Tuesday 22 January 2013

Gatecrashing a MOOC: #etmooc & #edcmooc

Woah, this was scary but I survived.
Skip to the end if you just want the bottom line:

Scenario 1 edcmooc: 

Intro letter in November, course starts January 28, nearly 3 months of student led networking community building, all 150 of us, slowly coevolving together.

Then the next course email and within a week there were 2000 on fb. Those coming in were overwhelmed by what we had been done already and felt that they had come late to the party. Those of us already there felt swamped by the sheer size of the sudden influx, flailing arms and legs in the whirlpool.

Much tweeting and blogging about this development. Seems we are too hung up with technology, having conversations in too many places, focusing on the tools not the course content (I'm fine with that, I think we should leave it until we start or we will be "talked out"). Seems some are feeling invaded, others don't know if they will find their new study buddies in these giant forums when the time comes.

As a teacher, I have learned much about student engagement and am building a new orientation module into the units I help teach, so far all based on my edcmooc experience. You guessed it, Chris's map, longer lead in time, social networking, more opportunities to connect, more explanations of the pedagogy, some new curation activities based on scoopit and diigo and yes, even a sketch video.

Scenario 2 etmooc:

Less than a week ago, a fellow edcmoocer lured me to join ETCMOOC. The course had already begun, I was a week late to start, short of time with other commitments, not to mention sporting a monster headache from digital overload.

I went to the website, the g+ and twitter where I'd already been exposed to the etmooc hashtag, so that was slightly comforting. Apparently the first activity was to do an introductory blog, so within a few hours I had whipped one up, complete with embeded youtube slideshow video (with a soundtrack) and added it to the blogroll. Lots more views, so they must be able to see it. Phew...... done.

Now to work out what the heck is ETMOOC. What is ETMOOC? Who is running the course, which people, which uni, is it a uni, do I get a funky Coursera certificate, how long is it, what the hell am I supposed to do?

Now I'm the gate crasher. Most confusing. I feel like the new kid at school who has to walk in to a full class and find a seat. I know I have some friends here somewhere, but where are they? Where do I go, what do I do? But I've learned a lot of connection skills in edcmooc, so today I spent about an hour reading student blogs, checking twitter and finding the links to the activities I've missed, because for the life of me, I couldn't find out where to go from the website. Tried to access blackboard, no java on my laptop, no problems been there before. Watched last weeks tut, sorted the calendar, installed a world clock so I don't have to keep working out the time difference.

So now to my point. Fate has sent me a kind of inverse experience, two flipped scenarios operating in parallel. I'm in a freaky multiverse where everything is upside down and inside out. Same same but different.

Scenario 3 Angela:

So now how is my orientation module looking for my own (online) course? This morning, I was thinking about those who might come late to the course, how I could link them up with a pal to hold their hand through the experience, help them find a seat in the classroom and show them to their locker kind of stuff so they don't feel stranded, the way I was feeling.

But you know what, I've decided that fortune favours the brave. Today I've been pretty brave for a less than socially competent person. Today I learned that I can do "connectivism". I'm glad my little whimpers for help on g+ went unheeded because I was forced to do what I want my students to do, and that's to CONNECT and ENGAGE.

I'm going to add mark 2 of my video (it's all still in my head, I don't have to redo anything) to the initial list and it's going to be about connecting no matter when you join, no matter who is already there, no matter what they have already done. And when new people join, reach out and connect with them too. It's going to be about taking responsibility for your own learning experience, from woah to go, from making connections, to finding your own way around to working out your own goals to MAKING IT HAPPEN for yourself. And in doing that, you become learner and teacher: we all learn together. Because the support is there, you just have to connect to find it.

I've learned something valuable today. Connecting with others is our responsibility. If we sit back like a wallflower and wait to be rescued we will be waiting all our lives. And that goes for the virtual world as well. Ahhhhh, digital cultures, eLearning, technology and media, enough to give me brain explosion.

p.s. I still don't know what etmooc actually is and all those other questions! Perhaps I'll find out tomorrow. 


  1. Love it Angela! I've just completed a much more sedate `Foundations of Instructional Design course, online, because I wanted to refresh / update my knowledge of ID as it's 20 years since I did my bachelor degree in teaching. What I found was that the principles of good ID haven't changed. New learners still need hand holding in all sorts of ways, until they make the leap of faith and just jump in there and get involved. I'm having a good giggle at myself as I try to get onboard with every piece of software / digital tech that anyone recommends ..... guess I'll get over it shortly and settle down.

  2. Hi Cath, Yes, I have been laughing a lot at myself. And today I was wondering why I was torturing myself doing a MOOC that I knew nothing about! However, I can see the path ahead now and I should be able to streamline things. I spent this morning with colleagues deciding which technologies we would require students to develop skills in and those we might suggest they may consider if they felt up for it. So my MOOC experience has been a great reminder that although we should keep abreast of development in tech tools, we should only use the ones that will serve our purpose. Settling down now is a good idea!

  3. Great post, Angela -- I'm happy to have found your blog. I'm the inverse of you... I've been busy with #etmooc since the start but I'm planning to join #edcmooc later this week, just before the official start date. For what it's worth, here's my brief take on #etmooc :) http://catherinecronin.wordpress.com/category/my-open-learning/

    I'll second all that you expressed, so well, about taking responsibility for learning. That may be one of the most valuable experiences of these MOOCs for me as an educator -- realising how challenging and disorienting it is for our students when we facilitate learning experiences without the usual rigid boundaries. It's tough! But it's vitally important, too, for all of us, to be independent learners. Check out Howard Rheingold's great post & follow-up comment about this yesterday -- just brilliant. https://plus.google.com/105273428597140573510/posts/iQ2dXzzux6j

  4. Howard's post reminded me of something else I read somewhere in the growing sea of stuff I haven't bookmarked...the bit about Chaos Theory. When I think about that, I can reach a calmer state, thanks!

    Well now you have connected with me and there are quite a few in edcmooc who are also doing etmooc, so you will have some fellow learners. I suspect that edcmooc will be far more structured, so we won't have to cope with too much vertigo.

    My etmooc introduction has been very timely, it was the dischord at the right moment which has led to my aha moment, and I will try to make sure future students are the better for my experience...there is some benefit to being thrown in off the deep end, but still a place for a guiding hand on the path to being an independent learner. Thanks Catherine

  5. Hello kindred spirit. I had to laugh reading your blog, because it was so similar to what I just posted. I have also joined another MOOC which starts next week, so I feel your pain. Check out my thoughts...http://bit.ly/WpNwhL

    1. Hi Cathleen, I read your bog, I wish I could be as organised as you! I like your pearltrees, I think I may use it for something, it is one of the visual tools that does it for me.

  6. This is Great, Angela, I'm glad I read your blog and it actually pushed me into actually doing something because till now I counted myself as an observer NOT the participant.
    Your thoughts seem to make sense in all of this, I believe people are still confused but I assume confusion will fade away when the course itself will take place. Thanks again and take care!

    1. I think as the course progresses, lots of people will drop off. There are thems that say and thems that do, the doers are always in the minority. If I manage to start the third MOOC, I will simply have to be an observer, not even a sayer, or something drastic will happen. You will have to do your profile and put a picture on so you don't look like an orange "B"!

  7. Hi Angela. I seem to find comfort in your writings, saying things I feel and have been worried to admit. This MOOC is my first and I am eager to survive. There's plenty coming at me and I see I need to filter, focus, and drive toward a goal, else I'll simply be wandering through cluttering up my electronic world. I have no blog but have from the start begun writing a document that helps me keep track of where I have been, accounts I have created, and experiences I have had. Never did a blog, but I see that that is the electronic way to go. Thanks for your support.