Monday, December 15, 2014

First semester done!


The first semester of my doctoral studies is done!  Well, it was done last week, but as I wrote in the previous post (on #dalmooc) it's been one crazy semester.  I had hoped that I would blog once a week on the topic of EDDE 801, getting some interesting nuggets of information each week to share , but between MOOC like #ccourses, work, and regular EDDE 801 work, no such luck.  I felt I was putting in enough time in EDDE 801 and that I gave everything into the closed system that is Moodle rather than on the blog.  So, here's one blog post to try to re-capture some thoughts I had while the semester was in progress.

Early on one of the things I really dreaded were the synchronous sessions, every Tuesday at 8PM (my time).  My previous experience with synchronous sessions was not a good one, thus coloring my expectations for this course. Most of my previous experience has been one-way communication webinars (yaaaawn), or mandatory online course synchronous sessions for student presentations - for my Masters programs. The problem here is that no one provided any scaffolding to my fellow students on what constituted good online presentation skills, thus students would offer drone on and on (not really checking in with the audience) and they would often use up their allotted time, and then some. I don't blame my former classmates, just the system that got them into that situation.  So, here I was, getting ready for a snooze-fest.

I am glad to say that it wasn't like this. Most seminars were actual discussion, and Pat did prod and poke us to get the discussion going. Most of the guest speakers were lively and engaged with the audience in some fashion, and my classmates were good presenters.  If I yawned it was due to the time of day rather than boredom. So, final verdict is that synchronous sessions were done well, as compared to my previous experience. Am I a synchronous conferencing convert? Not yet.  Like Maha Bali I still have an affinity for asynchronous.

The one thing that gave me pause to think, with EDDE 801, were the discussion-board assignments.  In my previous experience, with no required weekly synchronous sessions, the bread-and-butter of the course were weekly discussion forums (sometimes 1, sometimes 2, rarely 3).  In 801 we had to do two literature reviews and facilitate 2 discussions based on those literature reviews.  We have 12 in our cohort, so that would be 24 discussions.  Initially I didn't think this would be "enough work" (yeah...I don't know what I was thinking), but as the semester progressed and people participated in the forums vigorously, near the end I got in a bit of a cognitive overload situation where I couldn't really read any more (sorry to the last 4 literature reviews posted, I couldn't really focus on them as I did in the early ones).

Finally, one thing I wanted to do this semester, but I really didn't get a chance to, was to make a sizable dent into the literature I've collected for a potential dissertation topic on MOOCs.  I did read some articles, in order to do my presentation for the course, but it didn't really end up being as big of a dent as I hoped to.  I was, initially, thinking that  I would do some in the break, but with the semester starting January 15, I'm thinking of rest and relaxation, and dissertation reading this summer.

All things considered, not a bad semester! 1/8 done with my doctorate lol ;-)

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