Thursday, October 4, 2012

Gamification Course | wrap-up post

Well, my first xMOOC is now complete! For this first time around in my xMOOC explorations I chose a coursera course on Gamification.  This was a good choice because the video lectures were engaging! It turns out that the instructor has a law degree, so I guess his great presentation skills are now easily explained ;-)

There were a few highlights and a few dim-lights to the course.  As far as the highlights go, as I said the video lectures were quite good! I really did enjoy listening, and seeing, the video presentations each week. Kevin Werbach was a great speaker, and while I think that the  lectures were prepared, he didn't sound like he was reading a prompter, in other words he was natural and not robotic. This made the material flow pretty well. I also liked that there were about 2 hours worth of videos each week, this feels more like a "real" course than just having some small videos to watch.  I do realize that this is discipline specific and that some disciplines have more to say in lecture format than others, but it was pretty good.  I was quite surprised that there were people that complained that there were too many videos.

The four lecture quizzes were OK. I realize that in a MOOC it is really hard to actually read through many qualitative submissions and grade them; thus multiple choice tests with robograding is better from an economic perspective, but I think that there are people that will miss the point: i.e. they will opt for the highest score even if they don't understand why they got it.  I opted to keep my original scores (which ranged from 80%-95%) and looked at the corrected responses to see what  I got wrong.

The thing that was iffy for me was the peer evaluations of the assignments, and I had two issues with them.  First, I can say that the quality of essays that I was asked to judge was variable.  Some essays were quite good (at least I thought so), and some were just bad.  I don't know if it was an issue with the academic quality of the work, if students were lazy and just going through the motions, or if the students were not native English speakers and thus lacked the language required to appropriately express themselves.

In order to address this issue I would propose that (1) students, in their coursera profile, state which languages they are proficient in, and then be allowed to write essays in those languages. That way, natives of those languages can also review that work. (2) I think that an exemplary post should be posted for each assignment that gives learners an idea of what a good essay looks like (and why).  For me it wasn't a big deal, but there were people who (for a 1500 word essay),  posted barely 300 words of (what seemed like) drunk talk :)

The assessment of my essays was also a bit of a hit or miss.  While I did get passing grades for all my essays, it seems like some people really took the time to give some constructive feedback, while others I really wondered if they had viewed and paid attention to the lectures.

Finally, speaking of lecture videos, the one big issue was that they were available on Mondays, which for me is a weekday.  It would have been more conducive to have a week start on a Saturday and end on a Sunday, that way weeks have overlap and students can do some work on the topics on the weekend.  Trying to do this during the week was not as fun as it could have been :-)

All things considered, not a bad course!
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