Friday, April 05, 2013

Advice to OcTEL

Context: email to David Jennings, on the occasion of the start of the OcTEL MOOC, in which participants have been flooded with introductory emails from the course mailing list.

Hi - here are some suggestions - posted here because you’ll probably not get them if I send an email (heh)... feel free to remove this once you’ve received the message. -- Stephen

Hiya David,

In all the MOOCs I've done I've never had an open one-to-many channel, precisely because if you have 1000 people using it, it becomes unmanageable.

You'll find that web forums become unmanageable as well if used by 1000 people.

I have also discouraged the ubiquitous 'introduction' posts, for the same reason. A dozen introductions make sense. 1000 do not.

Right now, any message you send to people will get lost in the mass, so you can't fix the problem by sending messages to people.

What I would do (and I feel really badly, because I could have offered this advice earlier):

- redirect all mail to a web-based discussion board or mailing list archives, and cease sending out mailing list emails
- give people a few days to catch their breath
- give people a link to the discussion board

This cuts off the flow and makes it possible to communicate with people in the course. next:

- set up a system whereby you are sending out one email a day to people
- in this email, put your course announcements at the top
- also put a link to the mailing list archives, or (even better) links to the current topics on the board archives

Finally, you can use this system to incorporate 'publish in your own space' responses

- create a mechanism to allow people to register their blogs
- set up an aggregator of participant blogs
- include the aggregator listings in the once-a-day email


- aggregate the Twitter posts for the course tag (I forget what it was; I'm sure it's in an email somewhere)
- aggregate from the diigo group -
- list these posts in your once-a-day email

Here's an example of such an email I've used in my own courses: