#ocTEL week 7: your place or mine?

I’ve not been the best at interacting with other participants on this course (mainly due to time constraints). But by the looks of it I’m not alone. The small group for distance learning forum, to which I subscribe, hasn’t seen any action for over a month; meanwhile, none of the forums on Activity 7.0 has more than ten posts.

Obviously ocTEL is an experiment in itself and one of its objectives is to find out how students want to interact, whether that’s via forums, blogs, social media or email. It’ll be really interesting to hear the ALT’s thoughts on the audience voting with their feet in this way.

I get the impression that quite a few people have dropped out by now. As far as I know, over 800 people registered for ocTEL but only around 12 made it to the live webinar for week 7. (Although many more may have watched the recording, as I did.) By the way, none of this is for the lack of planning or facilitation on the part of the organisers; maybe it’s just the nature of MOOCs. Again, there are interesting questions to be answered here about how students can be kept motivated to study when ultimately there isn’t a qualification at stake.

The interaction that I’ve enjoyed most in this course has been blog comments. When others comment on your own post, it feels like a really personal interaction and makes you reflect carefully on what you’ve written (and will write). I feel guilty about not getting round to commenting on others’ blogs, with the exception of Marcus Belben’s excellent post this week. Reflecting via a blog allows you to create and maintain a learning record that’s at once personal but also open to the world for comment.

All of which makes Martin Hawksey‘s week 5 webinar on facilitating student interaction via personal online spaces such as blogs all the more useful. Here was someone showing us not only how useful this interaction could be, but exactly how to set it up for yourself. It’ll be interesting to see how many other universities adopt this approach over the coming months.


2 Responses to #ocTEL week 7: your place or mine?

  1. Stuart, I’d have to say that the curated resources are the best thing about OcTEL much as I also value the blogs and the comments… I think they are something I’ll keep coming back to when working on new courses. I intend to copy the course material pages to my notes to be sure of access after the end of the course.

    I think that the OcTEL forum itself (the navigation and formatting problems) has probably been the least successful part of the team and Martin’s excellent work – without a central discussion space that’s easy to use the “cohort feeling” quickly disperses. But the newsletter and the webinars have been great to keep participation happening.

    This week I lost my broadband for 3 days due to tree leaves and felt quite bereft not being able to view the webinar recording. I do miss having to watch recordings due to work commitments and not being able to participate in those but the recordings are great “thought composting” time for starting to put shape on what we’re reading and watching.

    Best wishes, Imogen

  2. Stuart says:

    Thanks Imogen. I agree, the ocTEL resources have been fantastic. There’s so much information out there on TEL that I really need someone to curate it – otherwise I’d feel swamped.

    I’ve also enjoyed the webinars (and I like the phrase ‘thought composting’ BTW!).

    I’m not sure the ocTEL team could do much more to keep a cohort feeling going. Group assessments might work, but that’s probably a bit formal for this type of course and not everyone has time for it.

    PS Tree leaves taking down your broadband? I’m intrigued 😉

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