So what if I am not connected?

First Great Western

One of the challenges with any MOOC is finding the time to engage with the course, especially if you are doing it in your own time and have no dedicated staff development time slot to fit it in. I am sure that I am not that different to many others undertaking ocTEL in undertaking the course in “spare” time as I like others are generally quite busy.

However what I have found with this MOOC, and I guess is an issue with many different MOOCs is that you need to be online! Well one of the “O”s in MOOC does stand for online.

Well in order to be online you need an internet connection, and I am finding that when I have time to engage with the course I am either offline or have a slow 3G phone connection.

Most of my reading and reflection is being done offline. I am writing this blog post in a word processor and will post it on my blog later when I have some internet.

As I said though, most of the time I am engaging with this course is when I am commuting by train when I have no internet (well not a stable consistent connection).

As a result I was unable to view the Diana Laurillard webinar recording, well that when I had a decent internet connection, I couldn’t as the machine I was on was having a problem with the Java required for Blackboard Collaborate (which I have used before on the same machine).

Of course it is proving a little easier to engage with ocTEL through Social Media, Twitter seems to work just as well on GPRS as it does on 3G and even Google+ isn’t too bandwith hungry.

Now we are in week one, there are a fair few YouTube videos to watch and in order to watch YouTube videos you need a relatively fast and stable internet connection. When travelling by train, this is something I don’t always have. CrossCountry for example block YouTube on their wifi on their trains, so no chance of watching it when connected on one of their rail services. First Great Western don’t even have wifi! It would have also been useful for me, as someone who listens to podcasts in the car to possible have downloadable mp3 audio versions of the “videos” to listen to. The option to download the video to an iPad or media device, or audio versions would have helped me enormously.

It would also appear to be crucial to view these videos first before I can progress on the course. As a result I am going to need to set time aside on a computer with a decent internet connection to view the videos.

What I have learnt from this part of the MOOC is that never assume your learners always have a decent always on internet connection. They may at times, but there may be circumstances which means that they don’t. As a result think about ensuring content is accessible in different media, or provide opportunities to convert formats into accessible formats.

Okay time to find the time to watch those videos.

6 thoughts on “So what if I am not connected?”

  1. I worked on some OERs that were mainly video and we tried to answer the issue you mention from the perspective that our streaming server and/or YouTube/vimeo may be blocked by college firewalls so provided lower quality/size mp4 files.
    What we failed to answer was what about those students using 3G or even 4G dongles or mobiles with a pence per megabyte or bandwidth capped service?
    How much do the students need to pay to access this ‘free’ material? And are any disadvantaged through cost?

  2. Hi ~ another slow connection here, US rural connectivity issues. I hope to upgrade but don’t have an institutional affiliation to piggyback on and can still tell the difference between convenient and necessary.

    Having transcripts and audio for sessions would help. I remember a few in 2010 and 2011 that posted audio files. Someone posting notes helps too. Happens some but is erratic.

    Not all students,e especially in poorer community, will have good off campus or out of school connections, Expecting them to head to a fast food hot spot to do their work is not a good learning situation.

    I still manage to run a gang of blog and manage social media content for both community and adjunct faculty organization.

  3. Thanks for the post! I am very interested in people’s learning affordances of time/technology as I’ve found this to be an issue with “real” learners. I can’t watch the webinar recordings in my lunch hours (let alone attend “in person”) because they are banned by the work firewall. At home I only have 2Mb broadband and find elluminate desperately slow. It would be great if the webinar recordings could be converted to YouTube because then I could use the PlayTube app to watch them either at work or in my armchair after dinner regardless of Internet on my iPad or when waiting in hospital queues on my iPhone…

  4. ‘.. finding the time to engage with the course, especially if you are doing it in your own time and have no dedicated staff development time slot to fit it in’ hits the nail on the head for me and its not just MOOCs. Many of us are wading into the MOOC scene because we are enthusiastic about learning and technology and want to test the water are not stopping to say ‘ if I do this MOOC what will I stop doing to make way for it given that we were not twiddling out thumbs waiting for the MOOC to appear?’Even if we do ‘put time aside’ in theory there are always more pressing issues for learning technologists and other in academia that lead to us needing to find the time for this ‘on the train on the way home’
    It is so much easier to turn up in a room at a given time for training even though we might still be doing our emails on our phones while we are there.
    We run a Teaching and Learning Online online course for teaching staff and a common issue with the participants is prioritising the time to complete it. There is never a good time to do a course like this.

  5. I find it amazing that we are now discussing this topic of always on connection as an issue. I understand that it is an issue as I get frustrated at the limited connectivity at times but for me it is science fiction come true. The idea that we could access information let alone videos on the move was a dream that was a very distant reality for me only twenty years ago. We have come a long way. Mac

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