Leaving an open online class

I’m leaving Curt Bonk’s open online class “Instructional Ideas and Technology Tools for Online Success”, which started this week. It’s a class about retaining, motivating and engaging online students, and I’m leaving because I’m not motivated and not engaged.

It’s not because of Dr. Bonk – his work is very interesting.

It’s the classroom. I wanted to attend to see the new CourseSites from Blackboard, which is being touted as Bb’s “open” LMS. Maybe it would be innovative! A new LMS. I’m always very interested in learning management systems, and what they can do.

Well, it’s the same old Blackboard, with more white space, nicer fonts and some cool icons.

First assignment included two 44-page pdf files that were expensive to print and difficult to read online since they were double-spaced. Oh.

Well, OK. I went over to the discussion to introduce myself, and oh dear. Same threaded discussion – very 1999. With each iteration of Bb, I find it harder to believe they’ve done nothing with forums. Each person had started their own “thread” to introduce themselves, necessitating opening each one at a time or collecting those on the page.

Only those on the page can be collected. There are 30 pages of introductions.

A sense of chore, of overwhelming ennui, engulfed me. I saw that you can also blog instead. That’s good! I can blog as I go, on my own blog! And everyone will read it, and there will be comments, and I can comment on theirs! Oh….

I’m not going to blog inside a closed system, even if it’s open at the moment. Yes, I could add a link to my own blog to the wiki, but that’s not exactly integrated into the course. Pretty evident, then, that the main discussion would be in those horrible forums.

It’s only for a month. No, I can’t. I don’t use Bb anymore for exactly this reason. I will be happy to read Bonk’s works, on my own, and blog about them. I’ll miss the community. No, I won’t. I can’t miss this many people.

I’m spoiled. I blame George Siemens, Stephen Downes and Alec Couros. I blame Jim Groom. I’m used to aggregated blogs, embedded media, distributed conversation. I think of these things as being what open, online classes are all about. I blame my own class at Pedagogy First!.

You’ll say I didn’t give it a chance. You’ll say I’m being too picky. You’ll say…well, I don’t know what you’ll say, since I won’t be in the class.

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