the all-too-familiar “fight-or-flight” reaction? How about the one for triggering the reward centers of the brain, or the checmical for building trust?

I give my kindergarten simple summary of these three essential ingredients of brain soup that make working with other humans a challenge and a reward.  :)

Check it out and let me know what you think in the comments below.

Two Comments That Can Screw Up A Visual Learner for Life

Visual Learner

I don't know about you, but I consider myself a visual learner. Ever since I was a squirmy 5th grader doodling in the margins of my textbook, I have known it.

So did my teachers.

But they didn't know what the hell to do with me except to “encourage” me with very well-meaning but unhelpful phrases, such as: “You are soooooooo creative” or “You'll be a famous artist someday!”

Both of which are HORRIBLE things to say to a kid who is doodling his or her heart out.

Looking back, they were basically saying to me: “You are a huge pain in the ass” and “Do not plan on a career in math or science.”

Before graduating high school, my principal—upon hearing that I was going to major in art at university—suggested that perhaps I consider majoring in Accounting, you know, just to have something to fall back on if the whole Art Thing didn’t pan out.

What is even more damaging to visual learners is this: the well-intentioned adults linked the creative act with economic value and social acceptance.

Well, we all know that REAL ARTISTS aren't interested in those ;)

But seriously, by linking the creative act to love and $$$ they were missing the most important part—creating is thinking.

The process of taking in information, synthesizing raw data into ideas and then creating physical form (even abstract patterns) is a profound and essential process.

It involves mindfulness and presence as well as active engagement with content. And that, my friends, is known as “active learning”.

So, I am a visual learner and odds are, you are too.

I don't know much, but I do know this—thousands of people have TOLD me that they are visual learners.

They tell me at conferences where they see me scribing. They tell me in comments online, and they tell me through the purchase of books, courses, webinars and workshops with my friends and heroes in the field.

OK, so do you even understand what “being a visual learner” means?

So, I know this stuff works. And by “this stuff” I mean drawing while people talk.

But WHY does it work? And HOW does it work?

Well, it is my mission to find out and to share the knowledge with fine people like you who might be asking the same questions.

(On the other hand, if you know all about it PLEASE let me know!)

In a short series of videos, I will uncover some of the dark mysteries of visual learning—not the how-to guru drawing stuff, but the brain-based neuroscience stuff.

Check out the first video titled The Number One Barrier to Becoming a Rockstar Scribe here:


Hey, and what’s really exciting… later this month, we’ll be hosting a LIVE webinar with a neuroscientist and researcher and you will be able to ask all sorts of questions.

Very cool.

So, look for updates and links coming sooooooooon.

Onwards and upwards.

TEDx: This Is Freaking Awesome

We want to see & share your work!

We've had a blast the past few years scribing for TEDx Nashville, and have heard through the grapevine that many of you have scribed or sketchnoted your local TEDx events. Fill out the form below and we'll post your work at www.alphachimpu.com/tedxscribe/

If you've ever had a thought that you're not capable of doing this work, we have a special message just for you: "Yes you can!"

We'd like to show you how. Rockstar Scribe is relaunching May 1. Sign up before then and receive 40% off regular tuition.

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Special Announcement: Puppies and Bacon Doughnuts!

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During a celebratory video on Tuesday, we announced the launch of a new special 2nd anniversary Rockstar group on May 1st (register here if you are interested).

We also announced there would be a special announcement today. (We sort of already announced it last week, but here's the announcement anyway.)

Note: Our community manager, Evan,  bet me a bacon-and-maple-syrup doughnut that I couldn't use "announced" more than 5 times in one post. Announcement: as you've seen above, he owes me a Hungry Lumberjack doughnut from one of Nashville's many food trucks, Loco Doughnut.


We have invested a substantial amount of time, energy, money, sweat, tears, and blood (not really any blood but inserted here for dramatic effect) in learning the tools, equipment, and processes involved in creating time-lapse scribing and digital videos/animations.

Many of our students and compatriots in the industry have asked nicely, strongly suggested, and even begged us (puppy-dog-eyes style) to share what we've learned to help you avoid some of the painful mistakes that go along with being a pioneer in any new field.

ABOVE: HEY! Don’t give us those puppy-dog eyes unless you are “for reals”!

Mostly, we think we're ready to do so, but to be honest, building a course is a lot of work, and we only want to go through it (again) if we know there's going to be an energetic/excited/fun group to go through it with us.

So just like two years ago, when we built Rockstar Scribe and That Creative Space, we're looking for a group of co-creators that are at least as excited about this stuff as we are to help us build a course that delivers everything our audience desires.

If this short description fits you, let us know. If we feel the love (a.k.a. get enough interest), we'll reach back out with next steps in this co-creation journey.

Happy Birthday Rockstar Scribe

Become a Rockstar Scribe turns two-years-old next month! Everybody sing along in your best falsetto opera voice ...

Happy birthday to you, Happy birthday to you, Happy birthday dear Rockstar Scriiiiiiiiibe, Happy birthday to you!

To celebrate these two magical years, we've loaded the course with fresh content for the Special-Birthday-Celebration group which starts May 1st, 2013.

And, not to steal any thunder—like Daniel did when he threw his high school graduation party on his sister's 10th birthday—we're using Rockstar's birthday as a platform for a very exciting announcement ... stay tuned =)

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When we launched the Rockstar Scribe course in May of 2011, we had so many amazing people appear in our lives. Heidi Forbes Öste (@ForbesOste) is definitely one of those people.

A Boston native, Heidi now lives in Sweden with her husband and children, and has a passion for humanizing technology and strategic use of social tools for individuals & organizations both online & face-to-face.

In her practice as a Global Social Strategist and Visual Practitioner, Heidi provides workshops, strategic visual harvesting and consulting to clients worldwide.

Somehow, she is also pursuing a doctorate through Fielding University.

As part of her wider research into the tools and methodologies used by the next generation of global leaders, Heidi has started down the path of researching the value of "visual practice" (visual facilitation, graphic recording, mindmapping, sketch-noting, etc.)

As a piece of her dissertation, Heidi's research on the visual practice, although still in the early stages, focuses on how it supports leadership and global teams using social technologies.

This discussion with Heidi was a fantastic opportunity to ask questions and gain insight into the broader trends at the intersection of social systems, collaborative technology, visual learning, innovation and global leadership.

For more information about Heidi's work, visit The Art of Social Strategy (http://forbesoste.com/)


00:00 | Introductions

03:00 | Heidi's History with Visual Facilitation 06:55 | Heidi's Research and Dissertation 09:30 | The Lexicon of Visual Practice

10:45 | Graphic Recording vs. Graphic Facilitation 12:00 | Sketchnotes Defined 17:30 | Strategic Visualization 20:50 | Visual Coaching 26:10 | Questions from the Audience

34:00 | Where to Take Survey and View Heidi's Research (forbesoste.com) 34:45 | Larger Question Being Explored 35:30 | Leadership and the New Social Paradigm

37:00 | Minimizing & Overcoming Miscommunication in a Global World 50:15 | Connect with Heidi at @forbesoste 54:00 | Special Announcements from Alphachimp

Learn visually. Alphachimp University. Click to see courses.

New Group of Rockstar Scribes Begins May 1.

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If you're already a member of Alphachimp University, we invite you to join our Affiliate Program and earn 30% for all referrals.

For more information, visit http://alphachimpu.com/affiliates/.

Finally, applications for our LIVE workshop INTERSECTION, hosted at our studio in Nashville, TN are due Monday, April 22 (Earth Day). Don't miss out on this exciting opportunity, Apply Here (http://alphachimpu.com/events/) before Monday, April 22 ... special discounts apply to all former or current students.

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Making RSA Style Videos in Schools

ABOVE: The Louisiana Purchase | drawings and voiceover by Kairav Maniar original on YouTube

The best compliment in the world (I believe) is when what you do connects with an eight-year-old.

Even better than that is when said eight-year-old takes technology and makes something that is both very cool and extremely thoughtful!

In this blog post, teacher  describes the nuts and bolts of how to make an RSA Animate style video with your class.

Show this to your favorite educator or student and challenge them to do the same!

Read full details at http://blogush.edublogs.org/2012/12/26/how-to-make-rsa-animate-style-videos-with-your-class/

(Discovered thanks to Julie Stuart's post on the Facebook Graphic Facilitation Group.)

Reasons We Use Schoology

Evan Barnett, our Alphachimp University Community Manager, won't brag to you about this, but I will—he produced a very cool video that won a contest. Schoology (www.schoology.com) is the platform we use for our courses, was running on why it's users chose it as a learning management system (LMS).

Evan's submission won the Employee's Choice Award!

Check it out.

TEDxNashville 2013 – Next


On Saturday, April 6th, 2013, TEDxNashville hosted its fourth annual event titled "Next" at the Tennessee Performing Arts Center. Distinguished leaders in technology, entertainment, design, science, art, education, government, public policy, healthcare and other areas shared their remarkable thoughts and ideas focused on creating positive changes in our society.

ABOVE: a time-lapse video of Alphachimp University's lead instructor Peter Durand scribing for 18 presenters and performers at TEDxNashville on April 6, 2013. The soundtrack of the video is taken from a 2005 performance by Matt Mahaffey, one of the 2013 TEDxNashville presenters.

See all images on Flickr

TEDx  Nashville Flickr Set

See Flickr Set | View Slideshow

Session 1

TEDxNashville 2013: Session 1 Mike Farris | Bob Ezrin | Erik Qualman Dr. Ossama Bahloul | John Wikswo | Spoken Word

Session 2

TEDxNashville 2013: Session 3 Scott Huler | Jeremy Kane | Rashad Rayford Andrea Guerrero | David C. Baker | Sara Terry

Session 3

TEDxNashville 2013: Session 2 Todd May | Anna Nekaris | Matt Mahaffey Sybril Bennett | Charles Holt

About TEDx Nashville

The leadership team of TEDxNashville comprises successful entrepreneurs, artists, technologists, communication professionals, philanthropists and PhDs.

Building on the highly successful 2010 event titled "Art + Science: The Future of Health" and the 2011 event "A Sense of Wonder,” this team is establishing a program that will inspire our community to engage in innovation for social change and serve as the foundation for a strong, ongoing TEDx presence in Middle Tennessee.

More at www.tedxnashville.com

Learn visually. Alphachimp University. Click to see courses.

Learn the basic visual facilitation skills through our online course Become a Rockstar Scribe at School or Work!

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Jorge Cham: Using PhD Comics To Close The Science Gap

So, what is The Science Gap? It is this vast black hole between those people who dedicate a lifetime of research to understanding how the world works... well, and the rest of us, aka. "the general public".

In this 2012 talk at TEDxUCLA, Jorge Cham explore the public perception of scientists and academics, as well as how his collaboration with particle scientist Daniel Whiteson at CERN resulted in a viral video explaining the why and how of hunting for the Hicks Boson.

Jorge Cham is the creator of the online comic strip Piled Higher and Deeper (PHD) as well as the video channel PHD-TV. Born and raised in the Republic of Panama, he obtained his Ph.D. in Robotics from Stanford University and was an Instructor and Research Associate at Caltech before becoming a full-time cartoonist.

More at: jorgecham.com

(Thanks to Lynn Kearny for the link!)

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and the future of learning. Follow on Twitter @ChimpLearnGood[/alert]

Visual Learning Strategies for Kids

An excerpt from "Thinking Through Art: The Isabella Stewart Gardner School Partnership Program," in which students discuss work from the museum's collection using Visual Thinking Strategies (VTS). VTS is an educational curriculum and teaching method which enables students to develop aesthetic and language literacy and critical thinking skills, while giving teachers a powerful new technique they can utilize throughout their career. Their mission is to foster cognitive growth through interaction with art, and to boost academic achievement in every school where VTS is implemented, facilitating systemic change in how students learn and how teachers teach.

More at http://www.vtshome.org

(Thanks to Coniqua Abdul-Malik for the link!)

Rock the Monkey: DIY U & The Rise of the MOOC with Derek Bruff


We had an engaging and insightful visual conversation with Derek Bruff, Director of The Center for Teaching at Vanderbilt University, on his experience in the trenches of evolving the traditional classroom experience into Massive Open Online Courses (or MOOCs). Derek received his PhD in Mathematics at Vanderbilt. He taught mathematics at Harvard University for two years before returning to Vanderbilt as an Assistant Director at the CFT and Senior Lecturer in Mathematics, before being named Director in 2011.

At the Center, Derek has consulted with faculty members, graduate students, departments, and programs across the university and helped develop two of the Center’s flagship programs, the Junior Faculty Teaching Fellows program and the Teaching Certificate program.

Most recently, Derek has shepherded the production of Vanderbilt University's first MOOC on Coursera and spearheaded the school's efforts to prepare its educators for the challenges of online video production, social media and facilitating hundreds of thousands of virtual students.


00:00 | Introductions

02:00 | What is the Center for Teaching at Vanderbilt all about?

11:30 | What exactly is a MOOC?

21:30 | What's involved in producing and facilitating a MOOC?

30:30 | Changing/Rethinking the educational process

39:00 | Questions for Derek

52:00 | DIY U: Unbundling the higher-ed experience

56:30 | How to find out more about Derek

60:30 | Special announcements from Alphachimp U

Alphachimp Learning is hosting a LIVE Chimp Learn Good Visual Workshop May 10 & 11 in Nashville, TN: REGISTER HERE

New sections of Become a Rockstar Scribe and That Creative Space begin March 14. Sign up before the special discounts and the prizes below end March 14.

Finally, refer a friend and ROCK OUT with a $50 iTunes discount ... just have them let us know at learning@alphachimp.com that you sent them our way.

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How Communities of Practice Survive (or Not!) Inside Formal Structures


This post was originally a response to John Stepper's thoughtful post on guilds and communities of practice (CoP), titled Leveraging a 1000-year-old idea at work.

My introduction to a CoP begin early in my career as a person with no definable job title. This was the mid-1990's and the term "knowledge worker" was just making its way into the corporate vernacular.

Fortunately, this network I joined had several simple (and visual) models for us to use when self-organizing around projects. That community was deeply influenced by the tradition of architecture as a mentor-apprentice education model; the Montessori school learning environment (in which teachers are "guides"); and Christopher Alexander's "pattern language" philosophical work on why built environment live and die.

Those three elements—models, environments, language—provide a powerful container for a CoP in which there is no top-down hierarchy, especially if the culture is open enough to allow discussion, interpretation, experimentation, and sharing.

The challenge within an organization or corporation is that there is often an allergic reaction to such openness, especially when there might be HR and legal fears of unintended consequences, for example if customers or patients are adversely affected.

This fear, whether warranted or not, is often magnified by the quarterly demands for ROI for any initiative.

The organizations which I have seen successfully incubate a CoP seem to require the sponsorship, patronage and protection of an enlightened, respected leader—another 1000-year-old tradition!

Referring back to the network I joined in the 1990s, it has survived inside and outside formal organizations precisely because the CoP was extra-organizational as well as intra-organizational, meaning that the patterns, models and language have perceived value precisely because they exist beyond any individual patron or corporately mandated structure.


Communities of Practice and Pattern Language by James B. Smethurst | The Journal for Transitional Management | September 24, 1997

Christopher Alexander and A Pattern Language: A Pattern Language: Towns, Buildings, Construction

photo via Humboldt State University

What patterns have you seen work for a Community of Practice to survive inside a school, university, geographic location, corporation or distributed network? What kills a CoP?

Add your comments below these related posts.

The Making of a Neurocomic

The brain is an amazing organ, with rich settings and intriguing characters. It lends itself nicely to metaphors. Unfortunately, there is little room for metaphor in scientific papers.

In this video, you can follow artist Matteo Farinella and neuroscientist Hana Ros of University College London as they collaborate to create a graphic novel called Neurocomic.

This scientific fantasy is about a hapless character who is sucked into a human brain where he encounters bizarre creatures and famous neuroscientists.

Their objective is to introduce the neurochemical workings of the brain to a wider audience, so entertainment, storytelling and clever metaphors are just as important to the enterprise as the science.

(via The Guardian)

Sugata Mitra: Build a School in the Cloud

Educational researcher Sugata Mitra is the winner of the 2013 TED Prize. His wish: Build a School in the Cloud, where children can explore and learn from one another. Sugata Mitra believes (and has documented) that when children are given access to technology—no matter where they are in the world—they will figure out how to use it.

His “Hole in the Wall” experiments have shown that, in the absence of supervision or formal teaching, children can teach themselves and each other, if they’re motivated by curiosity and peer interest.

In 1999, Mitra and his colleagues dug a hole in a wall bordering an urban slum in New Delhi, installed an Internet-connected PC, and left it there (with a hidden camera filming the area).

What they saw was kids from the slum playing around with the computer and in the process learning how to use it and how to go online, and then teaching each other.

He also sees that as a global society, we have focused too much on preparing humans to serve as replacement parts for the vast computer built in the 19th century.

“The Victorians were great engineers. They engineered a [schooling] system that was so robust that it's still with us today, continuously producing identical people for a machine that no longer exists.”

However, unlike our ancestors a millenium ago, he feels that educators have forgotten the secret of asking “wondrous questions”. Questions like: What happens with the air we breath? When did the earth begin? What are stars exactly? How can you tell if a speeding asteroid is going to hit Earth?

“It took nature 100 million years to make the ape stand up and become Homo sapiens. It took us only 10,000 to make knowing obsolete.”

When asked such wondrous, open-ended questions, children go on an intellectual adventure, one that is self-motivated and self-organized.

“It's quite fashionable to say that the education system's broken — it's not broken, it's wonderfully constructed. It's just that we don't need it anymore. It's outdated.”

Mitra has an inspiring vision for Self Organized Learning Environments (SOLE), in which the main ingredients are broadband, collaboration and encouragement.

This school would be managed by one granny (for health and safety) but everything in managed, sourced, beamed in, managed and moderated in the cloud.

The main operating principle? Let learning happen. This school would be driven by a curriculum of big questions.

The teacher, in the SOLE sets learning in motion and steps back to watch it happen.

Thanks to the TED community, it looks like Mr. Mitra may get his wish.

RESOURCES: — Self Organized Learning Environment (SOLE) Toolkit >>Sugata Mitra's 2013 TED TalkTED Sugata Mitra: The child-driven education — Learn more about the TED Prize

Making a Mighty MOOC: Part 2 – Five Implementation Tips

Mooc 2 Brain

A continuation of our short series on Massive Open Online Courses.

<< PREVIOUS Video 1: Introduction to MOOC

If you are are reading this, you may already know that online courses can be bad, boring or both—just like real live classrooms.

Dark, creepy videos of stiff, backlit instructors and PowerPoints thrown up online do not automatically equal engaged students and mastery.

And—just as in any full-bodied, live classroom—presentation matters. Structure matters. Storytelling matters.

Being an authentic and qualified instructor matters—whether those "qualifications" are the results of a hard-earned PhD or year of learning on the streets.

Point being: Bad student experience, whether in the classroom or online, is no good--it is a waste of time, treasure and talent.

More important, for us educators and presenters, ignorance about how the brain learns is no excuse for creating useless online learning, even if it is massive, open or free.

Solution Sets

TED has collected a set of speaker videos around this topic of "re-imagining the classroom".

The presentations include the insanely highly popular 2005 thought piece by Sir Ken Robinson and that master of the digital chalkboard lesson, Salman Khan of Khan Academy.

Daphne Koeller and Peter Norvig of Standford and Coursera share data and insight from their truly massive experiment in free online courses across major universities.

So here are 5 best practices distilled from several of these top leaders in this new field of MOOCs.

5 Implementation Tips

So here is a very, very short list of what you can do….

1. Keep it Real. Talk to one person and make that a person who you like and want to help.

2. Assume Passion. that that person is here because they want what you have, which really comes down to knowledge and passion for your field.

3. The Brain Can Only Absorb as Long as the Butt Can Endure. Make it short, make it bite-sized and make it visual.

4. Use the Beginner's Mind. (Unlike an "expert", a beginner remembers what it is like to not understand.)

5. A Classroom is an Intersection. Communication needs to flow along two axis: peer-to-peer and learner to instructor. Allow engagement with the materials & provide some sort of feedback

So what have you tried?

- Have you taken any open courses or online training that you felt was stellar? - Have you produced and delivered online courses and experimented with these tools? - What has worked for you?

Add your nuggets of golden wisdom in the comments below.


1. TED Collection: Re-imagining School Total run time 2:48:11 2. MOOCs: Massive Open Online Courses or Massive and Often Obtuse Courses by Lisa Chamberlin & Tracy Parish 3. Alphachimp's collection of MOOC articles on delicious

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Making a Mighty MOOC: Part 1 – An Introduction to Massive Open Online Courses

MOOC Title

Introduction to MOOCs

NEXT Video 2: 5 Tips for Making a Mighty MOOC >>

There is a giant leviathan creature lurking out there in the interweb ocean.

Fortunately, unlike all the other predatory phishes & West African princes looking for investment opportunities, this digital giant holds tremendous promise for both the rising tide of global talent and students drowning in debt. [Cue the theme music from JAWS.]


Inspired by a recent panel at the World Economy Forum on the future of education, this series of short videos is intended to spark a little conversation around Massive Open Online Courses. In the world of eLearning, the MOOC is the new 8 billion ton gorilla, promising to deliver education to the world.

Hence, "M" for Massive.

If my time in the purgatory of management consulting taught me anything, it is that any systemic problem has three basic elements: People, Processes and Technology.

Or, in more human language: "People doing stuff with things."

Technology, in the end, is anything that we (humans) designed to do a (specific) job.

Just because we have lots of technology, doesn't mean that the entire collage of technology is getting the big job done (think "public education" or "healthcare" or "Department of Motor Vehicles").

Same in this world of online learning.

All aspects of an online service are dependent upon many things working well: the user experience, communication skills, navigation, pacing of content, classic storytelling devices, ease of use, access, time, money, bandwidth, attention span, cognition, language proficiency…

Failure or "friction" in any of these areas can lead to a failure in transferring knowledge or skills online.

NEXT UP: 5 Tips for Making a Mighty MOOC


Davos Forum Considers Learning’s Next Wave by Alison Smale on NYTimes.com

"A MOOC By Another Name" by Christina Hendricks

Three Kinds of MOOCs by Lisa M. Lane

Thinking about MOOCs: A Link Round-Up by Derek Bruff

MOOCs: Massive Open Online Courses or Massive and Often Obtuse Courses? by Lisa Chamberlin & Tracy Parish

Follow the #MOOC discussion on Twitter

What is Your Experience? Comment below.

NEXT: Part 2 - 5 Tips to a Mighty MOOC