Friday, March 23, 2012

Commentary on Commentary on Comments

The other day I was catching up on Change11 and I came across a blog post titled commentary on comments which caught my eye because it reminded me of an NPR news-segment :-) I was thinking about both the lack of comments on other blogs and the slow-down in blog posts in general on Change11.

As far as comments on other blogs go, I can't really talk on behalf of other Change participants, but from my point of view, and from my work-flow aspect, most of my reading is offline, using ReadItLater on my iPad. this means that in order to comment I need to remember to consciously go back to that blog post and comment on it. Sometimes if comments are longer, like this one, I tend to just post things on my own blog.

As far as posting new blog posts, I too have noticed a sharp decline in Change11 posts. Personally I think that this is a function of the length of this other words it's too long. This was billed as the mother of all MOOCs last summer, and perhaps in terms of length it is, but is longer really better? Shouldn't the content speak for itself? Shouldn't the interactions take central stage? I think this long length is detrimental to the cohort that started last September. What makes a MOOC valueable are the connections you are making with other participants and the conversations and cognitive development that occurs because of those connections and interactions.


When people become fatigued, they stop posting as much, when this happens they either drop out, or lurk. If they lurk you can entice them to participate more by getting new cohorts in; at the same time those cohorts need to be at the same(Ish) levels as the lurkers otherwise it feels like waiting for people to catchup. Some times you will get some really good, original, though provoking blog posts that can spur discussion, but for me, by and large, I haven't felt like looking at those blog posts that deal with last October's Topics.


With this lack of peers posting (a variety of peers most importantly, not the usual suspects) a MOOC can go into a death spiral. For what it's worth, there are some interesting topics near the end of the MOOC but at the same time I see a lack of participation. This means that a MOOC is becoming more and more just another self-paced course, that is done alone, because fewer and fewer people participate.


Thus we come back to a chicken or the egg dilemma. You need some participation to spawn more participation, but how do y get a seed of participation? At the beginning of any MOOC the advertising about the MOOC bring together some usual MOOC suspects (including me) which bring enthusiasm and this enthusiasm brings others on board. Once those initial people move onto other MOOCs, or if they decide that this specific MOOC isn't for them, then you need to have a certain base the maintain the discussion. In MobiMOOC for example our research showed that there was a core group of people that participated throughout the MOOC, which helped to get others on board. The problem with Change is that the core has departed (or seems to have departed)?


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