Thursday, October 25, 2012

#Udemy and Removing Courses...Not!

I created an account at Udemy several years ago because I immediately liked how easy it was to set up a class.  I wasn't interested at the time in actually giving classes online, but rather providing an online space for students I teach face to face - I guess I'm still looking for that "perfect" space.  Anyway, I've seen Udemy grow and have watched their platform mature and become more intuitive over the years, but have really never found a need to use it in any real way.  Since I really am not interested in teaching online (at this point), I guess I always thought that I might seriously use it as a blended learning solution...but again, that never happened.  Currently, I have eight open and free courses set up in Udemy, and all but two classes have less than 20 students.  I set up a course in Philosophy and a "course" in IELTS which each have about 200 students.

When I set up all of these courses well over two years ago, they were all considered an experiment and I really was not sure what I wanted to do with them.  In the case of the Philosophy course, I actually have no background in the subject but wanted to create a repository of sorts of videos that I would like to see in a single place.  And it looks like I may not be the only one because I have others who have signed up for the course with more members than any other course I've published in Udemy.  All of the courses that I have in Udemy are just there...I do not interact with any of the students, nor have I added any content to any class for well over a year now, and as far as I know, no one interacts with each either.

Now, Udemy has always been responsive to inquiries when I've had questions and they seem to still have quite a good support team.  But this week I received for the first time, a direct email about one of my classes. To my surprise, on October 25, 2012 I received the following email:

Hey Benjamin,

How are you?


I'm writing to you because I looked over your course called "[The name of the class.]" and found there's still some stuff missing, yet the course is published!


Did you click publish on purpose?



Maybe you didn't, and you're still working on it, or maybe you just missed something small and it can be fixed pretty easily (which is usually the case!).


Here's a few things you'll want to make sure that you've done:



  1. Publish all of your lectures: Click the publish button on every lecture so that they turn from yellow to green!

  2. Add Sections: Divide your course content with sections to help students easily understand the structure of your course. And, make sure your titles are clear and descriptive!

  3. Add Course Details: Once your course is published, the first thing students will see on your course's landing page are the details - make them super descriptive!

  4. Add a nice Course Image: To make it look good, the right resolution is 480x270.

  5. Add an instructor picture and complete a bio: Let your students know who you are!


If you have everything done above and are still not sure what is missing, take a look at our full Course Creation Checklist!



If you can't find any of those things missing from your course, let me know so I can give you some exact guidance. I want to help you have an amazing course so please don't hesitate to contact me!Looking forward to seeing your final product!



Best,

Pedro


Pedro was certainly kind enough to offer great feedback about what my "course" lacked and he also included an attachment of a detailed checklist of what every online course should include, which I appreciate.  But as I began to give it more thought, I quickly realized that what I had published as a course I would never really use.  Pedro was also right, if I am going to publish something, do it right or don't do it at all.  I've decided to choose the latter.


So I began searching for a way to delete a course in Udemy.  I wasn't able to find a way to delete the course myself, but I did find this message published on the Udemy website which still remains at the time this post was published:



Remove Your Course



As there are some students taking your course, if you remove your course they are going to be unhappy!

If you still want to remove your course, please contact us via support.udemy.com

There advice was certainly valid; removing courses when students are enrolled can be a drag.  But since the course that I wanted to remove obviously had serious issues and I had no intention of ever adding or interacting with any of the students in the course, why not just remove it.  Sure, I might give the students a month or so to download any content they wanted, but it's time just to remove the class.  Besides, the message they post on your website is misleading since it gives the impression that removing a class is possible.  Essentially what they are saying is that if you want your course removed, email them and they still won't remove it.

So, the same day that Pedro sent me his email, I sent Udemy a request to remove the course (as instructed by their message on their website) which led to the following email discourse - my thoughts are in blue italics:

Kyle: You can't remove a course if students are in it. You can only make it private. At this point I was still thinking that if I could contact the students or have them drop the class that I could still have the course removed. Kyle should have simply said, "You can't remove any course from Udemy." Period. But he didn't.

Me: So the course will just reside out there forever?  A teacher may not delete any course after it has been published?  Granted, I'll think twice before every publishing another class on Udemy, but now I just want to get rid of this class.

By the way, this is what appears on the Ubemy website:


As there are some students taking your course, if you remove your course they are going to be unhappy!

If you still want to remove your course, please contact us via support.udemy.com


My response is that I still want to remove this course.  This message now does not apply, then you might consider changing the message. I'm trying to show that this message is a bit misleading.  I would like to know upfront that courses cannot be remove from Udemy.

Kyle: Try to imagine you're a student and your class is removed all of a sudden (not fun!!!). I get it, but if you did an analysis of the activity in this class, I'd be surprised if anyone really got too bent out of shape.  If you contacted them beforehand, say one month or so, I don't think many if any would be offended. I'd probably be doing them a favor. :)

Me: I just need to know if it is possible to delete a course in Udemy.  Apparently you are saying that it is not possible, correct?

Kyle: It's not possible.

So there you have it...lesson learned.  Don't make the same mistake that I did.  I think Udemy is great for those educators who want to teach online, and it's great for learners, to a degree.  But if you are going to publish a course with them, realize that it's out there forever.  In fact, keeping my course out there in Udemy actually looks bad for them (and me).  It's better to have no content at all than poorly organized content, so that's what I did - a course with no content. Yeah, it's kind of silly.

If I get any followup from Udemy, I will provide an update.



 

 

 

Monday, October 22, 2012

'Small Talk': A Comprehensive Approach to Accuracy and Fluency in OralProduction

One of the main problems that language teachers face is how to develop both accuracy and fluency in students' speaking since one oftentimes seems to come at the expense of the other (Hunter, 2012).  This article review frames a few essential questions around the article, 'Small Talk': developing fluency, accuracy, and complexity in speaking.

Hunter (2012) researched the struggle teachers have to develop both accuracy and fluency with language learners as well as the challenge of persuading learners to step out of their comfort zones when using more complex and spontaneous language by studying the following:


  • Do students get more speaking practice during 'Small Talk' than during a traditional, teacher-fronted class?  Do they make more errors?

  • What percentage of students' errors receives CF (corrective feedback), and what percentage of uptake is there?

  • Do some students receive more CF than others, and if so, why?


Hunter researched 12 adult intermediate students in the US with varying languages spoken as a mother tongue over a period of 10 weeks.  Each week, 'Small Talk' sessions were videotaped which were later analyzed by six different teachers (one being the class teacher).  The findings show that language learning speakers do speak more than more traditionally-lead classes, and they tend to make slightly fewer errors than those in teacher-controlled activities.

With regard to the second research question, the average of six different teachers were taken into account, giving an overall average of 40% (high of 57% and low of 24%).  This average compares to an average of 17% found in Lyster and Ranta (1997), who researched more extensively the types of teacher-driven feedback provided to the language learner.

To answer the final research question, the findings confirmed that CF closely reflected the needs of the individual students.

As this study makes a connection between 'Small Talk' as a method and the accuracy, fluency, and complexity of the language learning speaker at the intermediate level, how might this same study be duplicated or adapted to adult learners at a more basic level?  Moreover, how might this method be adapted to children, both at a basic and intermediate level? And finally, how might this method be implemented so that the focus becomes more on self and peer CF versus teacher-driven CF?

How have you implemented activities that address accuracy, fluency, and complexity when it comes to the oral production of language learners?  What are some strategies that have worked well and what challenges have you faced?

Friday, October 19, 2012