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Move along.

I thought this course would be The One.

The One I Finished.

It’s not the course’s fault at all, it’s all PEBKAC.

I was eager to dive into the P2PU course Play With Your Music:

“Play With Your Music” is a free, 6-week online course where you’ll make 3-5 songs of your very own, using the newest tools on the web. You’ll learn the in’s and out’s of audio production, while working with music you already know and love. Anyone with an interest in making music is welcome, and all you need is a computer and a browser.

The course is now in week 5. I have not gotten much further than Tuesday of week 2.

I’ll leave the excuses out.

There’s a lot to like about the course design, the Mechanical MOOC method (so worth reading the report by P2PU) where participants are grouped into cohorts.

The curriculum is reasonably designed with a good balance of short videos to listen to but also directed creative activities. The topic is one I was motivated (or so I thought) to take on as a challenge, occupying what I have learned is the Csikszentmihalyi-an “flow” channel.

I was curious to learn how to use Soundation.

A first mistake I made was setting up my Gmail to move all messages from the course and my group to a label– there were a lot of messages coming in from the group and Google+ (BTW the plus stands for “more email notifications”) (much more)… and oops, it was week 3 when I realized I had not seen any messages. Because duh, I had moved them out of my mailbox. IN the future I might use the filter for the group communication, but not the course announcements.

In week 3, I thought I could rapid catch up, and set out to do the past work… I even set up a tumblr for my stuff.

And day after day, I managed to say, I will do it tomorrow.

And at this point, well, its just not worth it to rush through the course to try and get the experience.

I suck as an open student. Truly.

Pogo rules apply.


There is a question I have (meaning no real answer) — what is sacred about the weekly schedule? Is there something to a … a…. I looked for the name of something that occurs every seven days (septennial for days?) and look what Google gave me? (Google, I do not understand your algorithm at all)


But why, in an open course, not tied to an institution, semester schedule, are course planned on the 7 day cycle? There is of course a balance, you stretch things out too long and the pace is slow, or distractible excuse making slobs like me can make excuses on a bi-weekly schedule too.

Still– why is the treadmill of an open course tied to the rhythm of a traditional school schedule? That was one (of many) admirable aspect of the ETMOOC Alec Couros ran last year— its schedule was a 2 week cycle.

That is a question I am thinking too for the now maybe ending Headless ds106 we set up, where we pretty much wore out the active participants from the first half. The pace of it is insane, and there is no reason to tie it to the 7 day cycle, is there?

One of the grand successes has been the version of this ds106 experience Rochelle Lockridge has been running inside the 3M corporate firewall (if all goes well a presentation and paper might be coming out of a 2014 open thingie conference). Her plans for the future are to let loose of the rapid pace, and turn it into a monthly cycle of topics.

This is another blog post coming soon to a space near here, some reflections on the headless ds106.

But I have my questions still about the rapid semesterly pacing of courses being a factor in people lapsing who sign up freely for an open learning experience. Maybe the magic cycle is Biblically inspired.

Again, I am my own sole source of ships floundering.

What can I do?

Maybe I will roll up my sleeves and try again January 15. It’s a whole new year. Maybe I will be different.


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An early 90s builder of the web and blogging Alan Levine barks at on web storytelling (#ds106 #4life), photography, bending WordPress, and serendipity in the infinite internet river. He thinks it's weird to write about himself in the third person.


  1. People have expectations of what a course is supposed to look like. Things that deviate from the familiar make them uncomfortable. So we get recorded lectures and automated quizzes and fixed schedules and all the other amazing innovations that come with open online courses.
    Does a course need to have a fixed schedule all? What if all the content was posted on day 1, and participants were free to forge their own learning paths through it? Maybe it wouldn’t fit anyone’s definition of a course anymore. Maybe some sort of sequence needs to be at least suggested.

    But Play With Your Music looks interesting. I wonder if I could work that at the same time as FAWM( I might flounder as well.

    1. There is something to be said, gained from participating alongside others engaged in the same activities, right? Especially in this course where groups were supposed to work together on remixes.

      Otherwise it would be all correspondence course style.

      1. I see – having a schedule creates a cohort, provides opportunities for collaboration and focuses conversation. Participants could make that happen on their own, but without a schedule a lot would be left to chance. I think that flexibility aligns with openness though. You shouldn’t feel a need to catch up or keep up, you should feel empowered to make the course work for you.

  2. Hi Alan,
    There is a schedule for headless ds106?
    I’ve enjoyed headless ds106 (and learned) cause I felt pretty relaxed most of the time about keeping the schedule.
    I like the working/playing/riffing that comes with a group.
    For open online perhaps a shorter course with less content might keep more folk on track (if that is the aim).

  3. I fail utterly at doing any organized MOOC thing. I often can’t even finish signing up. I have unfortunate reactions to top down schedules but see the value in synchronous/semi-synchronous cohorts. I wonder quite a bit about how to make that work.

  4. I’m sitting with you at the back of the #PWYM bus, but although I didn’t complete *any* of the assignments, my digging in and around the event did yield some great learning – particularly the exposure to OSC which I knew nothing about before PWYM.

    So, although I didn’t generate any artefacts, I learned quite a bit. Great thing about P2PU is that I can dip in whenever I choose and challenge myself to a few things – much like ds106.

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