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Week 1

Not sure if it makes sense to structure discussions according to weeks, but throwing this up there, because it's easier to discuss in a task, than on the "wall".


Task Discussion

  • Stian Haklev   June 9, 2012, 12:06 a.m.

    Just sharing some observations about the social aspects of the course that I just sent to a friend:

    talking about community as we did earlier today, there are definitively ways in which this course could be improved - even though I think the videos are great value. there could be much more social interaction integrated into the materials - ability to attach comments to specific times in the video, or even just have comments below each video (since they are so short, this would work quite well). they might not be doing that for fear of cluttering, having to moderate etc...


    right now all the interaction - apart from the peer grading which is through an automatic system - happens in the forums. what's fascinating is that people went crazy during the first week to create all kinds of linguistic and regional forums. now, I actually think it's pretty exciting to see people discussing in spanish, chinese and rumanian about these videos (and there are even some efforts to crowdsource translations of the subtitles to the lectures). of course it would be great to have culturally appropriate top-quality resources in every language in the world, but that is not done in a day, and even if you had great rumanian resources, it's natural for many in rumania to want to see "the best in the world" from Stanford etc... and with slowing down the video, using captions etc, the English language material is accessible to many people who might feel much more comfortable to discuss in their own languages...
    however many of the groups are in English, and are more bound by area - people in Vancouver for example. now the cool thing about this is that you could potentially meet up in person. 
    however, what I see so far (having clicked around a bit) is that there is a tremendous amount of introductions (one or two lines - hi I'm Nishant from India, I am studying HCI, interested to meet everyone), for page after page, and then... nothing of substance! :) 
    I'm sure in a lot of the literature on online learning, creating a sense of community, identity etc is highlighted, but this is different when you're 15 people for 12 weeks, than when you're thousands of people for five weeks... i don't really care to see huge amounts of intros, I would be much more interested to see relevant discussions of the contents. 

    (and almost all the other more substantial discussions are about logistics - how to submit assignments etc, as well as suggestions on how to improve the site etc - which given the course's focus on HCI I guess you could say are "somewhat on task" but not really)... 
    anyway just an interesting observation :)
  • Stian Haklev   May 31, 2012, 1:23 p.m.

    In the middle of watching the videos for the first week, I really like it so far. I was curious about how well this format would work for something that is quite different than the programming and math heavy topics that have been present so far. 

    The video player is really neat, I love that they have captions, and you can easily control speed etc. I found that watching it at 2x speed with captions still means I easily understand everything, but the information density is such that I don't get easily bored, and the videos are short and sweet. I can easily pause the video to take notes, or to look up some terms (like Monte Carlo simulation). Such a big difference from a 2 hour MIT OCW recording where the professor spends 15 minutes in the beginning just talking about homework and an upcoming exam :) 

    I actually took some courses in Knowledge, Media and Design (how they call the program here), where they did talk about some of these topics, but I felt like it was never really taught in a systematic fashion, so I really appreciated the clear structure of the first class. 

    However, I found the multiple choice questions quite "inane" and not very helpful, wouldn't mind turning them off if possible. Very different from the embedded Python interpreter etc in the computer science class, where you can really experiment with the different concepts as you go along. It would be interesting to brainstorm about what kinds of interactions could be offered alongside the video to help build understanding - maybe you could be building a concept map as the video progresses, or something like that. 

    It strikes me, both when listening to this lecture, and also when I took those courses at my university earlier, that we should be far better at doing this at P2PU. I feel like we often get "fixed ideas" and argue strongly back and forth for how things should be designed etc, but we almost never test them out with users. (Of course, most of the P2PU volunteers are active users of the platform as well, and many of us are course designers etc, but we still have a different relationship with the platform than people who are just coming)... We should definitively be better at building prototypes etc. We make a lot of design mockups, but usually look more at whether they are pretty or not, and very little time on how people actually interact with them... Especially for something like the course pages, that is crucial - how are people using tasks to hold discussions, posting things on the wall etc. (I'm sure if you listen to some of the informal discussions between course organizers, you'd find a lot of "errors" and "workarounds" to get what we want done using the sometimes clunky P2PU interface :))

  • Stian Haklev   May 31, 2012, 2:28 p.m.
    In Reply To:   Stian Haklev   May 31, 2012, 1:23 p.m.

    PS: I just posted my own notes from week 1 here - not much value added over the actual videos and slides, but if you want a quick scan over what they covered in the first class, might be useful. (I only captured points useful to me, and might be restructuring this information as I go forwards).

  • Stian Haklev   June 7, 2012, 2:23 p.m.
    In Reply To:   Stian Haklev   May 31, 2012, 2:28 p.m.

    Since there is so little activity, it doesn't make sense to start a new task so I'll just add here. Added notes for week 2 (again these don't add much value to people who watched the sessions, but might be good repetition, or if you want a quick overview).

    I think it would be really interesting to do some user studies of One thing that drives me crazy is that it's so cumbersome to actually get to the different course pages, unless you bookmark them. If I go to, being already logged in, there is absolutely nothing interesting on the frontpage. I have to hover over my user name, and click Dashboard. Then there are tons of really useless status updates (all of which I have received in the mail - with actual content, already), and I have to go all the way down to find a collection of tiny tiny icons, signifying all courses I've signed up for, including several that I haven't been active in for months and months (but who bothers to actively withdraw from a course), to find the link to the two courses I'm actually active in - this one, and the Researcher Homestead one... 

    (Of course I can click on a link from an email announcement, but still, this seems like something obvious that would be discovered by studying how people actually approach