Julie A. Cunningham

Academic Advisor

MOOC Rubric Fail

I’m very close withdrawing from this MOOC. And I hate that because I am learning many things- just not the intended curriculum. After struggling through a disjointed curriculum with global learners, I found myself staring at the “Peer Review” window with my own work in the window. You see, part of the grading process is that we each peer review the work of three other students, and then we self-evaluate. In theory, this sounds like a good process. In reality, it’s much more complex.

Rather than a clearly defined question to address, the course assignment was as follows:

In the first week it was said that a fairly high proportion of educators would like more professional development. It poses the question ‘How might you contribute to your own professional development and that of your colleagues?’

We’d like you to reflect on this question in conjunction with the suggestion in week 2 that you consider the influences on you and particularly the people who may have played a part in your decision to consider being a teacher.

The response to your chosen question could come in the form or an essay of between 700 and 1000 words, or alternatively through the development of a powerpoint presentation or a short videotape ( maximum 10 minutes) on the issue. We expect you to refer to the materials that have presented in the course, or other sources, to support the arguments that you are making. (emphasis mine) [Coursera Foundations of Teaching for Learning 2]

Now, I read this over and over. I am a smart girl. I have written many papers and essays in my life as a historian, and they do not scare me. I love to write. However, I think I botched this assignment and it makes me want to scream at the lack of clarity in this course. The topic above says both to reflect “in conjunction with” and also tells us that we are responding to our “chosen question”. So, which is it? Both, or pick one? I chose to address “how might you contribute to your own professional development and that of your colleagues?” since it said your chosen question.  And I chose to address it in a simplified powerpoint form to make it easier for the content to be understood by my ESL classmates after corresponding with them in various forums. Don’t even get me started on the whole “support the arguments” when you are sharing personal experience and opinion rather than data.

So, here I sit, with the drop-down box unchecked on a self-assessment that I feel is both unclear and also not geared towards the original question. Here are the rubric points I take issue with :  (Drop down choices are: Inadequate, Acceptable, Good, Excellent)

  1. The ability of the writer to reflect on their experiences of teaching and learning identifying key issues and influences on their current view of teaching. Use references to the course materials or to other sources where possible to connect your views to what the course has covered.
  2. The ability of the writer to stand outside their own experiences and examine them critically in light of what they have learned drawing on issues and insights raised during the course so far or from other sources they have used [Coursera Foundations of Teaching for Learning 2]

Really? Obfuscation, anyone?  If I grade myself according to the rubric, I’ll fail myself because it does not allow for anything related to professional development…. which was the primary question. Go figure. (I won’t even address how difficult it was to peer review ESL classmates and to fairly grade in those situations. I decided to just go with the intent of the essay- if I could understand them and they got their point across, the grammar and sentence structure was irrelevant.)

I knew this essay was not my best work when I turned it in. I wasn’t interested in the question(s) and felt like it was remedial work. I’d rather be doing something about professional development than talking about it. This assignment did inspire me to set up the October Tweetup at my local coffee shop and also to start the #sdlchat book discussion.  That is personalized PD in action.

So, I am left wondering what the heck I am doing in this class. Is it helping me reach my goal of becoming an expert in self-directed learning? Am I creating meaningful artifacts for my portfolio? Is it helping me as I work with independent learners on a day to day basis? Is it revisiting content that I have already mastered? Am I spending more time deciphering the content and questions than I am actually learning new material? Would my time be better spent building my own course and working with an expert mentor? Do I quit now or stick it out?

After a little introspection, I realized I am taking it to fulfill some crazy desire to have a ‘teaching certificate’ so I am seen as an educator. Not a good reason to continue, and something I need to become comfortable with as I structure my Open Master’s Framework.



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