At the beginning of the SWT course, I had the illusion that we could use the blog as another aspect of the course and, more importantly, that students (and other interested people) were free to leave comments and links to pages and other related blogs and blog posts that they had encountered. It did not really happen though, so as experiment formulated as such, it failed miserably.
But I can scrape together some data that demonstrate all was not for naught entirely. I have received several off-line comments from colleagues who thought it to be useful, non-SWT-course students who use it to study as means of distance education, or kindly pointed me to updates and extensions of various topics—but the plural of anecdote is not data. So here go some figures.
34 students had enrolled in the Moodle, of which some 10-15 attended class initially, dwindling down to 4-8 the more midterms of other courses and holiday season interfered with their study schedule (and perhaps my teaching skills or the topics of the course), 12 students did a mini-project for the lab within the deadline for this exam session, 12 registered for the exam, and 11 showed up to actually do the exam. FUB strives to have a 1:6 ratio for lecturer:student, so with the SWT course (as well as most other MSc courses) we are at the good end of that.
The aggregated data for explicit blog post accesses (i.e., not counting those who read it through accessing the home page) and slides downloads on 17-2-2010 as sampled during invigilating the SWT exam are as follows: average visit of an SWT course blog post is 112, with OWL, top-down and bottom-up ontology development, and part-whole relations well above the average, and average slide download of 41 with OWL and top-down and bottom-up above average again. At the moment, one can only speculate why.
Clearly, there have been many more people accessing the pages and the slides than can be accounted for by the students only, even if one would take up an assumption that they accessed each of the blog posts, say, twice and entertained themselves with downloading both the normal slides and the same ones in hand-out format. The content of the slides were not the only topics that passed the revue during the lectures and the labs, but maybe they have been, are, or will be of use to other people as well. People who are interested in ontology engineering topics more generally, especially regarding course development and course content, will find Ontolog’s Ontology Summit’s current virtual panel sessions on “Creating the ontologists of the future” worthwhile to consult.
Finally, will I go through the trouble of writing blog posts for another course I may have to teach? Probably not.