After coming up with the idea of euthanasia as a topic I did not quite understand how we would initially use it as a learning opportunity, however with collective creativity we generated such an effective website that it seems a shame that it won’t be used by carers and that the conference/OER/MOOC are only fictitious. Possibly due to the moral and ethical topic or to the personas (or both) I believe that most of the team felt quite engaged with the project. I enjoyed researching Creative Commons images, quotes, music and finding relevant theories etc.
From previous MAODE collaborative projects I knew my likely frustrations would be with working at different paces and not everybody pulling their weight, however with this group we were pretty much within the same week’s activities for much of the time. This was like a breath of fresh air for me because I struggle with working behind the study calendar dates, whilst acknowledging and understanding our other commitments. As with all teamwork there were some moments of difference and considering this was my longest online collaborative project it went really well, commitment was evident and I am pleased to have been allocated to this team. We didn’t always agree on the minor points but tended to on the major points. Our team consisted of a group of strong-minded individuals with good ideas and I’m proud of the website that we have collectively achieved. The project manager kept us on track and the team leader put in a lot of time and effort, in particular helping with website edits and additions etc. I wasn’t especially clear on what was required of me in my role as Connector so I aimed to make links and add ideas focusing on depth and breadth as that seemed to holistically represent connection.
Discussions were interesting because we were all getting to grips with interpreting what was required and it was quite a challenge, as I expected. It was not always clear what the groups were supposed to do and I’ve found this in all but one (H800) of my MAODE modules. However discussion benefited this through interpretative dialogue to reach consensus and I find this helpful in informing/reinforcing my own understanding. This is my second module where a TMA has been based on its collaborative project and I find it interesting and useful for reflective learning.
I’m pleased to have had more practice with Google Docs, Cloudworks and to have learned about digital storytelling. I used Popplet for the first time and it was my first joint creation of a website, which at times I found difficult to edit and add items to – yet this was part of the learning process. I’ve learned some of the process for creating videos and Maze stories plus I have been introduced to new survey tools (Likert and Padlet). It was informative looking through the other websites although frustrating that not many were accessible for making comments, due to time restraints I only commented on the websites that allowed this.
'People not pulling their weight' can quickly be improved by a live session - not necessarily Illuminate that promises everything and fails to deliver the only thing that matters - but rather Google hang out or any other readily available and robust online, synchronous chat platform.
Who works for the OU?
Repeatedly I have found, with only one or two exceptions, that if and where an Open University Staff member is on a module they do very little - the bare minimum, because you can swan it and still pass and this looks OK on their staff profile ... and it didn't cost them a penny, and they even get study leave.
Then there's the tutor.
Few, if any, are dedicated, vocational 'educators' - they are doing it for the money and against the clock. I think it is five hours a week they have to read, follow, respond to and seed discussions. Only where, and they exist, you have a tutor who has a genuine love and interest in the subject, with the history and qualifications to match MIGHT they keep coming back to motivate engagement between students. If they do this one year, or for one module I have found that a year or too later they have learnt NOT to get so close to the students as the five hours they are paid to do would and will multiply ten-fold.
There is a note somewhere about what to expect from your tutor though this is no adequately communicate. Bascially, you/we, us students are to be left to our own devices. The sooner someone takes the initiative to meet up online, or even to meet in person, the better. This is how, a core of three, or four people, can make or break any of the invaluable banter that then occurs.
Interesting viewpoint Jonathan, initially I felt it was a tad cynical - but then I too have experience of tutors (as a student and as a tutor) where they (unlike me) do the minimum work due to the pay structure. As for some people within collaborative projects not pulling their weight I have found that this is the case for any team whether online or face-to-face, only really resolved within a hierarchical structure where their income depends on it - albeit pulling their weight but their heart's not in it. Although perhaps I am a tad cynical too