The cost of being flexible and pushing the boundaries

For some time Australian universities have led an increasing mantra around increasing flexibility. An inevitable repercussion of the vast majority of students not being full-time learners, but instead having to balance family, work and study, is that study comes last. Family and work pressures lead to difficulty in meeting set deadlines for assessment, hence the call for flexibility. I’m actually all for that increase in flexibility, but it comes at a cost.

This post is evidence of that cost. We’ve just started week 6 of second semester and I’ve got three assignments from last semester to mark due to the need for flexibility. As it happens with this course I’ve engaged in a bit of development to do things a little differently. That’s all well and good, but when you’re kludging together technical solutions flexibility isn’t typically deeply considered at the “design” stage.

That last post reported on the evolution of the kludge I use to the next generation. Now I need to go back make sure that evolution will work properly for the previous generation so I can mark these assignments. Work that will never show up in institutional work allocation calculations or in the budget for IT.

What I’m finding particularly concerning about this extra work is that I’ve only got finite reserves of time and cognitive energy. Doing this is taking time away from current students, but it’s also taking time away from thinking about the learning experience of students and how it can be improved. Does the cost I expend doing these changes outweigh any potential benefit to students?

Changes

Importing activity completion

  1. Moodle users working? – DONE

    Need to identify course id and groups.

    The semester 1 course is much larger than semester 2 and has more offerings. Hence more groups. So rather than work with a single group, it needs to be able to work with a list of groups.

  2. Are we starting with the right first activity at 150000?
  3. Ensure only activities that count have activity completion turned on in the course site. – DONE

Updating the report

  1. Mapping activities to weeks
  2. making sure the mirror of blog posts is up to date.

An hour later, seems to be working and I can get to marking.

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