MOOCing: day one

I’ve decided to give another MOOC a go: I registered for one several months ago and never fully engaged.  I won’t give the title or topic of the course, since my postings here are entirely subjective–though hopefully substantively analytical as well.

Intro email: sent after registration weeks ago. Concise and to the point.

Course start email: reminder this week that the course went live. Received two different emails: one would’ve sufficed.

Platform: is a wiki rather than an LMS.  Nice clean, LMS-like interface. Announcements are the focus when logged in. This works well I think.

Week one content:

  1. 3 required readings, including 2 extensive chapters from reports and one website section. No peer reviewed readings, but the open access nature of the course might be a driver here. Still, for a course developed by a research-intensive university this is disappointing. Even for a MOOC.
  2. 4 videos, 3 of which are lectures. Very static, transmission-focused with a few formative questions used as bookmarks. Lecturer very obviously reading a prompter on one of the videos. One is more PowerPoint with webcam embedded. This is not cutting edge or terribly engaging. One video is 18 minutes long–twice as long as it should be.
  3. Assessment: aside from the formative questions in the video there is a quiz this week. Allowed up to two attempts within the timeframe. Some questions drafted to assess higher order (analytical) thinking; others are the sort of instructor-driven random factoid questions that disinspire students. I certainly felt rather WTF about a couple of them. One qualitative question that was either auto-assessed or given credit for writing anything? Not clear from the results.
  4. Interactivity: several active discussions in the first week. Already some interesting, banal, pedantic and maddening postings. No surprises there. Someone posted a wikipedia entry without attributing it: both the use of an encyclopaedia and the missing attribution are unacceptable to my mind.

Sales pitch: There is an option to get an official(er) certificate of completion for the course. This involves some steps to verify your identity (keystrokes, web camera, photo of ID). Oh and pay some money. Apparently this is one of the (small) ways MOOCs can be monetized.

Tried to sign up, but the site won’t pick up my webcam through Firefox or Safari or Chrome.  Is it Macphobia, Wintel hegemony or ? Other sites can access the cam via Flash–the right camera is selected, blah blah blah.  Not a great start. I wonder how much of the money goes to the institution and how much to the MOOC consortium?

That’s it for now.