Stories of a MOOC thoughts & experiences

The following poem was shared on the discussion forum in the MOOC I studied. The award winning poem (translated from Spanish to English) was written by Deborah Wizel. Thank you to Deborah for allowing me to share her poem here in my micro-ethnography.


I close my eyes and try to forget


I carry the memories

tattooed on my arm

tattooed in my mind

in every pore

every breath

I remember

the echo of ignored prayers

the weeping of children

the screaming of mothers

I remember lifeless figures

open eyes

shooting pit

Around me absolute silence

photo by: Vasnic64, flickr


I chose to study a MOOC from FutureLearn called The Holocaust: An Introduction - Part 2 - Tel Aviv University. I focussed on examining the discussion forums within the community, concentrating on participant interaction. I landed on one forum in particular: 1.11 - Shooting Pits. Given the sensitive and disturbing nature of the subject matter of this MOOC, reflections from participants in the discussion forum centred around feelings of sadness, sorrow and sheer disbelief in the execution of Holocaust prisoners.

The community developed and, in my view, came together through shared thoughts and feelings about the atrocities of the Holocaust. Many participants expressed a "loss for words" in reaction to the Shooting Pits section of the course. Sue, a fellow MOOC participant, conveyed how 'we' (the community) are horrified by the events of the Holocaust, but, 'we' are also just as curious and fascinated by it because of our need to know why. Why did this happen... What led to this horrific event in history?

“When information and communications technology is cast into the world, and moist life breathed into its brittle, dry circuitry, it turns out that it is used to manifest culture and build community” (Kozinets 2010).

In contrast to the cold and difficult subject matter of this MOOC, I felt a "kinship" and warmth from the community, especially during my interactions with Sue and Deborah (Knox 2015). There was a great deal of interaction in the Shooting Pits forum, with many participants sharing personal anecdotes about family members who were victims of the Holocaust. When MOOC members go beyond participation and become teachers, contributors and storytellers, the online community is enriched and strengthened.

photo by: eleephotography, flickr


In examining the dialogue in this MOOC, I was struck by similar language being used in the discussion forums. In the following video, I have highlighted some key words that sum up general thoughts and attitudes.

Common words found throughout the forum discussion: murders, killings, fleeing, fear, desperation, inhumanity, lost, loss, hopelessness, horrified, sickened, shocked, crime, heartbreaking, unimaginable, executions, war, perpetrators, death, evil, terror, barbaric, blood, traumatised, damaged, poison, alcoholism, hatred, survivors, courage, testimony, human beings, thank you.

photo by: reginaspics, pixabay

A discussion forum post from Sue, MOOC participant:

"Even though I am far removed from the actual events, both by time, and that none of my family were directly involved. I still find myself horrified, sickened and shocked beyond belief and asking the same question, how could human beings take part in such murderous acts, as the wholesale shooting of men, women and children and in such numbers? It's a rhetorical question because despite all I have seen and read in media and this course has given me, I still don't know the answer... Were these people just like robots, following orders blindly and without question, were they rabid Nazis who believed that what they were doing was justified for The Reich, were they all just caught up in the killing, were they afraid that if they disobeyed, that they would face the same fate, or maybe it was a combination of all of these things or none, for different individuals. But there is a world of difference between killing the enemy on a battlefield and shooting a small helpless child in its mothers arms. There is not and can never be an excuse for such a crime, no matter what. And maybe the reason I am still so shocked is that it was carried out by 'so called' civilised (as opposed to primitive) human beings." - Sue
photo by: chrishobcroft, flickr

A word on ethics

In order to be transparent, I posted a brief introduction about myself and my purpose for participating in this MOOC on the discussion forum. I also received written permission from Sue to use her forum post here and from Deborah Wizel to share her Survivor poem. Thank you to Sue and Deborah!


I was inspired to produce videos for this micro-ethnography because of my need to be creative and because the atmosphere I experienced in the MOOC community drove me to express myself in an artistic way. Pain, art, healing? I also hope that by using digital technology to create content, I will help to spark the " human drive for social interaction" in online communities (Knox 2015). I was also inspired by watching the wonderful digital ethnographies from Dr. Michael Wesch and from the impressive work of my classmates at the University of Edinburgh. Thank you!

photo by: RonPorter, pixabay


Knox, J. 2015. Community Cultures. Excerpt from Critical Education and Digital Cultures. In Encyclopedia of Educational Philosophy and Theory. M. A. Peters (ed.). DOI 10.1007/978-981-287-532-7_124-1

Kozinets, R. V. (2010) Chapter 2 ‘Understanding Culture Online’, Netnography: doing ethnographic research online. London: Sage. pp. 21-40.

photo by: Meli1670, pixabay
Created By
Anne Powers


Created with images by RJPP - "faces jewish museum berlin holocaust monument" • Vasnic64 - "Berlin - holocaust memorial" • eleephotography - "Berlin Holocaust Memorial" • reginaspics - "berlin monument germany" • chrishobcroft - "Holocaust Monument" • RonPorter - "birkenau auschwitz concentration" • Meli1670 - "memorial holocaust jewish heritage"

Made with Adobe Slate

Make your words and images move.

Get Slate

Report Abuse

If you feel that this video content violates the Adobe Terms of Use, you may report this content by filling out this quick form.

To report a Copyright Violation, please follow Section 17 in the Terms of Use.