Week 2 – no longer a newbie

Screen shot of the Bookmarks page
Bookmarks tool – I’d worked out how to add them but then found the page of the collected bookmarks – super handy!

It’s easier to get started in the second week. I’m starting to find my way around the interface a bit better. I’ve just sussed how to find the bookmarks I’ve made and that should be a big help, as I kept losing pages last week!

I’ve also got a rough idea of how much time all the component parts will take. I started this week by watching the assignment video, then checking out the workload plan. Now I can work back from these.

This week’s assignment task is to complete a survey, still using the case study from the week 1 assignment – this will allow them to collate info from all the thousands of MOOC participants and share it back with us. It’s an interesting idea and it makes good use of the “massive” aspect of the MOOC. I’m not sure about thousands of participants? Judging by the number of submissions in the discussion boards I’d say closer to hundreds?

There’s a mixed message from the  T & Cs on the survey!

We would like to remind you that your participation in this survey is voluntary. You may withdraw your participation at any time. Your decision as to whether to participate however will affect 10% of your grade. Your answers here, combined with your edX course data, may be used in scientific research related to online education. This survey is in accordance with the edX Privacy Policy. All provided information will be treated confidentially.

So it looks like an aspect of this MOOC is about collecting data for a research project. Is this another way in which MOOCs are not entirely ‘free’ in that your labour becomes part of someone’s research project?

Getting started – registering

The MOOC I’ve chosen to undertake, DelftX: OG101x Open Government, is on the On edX Platform. eDX was founded by Harvard University and MIT in 2012 – so has a prestigious pedigree – and they work with partner institutions – this course is produced by the Delft University of Technology

Registering requires giving a name (which can’t be changed later?) I have an internal debate about whether to give my real name of not? I opt for an initial and surname so as not to give away my gender, but it’s already taken, so I end up just using my real name.

To register I also have to agree to the edX Terms of Service and Honor Code so I’ve had a quick look at them. I was interested to see what they would say about user postings:

USER POSTINGS

License Grant to edX. By submitting or distributing your User Postings, you hereby grant to edX a worldwide, non-exclusive, transferable, assignable, sub licensable, fully paid-up, royalty-free, perpetual, irrevocable right and license to host, transfer, display, perform, reproduce, modify, distribute, re-distribute, relicense and otherwise use, make available and exploit your User Postings, in whole or in part, in any form and in any media formats and through any media channels (now known or hereafter developed).

License Grant to edX Users. By submitting or distributing your User Postings, you hereby grant to each user of the Site a non-exclusive license to access and use your User Postings in connection with their use of the Site for their own personal purposes.

So it looks like everything you contribute is licenced to edX. I wonder why they don’t just licence it into the Creative Commons?

Anderson & Simpson (2007) pick up on my concerns when they consider the”rights students have regarding privacy, informed consent and use of their work” they are concerned about the amount of data that learning management systems collect automatically and that tutors don’t need to actively request. They encourage tutors to ask for ‘informed consent’, which students will have, if they stopped to read the Terms & Conditions when they registered for edX.

The threat of “textual permanence” is also discussed by Anderson & Simpson (2007) as a new accordance of the  online medium -“to distribute easily and widely exact copies of messages” – that may be part of my concerns about whether to use my real name in this space?

CongratulationsEnrolled

I’m enrolled, but edX are very keen that I pursue a Verified Certificate for $50 – I opt to ‘Audit This Course’ which seems fundamentally the same without the certificate?


Anderson, B. and Simpson, M. (2007) ‘Ethical issues in online education’, Open Learning. 22(2): pp. 129-138.