Meta bonus: class participation


Here is our class participation data: https://docs.google.com/spreadsheet/ccc?key=0AqenMfoYXJb3dF9vcG0waTdiVGN0M2VVdjZuY1NoOHc

As you can see, some people participate a lot and some a little. All people who participate in over 50% of tasks are taking the course for credit. This is something to ponder!

You may be shocked to know data on open online classes. Typically, 95% of participants only do the sign-up task. Only about 2-5% of participants keep up steady activity all the way through the course.

Here is a billion-dollar question: what can we do about it?

Task Discussion


  • Carolyn   April 16, 2012, 4:50 p.m.

     I think it is very difficult as an instructor to obtain and keep the attention of students in an online class and as a student hard to remember and keep up with an online class. I think fault falls on botht the instructor and participants/students when assignments aren't being done. As a student I think regular emails about that week are very helpful, however, as with this course, I don't like how I get an e-mail everytime someone posts a comment becasue I have a tendency to just delete them all even when some of them aren't comments but actual e-mails that I need. Also as someone who is taking a course for credit online I like to know where I am at in the class grade wise, for some reason it motivates me either way to do my postings and assignments. I also believe that a skype session or something similar in the beginning could be useful to get a sense of who the instructor is and put a name to a face. 

    In the end I think that....

    1. Have weekly e-mails that outline what is going on for that week and what is expected

    2. Have some sort of skype session or something like that in the beginning to put a name to a face

    3. As a student, know grade wise where you stand and the point break down of things

  • Maria Droujkova   March 19, 2012, 9:12 a.m.

    Thank you for commenting. Please keep ideas coming. I will keep this thread at the top, so people can easily see participation data and comment more when ideas come.

    Laura: "I also liked getting daily emails..." SandyG: "Perhaps there would have been more retention if we had hosted our own discussions." Let us reinstate more frequent emails as discussion prompts that come from the content you create. I am changing the email prefix from *~*ED218 Daily*~* to *~*ED218 - please discuss*~* You can see all email discussions here: http://groups.google.com/group/ed218arcadia

    @Denise - I love your contributions to the class! I lurk or participate part-time in many online classes too. For example, I semi-lurk in Peeragogy right now, where I visited one webinar and wrote one article on different flavors of constructivism for the crowd-sourced book. But I am following, and it's beneficial. Far be it from me to disallow peripheral participation. I wonder how to help, though. Nobody knows!

    I will add more asynchronous options for networking, besides live meetings. By now, everybody who wanted to already explored several different live communication options, their pluses and some of the issues (such as privacy). You can continue to participate live, or use the blogging and forum networking alternatives we will have from now on, especially if you best networking time is 1am!

    @SandyG, you may want to turn up privacy options on Twitter, though some of them don't work well with chats. There is an option for blocking people from following you. These days, we have to be savvy about online privacy and other safety issues, because we need to help students avoid problems such as online bullying, or corporations harvesting personal information. If anyone needs help with maintaning privacy in the tasks of this course, please do ask. For example, you can do everything under an alias. Some participants and followers use their first and last name, some their first name and an initial, some the first name only, and some come up with aliases: http://p2pu.org/en/groups/ed218-developing-mathematics-the-early-years/people/

  • Amanda Graf   March 18, 2012, 4:53 p.m.

    One thing that I do find challenging, though, is the Live Meetings. Between full-time school, a full-time job and a part-time job, I literally have nearly NO free time. That's what is so appealing to me with online classes, is the ability to do the class on my own time, even if it's at midnight on a Tuesday! It's actually really difficult for me to be able to attend the meetings because I'm so busy, which is why I chose an online class, to have the flexible time. However, you have compromised with that. The Twitter meeting option, which I can do from my phone on the go, was great and the option to listen to the meetings after they've occured and respond to the recordings was also good. However, that is what I've found most challenging about this class, is the Live Meetings.

  • Amanda Graf   March 18, 2012, 4:47 p.m.

    That really is a good question and an issue that I feel like you've addressed to the best of your ability! You've allowed the students to develope a syllabus based on what they think are important contributions and components of math education. You keep the lessons interesting by introducing new technology (like Scratch) and by allowing us to have open discussions about the content of the lesson and express our opinions. I think that you've done a lot to address the issue of student participation, the rest is in the students' hands!

  • Denise   March 16, 2012, 2:12 p.m.

    I'm not sure that you can do anything about it, or that you really want to. Most of us bite off more than we can handle, and open online classes are easy to bite at -- the topic sounds interesting, and we're curious, but then we are too busy with all our other commitments and turn into lurkers. Or we start out intending to be lurkers, knowing that we don't have time for activities but still hoping to learn something along the way.

    To try to force a lurker to participate would simply discourage her from signing up for any future classes -- at least, it would for me.

    I suppose you could limit the class to those who were doing it for credit, if you wanted to have a higher participation percentage. That would probably be more encouraging to the person leading the class, since I imagine the high number of lurkers is frustrating. But then it wouldn't be an "open" class, and it would prevent people like me from participating at all, because I don't have enough free time to devote to a class like that.

  • SandyG   March 16, 2012, 2:10 p.m.

    I think you've made a great effort by first asking us to help design the topics that would be covered in the course, and certainly offerring abbreviated assignments should be enticing. 

     There is one area that I find problematic. I find that attending the live discussions makes this course challenging for a number of reasons.  First of all, time is always an issue.  Even during the OER week when there were numerous choices, many occurred during the day when I, and others work.  If my children hadn't unexpectedly been home sick for two days, I would have struggled to meet the requirement that particular week as I had other things happening almost every night. Part of the appeal of online courses is the flexibility they provide, and I think when that flexibility is taken away or curtailed, it turns some people away.

     Another issue I faced with this course, and perhaps others have as well, is that  I guard my privacy, and I have not liked signing up for people's blogs to leave comments or other activities like that required me to leave a "digital footprint".  Even after the Twitter chat, I suddenly had followers that I didn't approve or want. 

    I would much rather have held our own discussion board discussions rather than reading ones other people had.  I think there are some really fascinating people in our class, and the discusssions could have been interesting and educational.  We have heard about classmates that are actively doing things with math and who have experiences that I could have learned from, but I haven't had the opportunity to interact with them as I had hoped.  Perhaps there would have been more retention if we had hosted our own discussions.  Many of my classes require online discussion posts with a set number of required comments and responses, and honestly, most people always go way over the required number of posts simply because the discussions are captivating and meaningful and the discussions become conversations.  I wonder if something like that would work here. 

  • Laura Haeberle   March 16, 2012, 12:55 p.m.

    That is a tricky question indeed! I do like the system of offering shorter activities for those not taking the course for credit. This provides an easier way of learning the material in a more timely manner.  I also liked getting daily emails, because it reminded me to check the course and of the tasks for the week. 

    In addition to these, perhaps we could email the other participants and ask if there's anything specifically that they'd like to learn about, or if there's a reason why they haven't been able to participate as much. Or, we could have a week of just sharing stories to get everyone involved again. I feel like a lot of the participants are very experienced, in math and/or teaching, and may be more inclined to provide some feedback and talk about their own experiences. Just throwing out these ideas!