Author Topic: Any thoughts about the idea of Contextual Electronics?  (Read 19307 times)

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Offline ChrisGammell

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Re: Any thoughts about the idea of Contextual Electronics?
« Reply #25 on: July 11, 2013, 02:10:50 pm »
Well, that's where we disagree, and that's a-ok. The best part about this program is that it'll tell me quite quickly whether people want it or not, through sign ups. I think there is a market there and if people do sign up, I know they're dedicated to learning because they have some skin (well, money) in the game.

Also, it won't be a subscription model, it'll be buying access to the 10 week course.
 

Offline EEVblog

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Re: Any thoughts about the idea of Contextual Electronics?
« Reply #26 on: July 11, 2013, 02:30:01 pm »
Unfortunately in the age of free information, getting paid is difficult. The business model for online content is simple: Your content is the hook to get people attached to your sponsors. period.

As someone who essentially makes a living from that, I'd like to think that that is not the only end game,
Once you have a following and people like you and your stuff, some form of paid content or products can ultimately work.
 

Offline ChrisGammell

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Re: Any thoughts about the idea of Contextual Electronics?
« Reply #27 on: July 11, 2013, 02:38:09 pm »
Yup, Dave knows best here (how often do I say that??). The key is how many people are in your following and how much they like your style, both of which he has advised me on before; this also relates to how much they trust your knowledge. Whether people ultimately end up signing up will be a test of all these things.

Also, Dave's hidden message here and one I can corroborate from working with it on The Amp Hour is: working with sponsors sucks.
 

Offline NerdCore

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Re: Any thoughts about the idea of Contextual Electronics?
« Reply #28 on: July 11, 2013, 03:08:46 pm »
Well, that's where we disagree, and that's a-ok. The best part about this program is that it'll tell me quite quickly whether people want it or not, through sign ups. I think there is a market there and if people do sign up, I know they're dedicated to learning because they have some skin (well, money) in the game.

Also, it won't be a subscription model, it'll be buying access to the 10 week course.
There absolutely is a market for this information. However the market is so saturated that, based on supply and demand,  supply is so high that to get more viewers you need to make it free. How do you get paid then? Ads. I'm not saying it won't work. I am stating that getting people to pay for information is quite difficult. That's why so much content is free but have tons of ads. It's a more successful model. You will get people, absolutely, but enough to make a profit and worth the time? That's a craps shoot but looking at trends, it doesn't look good. Regardless it's your time and money. If you are not doing for the money but to get information out there, then OK I understand. At that point it's not about the money.

Although, I admit, bulk access to a 10 week course where you get all the require hardware is a considerably better model. But at that point your profits are effected from having to send customers components. What do you do? Keep it cheap and not send out required hardware? Lose profit and send out hardware? Or maybe use a preferred vendor which is also advertising and have a discount through them. (The last one is what I would do).


Unfortunately in the age of free information, getting paid is difficult. The business model for online content is simple: Your content is the hook to get people attached to your sponsors. period.

As someone who essentially makes a living from that, I'd like to think that that is not the only end game,
Once you have a following and people like you and your stuff, some form of paid content or products can ultimately work.
But, don't you make your money from advertising and such? I watch your videos and haven't paid to watch any yet. As I have said, there is a way to make money on a paid model. It's very difficult and not very lucrative.

Yup, Dave knows best here (how often do I say that??). The key is how many people are in your following and how much they like your style, both of which he has advised me on before; this also relates to how much they trust your knowledge. Whether people ultimately end up signing up will be a test of all these things.

Also, Dave's hidden message here and one I can corroborate from working with it on The Amp Hour is: working with sponsors sucks.

I wish you the best of luck. I for one am very curious and would seriously consider buying one. I think this is great for helping people from start to finish holding someones hand in making a project.

Although I do agree, if you have enough bulk followers you will have enough to make it reasonably successful. But for most people it's about value (which 99% of people associate with the cheapest cost). This means an advertising model with free content is most successful. As I said I guess it's more about what your end goal is. If it's to get content out there regardless then this will be successful. If it's to maximize profits then you will make money, but not a ton.

One way or another it will be "successful" in that you will make money and get your content out there. But not maximized.
« Last Edit: July 11, 2013, 03:14:46 pm by NerdCore »
 

Offline jancumps

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Re: Any thoughts about the idea of Contextual Electronics?
« Reply #29 on: July 11, 2013, 03:36:42 pm »
I'm putting away one euro per day for a few weeks already to save up for the subscription.
 

Offline DerekZahn

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Re: Any thoughts about the idea of Contextual Electronics?
« Reply #30 on: July 11, 2013, 07:29:43 pm »
Unfortunately in the age of free information, getting paid is difficult. The business model for online content is simple: Your content is the hook to get people attached to your sponsors. period.

As someone who essentially makes a living from that, I'd like to think that that is not the only end game,
Once you have a following and people like you and your stuff, some form of paid content or products can ultimately work.

Yeah, NerdCore's analysis seems just a bit overly-cynical ... :)

The value from this on-line content varies quite a bit depending on the content, of course, but also the personality and style ... anything from detailed technical lectures to "infotainment"... and potentially I think plenty of people will pay for such content if it appeals to the enough, either because it is educational (giving the viewer knowledge and skills they can use to become more powerful), or because it is simply entertaining, or anywhere in between.  Of course, it has to offer something substantial above the vast sea of free content...

What kinds of substantial value can be offered? 

1)  Thoroughness with focus.  For example, there are plenty of tutorials and introductory videos and blogs about various specific topics (say... conditioning weak signals for input to ADCs), but it is maddeningly difficult to find comprehensive coverage of such topics... the vast array of available op amps, noise issues in the circuitry, biasing, shielding, dealing with over-voltage conditions, options for changing gain levels dynamically and how to think about choosing between them, etc etc etc.  Traditionally, writing a book would be the way to communicate this kind of in-depth material, but evolving hyperlinked multimedia with community is superior....

2) Interactivity.   Like Contextual Electronics... part of the appeal is having an xpert available with detailed knowledge of the exact circuitry under study is quite valuable and worth paying for.   Similarly, interaction with peers provides a "shared experience" component that appeals to our basic social natures and requires an organizational context.

3) Personality.   We like watching certain people who we find entertaining.  The information content is rather small in Dave's mailbag segments and many (but not all) teardowns (the motorola phone teardown was quite scant on any actual information, e.g.)... there are nuggets here and there but it is an investment to dig them out.  But on those occasions where Dave is clearly enjoying the subject matter and the process of making the video, he is very fun to watch and listen to... it is a huge part of the eevblog appeal.  People pay to watch entertainment if they enjoy it enough...

On this subject, I find it interesting that Chris is quite engaging as a personality in the Amp Hour podcasts and is fun to listen to, but is unbelievably stiff and painful to watch when talking to a camera... I wonder why?

4) Putting it all together.   I found Zach Braff's kickstarter for getting his movie "Wish I Was Here" to be fascinating.  Besides the warm fuzzies of helping a celebrity you like work on a new movie, what the backers (will) get is a series of hopefully detailed videos documenting the process of the film's creation, start to finish.  Presented through Braff's affable personality, the learning opportunity and sense of "being there" is fantastic... and he raised three million dollars mostly for access to that video content.

I personally would pay a fair bit for a subscridption to a start-to-finish detailed look at design, development, and production of an electronics product, especially if Dave does it.  It is a lot more niche than Braff's project and it could be tricky to market it to the target audience, but it would be really cool.  If Dave could team up with an editor to take the "live" video of Dave working and talking about the issues he is grappling with and distilling it down tomsomething watchable, that could be awesome (Dave is a fine editor but he should be talking and doing electronic stuff rather than editing video IMO).  My favorite eevblog videos are those times when he used to document part of the design and production process for his boards.... just watching him rant about (for example)  the process of selecting and sourcing power components for the project would be vastly entertaining and with enough actual details, educational and useful.

Anyway, interesting stuff!  I will probably signup for Chris's thing, depending on my life situation etc, as my skill level is just about right for the audience he seems to be targeting.
 

Offline ChrisGammell

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Re: Any thoughts about the idea of Contextual Electronics?
« Reply #31 on: July 11, 2013, 07:54:57 pm »
That was a great analysis Derek and I couldn't have said it better myself. Really you wrote about the benefit of online media over traditional media in general, not just of Contextual Electronics, and that makes it even more valuable analysis.

As for my stiffness on camera, my guess would just be experience still. I just don't have the same amount of facetime as Dave does on camera. He improved markedly from videos 1 -> 20 but even more from 20 -> 100. And these days, of course, we can't shut him up!  :D

Thanks for the kind words and the help articulating what I couldn't.
 

Offline jancumps

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Re: Any thoughts about the idea of Contextual Electronics?
« Reply #32 on: July 11, 2013, 08:27:50 pm »
True. Camera coolness is an acquired skill. And practicing in front of a camera doesn't help too much. Trowing yourself and growing up in public seems to be the best way.
 

Offline AlfBaz

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Re: Any thoughts about the idea of Contextual Electronics?
« Reply #33 on: July 12, 2013, 05:03:05 am »
As for my stiffness on camera...
Haven't I heard you say you enjoy the occasional drink?  ;)
 

Offline EEVblog

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Re: Any thoughts about the idea of Contextual Electronics?
« Reply #34 on: July 12, 2013, 05:23:59 am »
Also, Dave's hidden message here and one I can corroborate from working with it on The Amp Hour is: working with sponsors sucks.

I'd rather not have to deal with haggling advertisers to pay up every month.
I'd also rather not have to deal will selling and shipping and supporting stuff.
I'd also rather not have to deal with people who donate (or support in some financial way) and then complain I've done X wrong.

It's ok, I bought my lotto tickets this month.
If you see all the ads suddenly vanish and me not selling anything, you know I suddenly don't have to give a toss any more...
 

Offline EEVblog

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Re: Any thoughts about the idea of Contextual Electronics?
« Reply #35 on: July 12, 2013, 05:32:50 am »
But, don't you make your money from advertising and such? I watch your videos and haven't paid to watch any yet. As I have said, there is a way to make money on a paid model. It's very difficult and not very lucrative.

Yes, I make almost all my money through some form of advertising or sponsorship.
But I'm saying that doesn't have to be the ultimate end game.
I would prefer not to do that, and there are others way. I don't do much of those other ways yet because a) It's work, and b) advertising is working quit well for me.

Quote
Although I do agree, if you have enough bulk followers you will have enough to make it reasonably successful. But for most people it's about value (which 99% of people associate with the cheapest cost). This means an advertising model with free content is most successful. As I said I guess it's more about what your end goal is. If it's to get content out there regardless then this will be successful.

Chris's paid content method is the exact opposite of getting the info out there.
If that was his goal (as has been many of his sites) then 100% paid content is the worst way to do it.
He's in this one purely for the financial side, he sees a potential full time business model here. Of course, being a nerd he still cares about getting info out an helping people, but lets not confuse the two.

Free content is the best model to achieve glory, if that's what you are after. My videos for example get viewed over 25,000 times every day, without uploading any new content. Because the content is free, searchable, and now highly indexed.
 

Offline EEVblog

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Re: Any thoughts about the idea of Contextual Electronics?
« Reply #36 on: July 12, 2013, 05:43:22 am »
As for my stiffness on camera, my guess would just be experience still. I just don't have the same amount of facetime as Dave does on camera. He improved markedly from videos 1 -> 20 but even more from 20 -> 100. And these days, of course, we can't shut him up!  :D

This video blog is my first ever time on camera.
I literally didn't know what to say or how to act, and I still don't. So, I'm, well, me.
I have been to NIDA, Australia's best and most prestigious film and acting school, and yes, they were absolutely mortified at my on-camera presence and technique.
My NIDA coach summed it up when he said "I can see why you are popular and people watch you, but you do everything wrong, absolutely everything!"
Curiously, my class mates all said I "act" differently when in front of the camera, but I don't see it. I think I'm just naturally more enthusiastic when trying to explain or deliver a message on camera.
 

Offline ChrisGammell

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Re: Any thoughts about the idea of Contextual Electronics?
« Reply #37 on: July 12, 2013, 01:41:47 pm »
My NIDA coach summed it up when he said "I can see why you are popular and people watch you, but you do everything wrong, absolutely everything!"
Curiously, my class mates all said I "act" differently when in front of the camera, but I don't see it. I think I'm just naturally more enthusiastic when trying to explain or deliver a message on camera.

I think that means you're a "natural". Also, if an actor tells me I'm doing something wrong, I'd likely take that as a compliment ;)
 

Offline AlfBaz

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Re: Any thoughts about the idea of Contextual Electronics?
« Reply #38 on: July 12, 2013, 03:43:13 pm »
My NIDA coach summed it up when he said "I can see why you are popular and people watch you, but you do everything wrong, absolutely everything!"
In what context? Surely not the one you are actually in
 

Offline SeanB

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Re: Any thoughts about the idea of Contextual Electronics?
« Reply #39 on: July 12, 2013, 04:25:11 pm »
He just does not act a part, he is the part.
 

Offline jancumps

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Re: Any thoughts about the idea of Contextual Electronics?
« Reply #40 on: July 14, 2013, 09:57:40 pm »
I've been shopping for a second hand Arduino and some related odds and ends (by accident I ended up with two: a uno and a millenove - disappointed students seem to throw them out of the window).
And I installed th IDE on my computer (it's a Linux - all in all it went fine).
Ready to go :)
 

Offline vk3yedotcom

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Re: Any thoughts about the idea of Contextual Electronics?
« Reply #41 on: July 16, 2013, 11:52:19 am »
He just does not act a part, he is the part.

Which is both good and bad. 

Good in that unlike a product it can't readily be imitated (or if it is it won't be as good or will be considered fake). 

Bad because it can't be readily made into a business system that you can franchise out and watch the dollars roll in.

Quote
My NIDA coach summed it up when he said "I can see why you are popular and people watch you, but you do everything wrong, absolutely everything!" 

Reminds me of another popular channel https://www.youtube.com/user/ashens?feature=watch

In most of his videos all you see is two hands and a dowdy brown sofa.   There's little camera work.   Yet he has over 300 000 subscribers and gets tens of thousands of views per new video in the first day.

He does teardowns by the hundred (and the odd toy beheading) with products that either cost $2 or get sent in.

A smart 'business model' for getting ratings for low production cost.




« Last Edit: July 16, 2013, 11:54:01 am by vk3yedotcom »
If you're into amateur radio you might enjoy my books. Choice of 6. Electronic or paperback. Details here: http://home.alphalink.com.au/~parkerp/vk3yebooks.htm
 

Offline EEVblog

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Re: Any thoughts about the idea of Contextual Electronics?
« Reply #42 on: July 16, 2013, 01:06:39 pm »
My NIDA coach summed it up when he said "I can see why you are popular and people watch you, but you do everything wrong, absolutely everything!"
In what context? Surely not the one you are actually in

Of course not. I make living from my niche, so clearly I'm doing enough to enable that.
Remember, this is a place that trains world class actors and performers, you are supposed to learn how to control your speaking and breathing technique, change your technique and delivery to suit the part etc etc. I'm completely binary, 100% full on enthusiasm, or nothing, so naturally I totally didn't fit with what they were trying to teach.
When asked if they would do the same thing to Steve Irwin, they said yes, they would beat that enthusiasm out of him!
 

Offline EEVblog

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Re: Any thoughts about the idea of Contextual Electronics?
« Reply #43 on: July 16, 2013, 01:09:08 pm »
Which is both good and bad. 
Good in that unlike a product it can't readily be imitated (or if it is it won't be as good or will be considered fake). 
Bad because it can't be readily made into a business system that you can franchise out and watch the dollars roll in.

Or go into regular show business with.
 

Offline wizzy

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Re: Any thoughts about the idea of Contextual Electronics?
« Reply #44 on: August 10, 2013, 05:29:54 pm »
Pricing is a little different than what I'm planning, but I'll release that info soon. I can confirm there will be a sub-$100 option though. This seems to match or beat every hackerspace class out there. Example: http://nycresistor.eventbrite.com/
I am eagerly waiting for more information. Depending on the level of interaction and content I have budgeted up to $800 for this course as well as roughly 10 hours per week.
 

Offline ChrisGammell

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Re: Any thoughts about the idea of Contextual Electronics?
« Reply #45 on: August 11, 2013, 02:31:45 am »
Hi Wizzy,

That's a lotta dough! However, I was thinking more about it and if you don't already have a lab set up, I'll be recommending equipment and then be using that specific equipment, so I suppose some of that money could go towards that. I'm working more on the site tonight and getting a blog set up for regular updates. Are you also on the mailing list? That's the best way to stay informed, by far. In fact, I list a couple ways to keep in touch on the last email I sent out to the list: http://archive.aweber.com/contextual-elec/OCjBo/h/One_more_shot_at_the_CE.htm (obviously, the beta application has closed by now).

Thanks for your continued support!

~Chris
 

Offline wizzy

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Re: Any thoughts about the idea of Contextual Electronics?
« Reply #46 on: August 11, 2013, 06:56:06 am »
I've been following on most of those mediums since I heard about it on The Amp Hour.
I don't think $800 is unreasonable particularly if we are able to receive feedback (during the course) directly from you. Obviously there is a need for pricing tiers as different people have different levels of discretionary income, interest and requirements. You're a capitalist, you could take advantage of this!
The $100 mark that you suggest also seems very reasonable for access to the video material in a group, forum based, learning environment with less direct access.

Currently my lab has an open logic analyser, 100mhz 2ch DSO and power supply. Which should suffice? I am just excited to learn good PCB/circuit design.
 

Offline Orpheus

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Re: Any thoughts about the idea of Contextual Electronics?
« Reply #47 on: August 14, 2013, 01:03:24 pm »
As someone who has taken a LOT of MOOCs, I'd suggest that it is impossible to overstate the value of certain key elements:

1) a directed curriculum: This does not mean a textbook. I usually get the textbooks associated with any MOOC I take, but I barely touch them until well after the course (if ever). Frankly, I don't need to because the Internet is often a better textbook than anything a publisher could put out. This leads us to something that is even more valuable:

2) forum discussions with classmates: Your classmates have seen the same lecture as you. The same topics are on their minds. They are searching the 'Net for answers, and are willing to share those rare choice links that are pure gold *in that shared class context*, but might not mean as much to you without that *specific* background.  I urge you to do as much as you possibly can to encourage class discussion activity: ~100 students really isn't very much in this context.

3) Deadlines We all hated homework (I doubt any of you hated it as much as I did) but deadlines are really vital. They maintain engagement and *pacing*. That last bit is going to be especially tricky for your format, because you don't WANT to crack any whip in any way, and you want to respect your students' individual needs, BUT they are there for the structure (otherwise they'd be learning the facts of life on the mean streets of the Internet), and small things can ruin pacing, and dramatically affect the impact/cohesion of your course.

For example: students will want to have as much advance material available as possible -- and it certainly makes sense: they have work/school, family obligations and emergencies, vacations, business trips, volcanos will erupt in their distant lands, the streets may flood with virgins [1] [2], and of course your students will all have different interests and backgrounds -- but human nature being what it is, people will  "load up then coast", "delay then drown" or find some other equally pathological ways to abuse time. Every MOOC faces this. Release ONLY ONE full lesson each week, no more than two weeks ahead of its deadline. That way students must come back every week, and have something fresh to tackle when they do. If you ever went on vacation for a week or twoduring the school year, you know how out of step you were when you came back, even if you kept up on the reading. An online class will scatter like cats if you don't herd them back. Yes. 'herd cats'. If you fail to keep them as tightly bunched as a packet of particles in a synchrotron, you'll learn why

1. or whatever ...my travel agent never gets me to the really good disasters
2. and no, ComiCon 2013 does not count as "the streets being flooded with virgins"


4) SPECIFIC TARGETS This is related to deadlines. It's the WHAT that goes with the WHEN. It's going to be hard for you to impose, especially when everyone has to order parts and wants to work on their own projects. I urge you to have a core project curriculum and insist that you'll be happy to help them with their side projects IN ADDITION TO those core requirements. Otherwise... it'll be cat herding[3] again, and you'll FEEL your course not having the impact it could have.

3. I'm actually being generous. Herding cats is if you don't set deadlines. If you fail to set BOTH hard deadlines and specific target goals, you'll be herding nerfs, *wishing* you were herding cats. Have you ever seen a nerf-herder? You think they all got that scruffy-looking by accident?

Do I expect you to take what I say seriously. Obviously not. My experience teaching and learning would not necessarily be yours. But there's just a bit of truth in what I wrote, if you can find it
« Last Edit: August 14, 2013, 01:10:49 pm by Orpheus »
 

Offline ChrisGammell

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Re: Any thoughts about the idea of Contextual Electronics?
« Reply #48 on: August 14, 2013, 02:19:53 pm »
These are good tips and I'm trying to structure as you mention. I totally agree about the time limited aspect, that's likely one of the best things about institutional education (oddly). The other being the paid aspect, since you have "skin in the game", so to speak. MOOCs suffer from having neither.

The way I'm planning on dealing with this is by...making more work for me. Yay! Each (important) course unit will have three parts.

  • An introduction to the topic. The example I keep using is op amps. How they work, how to use them and links to other good videos (Dave's, Alan Wolke's, others). That will be like the "library" section of the course unit.
  • The "homework" section. This will be optional, but it will be stated that this is really where the learning takes place. So for something like op amps, they'll be asked to go design an op amp with a gain of 3. There are lots of answers and ways to do it. Sharing on the forums or on their own sites will show the range of ways this stuff can be achieved (and hopefully each will be discussed).
  • The "how Chris did it" section. For the board we'll be building all together, this will be the video where I show how I did the layout; it also is the set of videos I'm making as part of the Beta Program. For the Op amp stuff, I'll show off the circuits I had in mind. And for some things, there really won't be any "How Chris did it" because it won't be necessary.

Thanks for the post. It was useful and I do take it seriously. Though my operation is small potatoes, I would love to be able to positively impact how people learn.
 

Offline Orpheus

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Re: Any thoughts about the idea of Contextual Electronics?
« Reply #49 on: August 14, 2013, 03:51:37 pm »
I certainly wouldn't call it small potatoes. It's just that online forum discussion has simultaneously concentrating and dispersing effects.

Consider a class of 100 'average people' on the first week or two. Maybe 10-20 [the As] will pop in and post almost every day , another 10-20 [the Bs] might pop in 2-5x a week, but not necessarily post when they do. Another 40-60 will visiting each week after they watch the lecture. Some will post a bit [the Cs], but we all know that people in general are mostly lurkers [the Ds], unless something incites them to respond. The rest might be to busy to read the forum (or perhaps even see the lecture) that particular week [Let's call them "F-Troop" -- or am I showing my age?)

3-4 weeks later: Group A will have read most of the posts made each week. Being present daily, they were likely the first to respond to most questions or the threads of most compelling interest, which is great, but it means that others who might have had something to say, found it was already said. Many As drift into Group B. Many Bs become Cs, etc. The upshot might be 25 threads the first week containing maybe 200 replies, mostly clustered in a few threads. That soon drops to 10/100 and below. Some popular non-class threads may not interest some students: they won't open them in subsequent weeks.  By week 4, most students will only "see" a handful of threads and posts, and won't be likely to spend as much time in that forum.

That's not the only possible pattern, of course, but a closed class won't have have the free influx of passing websurfers that often fuels and grows a newly created forum. (Over time, you'll slowly build a body of alumni) It might make sense to create your forum inside "an established attraction" to encourage mid-week repeat visits (Know any Aussie one with a forum like that?) They say the strip clubs outside Disney World do great business, even if they do black out their windows.
« Last Edit: August 14, 2013, 03:53:15 pm by Orpheus »
 


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