Rethinking Course in a Box for YCIW

Hi @dirk
My course in a box is complete:

Having it complete and preparing to launch it I realize that it will not do what I’d like it to do -that is create a sense of community as LCL and PWYM does so well! I’d like it to be more of a community and less of a course. It will be a community of music educators exploring progressive techniques that utilize technology and a student centered approach.

I’m wondering if I could replicate those courses…? I have my Discourse site already running and I have Mechanical MOOC set up.

Is this something you or @vanessa would be able to help me with?

Is the home page for LCL some edited version of Mechanical MOOC or is it something else entirely?

To put a finer point on my question would be to ask if I’m running some kind of older version of the Mechanical MOOC:

Thank you!

1 Like

So I think I’ve come up with a solution but I would love to get any feedback.

Having completed the Course in a Box I do love it for its structure and simplicity. I think my course achieves everything I’d like it to in terms of content. Having been running a Discourse site for sometime though I’d like the course to really be a shared experience that takes advantage of Discourse. I did include links to discussion topics from Course in Box modules to Discourse topics but my worry is that participants will go through the course in isolation and not make any connections to others for feedback and sharing.

So my solution is to use the LCL and PWYM launch page but instead of there being 6 modules there will be 6 collections. 3 of the collections will link to work and course material held in Discourse and 3 to the collections will link to Course in a Box.

First of all is this ok for me to use those page designs? I found them via Alex Ruthmann who happens to be one of our advisors. And secondly, what do you think of this general plan?

I’m nearly done with a prototype and can share something soon…

Thank you!

Ok, I’ve nearly got everything set up:

The one thing I can not figure out is the Gallery. I can see that it has something to do with the mugcakes.js and/or the miso.js but I cannot understand how it connects to Discourse.

That looks really good! The gallery part works by pulling the data from a Google doc. I think you need to manually enter the data there. @srishakatux or @alexruthmann could tell you more. I’m currently working on pulling projects from directly from discourse, but it’s still a work in progress.

I think there are some tech that contribute - like the map, gallery, the grouping we did for PWYM, etc. But it also varies a lot depending on the community and their preferences. The best way to create a sense of community is to have a community and expose it to new people.

That is something @vanessa is an expert at. She did afterall do it for PWYM with Alex :smile:

1 Like

Hi @matt5834! I’m happy to assist you with some of these things this week. The Gallery function is fairly easy when walked through in person.

Re: Community… it’s not something you can “pre-build”… even in Discourse. You have to build it WITH the community as they join. :slight_smile:

You’ve already added some AMAZING content to the discourse site. My suggestion is to make MOST of it at the launch of your community hidden, then reveal access over time. You might want to make some of it available at launch, but think about what your community really needs to see before jumping into the course. Module outlines and descriptions are often enough at the outset. There are some discourse tricks to help facilitate this, such as have Category view be the default view at community launch.

The biggest thing I learned about Discourse communities when running it and launching PWYM 2.0 was from the LCL folks who organized their community at the beginning around four core action verbs: Ask, Meet, Share, & Play, with Meet featured at the top. All other categories emerged throughout the course in response to the community. We launched PWYM 2.0 with the Meet category and one topic - Introduce Yourself! In that post, we asked people to reply introducing themselves, to add themselves to the community ZeeMap, and to create or join a topic around an area of interest as a means of what @vanessa calls “finding your crew.” About a week+ in, we had so many user generated topics that we went through them and grouped them into subcategories, and updated the Introduce Yourself post.

It’s probably important to note that we launched our PWYM community to an eager queue of ~8,000 people, of which ~1200 people signed up. We had a critical mass of people on the FRONT of the funnel into PWYM. I’m not sure what your initial “funnel pressure” is or will be for YCIW. I’d love to chat more about ways of developing and building community from the start to communities with different levels of initial funnel pressure. There’s a research study in there. :slight_smile:

Happy to help and continue the discussions…

1 Like

Thanks @alexruthmann! This is a big help!
I’ll chew on this a bit and explore setting up the Discourse site similarly to LCL.

Would love to talk about funnel pressure anytime. I have only a limited idea as to what the initial critical mass might be! My hope for the community is that it will provide a place for teachers to jump in and connect with each other as it relates to the curriculum and philosophy ideas of YCIW -a kind of living PD. As of now I don’t have any ideas of building the community other than sending this out to NYC pub school teachers and others interested in YCIW so I’m open to any thoughts you might have.

Thanks for help with the gallery. I could pop by some afternoon if that’s convenient or could do a phone convo if that is easier.

Thank you!

Hey Matt,

I have a quick question reading trough your post. To quote you:

and I was wondering what do you perceive about those courses that make them creating community?

1 Like

I have some specific suggestions related to wording that might help out, too. :slight_smile: Let me know when you’d like to connect.


Hi Erika-
Having set up an LMS and other online course material I have found the following to be true:
Even when there is a dedicated forum area for connecting and discussing the material/lessons of the course content participants very rarely utilize them. I’ve found that it takes a lot for folks to develop a dialogue with each other on a forum or even to ask for help.

What I love about the way in which LCL and PWYM have the activities embedded directly in Discourse is that participants are simultaneously aware of other’s responses -both questions and work posted.

(The map feature is awesome too! :smile: )

I have even set up a Discourse site solely dedicated to use with my classroom students -Middle Schoolers. I have gone so far as abandoning the schools LMS and posting assignments/activities directly on Discourse. It is working out very well!

Ok, sounds good.
I’m available Wed. b’ween 10 and noon, Thurs. or Fri. after 3 or by phone this afternoon (thanks to the snow!)