Engaging (or not) in #change11

I'm finding it difficult to get engaged with the Change MOOC, and I have to ask myself why that is? I know that it "technically" hasn't started, in that Monday signifies the first official week, and this week has been about orientation, or at least that is the theory. Here is the thing, I'm not oriented. Every time I tried to go into Participating links, I got blank screens or placeholder posts. I tried several times, and eventually gave up – decided to wait and see. This morning I tried logging into the system on my Android Phone while on the bus to work. Sadly, the system wouldn't even let me log in :(.

As I write this, I try again. I see now that the blog posts are now appearing. I'm challenged by the lack of usability features in the interface. For example, I'm navigating through the blog posts. I click, and scroll through several of them – when I'm done, I can't get "back" to the main Change MOOC page, there is no link :(. When I try to join in on the discussions, I discover there is no way start a discussion (or at least no obvious way). And I won't know if my blog posts have been "accepted" to the feed until I post this and see if it appears. I've filled out the form twice, but the post I did last week on "needs analysis" didn't get picked up (I guess I was too early), and my blog isn't listed on the list of blogs.

All of this is leading me to feel like my "voice" is being silenced. I'm pretty sure that isn't the intention, but I thought I'd share that feeling. If I were less inclined to be involved, I probably would have already walked away. Fortunately, I've already discovered my blog as a means of being heard, and I already have a network of people listening (from my previous MOOC experience).

Deep down, I guess I'm disappointed. I had looked up to this MOOC as being "the Mother of MOOCs" and hoped to glean best-practices in MOOC design from it, but it certainly has not started out in a stellar manner. I hope it gets better. My lesson for MOOC design is that the first is THE most important week – even if it is listed as "orientation", it needs to allow for participation, and all the features of the interface should be up and running on day 1.

I have found the Twitter hashtag #change11 great for harvesting useful links and commented on at least one blog post that I found because the author tweeted it. This first week, it has been the only way I've been able to find connections.

I'm eagerly looking forward to next week – and the discussions on mobile learning.

6 Comments on Engaging (or not) in #change11

  1. Hi Brett and all,
    I guess for me, I want more. Not that I necessarily want more from change MOOC itself, I just want more thought in general to go into the learner experience. I want people to care about the number of people that drop out, not just the number of people that sign up. I don't think making things easier to use is that difficult. It doesn't happen, because it isn't seen as a priority or it just isn't thought about at all. The attitude is that people will "figure it out". But I feel for all the peop;e that don't figure it out – I feel that I'm missing all the voices of the people who could be experiencing this amazing educational opportunity but are not missing out because they couldn't figure it out. I want this experience to be awesome, not just for me, but for everybody – but alas, I think it is only awesome for those that are willing to struggle through the glitches and the foibles of the system.
    Oh well … For the benefit of the qualitative researchers that will possibly read my post, I thought it was important to express how I was feeling, as it may give some insight into the reasons for drop outs, even if I'm not one of them.
    Cheers, Rebecca

    • Hi Rebecca,
      You raise an important point, that we are missing out on the voices (to add to the cacophany) of many people that lack the patience or technical nous to sort things out for themselves. This is one of the things that bugs me about elitism, not that it is feature that is peculiar to a MOOC, but found everywhere in academe. If I can draw an analogy with sports, once you start investing in the selection of players that have the right attributes and training them for competition you discourage participation at the lower levels.
       
      Raising the barriers to entry, even as an unintended consequence of the course openness, paradoxically prohibits participation for many. The very fact that we are having this conversation while comfortably sipping tea (or your beverage of choice) indicates that we have acheived a level of socio-economic security that permits an induldgence in computer mediated social relations.
       
      So while agree that we more could be done, my point is that the challenge then becomes how to incorporate our experience of this course into an expansive view of education. We are struggling with the same issues that our learners are, if only we could reach them!
       

  2. Hi Rebecca, I agree with you that there are a lot of things that could be done better, athough I prefer to think of that as encouragement to make my own sense of what is going on here (or there). Without any intended offense to the facilitators the mooc.ca site interface is confusing, gRSShopper while it aggregates it also floods like firehose and the conversations that happen all over place make it very hard to follow.
    I think of these things as features of the course, rather than bugs that need fixing. How you respond to them and make sense of the chaos is an important part of the learning.
    Where you see problems, these may be opportunities for you to incoporate solutions into your practice as a scholar. Where you see failures, perhaps they are guiding you and others towards their definitions of success in this MOOC.
    Learning is messy, there is no reason to imagine that a MOOC should be any different. Now if I were paying for it, that would be an entirely different proposition!

  3. Good News!
    Your blogs are in the feed! :-)
    I am happy to be using gRSShopper again – it's a nice place to get all blogs, links, tweets, facebook items all in one convenient email! The one problem i had (and still have) with gRSShopper is that it doesn't harvest comments from people's blogs. I think this part may be too hard to accomplish :-)  I tend to post on people's blogs, rather than use the gRSShopper comment system.
    My only feedback, thus far, is to implement a proper "modules" section. When I click on the "course outline", it takes me to a google spreadsheet with a bunch of links for each week. This week's link is a blog but it doesn't have any information about what the recomended readings, activities, sources are.

  4. "My lesson for MOOC design is that the first is THE most important week – even if it is listed as "orientation", it needs to allow for participation, and all the features of the interface should be up and running on day 1."
    Thanks for sharing your experiences in the opening week of the course. I agree with you – first impressions matter and everything should be more or less working in the opening week. There are things that we could/should have done better (sadly, that's the case in every open course I've run!)
    As an aside, interaction has been occuring. The daily includes blogs and posts from course participants…if you click through any of those, you'll get a sense of what's happening, who's interacting, etc. This course doesn't occur on the change.mooc.ca site. It occurs in your browser and all over the web. There is a disorientation phase in open courses – we expect to go to a particular place to find the information related to the course. Instead, the resources are scattered over different blogs and websites. They are partly aggregated in the Daily (especially once we start with presentations by weekly facilitators). 
    I hope your course experience will improve as we progress….

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