The funnel of open participation

I want to continue with the theme open participation. I read the slideshare of Doug Clow and want to show one of his slides :

dougclowThe registration is the first step to participate, you can be a lurker without it. The activity finds many ways and the funnel becomes narrower from week to week. Those who are active, develop and progress.

This is not a power law, claims Clow. This is a usual story anyway: steep drop off from one stage to the next. Highly unequal participation pattern can be recognized.

Clow says that we should think less about total dropout and more about why participation reduces at each stage and try to find the patterns of participation. It is possible to widen the funnel if …. what?

I found my old blog post from Nov 23th 2010: Designing for commitment in online communities. There are many good ideas for helping newbies and working with co-learners. Kraut has found two basic ways of commitment: identity-based and bond-based. The first is deep and long lasting motivation, bond-based means social bonds, which last short or longer times.

I did a rough sketch of the activity on Moodle forums of fslt13. This seems to tell the same story which is known from open courses.

viewsThe Arrival Lounge, where everyone tells about her/himself, it has most views. It is a place where you have to return if you want to check the background of a certain participant.

  1. From week 0 I used both reflective statement and supporting learning – discussion, it is the sum.
  2. Week 1 = views about reflective practice discussion
  3. Week 2= teaching groups discussion
  4. Week 3= lecturing discussion.

These numbers are only part of all activity. It would be better to summarize all doings during the week, but I cannot get those numbers directly. The administrators offer better diagrams, this is a rough sketch as I said.

There is activity, thousands views of 149 participants. Participation reduces at each stage, but it turns to the assignments which cannot be seen in this diagram. I leave that part without comments, I have been lazy myself and followed lightly what others do. It is not the best way as Eloise said in a discussion in Twitter #fslt13:

“I feel I’m missing a dimension of #fslt13 bc I’m not doing the assignments – getting a lot out of discussions + webinars.”

If we want to measure or assess the effectiveness of open courses, a proper question could be: Do they ever come to the end? Many of my open courses are still going on and the learning platforms are open. Discussions continue in Facebook Groups, Diigo groups or Twitterchat happenings. Isn’t this a real effectiveness? Drop out numbers seem to be high during courses but new people are coming in afterwards. What is this? Building a global learning community?

Did I say something new? Not sure but I had a need to write this out 🙂