Participants Slowing or MIA

You may notice some of your participants have slowed down since the start of your programs. This has happened in previous semesters as well. We must remember that our learners may be busy and have many pulls on their time. Also, be aware that some do the program in their own way, not blogging or commenting.

Here’s a snippet from Stephens, M. & Cheetham, W. (2012). “Benefits and results of Learning 2.0: a case study of CityLibrariesLearning – discover*play*connect.” Australian Library Journal, 61(1), 6-15.

From our list of exemplary practice:

Non-completion does not imply programme failure.

While some of the data presented above may appear to point toward negative impact for the programme at CityLibraries, the datasets from the survey and focus groups suggests this is not the case. Although seven staff completed the programme, the response rate for the question ‘Was the programme a success?’ in the post survey yielded a 69% in the affirmative, including those who did not finish the programme. One respondent in the open-ended post-programme survey question about success stated: ‘Just because some people did not finish the whole course doesn’t mean that it was not a success as they still did learn something new.’ Another answered: ‘Any training is a good training in improving everyone’s knowledge and often builds up from there.’

From the focus groups, statements about the perceived success so far for the programme included: ‘It’s successful for me because I’ve learnt something new. Even if I never get to use it I’ve learnt something new’, and ‘And even for those ones who started and didn’t finish, they gained something from the start.’ A focus group participant questioned what success actually means for the programme and offered this thought:

“If you define success as broadening people’s knowledge of online tools and what’s out there and what they can do with them and then yes, I think it is a success because a lot of people do know a lot more about what’s out there even if they have only logged on and used it for five minutes and never used it again, that’s five minutes that they wouldn’t have spent on it. So if success is defined by discovery then yes, it’s successful.”


13 thoughts on “Participants Slowing or MIA

  1. Deirdre Costello

    While our group’s program is a little different in terms of the way the audience is using it, I also think that the speed they go through it can’t be the only metric you use to evaluate its success while they’re using it. We’ve gotten great feedback from the library, which helps (me, at least) to trust that we’ve created something that’s really valuable to our users.

    I’d love to hear about the comments and feedback other groups are getting as well!

  2. Matt Pearson

    The absence of negative feedback or anyone expressing frustration or disappointment about the programs constitutes a form of not-un-positive feedback. More importantly, I do find many positive posts about the teaching experience, which (especially in our case) is a big goal for learning 2.0 (teaching=learning). 😉

    1. benjamin hansen

      Matt it is good that you equate teaching with learning. Effective communication and transfer of information is a bidirectional event. The time span between the two(or more) communicative ends is dependent on many factors. I agree that people are using our creations as they are able to do and are appreciative of what we have all done, even if they are not extremely vocal about that. I think that a lot of people online don’t leave comments on blogs or news articles not because they don’t care but because they just don’t want to or can’t tell others what they think about the material in that space.

      1. michael Post author

        I appreciate this thinking. Both of you are tapping into some of the nuances of this process. We could never discount the “lurker” who may leave not a trace on your program modules but still have explored. Can we call them the invisible student? :-)

  3. Perlita Payne

    It appears that our Public Library participants are finding their own individual rhythms with the modules. Some are quick to go through them and do the blog while others need to sit with it a while and we hear something from them later. I keep having to check what thing were on this week. I just read a blog from a participant who said last week she did not know what prezi was when someone asked her and this week she’s psyched to report that she knows. I think this is great feedback.

    1. michael Post author

      I think you’ll find more of this – folks adopting the schedule to their own needs, etc. that’s one of the great things about the program – it’s very open-ended. Because we “turn over the keys,” I’m hoping the programs will still be available or evolve.

      1. ctlibr281

        I agree. The flexibility to allow learners to use the tools when and where they need them is what sets these efforts apart from more regimented programs.

  4. Walt Cook

    @ Michael – I’ve been thinking hard about your post on this subject. I have a question for you, and some constructive suggestions on how to make the remaining weeks of our class even richer.

    Question: I accept the premise of your MIA post, but I still wonder whether there is anything that we should be doing to encourage MIAs. I understand that we don’t want to pester or cajole if the participants are busy, but I wonder if it would be appropriate for one group member to send an encouraging email to an MIA, say the week after a given module has ended. It might put the subject back on the participant’s radar, if it has slipped off. Does this sound like a good idea to you, or should we just let sleeping dogs lie? I’ve suggested to our group that the person responsible for a given module put out this kind of feeler to participants who have not responded to the given module. I’m awaiting group feedback, but it would be helpful if you have any further guidance about dealing with MIAs for our group and others.

    1. We do not have control over participants’ willingness to participate regularly or thoroughly, but I do see a way to generate an additional response to our individual modules. What if you were to suggest (or require) class members to dedicate the personal blog post due on 4/14 to a fellow group mate, by actually doing the suggested participant activities and reflections set forth in a given module. The activities, or at least the requested reflections, could be submitted as our 4/14 blog posts. If group members allocated the modules in a way that each module gets covered, each class member would have the benefit of having at least one full response to the activities and reflection exercises that he or she designed. We would also be giving one another the experience of responding as an instructor to the reflections of one another, if participants have not provided this experience to us in certain cases. In addition, seeing the different blog responses would be a good way for class members to see and appreciate what was done in other groups.

    2. Rather than having some class members write about their PLNs in their personal blog posts, I propose that you create a class forum as a venue where class members could share PLN questions, suggestions, or PLN progress. Individual blog posts are silos compared to a dedicated class forum where we could feed off each other’s energy and collaborate by sharing ideas. Since the PLNs are individual projects, I think that such a forum could greatly enrich the remaining weeks of the class.

    Thanks in advance for your consideration of these ideas, whatever your decision s are in regard to them.

    1. michael Post author

      Walt – Sending a reminder is absolutely fine with me. I will leave that up to the groups to decide. I know it has been done in the past.

      Suggestions: I would be very open to anyone who wanted to try a module made by another student and write a post about it. That’s a great idea as are all of your justifications. It can be flexible as well – posted on 4/14 or anytime after. This class is fluid and the most important thing is the learner’s experience (meaning you all…)

      The PLN post should go up on the blog but links to it could be shared in a group or forum depending on what everyone in the class would like to do. Everyone has the capability to create a group on the site as well as forums within those groups.

      I will say I don’t believe the blog posts are silos because I monitor course activity via my aggregator as well as individual blog posts and the level of engagement and commenting has been most pleasing to me.

      Again – I’m open to all you propose. Do other members of the class have thoughts?

  5. Walt Cook

    Thanks, Michael. Let me clarify what I mean about blog posts being silos, because I didn’t use that word perjoratively. We have roughly twenty personal blogs; each provides a venue for comment and sharing. The sharing that goes on is distributed over these separate blogs. Since the emphasis of the course will shift to the PLNs and there will be no further required blog posts after 4/14 (except for the final course reflection), since we will all be focusing on the single task, it seems to me that a central forum might be a preferable venue for collaboration. It can take on a life of its own, generate its own energy, and go in all sorts of unanticipated and wonderful directions.

    I do see a disadvantage to using a forum rather than a blog for this purpose. It is easy for comments to get lost or not seen when there is a flurry of activity. We saw this with our group activity; this drawback may be even more severe if the whole class is contributing. In this respect, the personal blogs offer the benefit of threaded conversations which are easy to view in their entirety. In view of this, I think I’ll post about my PLN experience in my personal blog, and also create a forum with the same initial post. That will create an option, and classmates can post wherever they want (if they are so inclined).

    Also, to be clear, I wasn’t proposing that the actual PLNs be posted the forum. As you say, they need to be posted to the personal blogs for administrative reasons, if nothing else. My suggested forum would be a marketplace of ideas related to the process of getting there, and could cover things like tool selection and the reasoning behind tool selection, options for organizing the PLN, etc. Since the PLN creation is principally an individual rather than group project, I was just trying to find a way to stimulate continued sharing after 4/14.

    I welcome any additional thoughts that you or class members have.



Leave a Reply