# Notice (Oct 19/05): So ends my stay here on Blogger. This morning Google implemented an anti-spam 'feature' that forces me to answer a challenge phrase when I want to post to my own blog. No notice of the change, nothing. Worse is that it doesn't even work! I type the phrase, submit, "An error occured", post deleted. Damn you, Google. Chances are I will revive my blog somewhere else, sometime soon. I'll post the new coordinates here as soon as they become available. (BTW, I'm unable to post anything to my RSS stream, so I'd appreciate it if readers could spread the word and ask people to take a look at this notice)
Update (Oct 19/05, ~noon): After a frustrating few hours (and not just trying out alternatives to Blogger), I've decided that this is a good time to take a break from all this. A day? A week? Who knows. But I need to step away from it before I pass a heavy magnet over the whole mess.
Update 2: According to this post, the reason I'm seeing the CAPTCHA (challenge phrase) is that Blogger has classified my blog as spam. Thanks. User for five years and now I'm spam. I searched the Blogger site, but there is no mention of how to get the spam flag turned off. There is also no way of contacting anyone at Blogger. Wow. Spam they say I am, so spam I must be. Maybe it is time to take a break.
Auditing classes and open learning systems
I’m not sure how common this is, but McGill has a policy that forbids the auditing of courses. Traditionally, this means the only students registered in the courses are allowed to attend the classes.
Since the classroom lecture is where a lot of learning takes place (…), it makes sense that only those who have paid for the learning should permitted to learn from the class. Even if auditing the course didn’t give you any form of credit, it still wasn’t permitted. There may have been concerns with someone auditing the course, registering for it in the next semester, and using their existing knowledge to do better then they would have otherwise. In large classes there may not be space for people auditing the course. Also, if the person auditing the course doesn’t have the necessary academic and language prerequisites, they could be disruptive if they try to interact with the other students or the instructor.
Whatever the rational, the essence of the policy is that only those registered in the course can participate in the learning process offered by that course.
My question is this: Since McGill’s policy restricts course participation to only those students who have registered for the course, am I as an instructor permitted to use an open learning environment in my course? Could I, for example, use an open system of blogs as part of my course, blogs written by myself and my students, but open to the public? Could I use an open wiki, or an open community site (a la Slashdot) as part of my course?
Looking at MIT’s OpenCourseWare
initiative, you can see they only provide the content of the course. No interaction with faculty or students, no assessment, no credit. However, MIT also permits the auditing of courses
, so their OpenCourseWare fits into the existing policy nicely.
It isn’t clear to me whether at an institution like McGill, with it’s no-auditing policy, whether I am allowed to make my course materials open to the public, much less allow interactive elements in my course to be public.
I could, of course, point to any number of initiatives that have been undertaken by profs at McGill. Those departments, like computer science, that were early to the Web (i.e. pre-WebCT) have had public course home pages (ugrad
). Although some point to private WebCT spaces, most contain a fair amount of content (on par with MIT’s OpenCourseWare). Another example is the Cool project
, that provide full lectures of chemistry courses online.
There is a clear precedent at McGill for making content available to the public, and I feel comfortable going forward with a project I have in mind to build a public collection of e-commerce and web development resources. But I think I am better off keeping the interactive elements of my class confined to the classroom and the private WebCT course site.