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Michael Susko


  • 1 review
  • 1 completed
ModPo is not only the most satisfying MOOC experience I have had but it is one of the best educational experiences I have ever had as an undergraduate or graduate student. Not only is it evident that many people and much work went into developing this MOOC, but, and this is what blows me away, how much time, attention, energy, and work go into to present the course day by day, week by week. Al, Julia, the TAs, volunteers, support staff, visiting professors and poets, and friends of the Kelly Writers House all go out of their way to make ModPo as close to a real-time, live experience as can be accomplished through digital media. Along with an excellent syllabus, this group has assembled a wealth of resources, available from within the course portal. All the material you need for the class is available through the portal--plus, the student is introduced to so many other resources that live long past the ending of the course. These online sources are maintained, containing decades of material of readings, interviews, audio recordings, videos, and a host of other resources. Along with the Kelly Writers House community, the student also joins an international community of other students, at all levels of proficiency and experience with both poetry and English. This diverse, international community generates ideas, readings, connections, and interactions that truly feed intellect, soul, and self. I signed up for this MOOC because I wanted to add some humanities to my life. As a humanities student many years ago, I fell in love with poetry, languages, philosophy, art, cultural history, fiction and have maintained that passion, but primarily alone. I write training for my career, but in the technology field. I thought I would take this course to get poetry back in my life more deliberately, perhaps brush up on my scansion, read a few poems with other people, and learn more about poetry from the Penn faculty and students. It didn't take too long into the course, say within 15 minutes of the first video discussion, that I knew this was going to be something special. And I was right. It is. Because of the the people who developed it, contribute to it along with their responsibilities at the university, and all the thousands, tens of thousands of poetry lovers who open their hearts, minds, mouths and share their passion, ideas, voices. No lectures here--only conversation, discussion, sharing ideas; exploring the text together, making discoveries about the poem and the self. The course does not tell you what a poem means, but rather shows you how you can find meaning in the poem by close reading. Al Filreis is not only committed to poetry scholarship, but he is committed to people, regardless of their background in poetry and literature, to help develop an understanding and love for poetry. His philosophy of education is so refreshing. His style is to explore a poem with a close reading, which he and his colleagues demonstrate through playful, insightful conversation, where no one is the expert, but each person adds something to the experience. I think this is a large part of what makes ModPo work: it is a community experience where each person is involved in reading a poem, that is, interpreting and applying it. I have taken more than a few MOOCs at this point. Some have been well worth the time; others, well, they weren't a good fit for me. Some I lost interest in because of the way they were presented. With so many things demanding my time, I have to be selective in what I commit to. With ModPo, while I could commit to a few hours a week and satisfy the requirements, I find myself putting in more time, not just on the course site itself but in exploring the resources. This course has reignited my passion for poetry again, giving it more focus and purpose. Amazing that something free and online could make such a strong impact on me-- and, this semester, 35k other people world-wide. I can recommend this MOOC without any reservation. Thank you, Coursera and ModPo, for bringing education to so many people globally.