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.

Research and Enquiry Badges Awarded

Research and EnquiryThe first badges have been awarded to participants who took an active role in their group’s research project. There is guidance about accepting your badge and setting up your Mozilla Open Badge Backpack in the slides from the week three lecture.

If you require additional suport in a accepting your badge and/or setting up your backpack please get in touch via Email or Twitter.

#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.

#crit101 – Week Three

In week three #crit101 is turning its attention to validity and reliability. The week three 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 (04.02.13). 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.

The Twitter discussion will be on Wednesday (06.02.13) between 7PM and 8PM (GMT).

I mentioned this at the end of week one, but I want to encourage you to read and comment on each others blog posts. You can find them here on the #crit101 blog. I have added an archive so that it is easy to access all posts published on the site. Like last week, I will be adding my own thoughts, and hope to enter into meaningful dialogue with as many of you as possible.

#crit101 Week Two: What is the best way to cook an egg?

This week I asked participants to collaborate on a short piece of research, addressing the question:

“What is the best way to cook an egg?”

The task was challenging, not least because of the ambiguity inherent in the task but also because of the short amount of time they had to complete it in. Moreover, for many of the participants additional challenges presented themselves because of the need to collaborate using a technology (Google Docs) that some of them had never encountered before. I am pleased to say that many of the participants not only demonstrated their ability to work collaboratively but also displayed the resilience many of them referred to as being integral to in(ter)dependent learning in week one.

As I write this, with one hour to go until the 6PM deadline, one or two groups are still editing and refining their articles. Others have finished and blog posts, reflecting on week two, have started to be posted. I will be reading and responding to both the articles and blog posts over the course of week three. Additionally, the first badges will be issued this week to those participants who took an active role in their group’s research project.

Published Articles: What is the best way to cook an egg?