Friday, August 22, 2014

Day 5: Done. Sigh.

Well, I guess this class is over for me in an even shorter time than my last Janux attempt. I logged on tonight just to see if the class was still flatlining, and I see a big blue thing there, the first sign of life directed at me as a person... but when I click on this, I find out my "Janux Course Features Verification Quiz" is past due... even though I filled out a survey at the start of the course in which I indicated I had no interest at all in doing quizzes of any kind. So I can just see it now - starting with this quiz, I will pile up an endless, ever-accumulating list of "past due assignments." Ugh.

Meanwhile, in the discussion space there are 9 students who introduced themselves, but no one has commented on anyone else, and neither the instructor nor the teaching fellow have posted anything there. There are a couple of comments in the other discussion forums, but no actual discussion person to person, and I'm not really sure I am interested in discussions that start with provocative but incredibly vague questions like: "Tell us what you think about the use of drones. Are they worth it or not?"

I'll check back in a month or two just to see if anything is happening here, but it seems like a pretty sad business. Personally, I don't think it's right to invite students to participate in a course when there is not going to be any instructional dimension of any kind. If I am just going to learn on my own, I'd rather learn on the open Internet with a real learning network rather than this non-network.


  1. You make a good point. The way things are set up, those who want to learn can and will learn because it's like having a book. The only thing keeping you from knowing what's inside is reading it. Ultimately, these courses are mostly a loose organization of information and the student is left to his/her own devices. Student engagement with the material and one another would make it something more but you saw how that went in an unsupervised "community" with the SF&F course. I saw something somewhat better in the ModPo course.

    Certainly, there is HUGE room for improvement But where nobody sees the necessity for it, no positive changes will ever happen.

  2. Now I just have to brace myself for all the self-congratulatory hoopla about how "unique" and "disruptive" and so on this Janux thing is. The beer course is going strong, and I imagine the computer programming course is too (that is the one they are offering for-credit at a cost of $600)... but I wonder if any of the other courses have any life to them at all. This one is clearly dead in the water. I don't have the heart to go look at the others...
    And we are spending real money on all of this. Could that money be better spent elsewhere if our goal really is (?) to engage in public education...? I certainly can think of better ways to spend it. Just think of how many open textbooks could be written if they university were paying its faculty a million dollars a year to undertake such projects, eh? That is how much we are paying the company that develops and runs Janux for us, and that's just what we pay them, separate from our own development costs for each course. Sigh...

  3. What baffles me is that investing in open textbooks is not even a blip on the radar, as though what they are creating is somehow any better or an improvement on a textbook. Information is information and most of what I've seen hasn't moved away from the simple textbook. A videotaped lecture certainly isn't an improvement.

  4. Yes, exactly: there was a new survey at eLiterate of the technology initiatives in which schools are investing, and open content was almost at the bottom of the list. I guess that would have been my anecdotal impression, but it was sad to see it documented with those hard, cold numbers!

  5. Years ago, I was talking with a friend of mine about ebooks and how authors were not thinking big enough in respect to what technology could do. At the time, he was right that what I was describing couldn't be done on an ereader. Now it can be. Why not, when a scene has a character going to a ballet, have a link that takes the reader to a video of a ballet performance? If a character goes to a museum, link to a virtual tour of the exhibit the character is seeing? A favorite song comes on the radio, a link would allow the reader to hear, as they read, the music the characters are hearing?

    I guess a lot of people are overlooking the potential of a lot of things.

  6. And it's really all about LINKING and EMBEDDING by means of free-standing, modular content on the Internet. Those are the key technologies. But with content locked up in Janux, you cannot link to it and you cannot embed it. Dead end. So disappointing to see cutting-edge (or so it claims) technology that is already obsolete from the start!