DALMOOC architecture – Reflections after Two Weeks

My personal view after two weeks:

  • edX – enrolment and discussion forum and the certification of learning via self-assessment (thanks to Matt Crosslin (@grandeped) for the clarification).
  • Course content … seems to be hosted outside edX in a WordPress blog.
  • Visual syllabus … not sure that it adds much but it looks nice.
  • Dual layer MOOC – more confusing than helpful — at least at first.
  • ProSolo – as the prime aggregator for the course it’s flawed; many of the daily digested materials are off-topic because it’s a contributor’s whole blog (and optionally comments) feed that is aggregated rather than posts tagged DALMOOC. As an engine for “social competencies” and peer assessment I think ProSolo may have some potential but I’m not convinced that my data is portable or that as a social space it’s better than the social networks where I’m already established.
  • Quick Help … maybe useful but I’ve not received any help from it yet and it’s tied to the edX forum so if you choose to work on the cMOOC layer it’s of limited use.
  • Agent mediated pair chatting in Bazaar with random pairing from a “lobby” which you have to turn up for at a particular time …! I appreciate the benefits and power of group work and the difficulties of achieving some form synchronous engagement across global timezones, but I’m sure that this is one way that I’d never choose for myself. Maybe that’s my British reticence compounded by my Yorkshire dourness.
  • Assignment bank … good idea stolenborrowed from DS106 but some of the assignments are a bit too difficult for people starting out.
  • Using the enrolled students as a captive research study. This is fairly standard for EduMOOCs but can still be a bit unnerving. To be fair, DALMOOC makes no secret of the fact that it’s happening and you can opt out once it was made clear that granting your permission to be observed wasn’t a pre-requisite of joining the course.
  • Using the enrolled students as beta testers … a bit naughty and potentially frustrating when the tools need that beta testing!
  • Giving students access to tools that they could never afford to use in their daily practice … nice but somewhat pointless. The free and open source tools may be harder to use but will at least be available to us to use when we are data analytics experts at the end of the course.

Having done one or two of these cMOOCs before, I’m perhaps more comfortable than some in sampling the facilities on offer and rejecting and moving on from those that do not add personal value. It’s still unfortunately the case that online courses are places that you have to go to for content, interaction and engagement. This one is unique in that it has more “centres of activity” than most!

So what do I do? I watch the videos, but mostly fail to read the readings. I try to attend the hangouts (or watch the recordings as soon as I can afterwards) because in a cMOOC these tend to be the main meeting/orientation points for the course. I tryfail to create artefacts that I share via my blog and twitter. I comment on tweets and blogs when I can. I take the assignments as suggestions and don’t feel that I need to do them allhaven’t attempted any of them. I’m happy to self-assess and don’t need peer or tutor assessment of my competencies.

What don’t I do? My mail client hasn’t been trained yet to surface the Sunday Email so I don’t read that! I ignore the daily emails and their equivalent on edX — primarily because of the issues with aggregation mentioned above. I don’t refuse to do the pre-course or post-course evaluations. I dislike receiving course evaluations as a teacher, and as a student I can appreciate why being asked to fill these in would not inspire positive feelings towards the course (or teaching) being evaluated.

Most importantly perhaps, I don’t worry about missing anything and needing to catchup.

In summary, if I leave this course having expanded my Personal Learning Network and learned a bit about the tools and techniques of Data Analytics for Learning, it’ll have been time well spent. If not, it’s cost nothing!

Author: cpjobling

Senior lecturer, College of Engineering, Swansea University