Tossed Salad and Scrambled Eggs!

Tonight’s discussion began well with everyone getting used to how Google+ works while sharing their likes and dislikes about the course.  However, it fell apart towards the end. Whether this was due to the platform itself; the attempt to collaborate on a mind map (which did not work); or something else entirely, I am not sure.

Personally, I don’t think Google+ worked that well. I’ve spent quite a lot of time discussing the merits of asynchronous and synchronous collaboration during the course. And while Google+ seems to reside in a liminal space between blog and social network, it did not handle a real time (synchronous) discussion particularly well. I found that it lacked the efficiency/urgency of Twitter. Moreover, it was not always easy to follow the discussion and would certainly benefit from threading. If this frustrated the rest of the participants too, I am not sure, but I will try to find out.

Perhaps Google+ was simply not the right tool for the job. Twitter, on the other hand, is a platform that lends itself more naturally to a real time discussion. Google Docs works well both synchronously and asynchronously. Google+ may still have a place within #crit101 but what that is exactly I am not sure. I’m going to keep the space open; perhaps it is more suited to a less immediate, more thoughtful conversation? But tonight, having sat wondering where everyone went, Google+ left me feeling a little tossed and scrambled.

#crit101 – Week Four

In week four #crit101 is turning its attention to reading and analysis. The week four page has been updated with reading material and information about this week’s assignments.

The live video lecture will be at 7:30PM (GMT) on Monday (11.02.13). Check the blog or Twitter around 7:25 for the link. The slides will be made available prior to the lecture, and a recording will be made available shortly afterwards.

After discussing some of the shortcoming of Twitter, this week’s discussion will take place on Google+: Wednesday 13th February between 7PM and 8PM (GMT).

As well as providing a new space for the weekly chat it can also be a useful space to ask questions and share ideas/resources. Go check it out!

Half way through #crit101…


As we have reached the half way point of Critical Skills 101, I thought it was a pertinent opportunity to reflect on how the course is shaping up; including the successes, failures and challenges that lay ahead.


There is clearly a lot of learning taking place. This is both evident in the quality of work produced and the honesty of many participants’ blog posts. In some ways the course has become more than I expected with the three tenets: “openness – social media – student voice/choice” (Cronin, 2012) being placed firmly at the heart of it. The syndication of blog posts and the decision to move to Google+ for week four’s discussion are evidence of this. Moreover, the feedback I have received from many of you has been significantly positive. There have already been numerous tweets, emails to that effect; as well as several of you expressing to me face-to-face how much you are getting out of the course.


Based on my experience of MOOCs I did expect some participants to drop out of the course, nevertheless I consider this an issue that I need to evaluate and act on. Some of you are fully engaged, embracing each week’s reading and activities with fervour. However, some of you are not. While the nature of the course speaks to independence and autonomy, one of the principle aims of the course is to encourage and develop this. Clearly, for some of you the course is not achieving this aim. Whether that is my fault, something to do with the course content or structure, or something else entirely I am not sure at this stage? This will certainly feed into my evaluation of the course once it has been completed.


One of the principles that underpins MOOCs is connectivism. It was my hope that all participants would freely interact and support each other. However, this has not been the case. Interaction between us (I include myself as a learner in this process) so far has come at times that I (as course leader) have specified, such as week two’s collaborative assignment and the weekly Twitter discussion. I do not know if this is simply to do with the fact that most of you are 14-18 year-olds. As such you have a limited experience of learning in this way. It may also have to do with the time that the you feel you can put in to the course. Most of you have full timetables as it is and this is additional learning. And I suspect that for some it may also come down to confidence. The willingness to share openly in your learning does not come naturally for everyone.

However, as Dave Cormier explains in the video below connection and collaboration are important to being successful in a MOOC. Please take the time to watch the video and reflect on your participation so far. To what extent has your approach met with Cormier’s thesis?


So success in a MOOC is about connecting. This is both an opportunity and my challenge to all of you. As week four dawns don’t wait for me to give you permission to connect with each other. Use Twitter, use Google+, use your blogs; share your docs; or use a means of communicating/sharing that suits you but don’t feel that you are on your own. Many of you expressed, in week one, that interdependence was important to being a successful independent learner. Lets put that into practice during week four.

Image cc. ®DS.

#crit101 on Google+

Google Plus

During tonight’s Twitter discussion, we discussed the 140 character limit and whether or not we might try a different platform for next week’s discussion. I put a quick poll out there and the majority voted to try Google+.

I have created a community page for the course and invited those of you who are already signed up to Google+ to join it. Those of you who are not signed up to Google+ will have also received an email explaining what you need to do.

Google+ has no character limit and works more like a forum. It will be interesting to see if this aids the quality of the weekly discussion or hinders it. I will discuss this more during Monday’s lecture. In the meantime, get signed up and join the #crit101 community.