I prefer to specify various communication skills: writing, reading, speaking, & listening. Communication skills is too vague.
That's a valid observation. The challenge in designing the draft survey like this will be achieving consensus on what to include and what to exclude.
When putting the draft together -- I actually thought about distinguishing between writing, reading. speaking and listening skills, but then decided against it to keep the number of items down. That said -- it would only add three additional questions, so it wouldn't increase the load too much.
With particular reference to the multilingual learning context - -this info would be valuable.
I'm comfortable with increasing the number of questions when measured against the value of the data here. What do others think?
My vote is to keep it as communication. I think the skill type (i.e., reading, writing, listening, and speaking - along with many other nonverbal, socio-cultural-historical aspects) will depend in large part on the type of MOOC and the way in which the MOOC is delivered by the facilitators. A more specific skill-type analysis might be helpful as a course needs analysis, but again, since a large part of MOOCs that I've seen have been asynchronous (focusing mainly on reading, writing, and some listening skills), language learners have the advantage of recasting, revising, repeating, etc. that is not possible in a live (synchronous) class. But again, this will depend on how much of the MOOK is asynchronous versus synchronous and which skills learners are required to use.
On the side of keeping the item as communication
I should add that this will facilitate comparison with Rita Kop's research on PLENK2010 -- if we introduce a material change, we loose the basis for comparison.
An extra thought to consider as we work towards consensus.
Regarding this question: Based on your MOOC experience, indicate the relative importance of the following prerequisite skills for successful learning in the MOOC learning model?
Would it be more useful if we had the respondents rank the question items instead? Or in addition to the question above?
For example, Based on your prior experience with a MOOC, rank in order of importance the following skills that contributed most to you having a successful learning experience. (1 being the most important skill.)
I think ranking would provide more useful data -- although ranking a list with more the 5 items is harder for respondents and starts influencing the validity and reliability of the data. Also asking respondent to key in numbers increases the risk for error - -so we need to think about the best format solution.
Also - -I haven't figured out how to implement a ranking solution when using any of the no-cost survey options. Google appears to be the best option because they will not restrict the number of respondents (as in the case of many the paid versions) and our commitments to open data will need to ensure that data files are available in open file formats. It is possible to download a Google spreadsheet in an open file format.
We've been investigating a wiki-based survey alternative -- but I don't think it will scale well and installing an maintaining a public open source online survey system is beyond our available capacity at this time.
However -- I like the idea and we could, as you suggest add a question, to rank the top 5 skills.
Thanks for the feedback -- just what we're looking for :-)