CTAs – The Visibility Factor #edcmooc

A few days ago, I had written about my views on the presence of the CTAs in the EDC MOOC and why I called them the essential human element of this course.  Subsequently, I noticed this post by Andy Mitchell, one of the CTAs, on the #EDCMOOC Group –

I’d welcome some feedback from you all. The role of CTA is new and the 8 of us have been quite active in varying degrees in the various spaces used by the community. We are trying to determine if we got the balance right. What did you like, what did you dislike about the role? We’d also like to know if we were too visible and what could be done differently for next time.

For example, next time CTA’s could highlight different webtools for you to experiment with or help set up quad-blogging or support scheduled twitter chats. Or we could step back and have less presence.

Any thoughts you might have, be they positive or negative would be appreciated. It will help the tutors in the preparation of the third edcmooc and it will help CTA’s as we reflect upon the past few weeks.


My response to Andy was “Hi Andy.. as you are already aware, I did put my views down in detail on my blog. Also, in response to the comment that Sandra made on my blog-post, here is what I said – I personally feel that the presence of the CTAs actually made the whole experience much better, rather than diluting it. I know now from personal experience that for a first-timer in #edcmooc the initial shock of self-directed learning can lead to a sense of bewilderment, and it is precisely for this reason that the presence of the CTAs is highly reassuring. And the encouragement and support provided by you guys was awesome. Keep up the great work, and thanks once again for being there In fact, I also feel that the presence of CTAs should in fact be strengthened particularly in the social spaces, to get the people to interact more.”

This was my view, of course, and I still maintain it. However, in response to Andy’s post I read different views emerging. Some were similar to mine, and some, surprisingly, were not aware of the CTAs.

Here are some of the comments that I found interesting :

Monica Yaya Life should be full of passion and you could assemble a group to share the duty. 🙂

Maxine Simmonds As a first-timer, I think I might have liked more notification of things that may have been happening in different spaces. After the first week or so I latched on to the Facebook and Twitter spaces (creature of habit) and, because of this course, I got a little active with my Google space. It might have been nice if there had been more promotion (not just from the CTAs) of other things to check out…. Hope this helps.

Philip Finlay Bryan I thought the CTA’s did a great job in commenting and directing in the forums. Would have liked more!

Phil McDonald Twitter chats for me, I guess. Those in the 1st edcmooc we’re great – 1700 tweets in the last one was an amazing experience and 1 I’d love to experience again. Having them set and ready to go from 1st week as well as hangouts would be ideal, with volunteers for moderation. Perhaps some guidance on setting up camp on other 2.0 spaces as well? CTA was a great idea and has worked well imo. Onwards and upwards.

Mahendra Acharya CTA are most useful in guiding this great class with thousands of students. They are great help to the struggling student, like me. I was able to submit my artifact assignment because of guidance given by Maddie. Thank you Maddie!

Sara Hoppe You’re the humans in this technological impersonality. Most definitely a plus to the course!

Lyndsay Rockey If anything I would have been happy to hear more from you. It was only a week or two into the course that I appreciate the scope of what you could help with. A short profile in a visible place perhaps.

Ping LW The keen Souls who initiated edcmooc1 weekendly #edcmchat chats were my unofficial CTAs at its advent in January 2013; I vaguely came to know by accident via a tweet that many of them have become edcmooc2 CTAs (I haven’t been the most diligent edcmooc2 student this time, compared to last time; a more relaxed approach ~ to absorb what I’d missed the last time or in more depth, or from a different angle & approach; so I may have missed the fact of CTAs in edcmooc2 being stated somewhere? eg. I haven’t watched all the edcmooc2 EDCMOOC-team videos, nor all the G+ hangouts, didn’t take part in forums, etc.); and read a recent tweet of another edcmooc2-er’s surprise about who is or isn’t a CTA. Singular feedback (without knowing presence of CTA background or context): perhaps these wonderful background digital angels & their network of support could be revealed & introduced in the foreground more explicitly at the very start, like guides at the cusp of an exploratory journey (into the interzone…).

Chandra Man Shakya Actually in the course logistic there is no any sign of CTA’s so at first i think Andy Mitchell was also one of the EDC MOOC 2 students. Nice to know that they are our CTA’s ..It may be late to congratulate them…Congratulation all the CTA’s.

Debra Jane Holmes I too like the idea of a short profile of the CTAs, apologies if there was one and I missed it. I felt it provided the human element that gave a feeling that someone was listening as it can be quite difficult for some people to get used to engaging in some of the activities in the social spaces.

Heli Nurmi I am a self-directed learner and don’t want to be guided but I have some very positive experiences about CTAs. Maddie helped in assessment, Ary favourited some of my comments and Andy Mitchell: you are a miracle in understanding my problems and expert in tech issues. I am not sure who was CTA or who was not and I don’t care. Digital angels is an excellent concept (someone used it in this thread) – use it next time!

Heli Nurmi I forgot to mention Angela Towndrow. She is one of the digital angels of course 🙂

Laura McIntosh I would have loved it if there had been suggestions of different web tools to use, whilst having someone like yourself using them or encouraging use. I don’t feel I hooked up with anyone on the course so have just been experimenting. However to have named tools to look at whilst others do at the same time would have been fab.

Elena Kurepina I liked the course so much! Thank you all! I was really happy to collaborate with such talanted people! I want to thank our amazing teachers for teaching and creating such a wonderful MOOC!

So as you can see, a varied view about the presence of CTA’s emerges from the comment, but most seem to agree that their presence was indeed required, and people would have actually preferred if they had been informed about the presence of the CTAs. As it turns out, there was a thread on the Coursera forums introducing the CTAs, but I think there is a problem with that. I have already voiced my view on Coursera’s forums – they are not very user friendly and a thread like this can easily be missed there. Honestly speaking, I prefer the social spaces as compared to the forums on Coursera.

My suggestion on this – for all it’s worth – would be to have the CTA’s listed prominently on the Announcements page for the next run. That way most of the participants would get to notice it AND also be able to benefit from their presence. However, despite what the visibility factor may have been, I still think that the CTAs did a brilliant job and I think I must congratulate them once again for an excellent job of hand-holding 🙂

It would be interesting to hear from the other participants what they thought about this issue.

PS – As you can see, for me the #edcmooc fever is far from over yet – it’s infectious, and I caught it from the CTA’s !!!