CritLit2010

#CritLit2010 is now over.

I enrolled in this largely out of curiosity about what it would entail and in the knowledge that my travel plans for subsequent weeks would make it difficult to devote much time to it.  I was interested enough to go through most of the readings and to make some discussion entries and blog postings, but if I had had to pay for it then I think I would have been a bit disappointed.

Perhaps I am being too critical, but it seemed to me that a number of features didn't work as they should [1], resources were sometimes only loosely related to the nominal themes[2], and there was no mechanism or criteria provided for evaluation of progress.

But then again, if paying for it I might have been more demanding by way of asking the organizers for explanations of their design and/or evaluation of my contributions.

Here are my responses to the 'End of Session' Survey (with questions included exactly as copied from the survey web page):

1. Please indicated your level of agreement with the following statements, on a scale from 1-Strongly disagree to 5-Strongly agree.

  • The course objectives were clearly stated and understood - 2 (not clearly enough for me to really understand them - but I had some objectives of my own)
  • The course fulfilled its aims and objectives - 3 (not sure)
  • The content of the course was as I expected - 4 (pretty much)
  • The course content was sufficient to achieve stated objectives - 3
  • The materials and resources used were relevant and useful - 4 (yes)
  • The invited speakers helped me make meaningful connections with weekly themes and concepts in the course - 3 (I missed most of them)
  • The course was intellectually stimulating
    - 4 (yes)

2. Please indicated your level of agreement with the following statements, on a scale from 1-Strongly disagree to 5-Strongly agree.

  • Facilitators were in general well prepared and knowledgeable
    - 4
  • Facilitators were good at explaining things - 4
  • Facilitators made the subject of Critical Literacies interesting - 4
  • In general, facilitators were enthusiastic about the weekly themes -4
  • There was enough opportunity to interact and participate - 4
  • I could contact the facilitators when required - 4

3. Please indicated your level of agreement with the following statements, on a scale from 1-Strongly disagree to 5-Strongly agree.

Lecturing - 1, Discussion - 2, Group Work - 5, Problem Solving - 5, Practical Activities - 5, Support material and resources - 3.

4. Please comment on any other aspects of your learning experience in the Critical Literacies Course, emphasizing what was "positive" about your experience.

It satisfied some of my curiosity as to what such a course might entail.

5. Please comment on any other aspects of your learning experience in the Critical Literacies Course, emphasizing what was "negative" about your experience.

I was frustrated by what felt like a lack of integration between different modes of interaction (eg blog postings vs moodle discussions)- especially since the aggregators weren't working for the first week or so. And also by what struck me as weak connections between proposed readings and nominal weekly topics and the lack of any criteria for evaluation of progress.

6. Please comment on the impact of the course structure, activities, resources and presentations on your learning.

The course structure could have been more effective if better implemented (eg with feeds working better to aggregate contributions from different sources).
On the Activities I can't comment since there were technical problems for the first two weeks and after that I wasn't able to participate in synchronous activities due to travelling.
The resources were interesting but often seemed at best only weakly related to the nominal weekly topics.
I was only able to attend one of the Presentations and I did find that interesting.

7. Please indicated your level of agreement with the following statements, on a scale from 1-Strongly disagree to 5-Strongly agree.

  • Support and feedback mechanisms were sufficient and effective throughout the Critical Literacies course - 2 (Probably sufficient but effectivenes was hampered by my own failure to ask enough questions)
  • Support and feedback mechanisms were made clear in advance - 3
  • More customized support and feedback mechanisms would have been helpful in advancing my learning (e.g., based on my personal profile, past experience, etc….) - 3
  • I have received good advice and support mostly from facilitators in the course - 3
  • I have received good advice and support mostly from participants in the course - 4
  • I did my own thing during the course so I did not have to rely on course structure and support - 5

8. Please comment on support and feedback in the Critical Literacies course, using the space provided below. Share with us what was "positive" or "helpful" for you.

Support and feedback were provided by peers in the course, but to some extent this was hampered by my own failure to ask enough questions and by failure of the system to deliver all of my contributions to all participants for feedback.

9. Please comment on support and feedback mechanisms and/or issues in the Critical Literacies course, using the space provided below. Share with us what was "negative" or "not helpful" for you.

It would have been useful to have some method of self-evaluation relative to externally defined objectives.

10. Please indicated your level of agreement with the following statements, on a scale from 1-Strongly disagree to 5-Strongly agree.

  • The course structure is not what I expected - 2 (Actually it was pretty close to what I expected in structure - but not in implementation)
  • The course structure was effective in supporting my learning - 2 (It might have been more effective if implemented differently)
  • I did not feel advice was available when I needed to make choices in the course - 4 (I felt that it probably was available if I had taken the time to seek it)

11. Please feel free to provide any additional comments on structure and support within the Critical Literacies course, using the space provided below.

Re structure see also my comment on #6. It would also have been helpful to have more assigned tasks and activities (preferably asynchronous) and more criteria and/or tools for self-evaluation.

12. Please indicated your level of agreement with the following statements, on a scale from 1-Strongly disagree to 5-Strongly agree.

  • The course helped me to acquire foundational knowledge of critical thinking - 1 (I already had such knowledge)
  • The course helped me to develop my own critical thinking capacities - 1 (I already had such capacities)
  • The course has not had an impact on my work or area of study outside the course - 2 (It has sensitized me to some of the difficulties that students might encounter in my own on-line courses)
  • I made new friends - 4 (Actually this has yet to be confirmed)
  • As a results of the course I now feel confident in tackling unfamiliar subject matter in a massive open online learning environment - 1 (see next answer)

13. Please feel free to comment on any other aspects related to skills and capacities developed as a result of participating in the Critical Literacies Course, using the space provided below.

I still feel reasonably confident about tackling unfamiliar subject matter in a massive open online learning environment but I can't say that confidence was increased by taking this course.

14. Please share your impressions for the following items using the response set provided.

Do you intend on taking a new MOOC course? - Maybe

If you plan on taking a new MOOC course, do you know what course you plan on taking next? - No

Do you feel you have gained new skills through the course? - Maybe, but if so only marginally

15. If you answered yes to the question Do you feel you have gained new skills through the course, please specify what skills in the list provided below. Otherwise, skip to the next question.

The only area where I may have gained some new skill is in the area of using multiple channels of communication - but I had already started working on this and clearly still have a long way to go.

16. Please feel free to comment on skills and future plans in the space provided below.

I clearly need more skills and/or better tools for coordinating different sources of information and different channels of communication.

17. Are there any other positive or negative aspects of the course that you would like to highligh at this point? If so, please comment below.

The main positive aspect of my experience with the course is that it has prompted me to consider the challenge of integrating different communication channels, both in my own learning environment and in the development of web-based courses.

18. Do you have any suggestions for massive open online courses to be held in the future?

Definitely provide clearer instructions and better guidance to available resources. And test the technology properly (eg registration system, conferencing software, aggregation systems) *before* starting the course.

19. If you have any other comments please make them here.

Despite the frustrations, I actually enjoyed participating in this course.

(The remaining five questions were just demographics and identification)

Notes:-
1 Specifically login glitches during the first week, problems with video-conferencing, RSS feeds needing to be reset, and discussion summaries never getting set up in the 'daily'. None of these is exactly huge, but they made it difficult to be confident of having found all of the other students' postings (or that they had seen mine) and I would have thought that with a bit more testing beforehand things would have gone a lot more smoothly.
2 I was puzzled, for example, by the fact that the readings for the topic of 'Syntax' included more about 'Ontology' which I would relate more to Semantics.

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