Legacy courses: certificates closing down on 26 August

Just dropping in to remind everyone of the unpleasant news, continuing the discussion from Announcement: timeline for legacy courses, supported courses, and certificates:

The old testing center at school.saylor.org is closing down on 26 August on or after 10:00 AM EDT (14:00 GMT).

Graded exams and new certificates for legacy courses (and for legacy courses only) will no longer be available after that time.

See our blog post for the major details (it links here, so you may have just arrived from there!), but please feel free to post questions and comments here.

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Hurray!!! Everything new. I’m waiting to see how the new transcript will look like.

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Today I finished the African Art Course and took the final exam! I´m so happy about it. I think this course should be available for a long time, I really enjoyed it! With the course, I “discovered” much of the hidden Art and History of Africa … I would try to check all those broken links and see if I can update them.
I just wanted to thank you for the hard work you are doing. I´m glad I met you, from the other side of the world!

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Congratulations!!!

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Thank you!

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We’ll have to find ways to open up the legacy courses for hacking – but hacking in a way that anyone and everyone can join in.

You know when they do public cooking classes and that sort of thing? That’s what I would hope for – people tinkering as a labor of love to make something old new again.

Send some ideas our way! There are a good number of people who would love to play with legacy courses but do not quite know how or who would prefer a little bit of company in doing so.

If we can host and support these efforts, we’re happy to do so. If people want to take the ball and run with it, so to speak, we’re happy to give our blessing and to talk/share about it.

Well, I guess as long as the legacy courses maintain at least the former standard of university level. I mean, if an employer looks at them, the content must remain impressive, although maybe with broken links or such. That’s my take on it.

Fortunately, many courses will stay solid; a few may degrade pretty quickly (like if they use a single source repeatedly that disappears).

I keep thinking about ways to bring in community/student participation on those, but it’s still a slow road. We are likely to put a note at the front of legacy courses to make the link to GitHub more clear.

OK, but I assume there will be something like a watchdog function that the materials added will still be university level. At least I hope so.

@seanconnor, I see in a blog response that Saylor are putting ungraded versions of the old exams back online for legacy courses (I must have missed it while I was away if this was mentioned elsewhere). While it is good to know that the old exams will be available again–which makes it more likely that there will be some effort from users to maintain the legacy courses–their usefulness will almost certainly wane over time as courses and materials change. Some of the exams were always rather too focused on the minutiae of particular resources rather than on the published learning objectives and these will be especially vulnerable to change.

One might argue that the question banks be opened up to user contributions but this would be something of a minefield as the credibility of assessments lies largely in the expertise of the designer. As we have seen only too often, even accomplished professional educators can create less than perfect assessments (it is rare that I have taken an exam here without hitting at least one questionable answer if not outright error).

At best, one might hope that some courses could be picked up for use, possibly in a modified form, by teachers who would be interested in maintaining or improving the assessment materials in a controlled manner. What this implies is that contributors to the question banks would be ‘accredited’ in some way as having relevant expertise in the subject area. As, in reality, the likelihood of these circumstances arising seem quite slim, Saylor could probably deal with requests to modify the exams on an ad hoc basis. It might be worthwhile, however, putting a note to the effect that interested educators are invited to make such contributions.

The above should not be taken to suggest that input from students cannot have value. Clearly there are still plenty of quality issues with the existing questions–for example, where there are typographical errors–which can usefully be addressed without stepping into areas of academic credibility.

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The latest update: exams are here: Final exams and answer keys posted for legacy courses

This is where we’ll begin for the moment. To help either armchair educators or those with particular professional expertise know what they can do with the exams and how to do it, we can at least begin with a note in the readme section here: https://github.com/saylordotorg/LegacyExams

In the back of my mind, I keep thinking on how to invite issue-logging and improvements from people who do not have GitHub accounts and who do not want to invest the hour in figuring out how to deal with it – without having too many things to monitor (e.g., it would be easy to add a link to an issue submission form to the course and the corresponding repository, but then monitoring a spreadsheet could become burdensome…I just worry about fragmentation).