Sunday, March 10, 2013

Introduction to Class2Go Course

At the Sydney Python Meeting last Thursday Class2Go was mentioned as amongst the more promising open sources MOOC software packages, for creating Massive Open Online Courses. I saw that Standford University were offering a "Introduction to Class2Go Course", so I signed up to learn about MOOCs in general and Class2Go in particular. I was first presented with a text rich, pleasantly designed screen.

This had a design reminiscent of early versions of Moodle, with a header, some menus across the top then three columns (menu, main content and extra information). The default screen displayed "Recent Announcements". This did not look like the start of the course, and I thought I was missing something because I was not a registered student. So I filled out a brief registration form and then went back to the course. I was still at the "Recent Announcements" page. One of the pull down menus was "course materials" so I tired the first item "About". This offered me a cryptic menu with "In-video". I had no idea what an "In-video" was, so I tried the next item "Public Class2Go Courses". I thought this might list when the course was offered, but it just offered a completely different course "Introduction to Databases" in "Winter 2013", whenever that is. Online course designers need to keep in mind that seasons are different in the northern and southern hemispheres and tropical regions don't have "winter".

Numerous of the links I tried just presented me with some Flash item. Presumably these are videos, but I don't know as I am on a limited bandwidth link and so have flash turned off and no alternate information was offered (contrary to good web design). The next item I tried was "Adding Course Content" which had a "Guide to adding content to your site", which presented the first useful information. This has a window containing an web based document with a useful table of contents. Oddly this document has page breaks inserted, for no apparent reason. The table of contents starts with "Quizdown Templates for problem set creation" and "XML Templates for problem set creation" these appear to be resources used for creating courses, but there is no explanation provided, so it seems odd to put these first. The next entry is labeled "Getting started with Class2Go - a guide for instructors" and does not appear to do anything when selected (it seems to be a link back to the same document).

The next entry "Getting ready for your course" goes to a list of items needed for a courses, such as the name of the course. This is fine, but the introduction says "... there’s a bunch of information that you’ll want to make sure the Class2Go team has...". The use of the word "bunch" seems a bit odd. Also it mentions "TAs" without explaining what they are (Tutor Assistants?). The document gets interesting when past the preliminary and onto "Problem sets" (formative and summative). Unfortunately the document does explain what a problem set is before moving into the detail of assessment recording and deadlines. As far as I can work out a "problem set" is an item of assessment, such as a quiz.

 At this point I gave up on the "Introduction to Class2Go Course". The good points of it were that the web interface was readable and responded very quickly. But there was a lack of an introduction for the student. Perhaps I need an "Introduction to the Class2Go Pedagogy".

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