At the same time, I feel obligated to give at least one of the Janux MOOCs a try, if only because my school has invested close to a million dollars in the software alone (see bottom of this post), in addition to the considerable costs involved in creating each course (you can get a sense of that from reading Kerry's post). My first impression of Janux from just logging on and looking around last fall was not good, even compared to the MOOC platforms I have participated in previously (Blackboard CourseSites, Coursera, and NovoEd/VenureLab). But I am going to give it another try, and I will be using this blog to record my experience.
So, after reading Kerry's blog post yesterday, I went to janux.ou.edu to sign up. Because I had previously enrolled in two courses to explore last fall, Janux plunked me inside the course I had last visited and it took me a solid five minutes to figure out how to get out of that course in order to reach the Janux homepage where I could enroll in Kerry's course. I would really like to unenroll from the two courses I was testing in the fall, but I cannot figure out how to do that. I'll worry about that later!
When I did reach the main screen that lists available courses, I clicked on Kerry's course to enroll. The course begins on Monday, January 13, so it is not open yet, but I did get an email welcoming me to the course. Since that is my first experience of the course so far, I've pasted in a screenshot of the email, with my thoughts and questions below.
The next paragraph is hype, and after being subjected to a continuous barrage of hype from all sorts of MOOC providers over the past year and half, I am not impressed by the hype. "One-of-a-kind learning experience" ... "true learning community" ... that's hype. So, no comment.
The third paragraph gets at what is the biggest problem for me here with Janux, so I will quote it here in full: "Feel free to spread the word around about the course by forwarding this email or sharing about it through social media. Encourage your friends to join, add them as a friend, and then form a study group on the platform" (bolding is mine). In other words, the idea is not that people should form learning communities at other social networking sites, nope, don't do that. Instead, we are supposed to join Janux and create our study groups on the platform. I personally have no inclination at all to do that because it means the learning that I want to share will NOT be shared with my friends who decline (understandably) to participate in the course. There are hundreds of people I interact with at Google+ with whom I share the things I learn, and from whom I am likewise learning new things every day. The reciprocity of my learning community at Google+ is something I am really committed to, and I would gladly take what I am learning in this History of Science class and share that at Google+, connecting with other people at Google+ who are enrolled in the class (but we'd need a hashtag to do that... no hashtag was supplied), as well as connecting with people I know there who are not enrolled in the class but who would be very interested indeed to learn along with me.
So, since I am being not just asked but required to pour my time and energy into a closed-off space, a black hole of learning which is disconnected from my existing learning communities both at Google+ and Twitter (and, yep, I would say those are "true" learning communities, too), I am very reluctant to over-invest. To cope with that, I will set a strict time limit of 30 minutes per day on this course. If it were integrated with the learning communities I am already part of, I could see spending more time. But 30 minutes spent at Janux is 30 minutes spent away from the learning communities that already work very well for me. This blog at least is public, but I guess it will be the only public evidence of my Janux learning experience.
And will 30 minutes per day be enough? I have all kinds of questions like that, basic questions about course operations. The email does not go into details; the remaining paragraph is one about how to enroll in the class for credit, but I know that Kerry's for-credit version of the class filled up long ago during regular enrollment; I imagine some people will feel frustrated to find out that they cannot enroll, despite what the email says.
Let me see if I can find more information at the class page on Janux. Hmmmm, I suspect loading problems; here is a screenshot of what happens when I log on. Probably as a result of all the publicity about the courses starting up Monday they are having some overload problems. I'd sure like to find a syllabus or FAQs about the course to get a sense of the time commitment that is expected, along with answers to some other questions.
I pressed refresh, and I saw a brief glimpse of the class page but then it went white again. I'll go try in another browser (I'm using Chrome right now), but I may let the overload problem end my session for today, checking in again this weekend to see if I can get some more answers!
Aha, doing much better in Safari; maybe it is a Chrome problem. I see my friend Kerry when I log on in Safari.
I can't tell just how much time will be required, and it looks like they have not updated the start date (undefined NaN, 0NaN), but I know from the email and Kerry's blog that it starts on Monday:
And my half hour is now up anyway! I'll just close by way of contrast with the information available about my courses to anyone who is curious - students who are enrolled or anybody at all; both classes have an Orientation Week to make sure the students understand the software we will be using and what the courses entail. Will I see an orientation of some kind when I log on to Janux on Monday? I hope so. I'll find out on Monday I guess.
September 2013 Regents Final Agenda