Where do we go with the model of FD courses?
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    Where do we go with the model of FD courses?

    by chrish » Thu Mar 02, 2017 10:54 am

    This week I was struck by how cool it was that @djgagnon could get a course up and running around the AR image tags:


    For most people I imagine these videos make it feel easiest to learn how to do something new. My interest is in making this course idea not just something that FD is producing for everyone else, but that could involve community participation too, and which might diversify in subject matter too.

    There are a couple things that I think we need to get there.

    I partly think about this in terms of a broader format. I think short videos set a good example of how to share new content, but I think a course can be about more, ultimately than just video, and just content delivery. Not every course would need more, but having it possible could do new things. For instance, I'm looking for ways to teach my Local Games class open on the web atm. Text and image based delivery, links to outside materials and more interactive structures like design challenges and other "assignments". These are some of the pieces that would really begin to feel like teaching and not just providing motivational material or basic software tutorials (not to denigrate those uses though).

    I've noticed for example that FD has directed some conversation among Fellows about intent in this space to take place on the forums. That seems like a move in the direction of doing more teaching and learning online here and dispersing it among a broader community.

    A basic usability question related to courses I have is about the current list of existing courses. It looks like they have to be manually added in? For instance there is no way to find your way to the ar course without knowing the link. What does organization and presentation look like as there get to be more courses? It seems like impossible overhead to have FD manually adding in or curating courses produced outside, but if the format meant little technical work and there was a social mechanism for achieving approval?

    More generally, how does what FD has started with courses go from something one group does to something that can involve more diffuse and diverse participation? It might not all need to be in the same place for instance. I think the overall goal of introducing a new space here would be to increase the ways in which diverse strengths and skills among our community might become the tide that raises all boats. Courses can be a vehicle through which we can help contribute to something bigger. Here are some of the specific manifestations of this goal I can imagine:
    • Sharing ideas, methods, perspectives, and workflows as easily as we can make tools available online
    • Fighting the problem of centrality—only those officially connected to FD and co-present in Madison (or some other center) feel connected enough to participate
    • Stop wheel reinventing—if there is a simple solution someone has found, that should be available to others
    • Improve practices generally
    • Move forward social and pedagogical conversations about what this work is for
    • Support teaching and learning across distance, informal and formal—in a way that is open on the web, not trapped in some LMS

    Other than asking a lot of long-winded, open questions, I plan here to start assembling material and ideas appropriate to "courses" myself. To run the flag up the pole. In doing so, it seems like a bit of a style guide is already starting to emerge:
    • short units—individual pieces of media less than 5 minutes, and courses consist of a single topic made of several of these moments.
    • Preference for video as primary, and av quality as a major criteria
    • What else?

    Anyway, I'm excited for this new facet of our work and its potential to move people ahead in discovering and realizing their dreams.
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    Re: Where do we go with the model of FD courses?

    by djgagnon » Wed Apr 26, 2017 4:26 pm

    Sorry for the slow reply here. In short, I would LOVE to invite you and others to produce courses for the site.

    The purpose of the courses is to help new folks see that they can do some really cool stuff and the supports are there so ideas like "field research" and "situated documentary" become really practical.

    I think we are starting to get a handle on the overall style of them that can serve as a template for how to make your own. Getting good lighting, a quiet background, etc. is all possible with a $100 webcam and a minimally setup room.

    Do you have some topics in mind?

    The plan right now is to get an ARISjs course up shortly (Phil recorded it) and one about facilitating Community Investigations (Jim Mathews). I'm also scheduled to rerecord the ARIS 101 using a better camera.