I’ve been taking the Coursera course Fundamentals of Online Education for the last week. I nearly said fortnight because it seems like longer and it seems like a lot has happened yet at the same time nothing has happened. The course was supposed to last 6 weeks but today (now yesterday), without any prior warning, the plug was pulled and the course unceremoniously closed. As a number of people on Twitter said, “Wow! Just wow!”. It’s difficult to know what any of the supposed 41000 enrollees are thinking because the site is shut. No one has anywhere to discuss or comment on their feelings or thoughts about the closure. Well we have e.g. our blogs, Twitter, FaceBook, but we are disconnected from each other. No community had developed in the week that the course was open and even in FaceBook, there was little widespread engagement.
Week 1 is where the detailed instructions for the ‘Join A Group’ spreadsheet are. Week 1 is the start of the course. Week 1 is meant to welcome us and make sure that we can all access the technology. When I look in the forums it is clear that this is a widespread issue, not something local to my set up. Getting the start right is not something which we’ve just realised is important. Gilly Salmon wrote about this nearly last century and this is stage 1.
So let’s look at joining a group. The course is using a Google spreadsheet for group sign up. There are no instructions within the spreadsheet but the rows are labelled Group 1, 2, etc and they are 20 columns wide. Seems the intention is that there will be 20 people in a group. Someone will add a new row and give the group a number which is one more than the group before. When 20 people have added their names to a row then someone creates a new row. When I first looked at it there were about 30 or 40 rows, most full. The spreadsheet did say that due to high traffic it was only showing list view but I’ve seen that before so no great worries.
Via Heiko Idensen