Saturday, January 18, 2014

Adventures (and Misadventures) with Janux

Unexpectedly, it looks like a good portion of my free time this semester will be taken up with a really terrible digital tool, Janux, the new (and VERY expensive!) MOOC software platform that my school has built. There is a course I really really REALLY want to take, but the terrible software is making me regret my decision to commit to the course. But I am committed, and I will see it through. I'll post an update once a week here about how the tool is working ... or, rather, not working. This will definitely cut back on my Digital Tools postings, but I will make sure to post about Janux as a kind of round-up of my latest (mis)adventures.

Of course I created a blog to get started, since I have to have a blog for any project I am doing. How would I keep track of things without a blog?
JANUX History of Science

I am posting in there regularly, so I created labels to organize my stuff:

ASSIGNMENTS: These are my actual class assignments, and I am reposting them in the dismally CLOSED Janux system... when the system allows me to post, that is. (See troubleshooting diary below.)

VIDEO NOTES: I am recording my notes for the course videos in my blog. I would never trust my notes to this buggy software platform (as it wants me to do), nor do I see any value at all at keeping my notes private. So, I'm posting them in my blog. I just wish I could embed the videos that go with them. It may be possible to do that, but I am doubtful. Waiting to find out.

EMAIL: Since the instructor of the course is a fantastic communicator with many years of online teaching experience (he and I started out teaching online at the same time!), I am recording my thoughts about his emails here since I know I will get some good ideas for communicating with my own students. His emails are the best by far from any instructor of any MOOC I have taken.

SUNDIALS: I've already started a new project thanks to this course - Latin sundial inscriptions! Although I'll be blogging about that at my long-term Bestiaria Latina blog, I'll crosspost here too. It's good to have a class-related project to work on when I give up on Janux in frustration. Which leads me to the final label...

DIARY: This is where I am posting documentation about my frustrations with the system, software troubleshooting, etc. It is just depressing, but by including screenshots and other details, I hope I can make it useful for the Janux developers. So far, every one of my Janux sessions has ended up abruptly in complete frustration, not what I would expect from a platform for which there is an annual budget of almost a million dollars and which was supposedly tested with actual courses last fall. Sigh.

So, I'll have more to say in future weekly round-ups here, but it was useful to spell out my plan. Plus, I will be learning some more things about using Blogger here which should help me get some good ideas for how I can encourage my students to start using Blogger next fall in my classes. There is a lot of overlap between what I am doing for Kerry's course and what my own students do, and no surprise: Kerry and I first built our courses together, and we had so much good back-and-forth as we did that! My whole approach to revision and the project calendar, for example, all comes from Kerry's insights then.

My absolute #1 goal is to get them to open up the video content for the course so that it can be shared and embedded elsewhere; right now, only the promo video is at YouTube. You can get a sense from just this video of how fabulous Kerry is and what a great course he has created.

I am pretty sure he would want to share the videos as widely as possible given all that he has done to make the History of Science Collections available to all — just look at this OU History of Science Collections Flickr stream for example! Wow! That's the kind of sharing I would to see for the videos too. Fingers crossed... maybe I will have good news about that next week.

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