Checkin’ out another MOOC

Posted on June 4, 2014


In full summer “dilly dally” mode, I googled ‘”developmental math” MOOC ‘  with the intention of doing a quick ‘what I’d like to try for one’ proposal. I’m hoping to find those articles about how disappointing the results were…

… but I’ve found several of them and so I’ve signed up for one.   Udacity and folks from Wake Technical Community College are going to teach me integers and stuff.

I like the intro that suggests I have a notebook, suggests how much to do each week (but I’m thinking that the voice talking at me is “lecture in a box”).

So now we’re going to talk about integers, and I see a number line… and it’s marked off with -1, 0, and 1, with extra marks between each integer (e.g., at – 1/2) but they’re unlabeled.

First question is:   what does a good number line have… and the “Right” answer is all of the things checked:   Arrows at each end, zero, marks to indicate scale, and positive & negative direction.

Welp, my pickiness rises.   Yes, for an intro to negative integers you need those but… a:  I have never, ever seen a number line without a “positive and negative direction”  and b:  sometimes my number line might just be positive or negative, depending on what I was trying to show.

Still in the “well, that’s not exactly how I would have done it but no big deal” category, though, especially since there’s no penalty for a ‘wrong’ answer; you just keep clicking… except that you can’t continue until you get it right.  (On the other hand, you *can* go out and navigate to other parts of the course — but I’m not sure I would know that.)

I like the explanation of what the arrows mean, and explaining what “infinity” means, except that I’m expected to “remember” when she asked what I thought infinity meant… and … that must be in some other class. Still, no big deal.

Okay, in the *next* session, I’m told that I *don’t* need the zero, but that it’s nice.   Yellow ding.

I was ready to big ding with the explanation of “bank balance” adding integers, but after I try to answer, it uses a number line to show it. However, I simply *can’t* proceed until I get the right answer (or, at least, 10 incorrect attempts get the same “it’s wrong.”)  Why not explain *before* the questions?  If this were face to face and I were asking concept building questions, I could understand asking instead of telling… hmm… sounds like a separate post to consider 😉

This is where I think the Curatr setup would be a significant improvement.   It is set up so that your current “level” in the course is a circle, and what you’ve already done is in a larger concentric circle around it.  *You* get to pick which item from that list to engage with (in the Designing for Data course, it’s usually a video or a research pdf or a blog kind of thing, and not particularly interactive except for discussion).

Okay, I skipped forward to a fraction quiz so I can go back to my original plan… and what I *like* is that when people post questions, they get answered, and quickly.  says that the course doesn’t have “discussion leaders” … but the course I’ve landed in seems to.   I can thumbs-up or thumbs-down things, and I think I can get approval ratings and what have you. (I haven’t yet figured out whether the people answering questions are staff/ teachers or not. I would imagine that it’s something that “peer tutors” or grad students could be assigned to do. Wouldn’t it be even cooler if they had other resources to click to?)

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