Post from sabbatical-land 219 days to go: a few interesting links and the limits of learning Swift with Udacity

A lot of stopping and starting this week, to a certain extent connected to the search going on right now in technical writing in my program. I’m not on the committee but I want to know what’s going on with this, so I went to some functions and presentations. On Thursday, I ended up being up at the office from about 9:30 until about 5:30 because of interview stuff and also because I’m still working with three grad students who are in various stages of their MA projects. It was all good, but I did have a bit of a flashback moment to contemplating the mistakes of “sabbatical lite.” It’s not just a question of not spending time with the project and/or “away;” it’s about a kind of rhythm, I suppose.

Anyway, a few links and an update on a MOOC I probably won’t be completing:

  • From Inside Higher Ed, “We All Felt Trapped.” This isn’t really about my project per se, but it’s a very weird and creepy story about an EdX MOOC about physics taught by Walter H.G. Lewin a couple years ago. The short version: Lewin, who was 78, had been (he had been an emeritus professor, though he was strip) a real star of a professor at MIT with all kinds of teaching awards and such. But apparently, he got himself involved in some kind of weird sexual harassment of students in the course. The whole story is there. Like I said, this isn’t really something I think my project will be dealing with, but it seems to me like it’s another example of the unexpected fallout of MOOCs.
  • This came up in my Google alert about MOOCs: “Top 5 reasons why your university needs a MOOC,” which is from a British e-learning consulting group of some sort.  Of these five reasons, three of them boil down to “make money,” which seems a little foolish to me. This might pop up in my CCCCs presentation.
  • Also from my Google alert, “First residential MOOC for U-M students focuses on health care.” As far as I can tell, what’s going on here is it’s free and open to everyone at the University of Michigan– presumably students, faculty, staff, etc.– which is to say that it is more of an internal personal/professional development opportunity. Pretty interesting.
  • And as far as one of my own MOOC experiences: I think I might not be finishing Udacity’s “Intro to iOS App Development with Swift,” basically for two reasons.  First, Swift (which is a programming language for iOS and I guess the main Apple OS too) is probably a little over my head. But second– and this is the big one– Udacity’s course seems to be just a little out of date, probably because of the Yosemite update. I tried to follow through the tutorial in the introduction and everything was going fine, but then the screen images that they were showing didn’t match up with the version of Xcode I dutifully installed, and the links that they had to some specific Apple support documents were 404s.  Maybe it’s not that big of a deal and maybe I’ll be able to figure it out if I press on through the lessons beyond this introductory one. But I have to say it doesn’t exactly fill me with confidence about how well this will go, and if I were paying Udacity for all this, I’d be pretty angry. Of course, if I were paying Udacity, I might also be able to ask for some help….

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