#edcmooc A reflection on artefacts

Lily pads on a lake with three leaves which are not real superimposed
What is real and what is not? Getting to the heart of the matter..

So, I have finished evaluating my artefacts and am now awaiting my marks. After looking at the three artefacts I was allocated, I have to admit to feeling a little disappointed in a couple which was why I opted to look at some more. Two of the five I looked at didn’t seem to address the themes at all.  One was a great selection of external websites, videos and quotations but there was no narrative to link them all together.  The other two, I thought were pretty good and clearly showed a good understanding of the concepts although they too lacked personal reflection.  I had thought that the criteria were relatively clear about what we had to do.  Having said that, I suppose that the guidelines were also sufficiently open to allow for a great deal of subjectivity in the interpretation of them. I guess that can be both an adavantage and a disadvantage.

I think that being involved in the Tweetchats and browsing the forums reasonably regularly gave me some insights into the way that other people were thinking and interpreting the resources.  I didn’t contribute as much as some because many people were saying what I was thinking so didn’t feel the need to repeat.  However, I did use the voting buttons when I though that a post was particularly helpful or interesting to me.

I wasn’t sure whether looking at the many artefacts that people posted early was going to be helpful or confusing to me as I grappled with decisons around the focus for my artefact.  I did look at a couple of early ones and they seemed so well-polished and cleverly written that I felt a little bit out of my depth, so decided not to look at any more!  Never having had to do anything like this before I decided to launch myself into the unknown and just go for it.  I don’t know how my artefact will be viewed, I hope that I managed to fulfil the criteria …

I have been a teacher for a long time now and I know how difficult it is to assess creative work against criteria however specific they may or may not be.  Creative interpretation is very personal and it evokes responses in people that are very personal too, so judgements are often subjective.  Getting past the “pretty”, the gizmos and gadgets and uncovering the real content is not easy. And creative people are often drawn towards the effects they can create and get caught up in them which means they forget where they are going with the content.

I know that I have been guilty frequently in the past of seeing a bright, shiny new application and being determined to use it, I incorporate it into a lesson withot it having any real pedagogical purpose.  Who is in control?  The technology or me?  I am still drawn to those sorts of things but I think that my experience has taught me that I need to be circumspect about the tools I introduce.  I have seen it with my students especially when I asked them in the past to create a presentation or a poster – they are filled with whizzbang features, pictures swirling in and flashing before exploding, sound effects and bright, glaring colour schemes.  They are slickly presented but absolutely no content worth marking!

But we are all on a learning journey and we are all at different points along the way and if even only a small percentage of the 43,000 people who started edcmooc submitted artefacts, that is still going to be thousands.  So, I guess that the range of media, interpretations, quality and understanding within the artefacts is going to be very wide.  Some of the comments on the Facebook page have suggested that there may be “mooc spammers” who have no interest in following the course but who submit artefacts as a way of advertising their products.  I don’t know if that is true or not.

However, I hope that my comments during the evaluation process have been “both supportive and critical” and “provide valuable guidance and stimulus to further thought” (edcmooc feedback guidelines).  I know that evaluating the artefacts made me think more critically about my own and I am sure I could go back and improve it if I had the time.

I wonder if, given the complex nature of evaluation – I believe it is a skill that many of us do not practise very often – it may have been worth us having to evaluate a smaller artefact earlier in the course?  The flickr photo challenge for example, could have been a more formal activity that required some feedback.  Having to critically evaluate someone else’s work helps you in the working of your own and a greater understanding of that process may have led to a higher standard of final artefacts across the board.


Photo by Easegill (Nigel Robertson) Taken at Hamilton Sculpture Park

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Plus ca change … thoughts on a digital artefact #edcmooc

a walkway over the edge of a lake, the reflection of the rails can be seen in the water
The way forward?

I have had a busy week where I struggled to find time to read, view, reflect and gather my thoughts.  Work has been demanding of my time and my 18 yr old son is leaving for Canada to work for 8 months in an outdoor centre.  A scary time for a Mum as her firstborn flies the nest; torn between wanting to spend as much time with my child, who would rather be with his girlfriend (an whyever not, I suspect I preferred my boyfriend’s company to my parents’ at the same age?) and needing to fulfil the demands of my job and edcmooc. Yesterday was spent preparing a party to celebrate on several levels; 5 years since we arrived in NZ, my husband’s birthday (which falling as it does just a few days after Christmas, has to be celebrated separately just a little later than the real day to make it special), my son’s belated 18th (his Birthday fell in the middle of his school exams), and a farewell to same son before he sets off on his adventures to the other side of the world.

Anyway, I managed to snatch time to read and view videos on the hoof, but certainly have not seen and read everything. The twitter chat this morning (evening for all of those of you int he northern hemisphere) was fun; it gave me the opportunity to share ideas, learn from others, make some more connections.  Fast and furious, there is never enough time to really process but snapshots of ideas sow seeds and during the day I have had time to synthesise some of them.

I would really liked to have contributed more to the flickr project this week but time prohibited the ability to be creative.  Nevertheless, I have spent today devoted to my computer and edcmooc and come up with some icelebratory cake with map of NZ showing a marker with "home " written on it and an aeroplane flying towards (or away from) it. deas.  A work in progress towards my digital artefact; not deeply analytical, fairly soundbite-ish but getting there…