We’ve just completed the first week of our twice-yearly Learn Moodle Basics MOOC, this time covering Moodle 3.5 (And yes, there is still time to sign up!) From the (I confess, few) online courses I have participated in myself, I have learned that an early welcome by the facilitators and contact with other participants is very helpful in encouraging newcomers to continue. Our MOOC has an Introduce yourself! forum where participants must not only introduce themselves but also (and this is something many initially omit) respond to an introductory post by others. The aim is that no post should be left unanswered. With over three thousand participants so far, it is difficult for the facilitators to engage with every new participant, and we’re very grateful to our experienced regular MOOCers who help with this. (I’m deliberately not naming names because there are a few of them and I don’t want to miss anyone out but you know who you are and you’ll get your reward )
If this is your first experience of a course with a large number of participants, a key piece of advice is: don’t feel obliged to read every post! Scroll down the list; find one with either a title you like or one which doesn’t yet have a response, and click on that. Perhaps someone is posting from your area? Perhaps someone has cleverly added a ‘teaser’ in their title? Would any of these attract your attention?
And the warm welcome is not only restricted to the Introduce yourself forum: the Any questions about Week 1? forum is monitored by helpful Moodlers who respond within minutes of a query being made. Do our helpful Moodlers have the forum in a tab on their computer and simply keep refreshing the page every five minutes (or is that just me? ) Whatever – it’s great that assistance is so swiftly given. We even have participants providing tips for Newbies and infographics to help understand the peer assessment task (more next week)
As last time, participants can select to have the weekly activities displayed one week at a time (for a Step by Step approach) or all at once, if they are confident they won’t be overwhelmed. This works well but it is surprising (and a little disconcerting to see participants sharing their empty courses in the week 3 section “Show us your Moodle course”. The idea is to work on the course for two weeks minimum and only then share the course for feedback on its content. Hopefully these fast-trackers will get some participants willing to return to the course once content is added; I’m sure they will.
Another surprise with the All at Once group of participants, is the number of people who are completing the “Tell us what you’ve learned” forum after a mere twenty four hours in the course. Fast learners! But when you get feedback such as the below, it’s very encouraging:
Some facts and figures so far:
- We have 4184 participants, of whom 1150 already have a Participant badge.
- Nearly twice as many participants opted to see the course materials “All at once” rather than weekly “Step by Step”
- Over two thirds of the participants are totally new or relatively new to Moodle.
This last figure is interesting because although (at the moment) only 238 participants have classed themselves as “expert users here to help others”, there are still aspects to be learned, as this blog entry points out:
Week 2, starting on Monday 25th, brings an insight into Moodle’s interactive elements – and one of its most powerful features: a peer assessment tool called Workshop. Going to be fun!