So I’ve been
teaching facilitating provoking facilitating over in the new School of Ed at P2PU, and I’d say that it’s been going pretty well.
Or, as least, it seems to be.
But it’s a different sort of course than the ones I’ve been teaching in computer labs and hotel ballrooms and virtual meeting rooms and, even on occasion, classrooms these last few years. Folks come if they want to. When they want to. For the reasons they want to. Or they don’t. The learning’s mostly in the hands of the learner. Or it isn’t.
And I like it. With some minor concerns.
To begin with, the conversations spread around the course are fascinating and insightful. I’m learning a great deal from participants about how they value writing and what they do in their classrooms as writers and teachers of writing. I’m also learning more about the perceptions versus the realities of the Common Core State Standards. Lots is already being done “because the standards say so” when, in fact, they do not1.
But this course carries no credit. Or sticks. Or carrots. The course itself is the thing that either brings folks, or sends them seeking something more in terms of a credential or an attempt at recertification credit. I’ve joked in the evening live sessions2 that I’ll offer “extra credit” for tasks completed. While I’ve long believed that the exploration of interesting ideas and the creation of an environment designed to help with that exploration and some making of meaning is the job of a teacher, I’m finding that P2PU offers a fascinating space in which to operate. It’s a space with ethos but little structure. I’m building as I go. And wondering, from time to time, if this course meets my general metric for success in all that I do as a teacher – is it useful? Are people getting what they need from the course?
So how does one evaluate the effectiveness of such a space, a course with objectives but no requirement for participation? Well, the squeaky wheel principle, in an online space, is often what gets attention. Which is problematic in an online space when most of the course participants, participants in name only, are not making the textual equivalent of noise in an online space – they’re not writing in spaces where we can see them.
Lurking carries no proof. To know someone’s on the other end of an Internet connection, they’ve got to do something. Make some noise. Publish a post. Write a comment. Something.3
Last night, via Twitter, I said that quiet, in an online space, isn’t proof of anything. Someone might be listening/reading intently, and taking good notes, or they might have wandered away to something else. So I’ve sent out some mid-course feedback surveys this week to see what a large percentage of quiet classmates are up to. Of course, there again, if folks don’t respond, I don’t know that they’re not paying attention. I just know they’re not writing back.
I’ve more to say about agency, learning, and why I like the P2PU model, but I’ll save it for a future post.
How do you track lurking? Listening? Do you need to?