I had set aside some time this morning to do my coursework for the first week of Fundamentals of Online Education: Planning and Application with Georgia Tech.
There’s two new SMAANZers on board: Rob and Mes who are joining Emma, Geoff and myself. On Monday, we got an email saying the course had opened. There was a Google Docs spreadsheet online and we were to put ourselves into groups.The spreadsheet said that due to heavy traffic on the document, only the lite version was available. No worries. I jumped in and got us into Group 19. We immediately set ourselves the important task of finding a famous #19 athlete to name ourselves after.
Others weren’t having such an easy time of it with some getting a busy signal. Others deleted entire rows and columns, removed people from their groups, crashed Google’s server and rebuilt the page.
There was also a problem with accessing the Week 1 information straight away, but this was fixed by Tuesday. On Tuesday we also got an email suggesting that we can join whatever group we liked via commenting on the respective discussion board.
On Wednesday we got an email letting us know there was a new forum for forming groups.
On Thursday we got an extension for our assignments, and a video was made to show us how to join a group and for the overview. An FAQ page was also created.
On Friday we got an email asking us to stay in groups, with a justification why these groups were necessary (so we can form a network and discuss the course in a small forum without reading all posts).
Just as I went to login to do my coursework this morning, we received an email that the course has been temporarily suspended.
Cue picture of me running out of the classroom Bart Simpson style!
My lessons for this week are (some are new, others from Christmases past):
- Practice what you preach. I dislike doing group assignments myself, but I know the necessity of them. If group assessment is used, explain the benefits and provide processes for students to help (both technological and personal). I didn’t get a chance to take a good look at the assessment, but it appeared that the groups weren’t for the purposes of assessment, only to facilitate the learning.
- You can learn just as much by looking at what NOT to do. Allocating groups using an openly editable spreadsheet isn’t going to work for a class of 40. In our class, we’ve got 40,000! BTW – that’s 2,000 groups… If you need a video to explain the group process, it’s possibly too complicated.
- Check your links and course content prior to the start of the course, and get a colleague to check it too.
— Emma Sherry (@emmaesherry) January 28, 2013
— Geoff Schoenberg (@GeoffSchoenberg) January 28, 2013