Today I am disappointed in ModPo for the first time. Why? Because, I realize that it has fallen into the trap of believing that requiring posts to a discussion forum can in some way measure the success of learning.
On checking I see that it does say this on the Announcements page in the very first post ‘a thought on plagiarism’, but I failed to notice it until it was mentioned in the audio discussion between Al Filreis and Julia Bloch that was posted today.
To be considered a student who has “completed” the course, you need to have written and submitted the four short essays, commented on others’, submitted (and minimally ‘passed’) the quizzes, and participated in the discussion forum.
Evidently to get a certificate of completion, a ModPo participant must make a post in each week of the course, in one of the staff initiated weekly forums.
I completely fail to see the point of this. It is not as if ModPo is short of discussion in the forums. It is completely swamped with discussion. In addition it is the kind of assessment requirement that tempts me to simply ‘play the game’ (if I was that keen to get a certificate, which I am not). I could put any meaningless post about any meaningless thing in each week’s forum and theoretically I have fulfilled the requirement.
I have already accepted that ModPo is not completely open, simply because it is tied to the Coursera platform and therefore does not have ‘open’ resources in the original cMOOC sense of participants being able to aggregate, remix, repurpose and feed forward resources at will.
But I have otherwise been very impressed by the pedagogy – the standard of teaching is very high, the level of support from and engagement by the tutors is beyond the call of duty for a MOOC, and the content is so stimulating. All credit to the tutors and TAs.
But this requirement to post to the forums is a definite blip, in my book. Why? – because it puts (in this context) an unnecessary constraint on the autonomy of those learners who would like to achieve a certificate of completion, and won’t necessarily add anything to the learner experience. It definitely wouldn’t to mine.
I have listened to all the videos, read all the poems, completed the quizzes for Weeks 1 and 2, written and submitted my first assignment, but this requirement to post to the forums is one hoop that I will not be jumping through. If there had been a meaningful activity around being engaged in the discussion forums, then I would have been happy to comply. As it is, I don’t feel that I need to learn how to post to forums, I have done lots of this in the past, nor do I need to learn the value of social learning. I have been practicing and promoting it for years. If I feel that I can genuinely make a contribution in a forum, then I will.
Despite this disappointment, ModPo remains a highly stimulating experience, on a number of levels, and one that I would recommend to anyone interested in open learning, pedagogy and poetry.