Trying out new online courses: GDPR and online engagement

I have been trying out new online courses, starting with a Futurelearn course ‘Understanding the General Data Protection Regulation‘ which many colleagues are also taking part in. I am a Data Controller and responsible for my organisation’s compliance with the GDPR framework when it comes into force, and this course forms part of our way to becoming compliant.

I have been taking part in the course mostly by reading and absorbing the material rather than discussing/exchanging ideas with other participants – I have plenty of debate around these issues in other contexts.

The course is clearly structured, easy to follow and has plenty of references and articles to follow up on specific issues further. I found the video component of the course, which is usually more engaging for me, less interesting in this case. I found I prefer to read the more detailed articles and lists.

After one more week of GDPR, I am really looking forward to starting a completely different kind of course, the upcoming ‘Engagement in a Time of Polarization‘ run on edX led by Delia Deckard and Bonnie Stewart. The course is described as follows:

How can we work together in a society where our communications channels have become so polarized? Can we engage in active, effective collaboration in a media ecosystem designed to make money from driving us apart?

This two-week course convenes a conversation on participatory engagement models, and on building understanding and relationships even within the very real limits of contemporary social media. The course will enact the same participatory ideas it explores, and will feature input from leading voices in media literacies, disinformation, and polarization. Participants can engage on their own time and in real time, and if they wish, can build towards action in their local communities.

The focus of this course closely relates to some of the work I do day to day, in particular around enabling engagement in online communities at scale, supporting effective open, online governance and reflecting on the skills required to participate.

It’s also a topic I am interested in for my own practice, and I am looking forward to learning more about how debate gets polarized and how we interact online.