OpenEd Week “X”

Alessandro blogged tonight about the same frustration many of us (myself included) are feeling with regard to the Intro to Open Ed course. Alessandro’s frustrated that I haven’t been providing as much feedback as might be desired. I have to agree. With about 60 students following the course, I could easily spend all day every day responding to what you are all writing and still not keep up. There is really amazing thinking and writing happening “out there,” and I love reading it and engaging with it. As you may guess, though, I’m making sure to give feedback and additional prompts to the students who are registered for credit first, and then reading as much of the rest of your work when I can, and commenting when possible.

One thing I knew coming into this was that if I opened the course for broad participation, I couldn’t possibly scale to providing in depth feedback to all 60 of you every week. This is part of why I encourage you to read and comment on each other’s work. And I’m happy to report that this is beginning to happen. However, as Stian says in a comment on Alessandro’s post,

I think our blog posts are less interesting because [snip] most of it tends just to be very similar looking “summaries of main points”.

So, as a recommendation, when you write about what we’re reading for the week, please do put some of yourself in the response. Include some of your original thoughts. Read and link to some of your classmates’ posts. As Stian suggests, the more thoughtful and interesting your post is, the more likely you are to get a discussion started.

For the first few weeks of the class I tried to include highlights of what you were writing on my blog. I then switched over to leaving comments directly on people’s sites. I’m now hearing that perhaps people liked having the highlights and my commentary all in one spot (here on this blog). I’d appreciate your thoughts in the comments section of this post. I’d be happy to go back to doing it that way. Also, I’ve heard some people asking for some synchronous chatting. Let me know your thoughts about this in the comments, too.

I love what you’re doing and what you’re writing; I’m sorry I’m not commenting on all of it. Please keep up the good work, and please support each other! I don’t want this to be a failed experiment. So please send me your ideas for how we can make the course work better, especially for those who are “following” and not necessarily signed up for credit.

6 thoughts on “OpenEd Week “X””

  1. Now I feel much better after reading this post. I was thinking I am the only one student get some confusion. I tried to read other classmates’ blogs, but often i can only find very few students point directly to the weekly reading. Houshuang,Greg, and Karen’s blogs are the best ones i like and their thoughts take me to many different viewpoints. I learned a lot more from them than just read the article myself and straggle to answer the questions.

    I can understand it is hard to give feedback to all the students in this class because of the large quanlity of students. So help each other in class is very important. I would love to have some synchronous chatting even I know it is kind of hard because of the different time zones. And I also like the idea of having the highlights and commentary all on this blog for each week if your time is allowed. I also understand it is hard to make this highly involved course successful with so many students and also with a great lot of work traveling.

  2. Hi Dave,

    First, although I agree that it has been hard in this course to connect with others, I do want to thank you for trying this innovative approach to education – just the fact that I can learn in a group without being registered at a Uni is a great thing. And as Karen commented on my blog this week – it has certainly allowed us to “reflect on online course design and community building.”

    Just in case others haven’t caught it, I want to reiterate two suggestions:

    1. Alessandro, Stian and Karen have all suggested a common place to dialogue – perhaps on the opencontent.org site. Alessandro has created it as “MEETINGPOINT”, under discussion – GREAT!

    2. For next year, karen and i agree: . “I would like a schedule that had reading and writing one week and then reading others’ thoughts and responding the following week. It would also be nice to have some structured iteration back to previous course topics since it’s all so related.”

  3. Megan, great point. We need to have some time after someone posts to respond. I often find myself looking for something to talk with someone about on this weeks readings but the only posts that are available are last weeks’. A common place to dialog would be nice too, but I am not so keen on the chat idea. I would first like to see how the common dialog place works.

  4. I keep checking back to Dave’s blog, expecting to see his review of other people’s postings. I hadn’t realized that the comments on our individual posts had replaced his ‘best of’ posts…just that they weren’t happening. I have appreciated the individual feedback on postings.

  5. HI David,

    I am very glad that this topic came up, as it is something I think several of us have been thinking. For my own sake, I understand that it is a big commitment to be following and commenting on so many posts and ideas every week, but I guess in hearing nothing from you at all about the course, we feel that we are left to “sail our own sea”… here are some thoughts

    – I’d really like to hear more about your self-reflective thoughts about this course, how you feel it is going, and how you’d organize it differently, or how you will organize it differently if you are teaching it again (which I hope you will!)
    – perhaps limiting enrollment would be a good idea – probably on a first-come first-serve basis. Since all the material is open, everyone else would be able to read all the material, read every blog, and even publish on their own blog – they just wouldn’t be in the blogroll and you wouldn’t be obliged to read their blogs etc.
    – we should probably consider what technologies we use to conduct this class. I really like the fact that no synchronous presence is necessary, since it’s hard with different timezones and responsabilities, but the possibility of one – for example once a week just assigning a time and place for people who want to to meet and discuss would be useful. You wouldn’t have to attend if you didn’t have time.
    – Perhaps having a co-tutor, like a TA, who would help read the blogs and provide comments, join the chat etc. I am sure, for such an interesting topic, you might be able to find someone to do it voluntarily.
    – Blogs are good for publishing longer “essays” that stand on their own – the fact that we publish them on our own blogs is nice, because it gives it more “personal” identity, and people not in this course can come across them. However a) I read all the blogs through Google Reader, and thus I miss the comments. b) We really need a “back-channel”, whether a forum or a mailing list, where we can have more of a running dynamic conversation about this forum, how it’s going, how we are feeeling, how we’d like to do it differently etc. Apparently edocet’s concern has already been discussed among the Italian speakers because they already belong to one online community, but hasn’t been shared with the rest of the group, because there was no place to do that, except post a blog, which is somewhat “bombastic” – especially if it’s just for a question (like “where are the interviews listed in the curriculum”)
    -I really liked your “summary” posts during the first week, and I would love it if you could continue doing that. You don’t need to cite us all by far, but just highlighting a few interesting thoughts or ideas, and kind of “pulling it all together” before we move on.
    -I also second Megan’s post about a schedule were we first have to post our first impressions on the readings, and then a few days later blog about other people’s thoughts.

    Stian
    apologies for the long message – I really think this is a wonderful initiative, and I am learning a lot, both about the content, but also in reflecting about the course delivery! THank you!
    (I will post this on my blog as well – since many people don’t read blog comments)

  6. I agree with Megan and Karen on the need of time for reading and commenting others’ posts. Discussing with the colleagues is a valuable opportunity, but we need time. Now I’m able to read not more than one or two posts, because the new week’s assignment is waiting for my attention 🙂
    I see this is a problem for the English natives, too..
    Furthermore, I appreciated your summarization for first week’s tasks. I guess it’s more useful than individual comments (even if they are always welcome :-)) because it add a definite “conclusion” to the work of the week.
    As I said in my latest post, I realize this is quite …unsustainable with more than ten students or so.
    Finally, I’m not convinced about the chat: it seems to me too difficult to organize for timing and very hard to manage, if dozens of us decided to attend. I experienced very poor chats in similar situations..

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