- We needed to find a resource to help our participants understand Google Groups. I hadn't been able to find anything in YouTube or text. I asked Jason Rhode of NIU to check around. Instead, he created a custom video tutorial just for our users. Wonderful!
- We needed a "networking central" to provide social networking addresses and interests of participants in order to facilitate hook-ups and collaborations. @tektrekker jumped in and created a Twitter list. And, Emily crafted a Google Form, developed the database and associated .html page. We confirmed that ctrl-F worked for search and put it in the header. We will manually update after scanning each update for spam and other inappropriate material. It should work well for the purpose of sharing contact and networking info.
- In the beginning, we did not anticipate that thousands of people would sign up for the MOOC. We thought the 100-seat Elluminate (now Blackboard Connect) classroom would suffice since many will not be able to make the synchronous sessions each time due to work schedules, etc. But, as the numbers mounted, it became clear that 100 seats would not be enough. We checked the possibility of complimentary "bursting" for those sessions to 400 or 500; something that Elluminate had done previously for us (we have received recognition for our work with Elluminate in the past and they were happy to reciprocate). But, the new owners, Blackboard, were not inclined to help the MOOC. Tulio Llosa, Director of Educational Technology at UIS created a custom streaming page that displays a mini-browser with Elluminate and a neat little twitter gadget below to display a back channel. The test today was flawless. If we keep the image space small we should be able to support 500 or perhaps more streams via the larger flash server. And, Tulio will look at opening the mobile-friendly non-flash server as well. Doing this during the summer when there are fewer demands on bandwidth will help us as well. We will run more tests tomorrow.
- Carrie has been working on keeping the Google Groups uploaded with new registrations. But, Google will block her after an unspecified number of uploads - several hundred. Then, she is blocked from group uploads for a period of hours. Meanwhile, new members of the MOOC are impatient, even though we warn on the home page that it may take a day to enroll them in the group. In addition, there are lots of individual problems that must be solved; some participants fail to receive their invitation from Google, others use corporate Google Apps email addresses which won't allow them to register, still others find that Google is blocked by their work firewalls. One by one Carrie is working with them to resolve problems.
I promised to keep these postings short. Soon, I will blog about the challenge of balancing the desires of the tech savvy for certain advanced applications (such as Diigo) and the practical desires of those less savvy who have little experience beyond email and web browsing.
All in all, it was a highly productive day. In between MOOC work; Carrie, Emily and I did an hour-long Webinar on Alternative Search Engines. Carrie kept up with teaching her intensive summer class. Shari worked on selecting one more panelist to cover the "cloud" aspects of collaboration and tested the streaming with Tulio. Emily and I picked up the work in the Sloan Consortium Workshop we three are coordinating.
We had just a few minutes of a shortened lunch which we shared, somewhat sadly, with our good friend Harry Berman, Chancellor. Harry has been a champion for our online learning efforts. He and I arrived on campus as young faculty members in 1977. Harry will retire next week after a highly productive and supportive tenure of 34 years. So, it was a fifteen-minute lunch with an unspoken sadness that he will leave, but also a few laughs about Mac vs. PC and praises for the new iPad 2.