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Thursday, March 19, 2009

An Unpost About Uncourses

Random walk This week, I've been thinking about uncourses, so in the accustomed manner when I want to reflect on something, here's the obligatory blog post. Unlike the traditional structure of beginning (grab their attention), middle (state the case), and end (request information or set up the discussion) narrative structure I normally use for posts, being an unpost, we're going for:
middle - middle - middle


A thought triggered by the RWW post SXSW Panel: Beyond Aggregation was - what's the difference between an uncourse and Google Reader/FriendFeed? I'd say the difference was that although serendipity is involved in both, an uncourse implies elements of preparation and syllabus definition which are lacking in pure aggregation (although aggregation probably scores higher on the serendipity scale.

So what is an uncourse, and is MicrobiologyBytes an uncourse? MB is an experiment in microchunking, but it is open-ended and driven by sependitipitous content, and ongoing - the curriculum not defined. In that respect it owes more to aggregation than design. Maybe it's not an uncourse in the way that I plan StatsBytes will be. Maybe it's Course2.0, in perpetual beta.

How will StatsBytes differ from MicrobiologyBytes? The curriculum has been defined at the outset, so now I need to join the dots. My hope is that the microchunked structure and intensely hyperlinked architecture that microchunking makes possible will reinforce the core concepts that I seem to need to revisit with every statistical test I introduce (EDA, choice of tests, hypothesis formation, etc). It's never been my intention that MicrobiologyBytes would work in that way.