While behind catchup()

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Shirley Williams has been providing some excellent behind the scenes posts for #flmobigame which I have been enjoying immensely.  Musing on Shirley’s posts I realise that I am now both an example of the degree owning student AND the one who is now running out of sync.

OK I am only one week behind.  I had hoped to catch up quickly (I am for/do/while/until savvy) but had what could only be described as an unscheduled-learning-opportunity posed by pasting the week 4 code into the wrong place.  The compiler of course complained but it took me the entire evening to work it out, after I had revisited the week 1 video AGAIN.  The comments section showed one student with the exact same error, but sadly no explanation of resolution.

I know from experience that stupid coding errors create chaos.  In an office or face to face learning environment its easy to look pleadingly at a buddy on the next computer and ask for fresh eyes to point your error.  Asynchronously this is harder particularly if you have doubts: “Is there someone helpful online when I am?”  “How much info do they need to be able to help?”  And perhaps more tellingly, “am I willing to put my struggle out there in the sure knowledge that the ‘Doh!’ moment will follow”.  There’s a degree of confidence (robustness?) required which is minimised by good and early examples of peer and professional support. It’s here that the open education/ experienced online learners have a role to play alongside the course team in setting the tone.

I’ve been impressed both on this MOOC and on H817Open about how a small number of people can do just this.  The Reading course team have been great, modelling how to get students to share code and contribute to bug finding.  Indeed, I do believe I heard Kartsen on the video referring to bug fixing as fun.

As someone who has dropped out of previous MOOCs, being behind now could put me at risk of being yet another non-completion statistic.  But, I would like to catch up and complete it, not just because of some academic interest in all things MOOC, but because I have got a bit hooked:

  • I am producing something (it won’t go on the fridge but I will inflict it on passing friends)
  • the course isn’t at all earnest, but fun (lets remember learning can be fun)
  • it’s not taken over my life (cf MA-ODE)
  • I get a (perhaps worrying) sense of achievement from answering the quizzes and ticking off my progress
  •  the skill (a bit of Java) was something I wanted to do, this is infinitely better than a teachyourself book and the “evented-ness” will keep me going.
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