AQ Reflection 3

As I near the end of module three (of four) in this AQ course, I’m still struggling with some facets of the e-learning experience. Those of you who have been following this tag will know that the first course was disappointing from a content perspective; the course was woefully outdated. This current course has been updated, and the course is a lot more relevant in terms of technology currently being used in the classroom.

I also want to applaud the instructor, @mrmuzzdog, who has been instrumental in running the course the way I imagine I would run it: integrating things like Twitter, social bookmarks, personal blogs, and Google Hangouts. I have a feeling that if not constrained from the requirements of the ETFO course, and the OCT requirements for the course format, Rod would be running a decentralized eLearning experience, with the participants participating on each other’s blogs, connecting through social media, and sharing via Web 2.0.

My issue is with the way that D2L — the Learning Management System — works. I’m finding some facets of the course frustrating. ETFO is running an older version of the LMS, which certainly may be adding to my frustration.

I wish I could add comments to the feedback received in the dropbox. If I’m using the dropbox to hand in work, I don’t think it’s fair to assume that I am handing in a finished piece. I should be able to not only receive feedback, but should also be able to respond to that feedback. I think it makes sense to be able to have a discussion about the work, in the same space that the feedback occurs.

I’m frustrated by the way that the platform “counts” whether I’ve read something (and I would also hope that a teacher wouldn’t use that as a gauge in the classroom: if you can show acquisition of a skill, I don’t necessarily see the point in continuing the dialogue if it isn’t meeting your needs: students have other courses, and people have other commitments). Unlike email (in which I can’t read something without it being marked as read) I’m able to navigate the discussion forums, reading everything, without marking anything as read. Because I don’t mark things as read, I’ve now started to go though and mark everything as read at the end, which is a silly hoop. Here’s a snippet from the feedback provided by the instructor:

Here is some data collected by D2L about your participation- there were 20 required posts in LE1/2. You made 46 posts (average was 74) and read 275 (average was 821). Make sure that you are using the “Mark Read” button as you read through them, and continue to lead through quality, as well as quantity, of posts.

I appreciate the analytics, and I feel Rod highlights what is most important: the quality of the posts. I strive to ensure that the things I post are relevant and helpful, rather than just giving out “stickers” to my colleagues in the course (it’s tempting to just say “I like the way you did…”, which I do fall into, but I make attempts to move the conversation forward as well when appropriate). I’m surprised that my colleagues in the course are contributing an average of four times the required contributions: I struggle to find the time to fit this course into my full-time job. I can’t imagine contributing more beyond what the rubric suggests. Perhaps that is because this isn’t my PLN. Perhaps if you added up all of the contributions I make on Twitter, on blogs, etc, I would be contributing in as elevated a fashion: I think it’s great that the participants in the course are having such rich dialogue: I may be trying to juggle too many spaces in attempting to keep participating in both my authentic Twitter PLN, and this course PLN which I know to be temporal.

I’m looking forward to the final segment of the course, having enjoyed the structure, the instructor’s flexibility when I have trouble fitting the activity into my current role (they are often written for teachers in the classroom, which makes a great deal of sense), and the conversations in discussion area. I will attempt in the last portion to continue to contribute relevant content, and I’ll hit that Mark as Read button a bit more often too.

Published by jarbenne

Jared Bennett is the Student Information System Consultant at Hamilton Wentworth District School Board.

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  1. So here goes- feedback on the feedback!
    You made a great point about the Dropbox feedback, in that it’s a dead end loop (or is it?). You submit your work, I comment. That seems like the end. But I don’t think, based on my interactions with you, Jared, that you see it that way. You do push yourself and others beyond the assignment, and I believe that’s why you were chosen to do the job you are doing in HWDSB. If there’s a discussion that needs to follow the Dropbox, I think you’re the kind of person that will initiate it. One of the reasons I switched to more audio feedback is that it feels more like a conversation. If only D2L offered a Reply to Feedback tool!
    As for the stats I use in the feedback, I use them to help people gauge their participation. There’s no magic number. No grade assigned for being below, at or above the averages. It’s just a way to encourage participation. It has its limits too- in your case, it does not measure how many you actually read, just the ones you marked. The posts authored is a better measure. Using the Marked Read can assist in going back to conversations that are ongoing though, and that’s why I encourage people to use it.
    I wished you’d underlined the part that was most important in your Blog:

    “continue to lead through quality, as well as quantity, of posts”

    as that’s what has most struck me about your work in the course- leadership and quality.

    1. I wished I had hilighted (hi-lit?) that as well. Can you go back and re-read. I’ve done a re-write. I didn’t successfully capture the “it’s not Rod, it’s D2L” sentiment of the post. I’ve made some changes.

      I read recently that an LMS is great at making the simple much more complicated. Participation analytics will continue to be a topic of conversation as we move into these digital spaces and try to measure data.

      Your last line in the feedback is the most important. I suppose it is similar to what we do with our students on their report card: the mark (the numbers) are the default focus (and the comparison of those numbers with those of our peers) when the real content resides in the comments: something students sometimes fail to properly ingest. This could become a diatribe on the Ontario Report Card if I keep going, so I’m going to stop.

      1. I did re-read and agree that almost every Blog I’ve ever written required some tweaking after it was posted.
        Something I learned in Fac Ed in 1981 (!) in my Physical Education class was, “Give ’em the good points first!” I could have highlighted the best first, instead of the last.
        I’m following up on the D2L being out-of-date comment- not sure how out-of-date ETFO’s is, but we’re due for a major upgrade before the Fall session, as I was in a discussion about this since I’ve been pushing for Adobe Connect integration for at least 2 years. Apparently, the D2L upgrade will have have Webex embedded. What other features do you think we are missing?

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