Keep Moving Forward… 08.09.10

MoMA – Seeing Through Pictures

Well today, I finally completed an Online course with New York’s, Museum of Modern Art and I am very happy to have completed it. The course was hosted (delivered) by Cousera who’s Support Services have proved to be outstanding indeed.

The course itself was well structured, with ample video resources and written resources. The written resources DO need to be read as some of the Testing materials require not only a passing awareness of various photographers and their work but also a deeper understanding of motivations, issues and movements in Photography as an Art medium.

The course is self-paced and broken down into 6 Units, each with a suggested deadline. If you have the time you can progress through the course quicker, if you like. Testing is by multiple choice questionnaires, which can be re-sat as often as necessary in order to reach the minimum pass mark of 80%. The final testing involves a couple of submissions which are then subjected to peer review. Although not completely obvious, careful reading of the FAQs indicate how to resubmit the Final Project and the consequences in doing so.

All in all I found the course interesting, challenging and at times the testing to be somewhat quirky, functional but quirky. Learning to navigate these quirks caused me some frustration and left me with a wasted time feeling due to, “shoot (mouth off) first, ask questions later, then wipe down the virtual wall where your cry-baby spittle had left an incoherent mess. Had I carefully read the FAQs I would have saved myself a lot of virtual embarrassment.

In the midst of all of this, the Coursera Support Service provided, awesome, polite, timely, and helpful service – I originally signed in using Facebook; then I was bumped out by Facebook’s random drive-by shooting of profiles, demanding proof of identify documentation in typical stand and deliver fashion. Since I refuse to capitulate to this injust and unnecessary act of ID Harvesting I was no longer able to participate in my course. Coursera sorted it all out in a flash, and subsequent requests were equally met with a can do response.

From an assessment evaluation perspective, I felt that one of the questions in the quizzes (1 in 60 questions?) may have be misattributed. The correct option was provided but the resultant assessment of it, was as incorrect. A similar, differently nuanced option turned out to be the preferred response.  Did some web programmer misread which was the correct check button whilst writing up the form? As for the Final Project, the instructions for submission, as they presently stand are unclear, thus leading many students, including myself, to incorrectly submit their Final Project, and having to resubmit after extensive searching for the process for that. A quick link to the relevant section in the FAQ would solve that.

There is nothing wrong with the performance requirements for the Final Project itself, however the submission form would benefit by explicitly indicating that there are two parts to the project, both parts must be submitted, and that they are not a one or the other choice. This would eliminate many issues that end up on the Discussion Board. Provision of the Peer Review Rubric, which IS mentioned in the instructions, would also clear up many issues of student confusion: not only in what needs to be done; but also in the manner of approach to the task at hand. These issues are matters of, what words appear on which page or form, and have nothing to do with quality of the course curriculum, which is excellent. My only reservation is the adequacy of the rubric to effectively guide and inform a fair and even handed Peer Review process.

In spite of the quirks, and my comments above on some testing issues (which truly are minor concerns), I highly recommend this course because of the information and engagement it provides and demands; the thought required to evaluate what is being presented; and the insights into how views and issues of concern to photographers vary depending on which side of the Artistic–Vernacular fence they stand. I do suggest to anyone wishing to do the course, to spend a little time reading the FAQs and the Discussion Boards. Both are highly illustrating with regards to what other students are struggling with – and most of the how do I do this or that answers, truly are in the FAQs.

Finally, if you’d like to see what you might get after successful completion of the course, here is the verification link for my completion of this course.

For today, that’s what’s in my

Line of Sight.

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