When I explored the history of the department of Psychology (University of Jyväskylä, Finland) I noticed that the first professors had some voluntary assistants around them. They helped in many ways and were postgraduate students at the same time. Now we have this situation in MOOCs. In this post I take this expert participant question very practically: what was asked and what I did. I cannot describe the process from others’ point of view, only mine.
Marion’s blog says that in fslt13 the facilitators have taken an approach to maximise the role of the expert participant. They sent emails to people like me. I felt myself flattered (to be an expert at Oxford u know 🙂 ) and so I answered yes. Expert participants were invited to help
- facilitate and moderate discussion forums,
- support other participants in learning activities and assessments and facilitate peer marking.
I had to leave the second task because I could not participate in British markings. Actually I commented some assignments which were published in blogs. By commenting outside the Moodle I could be myself 🙂 . I had problems with the first task as well. I have told in the former posts how I felt to be in a wrong place and did not want to offer direct support all the time. I would like to wait more and let the students find their ways. I could say for instance about the profile photo that they use Gravatar, and I could send a message to tutor’s forum and ask them to notice a comment in my blog. I did not facilitate the discussion on the forums or I did it only very little.
But I did something else. I have this blog and I gathered the students’ blogs in my blogroll. So it was easier to check if there was any new posts. The same could be done in the fslt13 sites > community but to use my blog was comfortable. I liked others’ posts and wrote comments. I followed Twitter #fslt13 and greeted there some students, favorited and retweeted. I joined to Diigo group which Cris Crissman built for us. I noticed how Cris tried to flip her session and I retweeted about it.
I began to model open online participation and wrote many posts about it: power law or free will or what is this diminishing of participants. I published these questions on Expert participant forum and got feedback. I scanned the numbers of Moodle participation and shared that information. I wondered why last two weeks student assignments were presented in closed small groups. Those sessions were said to be open but it was double-bind-speak. I noticed this, if I took the freedom to go in.
I suppose that this part of my blogging, modelling open participation, will be the most meaningful afterwards. Those posts will get readers from outside the course, because the questions are general.
Marion’s blog ended in these words: “There are many unanswered questions about MOOCs especially in relation to the experience of participation. We hope our expert participants will gain a better insight into running a MOOC, build new networks an opportunity to reflect on their experiences. We will be giving them support in their roles with some online orientation sessions in Blackboard Collaborate.”
I have gained a better insight into running a MOOC. I am sure about this. Thanks to Marion about following me all the time and Jenny about your interest and help, and all others who participated in this journey.
The concept expert participant is very problematic and assisting teacher is not better. How about voluntary assistant? It could begin with voluntary because it tells about the nature of our work, we were not paid for participation. Assistant has a hierarchy which I don’t like but what concept could be a proper one? Tutor and mentor have certain definitions already. Resources? How does voluntary resource sound in British ears? Ridiculous or funny or?