The right people at the table

There has been quite some interest in what is perceived as the drop out rate on this course. Some blogs have mentioned this and it was discussed in the chat room on last Friday’s Ustream session.

Although I’d be interested, from a course design perspective, in knowing how many people are participating and where, I don’t see the perceived ‘drop out’ rate on this course as one of concern . I think we established way back in the course, that this is actually only a course for those who paid and are doing the assignments. I think there are about 20 of those. If I was running the course, I would be hoping that the drop out rate from that group isn’t too high – but for the rest of us, isn’t the whole point of connectivism that we are autonomous learners in a network of autonomous learners, free to come and go, contribute or not and observe from the periphery or be active at the core, as we choose? Isn’t that what’s so attractive about the whole experience?

I do some work with communities of practice and even in those communities, where there is more of a sense of ‘group’, levels of activity go up and down and people move from the core to the periphery and back again. There is an acceptance that this is how it works in a networked community and that whoever is present at any one time is the right person at the table .

So whilst, participation may have dropped off in the connectivism course (and thank goodness it has because the first week or two I felt completely swamped and wouldn’t have been able to keep going at that rate), my feeling is that at any one time we have the right people at the table. There is always something of interest going on, there is always something to learn and there are more than enough people around to learn from and with.

I’m looking forward to next week’s focus on what becomes of the teacher and the roles of educators.

2 thoughts on “The right people at the table

  1. deadvocate November 1, 2008 / 1:36 pm

    Hello Jenny. I might agree with your statements except for the situation that much has been made of the ‘fact’ that over 2000 people registered. If this course was only for 20 odd people, then probably it wouldn’t seek the wide distribution of learning through blogs, wikis, forums etc. The large subscription and wide distribution is what gives this effort bragging rights.

    If it is unable to maintain interest, I think it has little going for it. I wonder why the interest wanes (if it has) and what remedies there might be (if any) if so desired.

  2. jennymackness November 3, 2008 / 8:36 am

    Hi deadvocate – I have looked for your blog and can’t find it. I thought you might have something to say about this on your own blog. I have been thinking a lot about what you have said.

    I think that whether or not the course maintains interest it still has ‘bragging rights’. The fact is that it attracted interest from 2000+ people and Stephen and George were able to design a course that would technically allow 2000+ people to take part. Quite a feat in my mind!

    For me it’s no surprise that there are no longer 2000+ people around. I wonder how many people would have registed in the first place if we had had to pay. I for one, wouldn’t be here, as I’ve already spent my course allocation for this year. I think the numbers would have been considerably lower. It’s easy for people to register on a free course and know that it doesn’t matter if you don’t commit.

    As far as remedies go – would it need to be treated more like a traditional course, with group work and the promotion of collaborative tasks? But that would defeat the object, wouldn’t it?

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