Saturday, October 7, 2017

Stepicon 2017 and thoughts on MySQL MOOCs

I periodically do MySQL Troubleshooting tutorials. Every time I run them I have a dilemma on how to make tutorials more interactive. I tried:
  1. Just talk. But troubleshooting is about action, not about sitting and listening 
  2. Put tasks on my own website which required a lot of coding, not related to the talk and tasks themselves.
  3. Put tasks on VirtualBox image. Many attendees do not want to use flash drive or download big image from Internet.
  4. Put tasks into Amazon EC2 instance. This is practically good option, but expensive.
  5. Use machines, provided by tutorial organizers (conference or training center). This is, probably, the best option, but few do it.
I did not like any of these options as final solution. That's why for my last two tutorials I tried Stepik platform. This is how "Troubleshooting MySQL Performance" course was born. Course is in Russian language.

This is not really standard online course which usually include video lectures and tasks. This is just set of tasks which follow my tutorial. I test for what I teach, therefore it is hard to use this course without attending tutorial. However it is something worked and I was pretty satisfied watching how attendees complete tasks online. Good method to measure effectiveness of the tutorial and adjust it on fly.

As usual I found few issues with tasks modules and reported them. Stepik answered very quickly and offered professional video studio for making complete online course.

The offer implies a lot of work for me, but also very attractive, because:
  1. This is a chance to make really great MySQL MOOC course, open for everyone
  2. Professional video would help to perfect course content.
  3. I am free to choose any topic, so course can be for beginners as well as for advanced users.
  4. Current situation with MySQL users is many of them still live in year 2003. I was considering to quit speaking when one of my friends, working with data in really big company, told me in year 2016 what he hears about partitioning support in MySQL for the first time. He attended many conferences with MySQL talks. This shows we are promoting new nice features for audience which already very interested in MySQL. But others quit using MySQL to try competing technologies without knowledge of what MySQL can do.
  5. Stepik has very nice learning concept: short videos each less than 10 minutes and many tests. I like it when I learn.
  6. Test modules, while not perfect for MySQL Troubleshooting course, are very handy to learn new things. I am certainly interested in using them for tutorials.
  7. Stepik can help with student's homework reviews.
However there are things which prevent me from starting this project:
  1. Time to create the course. I have to work and I should have really strong motivation if want to spend a lot of free time, doing this course.
  2. Quality. No matter which experience I have I need help from my honest colleagues who will review full course and tell me what I am doing wrong and what I miss. Or maybe even work on content together.
  3. Time to maintain the course. It is common with MOOCs what students leave comments and expect help with their homeworks. Therefore making a course does not stop when you create final video or homework. Instead, if course becomes popular, it will never end.
So this is how I was invited to Stepicon 2017: event for people who teach on this platform. It was interesting to find out who else use Stepik and what is their motivation. Here is what I found interesting.
  1. Universities, teachers, large and middle-size companies are main content creators at Stepik.
  2. Companies use platform to teach their own employees, popularize products and seek for new hires.
  3. There are closed and open courses.
  4. Some do courses, similarly as I did: offline content and Stepik only for tasks. But I was the only one who did it as tutorial add-on. Most common case is when such tasks are either companion for closed course, accessible inside a company or for a fee, or for offline course in University.
  5. Stepik supports LSM and used inside internal learning platforms as well as together with other MOOC platforms, such as Coursera.
  6. JetBrains demonstrated its own learning tool: PyCharm Edu which is integrated with Stepik.
I am still in doubt if it makes sense for me as individual to do something further than assistance for tutorial, but would be happy if you comment and let me know what you think.

No comments:

Post a Comment