agooglehangout‘Where are the professors?’ was the title of one of the threads posted anonymously in the discussion forum page of the E-learning and Digital Cultures  MOOC.

To reassure us that there are, after all, real human beings behind the digital interface, Jeremy Knox, Siân Bayne, Hamish Macleod, Jen Ross and Christine Sinclair from the Edinburgh University all showed up yesterday evening in person for a live broadcast on a Google hangout which has now been archived on You Tube.

I played my part by tuning in and adding my Twitter questions and comments. For digital natives this probably sounds like a bog standard use of technology but, for me, it felt quite hi-tech!

I was comforted by the homely, approachable look of these instructors and by the fact that the whole production didn’t look particularly slick. You saw Siân Bayne swigging from a bottle of water, Jeremy Knox sipping tea from a mug (or perhaps it was whisky!) and Hamish Macleod waved his arms about from a book-lined den with a large coat stand behind him. Christine Sinclair came over as caring and sharing while the cheery Jen Ross did a great job of facilitating the discussion

The main purpose of the broadcast was to address some of the themes that have arisen over the first week of the course but, by accident or design, it also made the course feel a lot more real. These were not aloof academics talking down to their students, but an open and friendly bunch of individuals grappling with complex issues and feeling a little overwhelmed by the sheer volume of interest and level of interaction generated by this MOOC.

It all gave me a lot of encouragement and incentive to launch into week two with renewed enthusiasm.