I’m ba-ack…and a little lost
I went off the grid for a week to visit family and watch my amazing daughter run a marathon. My online life involved checking email twice a day and posting pictures on FaceBook for other family members– I vigilantly use the post-by-post options to control who can see what, BTW, and have very few professional connections there. I suppose that’s another post. No Twitter, no Connected Courses, no nuthin’.
Inoreader shows 119 unread blog posts. That’s OK– I read really fast.
But the organization of the Connected Courses site is no longer clear to me. I realize two things. One, I feel frustrated and a little lost. And two, this is really good, because I am now experiencing what my own students talk about in one of my Web-infused courses.
I realize I am about to learn a bunch of stuff about organizing web resources. What I don’t realize is what this learning is going to take.
Here’s what I find & how I respond.
I go to the calendar tab and there’s nothing listed for October. It takes me a minute to realize that this page is for events. Does that mean there are no more webinars? OK, how do I figure out what’s next?
I go to The Course tab and click the Units 1-6 dropdown menu. For a minute I’m confused because I don’t see the most recent (to me) webinar related to PLNs included– maybe I misunderstood something? Now there are a couple of confusing things I’m trying to track. But I set these aside, on a mental shelf, and click on the block of text that introduces the two weeks of activities.
I scan the list to get a sense of what I’ve missed and what I need to do to catch up.
- Jonathan’s video: I can do this
- Preparatory activity: OK, sounds good. “Did you do the bonus task?” Uh-oh, where do I find the bonus task? I shelve this confusion with my other frustrations and push on.
- Week One: Make, reflect, two webinars. Huh, these webinars aren’t on the calendar– are these not live? OK, gotta check back on that. Plus it looks like I have to do some stuff in order to fully participate. How long will that take? I need to do laundry from the trip and get the household into action again. Oh, and the dissertation. Tasks for the course join the frustrations & questions already on the shelf; the parallel track of my offline life begins to compete for space on the shelf.
- Week Two: “Reflection on Changes: How is my network beginning to evolve?” Uh-oh. More tasks go onto the shelf. It looks like I am at the bare beginnings of a network and maybe I’m going to have to act fast to get on board. Hmmm. Maybe you can’t really dip in and out of this course? Am I going to have to put off doing the laundry from the trip in order to catch up? Damn, is it going to be worth it to catch up? Wait. This is not going to be another MOOC I leave behind.
- Webinar. OK, looks like it’s not live again. I can deal with that.
I note that there is now a forum– more to check— and a #Daily Connect– no way I can do all this.
And all that laundry.
But even without doing anything related to the course, I have some thoughts to chew on.
- Even though web reading is structured differently, with links making a more associative and multi-dimensional process possible, when there’s a list, I (and probably others) rely on a typical linear approach to get an overview. I don’t have time to click through to other pages where the tasks may become clearer.
- Implication: Include brief summary statements about the overall/broad flow and content of the unit. For example, after the intro questions for the unit, a description would let me discard a few things from my overcrowded mental shelf: “In this unit, we’ll be moving to a special Connected Courses section of Jonathan Worth’s web site. On that site, Jonathan will blah blah blah (two sentences).
- Might a different linking structure facilitate a more immediate understanding? IOW, the text could be more explanatory and still link to the same page of Jonathan’s site as the current setup.
- A statement about what participants can expect to do and think about . “Participants will take what they read/watch/do there and examine their own lived experience and then share about what they see/learn whatever blah blah blah )
- Heads and subheads become important ways to guide readers through the page. The Week 1 and Week 2 designations are very helpful.
- Implication: Be sure I do this !
- On each page linked to a dropdown menu item, include one sentence saying what the page does.
In any course I teach that relies on the Web, I see that I need to consider how platforms and pages link together, how clear those pathways are, and what my readers can expect to find there.
I need to continue to have a central hub for announcements, probably set up like a forum so that each announcement has space for questions and answers.
I have more to think about, but I gotta get this household back in shape. I will write more as I take up some of the tasks I think need my attention.
Oh no, I forgot about Twitter….