The Barcelona World Race (BWR) Ocean Campus is providing open courses – MOOCs – covering topics related to ocean sailing races. (For more information you can read my previous post introducing the Barcelona World Race and the Ocean Campus. Also, you can read a previous post about MOOCs.)
The BWR Ocean Campus, set up by the University of Barcelona, the FNOB and the El Far Consortium, declares that its mission is to disseminate the broad knowledge base in ocean sailing. The University of Barcelona is a public university located in the city of Barcelona, Catalonia in Spain. The BWR Ocean Campus courses will be the first MOOCs ever launched by the university. The courses are offered in three languages, Spanish, Catalan and English. The videos are either in Spanish or English. Spanish videos are subtitled in English and English videos are subtitled in Spanish. To date I’ve had the opportunity to participate in two MOOCs focusing on Meteorology and Medicine.
Let’s take a closer look at “Strategies for winning. Meteorology in a round the world regatta.”
From the course web site: “on this course you can learn about the mechanics of global weather and what knowledge of that sailors require. You will learn about the foundations of ocean meteorology, how digital files are generated based on prediction models and how sailors receive these via satellite and then integrate them into high-performance navigation software.”
This course comprises six modules:
- Understanding maritime meteorology
- Meteorological predictions
- The sailor as meteorologist
- Ocean regattas and meteorology
- Climatology and meteorology in the Barcelona World Race: From the Mediterranean Sea to the Indian Ocean
- Climatology and meteorology in the Barcelona World Race: From the Indian Ocean to Gibraltar
Each module usually involves a video introduction plus 5 to 14 video lectures ranging from 2 – 23 minutes. The video lectures often include case studies from previous ocean races. Each video lecture is accompanied by text giving a synopsis, further details on the content in the video, and/or details of landmark events and developments.
Each module has a quiz at the end, and with the first two modules the quiz must be passed before the student can move on to the next module. Quizzes are 15 questions each with a 30 minute time limit, and students are allowed to take the quiz as many times as they wish. For a fee students can take a final exam and obtain Certification from the University of Barcelona.
I found it quite intriguing to participate in a course where many (but not all) lectures are given in a different language. English subtitles were provided, but it is not the same as listening to an English lecture. It’s a different experience, giving me a bit of an idea what it might be like for those students taking a course in English whose first language is not English. Especially when a lecture involves some kind of demonstration, it is difficult to focus on both the demonstration and the subtitles. I think it is much preferable to use voice-over translation rather than subtitles, but this is more complex and time consuming.
I was really impressed with the smart whiteboard used in most of the video lectures. It is part of an interactive classroom display system that includes an interactive whiteboard, a computer, a projector and software. However the projected image often looked a little faint, and the Instructor had to be careful not to stand in the way of the projector. (Newer technology exists, such as interactive flat panels from Smart Technologies, which look like very large interactive computer screens, no projector needed!)
For me the course was quite fascinating, but then I have a personal interest in sailing and meteorology. I thoroughly enjoyed this insight into competitive ocean racing and its technologies and methodologies.