In September 2013, we started our work on a novel concept of organizational and educational CQA (Community Question Answering) system Askalot. After four months of intensive development by
a student team NaRuby, the first version was released. Askalot was successfully deployed at our faculty at the beginning of the summer term 2013/2014. During a three-month-long interval, more than 600 users joined the community and posted more than 180 questions and 250 answers.
But it was just a beginning of a long journey, that our system Askalot went through until today. At first, motivated by positive outcomes as well as feedback from the involved students and teachers in our system Askalot, we deployed Askalot at University of Lugano (Switzerland) and at University of Novi Sad (Serbia) as a part of cooperation project in SCOPES programme.
Moreover, we started a cooperation with Harvard University in order to transform Askalot into a plugin to a well-known MOOC system edX. The main goal of our cooperation was to replace the standard discussion with a tool that can be used by students to share their knowledge more effectively by means of course-related questions. Another student team AskEd perfectly managed this task. And thus in September 2016 with a great help and support of Joseph Jay Williams, a researcher from Harvard University, we deployed a new version of Askalot at edX course Quantum cryptography taught by enthusiastic instructors Stephanie Wehner and Thomas Vidick (TU Delft and Caltech).
The course lasted for 10 weeks, during which we supported the course instructors, implemented several change requests and fixed some bugs too. The statistics of Askalot’s usage are quite positive: 4811 students from 147 countries around the whole word were registered in Askalot. 504 questions, 514 answers and 632 comments were posted. Questions were viewed 23 032 times and in total more than 152 000 activities were carried out by users.
We received a positive feedback from students as well as from a course instructor Thomas Vidick:
It was really a fun experience, and I greatly appreciate the opportunity to use Askalot, and the responsiveness of you & your team. It’s definitely a tool I will look forward to using again next time I teach a MOOC.
Besides many positives, we recognized not also some minor drawbacks of applying CQA systems in MOOCs (e.g. mistakenly using comments to provide answers). We consider this experience as very valuable and also useful for other researchers/course instructors. Therefore, we are planning to make more detailed analyses of achieved results and compare positives/negatives of forums (such as standard edX discussion) and CQA systems (such as Askalot) in MOOCs (such as edX).
If you are interested in Askalot, please, do not hesitate to try Askalot demo.
We would like to express our sincere gratitude to everyone, who made Askalot development at edX possible, especially to all members of NaRuby and AskEd teams, Joseph Jay Williams, Stephanie Wehner, Thomas Vidick and all teaching assistants answering and commenting questions during the whole course.