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Task Discussion

  • Stian Haklev   May 31, 2012, 11:42 a.m.

    Just posted a message to the p2pu-dev list (link) about how email notifications from P2PU can be streamlined, and how important it is to enable two-ways email integration (which many users have been asking for for several years). 

    I'll repost the message below, but feel free to add to the discussion on p2pu-dev mailing list so the devs can see it more easily - they might not be reading this forum:



    Ah, that's why I suddenly got lots of notifications, I was wondering at the
    explosion of activity! :)
    However this raises three other issues, in increasing importance:
    1. The title of the group is still weirdly formatted: The Researchers'
    2. Could we clean up the formatting? Is there a reason why the person's
    name is not in the "from" field instead of "no-reply"? Do we need all the
    boiler plate at the top of the message:
    The Researchers' Homestead was updated.
    Jennifer Claro posted a new comment at May 26 - June 1
    Compliance-without-pressure techniques for Online Communities.
    3. Can we prioritize up enabling two-way email integration (ie being able
    to reply to messages and have them posted on the forum).
    To my mind, GitHub issues are great examples of something we should strive
    towards. They have very nicely formatted subject lines - from the person
    sending it (but the from email address is a reply-to at github), the subject
    line is simply [project shortname] Topic, and when you open the message the
    first thing you see is the actual message, then there are two lines at the
    bottom giving you the option of opening the message in GitHub. And of
    course you can easily reply to the message directly. And they thread
    perfectly in GMail - I have had discussions in GitHub issue messages going
    back and forth for 28 messages, most of them sent from GMail, and it works
    seemlessly - and is also nicely stored for posterity on
    I really believe improving on this can have a huge impact on participation
    in our discussion-based courses!
  • Jennifer Claro   May 2, 2012, 6:45 a.m.

    I wish we had better threading in our P2PU forum. Most forums have a main post and then threads that can go many levels deep. Is that possible in P2PU? I think the current setup limits deep discussion. 

    By posting this message here, does it become a request? (I hope so... :)



    P.S. I check my notifications every day, sometimes more than once. I read whole views every couple of days or so, but less often when I'm busy.

  • Stian Haklev   April 30, 2012, 4:19 p.m.

    I have a few things to say about the platform usability aspects, but first I just thought I'd mention an interesting idea that Joe Corneli brought up last year, and reiterated in his Paragogy paper, which is the idea of site-wide tags:


    One fairly straightforward thought would be to add support for site-wide content tags. Site-wide tags would allow people who are not interested in “meta-discussions” to easily ignore them, whereas a space like Shaping P2PU could aggregate and build upon the already-ongoing platform-level discussions that have arisen in other groups. Tags would provide other learning-specific benefits, including the ability to give and receive light-weight feedback about contributions, and to build a portfolio showing the impact of one’s work. This would, in turn, foster a culture of accountability.


    I think this is an interesting idea, because I am sure ideas about the platform come up in almost every single P2PU course, and it would be great to have a way to tag them and aggregate them somewhere... But this could apply to other stuff as well, we might have ideas about certain things in this course which are very relevant to discussions we had in CSCL intro last year, or discussions they're having in some of the education courses right now -- how do we enable discovery and aggregation of ideas from multiple concurrent and historic courses?

    No idea about how this would be done in practice (I guess it's more a UI than coding challenge), but it's an interesting idea.

  • Vanessa Gennarelli   April 30, 2012, 8:37 p.m.
    In Reply To:   Stian Haklev   April 30, 2012, 4:19 p.m.

    I'm *really intrigued* by this idea. 

    My mind immediately moves to tagging as an assessment tool.

    Assessment benefits:

    -peers could articulate the skills explored, even skills that we haven't structured or recognized formally yet. That data could inform more formal structures?

    -could help us build out the curriculum folks want by seeing the skills acquired.

    -a peer giving feedback could be evaluated by how well their tag is "upheld" by future taggers (community evaluation)


    -the learning curve on tagging. They are most useful once you reach a critical mass, and you know what you're looking for.

    -From my initial (qualitiative and informal) research of tagging versus highlighting, folks who are more comfortable with technology favor tags. 

    -hesitant to suggest anything like "voting" for assessment (eeeeeeeek).

    What say you, researchers? What's in a tag?

  • Jessy Kate Schingler   April 30, 2012, 3:55 p.m.

    something that i'm notificing now that we have some discussions going, is that it's impossible to follow a discussion thread using the notification emails, because they are sent per user, not per discussion. this means for the discussion about the paper last week, i had a thread with 4 emails containing stian's comments, and several emails containing someone else's. and without visiting the website it was impossible to tell what stian was replying/referring to.

  • Stian Haklev   May 3, 2012, 10:23 a.m.
    In Reply To:   Jessy Kate Schingler   April 30, 2012, 3:55 p.m.

    Yeah, and the threading is a bit weird - and when you go to a discussion page, it's not easy to see which messages are new from last time you were there, some are at the top because they are new messages, some are interleaved because they are part of a thread, etc. 

  • Rebecca Cober   April 30, 2012, 3:33 p.m.

    So, about the p2pu platform. One negative, one neutral:


    1) Right now, as I am typing this, I can't see the prompt (Jessy's comment about what this space is for). This creates a little confusion and anxiety... am I posting this in the right space. :)


    1) Every time someone posts on researchers' homestead, I get an email. Maybe I can adjust the settings for that, I don't know. But... it makes me think long and hard before I post because I don't want to "waste" anybody's time, by just posting a short response. Perhaps this is a good thing?

  • Vanessa Gennarelli   April 30, 2012, 3:41 p.m.
    In Reply To:   Rebecca Cober   April 30, 2012, 3:33 p.m.

    Hi Rebecca! (and Homestead learners)

    How often do you read your notifications?



    Once a month?


    How often do you come back to the site to read the complete chain of posts?



    Once a month?


    Rebecca I think you can adjust your notification settings (profile-->settings-->notifications). But a recommendation for digest would be useful, methinks.

  • Jessy Kate Schingler   April 30, 2012, 3:55 p.m.
    In Reply To:   Rebecca Cober   April 30, 2012, 3:33 p.m.

    Totally agree with both. You can edit notification preferences to limit the TYPES of notifications, but not customize the frequency. here's the page for that (should work if you're logged in).

    but i think it's unfortunately not what we want, because i don't want to *never* know if someone posts a reply, i just might want to bundle them - as vanessa said, into a digest. a way around this is just to set up a filter in your email program to move these into a custom folder/label and only look at them when you have time.

    [[edit]] also, FWIW:

    • i read my notifications daily
    • i can see rebecca's comment on the page where i am submitting my reply, but that's not always the case, which also redoubles the confusion. i think when commenting on posts in the main activity stream, and the first level of comment on a page, does NOT show you the primary content you are replying to - but secondary comments does...
  • Bodong Chen   April 30, 2012, 9:30 p.m.
    In Reply To:   Rebecca Cober   April 30, 2012, 3:33 p.m.

    I am a bit lost too with the platform so far. The most confusing part is related to the feed list on our group page.

    First of all, I am hesitating to post onto the wall as I don't know where does it go. What's the position will such post have besides other kinds of posts from tasks, etc.

    Secondly, these categories in the feed are not very clear to me at this point. Not sure where does messages come from, what posts are abt learning, what are default, etc.

    Probably need to use it more to get more familiar with it. Any tip regarding these issues will be more than welcomed! ;)

  • Rebecca Cober   April 30, 2012, 9:34 p.m.
    In Reply To:   Vanessa Gennarelli   April 30, 2012, 3:41 p.m.

    I read my notifications:


    Read complete chains of posts

    Two-three times per week

    Thx! I saw the notification settings - like the digest idea a lot - or even something like a google mail interface, where the chain of the conversation can be seen with each new incoming message.

    Your post makes me think that P2PU should have a polling app... :)


  • Rebecca Cober   April 30, 2012, 9:40 p.m.
    In Reply To:   Bodong Chen   April 30, 2012, 9:30 p.m.

    Hi Bodung -

    I usually just go straight to the Researchers' Homestead page and then click the links on the left... It is confusing though.

    Another thing that was tricky was just signing up for the course! I thought that I'd signed up, only to find out I'd just updated my profile... I think the same thing might have happened to my advisor who *thought* he'd signed up, because I don't see him here... :(


  • Ian Fairweather   May 1, 2012, 8:35 a.m.
    In Reply To:   Jessy Kate Schingler   April 30, 2012, 3:55 p.m.

    Yes I have been having exactly this problem! When I first signed up I got far too many notification emails bobbing in to my already over-busy inbox. this is beacuse it sent a separate notification every time anyone made a post.

    I went to the manage subscription page hoping to change the settings so that I recieved a digest of all notifications in one email once a day - as you can with JISCMail lists for instance. I couldn't find any option to do that so all I could do was to alter it so I only recieve notifications when an organizer posts. Thats not really satisfactory as there is no reason to say that only organizers' posts are interesting! However they do act as reminders to go to the site and see who else has posted. I could set up the filter thing as Jessy suggests, but the problem with that is that its too easy to ignore them. I like to have something pop in to my inbox to remind me to make time to go to the site.

    A related issue is that its a bit confusing what notifications are comming from where. I also seem to be receiving notifications from a more general P2P community google group, which does arrive as a digest. Some of the messages seem to relate to this group but others don't. Perhaps I just havent figured it out yet!

  • Jessy Kate Schingler   May 1, 2012, 12:33 p.m.
    In Reply To:   Ian Fairweather   May 1, 2012, 8:35 a.m.

    hey ian! great feedback from everyone.

    the p2pu-community list is really where the community coordinates everything to do with p2pu as a whole. and of course as part of that, we sometimes send around interesting references and articles relevant to peer learning. we will often discuss these articles on the general community mailing list, and it brought about a feeling for some of us that we'd like to have a more focused place for having such discussions.

    enter the researchers' homestead reading group (this group)! this is a smaller group of people who are specifically interested in reading and discussing academic and other material and discussing in detail, deconstructing, pulling new references, proposing research topics, etc. there's a bunch of people from the p2pu-community list on here, but a bunch who aren't as well. it's a venn diagram.

    i'm curious if you have any ideas about how we could differentiate better betweeen p2pu-community and the researchers' homestead reading group? (i appreciate that it's a bit like a snake eating it's own tail :) :p)

  • Bodong Chen   May 1, 2012, 10:38 p.m.
    In Reply To:   Rebecca Cober   April 30, 2012, 9:40 p.m.

    Lol. Maybe he is having one of those names as an invisibility cloak :)

    I just knew from Jessy about the "Readings on Peer Learning" page as the "hub" of this group reading activity. Just feel it might be helpful to have it as a top level page rather a task on the same level of tasks for each week.

  • Stian Haklev   May 3, 2012, 10:24 a.m.
    In Reply To:   Rebecca Cober   April 30, 2012, 3:33 p.m.

    The weird thing is that if you reply to a comment, you get a nice setup where you see the comment you are replying to (it would be even better if it worked like GMail, where you filled in a box without even leaving the discussion area, but still)... Don't know why this is different when you "reply" to the top level posting.

  • Philipp   May 3, 2012, 12:51 p.m.
    In Reply To:   Rebecca Cober   April 30, 2012, 3:33 p.m.

    I share everyone's pain regarding both the discussion forum and the notifications. 

    What if we just switched out the discussion forum for something like disqus? At least as a short-term fix it would probaly get around a lot of the issues. 

  • Stian Haklev   May 3, 2012, 1:12 p.m.
    In Reply To:   Philipp   May 3, 2012, 12:51 p.m.

    I've never tried using Disqus for a long detailed discussion, so I'm not sure how it would stand up. It might be worth trying. I think one of the disconnects here is different ways of looking at the functionality of these tasks. In some courses, these tasks will be what you do (thus the word task), and you might go off and create a program or a photograph, which you can then post here, and people can "comment" on it (thus the term comment)... However, in this course, and in most of the courses I've been part of, this discussion _is_ the course. The top "task" and the comments below are not semantically different, the content and learning comes out of the deep engagement with each other that we have in this threaded discussion (and perhaps in external media like blogs as well). I think the tools that are best suited to for example comment on an answer in StackOverflow, are very different from the best tools for having a long interesting discussion. 

    (As an example, and I am not necessarily suggesting that a traditional threaded discussion forum is the best, although some of the best ones I've tried are certainly better than what we have right now: In a traditional discussion-forum based course, you might set up a whole sub-forum for a weekly discussion about a paper, where people can start a number of different threads etc. Here, we basically just have one thread per week, which is bound to get messy.)

    I don't have a clear recommendation here. On the one hand, I am very interested in building a rich discourse environment, and I would love if we spent time online and during meetings conceptualizing our dream discussion forum, went out and looked at features of the best discussion environments we found, actively experimented with conducting courses on different kinds of platforms (mailing lists, OSQA, Reddit-style, even mindmapping or other more "out there" environments). It would also be fascinating to see how we could integrate these environments better with material produced elsewhere on the open web - blogs, etc - something which I think P2PU should have a unique advantage in compared to closed courses.

    I would love to see more attention shifted to this, but I also recognize that it is a long-term task, and I'd be open to short-term fixes (especially if that gives us more experience etc), such as experimenting with using Disqus or another environment.