Thursday, 27 June 2013

ScHARR MOOC Diaries - Part XIV: Sustainable Healthy Diets - induction week review

The Sustainable Healthy Diets MOOC begins

'Mission Control Centre' By NASACjosefy at en.wikipedia
It was 9am on the 17th June. The MOOC team were assembled at ScHARR MOOC headquarters, (aka Regent Court!), holding their breaths, and anxiously waiting to press the magic button which would kick start the most exciting adventure in learning that any of them had probably ever had!The hour was upon them, and Luke took up the mantle as chief button pusher. 5,4,3,2,1 and ping, we were live! Ok, so who are we kidding. It was all programmed to automatically release at 9am. The wait was, nonetheless, palpable.

The morning progressed, with a steady flow of participants arriving. By lunchtime, the discussion forums were bustling with people introducing themselves and in some cases reading and replying to each other. The cross-pollination was already in full swing. There was a loud cheer when our first video post came in. A magical moment for everyone I think - like a second moon landing really.

It was clear from the beginning that we’d chosen a subject here which was very popular and on which there was no shortage of opinions, hopes and ideas. A "we want to make the world a better place" mentality was emerging as people described what they felt a sustainable diet was and how it might be achieved.

So, can we save the world?

Well, not single handedly, but with a group of enthusiastic participants like the ones we have on this MOOC, we can certainly give it damn good go! From some of the introduction posts we read it was clear that there was significant diversity amongst our participants in terms of backgrounds and knowledge bases. We have been joined by academics with specialist knowledge relating to key sustainability issues and working on current projects exploring sustainability in different areas relating to food; we also have a number of grass roots project participants, with a wealth of experience in engaging with people in local communities on food issues. Combined with this, there a number of you who are taking the course for professional and personal reasons, and this is wonderful!

And now for the week in numbers...

During this first week, the MOOC received 468 discussion board posts (with the anticipation that with the weekend still to come, this may rise significantly before week 1 starts). These posts were mainly based around the introduction activity whereby MOOCsters were invited to introduce themselves, explain what they felt a “sustainable diet” meant to them and to read and respond to any of their peers’ posts.

We also received 146 unique blog posts in the MOOCsters blog groups (which were limited to approximately 50-55 members in each). These included some exciting video blog posts which we’re keen to encourage people to do over this 5 week course.

Finally, we received a large amount of tweets using the #dietsmooc hashtag. For this induction week, these tweets were again mainly people announcing their arrival via social media but also some tweeters giving early indications of what they thought about the course so far or their hopes for the coming weeks.

How are our MOOCsters interacting with the MOOC so far?

Coursesites' reporting tool is great for quickly spitting out some really useful data on course access. As expected, the majority of activity (58.2% ) in the first week has focussed on the course-wide discussion board. There was also a fair amount of activity on the content (18.9%) and then the group blogs (18.9%)
Which tools are being used?

We've also been able to see a break-down of when the participants are logging on to access our MOOC. As we can see below, the majority of access happens between 8am and 9pm British Standard Time.
When are MOOCsters accessing the course?

So far, so good then?

To sum up, we are thrilled with how our introductory week has gone, but if we said we weren't still holding our breath on a number of fronts we would be telling fibs! Will the technology continue to support us and our participants for the duration of the course? Can we keep such a diverse mix of MOOCsters interested and engaged till the end? How will our live discussion webinars go? The answer may be blowing in the wind, but if you tune in for our next post, we're hoping to have caught it and be in a position to share it with you.......

Angie Clonan and Luke Miller

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