Final Reflections on #moocmooc

Posted: August 19, 2012 in Uncategorized

Reflections on #moocmooc and where will I take my learning….

What is a MOOC experience? “Like getting up after being thrown off a horse – again – and again…. ”

This is my fourth MOOC like course this year. I started late into #change11, and caught the #MOOC bug as I heard Alec Couros lead the week about Digital Citizenship. Although I LOVED the way that I was encouraged to use social media to connect and publish my blog posts and questions, I felt alone. I had no idea how to find “my network” and I was far too intimidated to connect with others to find a “group”. I made attempts at “tweeting” people,  people did not reply.

I then turned to my “Connected Learning Community”CLC (as opposed to my PLN or Community of Practice) as defined by Sheryl Nassbaum-Beach (The Connected Educator, Learning and Leading in a Digital Age, 2012) I turned to the people I already knew, who had like-minded ideas and who knew me in a f2f and online way. When I asked them for their perception of why I was “being ignored” they said things like, ” Well you don’t have a name in the online world. People don’t really care what you have to say. They don’t have a lot of time and they have better things to do than answer your questions.” I knew I needed another opinion as few of them had heard of a MOOC.

If I had listened to my CLC, I would never have continued with the MOOC. However, some kind of different inner voice was talking to me, and I decided to persevere. I signed up for a research project about my #change11 MOOC experience and I learned that there were many other participants looking to create a Community of Practice with people like me, from all over the world – and they had felt just as isolated and alone.

In #change11 I was trying to connect with the wrong people (if someone ignores your tweet to them,  it’s a sign to go to another person). I now knew there were others out there, I just needed to LEARN how to unlearn what I had already learned as a learner (consider yourself the bottom of a hierarchy or group and wait until be heard). I needed to learn how to find my audience and support network – my PLN in which I could collaborate. I juts didn’t have the skills, and struggled with the conept of leanring everything by myself.

The next MOOC I participated in was #BONKopen . This course was my first real “massive” experience as way too many people were in the Blackboard room on the first day. That’s when I learned the expression about drinking from a fire hose. I was particularly impressed with the “way” Dr. Bonk taught online, he really engaged the group- you felt like he was talking to you. I took the course to examine “how” the course was created using Coursesites as a LMS, so the way Bonk taught was not my focus.

I didn’t really engage with other learners because it was too big and I felt really lost in the crowd. There were a lot of complaints about the size, and I was still finishing up #change11.

My previous feelings of feeling in the “out crowd” were amplified on April 30, 2012 when I replied, in all innocence, to Lisa’s post “I’m leaving an Open Online Course”. My discussion faded quickly as I realized that I was in a massive reaction to Blackboard and those opposed to it. As a new MOOC fan, I was shocked at how rude, inconsiderate and personal an online “discussion” could become. I had felt isolated in #change11, the “I’m leaving” episode and its appearance all over the MOOC community that day made me hide way in a cave and seriously reconsider online learning at all. The “Lisa Discussion” was apparent in G. Veletsianos Blackboard Session, Lisa’ Blog and other’s in answer to her discussion( you will notice that it was not Lisa who was nasty), and even in Dr.Bonk’s Blackboard session for the day. What a soap opera. The same day edX was announced and I think some serious “online” feathers were ruffled.

I felt like I was insane to continue on this open online learning journey called a MOOC.  I had been intimidated and overwhelmed, I felt laughed at and WAY over my head – but it was the best learning I had ever done in my life – and I was addicted! I had to learn to have a tougher shell and not care what others “thought”, I was in this for MY learning.

I was really scared to use the word MOOC since  I had seen – and felt  -the reaction on April 30, 2012. It was pretty clear that there was a MOOC group and I was NOT invited. I decided that my inner voice was MORE important than my “perception” of the online MOOC world. I wanted to ensure that my kids were going to go to school and learn about technology and “how” to use it in their own learning. I was a parent with a cause and a learner without a network!

It was that attitude that led me to contact Steve Hargadon Classroom 2.0, and ask him if he would help me create a miniMOOC. He said, sure!  He asked me, what would it be about? I decided that if this course was for my kids future teachers, I would want the basics – how to connect and be engaged using social media. So I thought of “Tracking our Digital Footprints”. #DigiFoot12 was formed. I created a template and contacted Alec Couros, he suggested some changes (use a wiki as a portal NOT a blog was a great suggestion) and that things looked good! So I kept going. I started to lurk and connect through twitter. I asked if I could do an Interdependent project on Connectivism and k-12 for my MET UBC program. I wrote a Literature Review, and connected with almost all of the people, in some digital way, and got what “I” needed for my own learning.  I became a part of the team. They truly taught me that a “learner is a learner”.  The hierarchy started to disintegrate. I became braver each day.

I attended the “ConnectedCA” conference in Calgary and I started the conference by sitting at the same table as Valerie Irvine (UVic) who had been one of the  presenters for #Change11. I told her about my k-12 MOOC idea – and at least she knew what it was. Unfortunately, most of the other educators at the conference did not know what I was talking about…but I did learn how to connect through twitter and found a strong group of people (strangers) willing to present for free in this weird online course thing for me.

I went into the #digifoot12 MOOC with the goal of creating something that any other teacher “could” do. No LMS (Learning Management System) – just open online content. The goal was no more excuses for anyone. If I could do this, anyone could do this!

At this point, I had the research and background for a k-12 Connectivist course, a template for the course in wikispaces and people to present. I was unclear of how to create a badge and the gRSShopper programming confused me and I did not know if I had an audience. The course was networked through Student 2.0 (a part of Classroom 2.0) to try and boost the Ning popularity. Steve had also created in the attempt to create a portal for future MOOCs. But I had no audience.  I was hoping for 30 participants, and by July 6 we had over 125 participants from around the world. We ended on Aug 15 with 152 registered participants, many lurkers and a great experience.

As #DigiFoot12 progressed other professional development opportunities came about, like Connected Educator Month – August 2012. What I finally realized was that Higher Education is focused on MOOC’s and K-12 has been calling the integration of connectivism into k-12 – “Connected Learning” They are the SAME thing. However, the focus is still on the adults and not on the k-12 learners – how can we offer them Connected Learning opportunities that are choice based and open to the k-12 students?

#moocmooc appeared in my twitter feed, sorry I don’t know who told me first, and I signed up thinking it would be “just like” my previous two experiences.  Like in the Hunger Games, my previous MOOC experience had taught me to go in with a strong set of armour, go into the course and get what you need, then quickly escape, be prepared, don’t take things personally and don’t trust anyone.  Even though I was going in with a poor attitude, I knew that MOOC’s offered the most amazing learning experience I had ever had, so this time I would go in prepared! I did not know I was so “shell shaken” from previous experiences until I was in the middle of #moocmooc.

On the first day I met in the tweet chat and pushed my k-12 ideas and views. I set up a google hangout and “lurked” from the side. The next day was busy, and my help was limited for the google.doc. The actvity was completed half an hour early and my group didn’t want any changes due to the word count restrictions.  (We should have been creative and made a video with the extra time, instead I let my feeling be hurt and complained about  in the tweetchat about “rules”). I wanted to play, but I was “too late” (again) so I had to sit back because of rules..I felt like I had in the other MOOC’s – “alone and rejected” .I should have just done my own thing, but my feelings were hurt. .What I noticed – almost immediately, was that people were answering me. They were engaged, curious and supportive and had some really thought provoking ideas – and they didn’t make me feel stupid.  So after I had a few comments, and my feelings were spared. I felt like part of something – a community – and that my voice was important, and the activity was that, “just” an activity…so no  hard feelings 🙂

So for Day 3, I thought I would give it a shot.. I wanted to support my community and show that I was appreciative of their work and I also appreciated their support. I felt  like I now “owed” the group something..I tried a few different video methods, and everything failed, so I created a silent movie (that honestly took hours of  tech issue and failed idea attempts)…and it was instantly “collected”, RTweeted and some comments were made.

The difference in this MOOC for me was the fact that there was a “digital community” – and I belonged, in my own way. Every time I was on twitter I saw other #moocmoocers (probably because I started following people as they connected with me) and I became stronger, more willing to contribute and more willing to be “in the moment”. I didn’t connect with a “set” group, although the facilitators did an amazing job of trying to answer many of our individual tweets, I was engaged in all sorts of incredible discussions with all sorts of people.

I learned that I was “really” part of the group, when the Storify’s started coming out and I could see my tweets and people’s reactions to them. Then I was hooked and indoctrinated all over again.

So….that’s what I learned in #moocmooc. That you should always listen to your inner voice, learning can be “mooctified” in order to meet individual needs. I learned that I CAN bring connectivist ideas to K-12 – although this week has helped me discover that it is already there in a different rhetoric and that there are others out there who are looking for their “crowd”as well.

I will be taking all this learning with me as I develop my Team Teacher k-12 MOOC project for an online school this fall. Another pilot, another journey…but so glad that I stuck to my guns and listened, really listened.

Anything is possible – I’m mooctified.
Verena 🙂


Starting a New mooc #Moocmooc

Posted: August 13, 2012 in Uncategorized

I have registered for a new mooc this week. It starts today and ends in a week – one week! Outstanding idea! This mooc called #moocmooc,:

In this week-long experimental online course, we’ll be investigating exactly what it means to participate in, create, and even envision a MOOC (massive open online course). We’ll be questioning what a MOOC is, how useful this educational format can be, and the new and innovative opportunities toward which it points.
I am enjoying the Canvas LMS thus far, and juts played with some Blue Tooth collaborating feature….Things from a “start up” point of view seem pretty normal and easy to use.


I am finishing up #DigFoot12 this week which was a MOOC dedicated to learning about digital citizenship and social media for anyone in the k-12 world.

I noticed that #moocmooc used a LMS rather than go totally open and online in a wiki – I think this will help to create a network (have easy access to emails) and have one area to hang out. Well done!

This week as a “Connected Educator, I have a couple of MOOC like networking things to do already – so I’ll be busy….but they are all MOOC related…

Tues. Aug 14 – P2pU ConnectedEd Twitter Day

Wed. Aug 15 #DigiFoot12 – Steve Hargadon Badge Presentation and Closing 7pm MDT

Wed. Aug 15 ConnectedEducator’s Month – Bookclub – 7pm MDT

Thurs Aug 16 – #moocmooc k-12 What does a k-12 MOOC look like google hangout LINK TO COME

I am interested to see what the facilitator’s choose to do for synchronous connections – I noticed no weekly Blackboard Elluminate sessions – yet anyplace, anytime Blue Tooth – very interesting?

I just presented about  How and Why to create a k-12 MOOC  using  #DigiFoot12 on Classroom2.0LIVE on the weekend – lots of learning from facilitating a course and I am really looking forward to learning more about the creation of a MOOC.

In my previous posts there is a lot more information about learning how to become a Connected Learner….

Verena 🙂


Final Notes – ETEC 580

Posted: August 1, 2012 in Uncategorized

ETEC 580 – Final Written Words….

In the midst of facilitating a course for the first time, I did not have a chance to really reflect upon my own learning. I did make some attempts to model blogging at Instead of “modeling” by writing in my blog, I spent my time searching for examples from participants who had written a great post, started a great dsicussion or posted a cool link. I tried to bring all these examples together in the “Daily News” I sent out on a regular basis. I also tried to keep the twitter #digifoo12 tweet flow going, and I was constantly sending out links and examples using the #digifoot12 hashtag.

The Creation of my PLN – These are the resource links, but the people at the end of the connections contributed to the ultimate success of this project. It took more than a village…..

My PLN is now stronger than ever. My twitter following has doubled, but I was careful to use resources to ensure they were actual followers and not just spam. I am really lucky to say that my twitter PLN includes a wide variety of people  in the educational world.

#Digifoot12 Group, Student 2.0:

Student 2.0 provided a central area where members of #DigiFoot12 could centralize with personal profiles, possible email contact information, personal blogs and other resources. This also gave me an opportunity to have a general idea of how many people were in the course (not counting all the lurkers).


MightyBell offered a central location to link digital artifacts created by participants. The ePortfolio look, created a visual scrapbook for #digifoot participants. Although it did not include social media links – like twitter or facebook, it still offered a place for digital material to be collected, connected and shared.
#DigiFoo12 Course wiki:
Using a wiki gave me an opportunity to create a resource area for the participants and myself for my PLN. Although I could never figure out how to create a true twitter feed widget, the wiki has links to connect everyone and everything.  Each week the “Guest” Lead Detective could add and create their own page on the course site (with the exception of Student Voices which I created). I was also able to link every recorded session from Blackbaord or twitter chat for participants to see. Next steps would be to try and organize it – make it “prettier” and easier to read. This is an Open resource which can be offered to my PLN as a resource base OR to anyone who needs some ideas.

The wiki includes connections to:

Twitter, MightyBell, Blackboard Recordings, Diigo, Netvibes, Blog Lists, Twitter Lists,, Edmodo and Student 2.0

I want to repeat that these are only the “digital artifacts” of my PLN and the people involved in the learning process are my actual PLN.
This is my final written summary of my ETEC 580 project on k-12 MOOC’s and Connectivism. It has truly been a journey.

This week I am going to be starting the #DigiFoot12 Course

So I thought I would track my digital footprint back to see how far I could go….to the beginning of the #DigiFoot12 idea.

The beginning was writing a chapter for the Classroom 2.0 Book Project.

Then I joined the #Change11 MOOC

I heard Alec Couros present: Alec Couros link

After I spent time as a “lurker” in Alec’s presentation….I began to wonder how I could create a MOOC like course for the k-12 audience and I wondered what that would look like.

I contacted Steve Hargadon with Classroom 2.0 and he eventually created a site for all possible k-12 MOOClike courses

I then presented at the Social Learning Summit – With Calssroom 2.0 – on the Future of Education (Blended Learning)

I was able to take ETEC 580 as a full credit independent graduate project with Dr. Alex De Cosson as my advisor. I proposed a project on teh creation of a k-12 MOOClike course.

I then “connected” with ConnectedLearning and was in the chat box for:

Ethan Zuckerman


Sheryl Nussbaum- Beach and Will Richardson

I also j0ined the group that is creating a handbook based on peeragogy learning with Jo Corneli (mentioned in an earlier post with H.Rheingold)

This morning, I “met in a google hangout based on a “Learning” group that has been created in MightyBell

And now…..I have to get back to creating my ppt to prepare the first group of detectives in Blackboard Collaborate and PLN’s.


This project has given me an opportunity to learn in a way that has motivated me beyond anything I have ever experienced before. The biggest learning, is that I can still become overwhlemed with “work expectations” and I am brought them all onto myself.  In every other learning experience, I have always been able to blame the teacher if I thought there was too much work, or I was confused…In this learning experience, I can’t use blame. If I am overwhlemed, then I have to figure out how to work on balance, if I don’t undertsand something, then I have to find the answer and if I don’t know “how much” is enough or what a product should “look like” then I have to be open to finding feedback in many different forms.

The learning is scary because it is so unknown and wonderfully exhilerating because it is so unknown.

But where am I in all this? As a learner, I started this adventure as a parent and educator who is frustrated that Educational Technology is not a common standard across my school district. I never know what to expect when I meet my kid’s teachers. It’s not just that a teacher may focus on “math” or “reading” or social studies” one year – I can accept that all teachers have their focus areas. What I mean is, why aren’t all teachers using educational technology in their classrooms as a way to encourage personalized learning and extend Bloom’s Taxonomy opportunities.

Then I started to realize that the idea of “connectivism” is also about connected learning – to me that means learning from others. What I have learned through twitter , and and the handbook and countless other adventures I have had along the way…is that there is a lot going on out there, and I was the one not choosing to discover “how” to connect myself “into” the loop.  These connections take time and energy. I have learned that I prefer LIVE social media to recordings and archives. You have to meet at a specific time to make a ConnectedLearningtv show (they are recorded, but it’s wonderful live), or to make an #edchat or any hashtag discussion (I was blown away in a future of education discussion the other day…) or to skype someone based on a tweet…I now consider Rodd Lucien a friend after chatting with him about unplug’d.

I kept goinga nd going trying connect anc connect – and I was beginning to feel a bit – disjointed….

And then I came back to my “center” – who I really am…a mom…

Last night I spoke with Joy Bowen-Eyre. She is a Calgary School Board trustee who has recently had someone create a blog for her and it was created in the hopes people would think it was her. This cyberbullying has promoted her to look into digital identity. I mentioned my #DigiFoot12 course on her website and tweeted it, and she phoned me to chat about the course and about possible opportunities for online digital footprint awareness for stduents (my kids!!!!) in the CBE and hers. I was totally in awe of this fantastic woman who is enthusisatic and determined to support parents, students and educators…But most importantly she is a mom -and she realizes that we aren’t learning the skills to “protect” ourselves online as adults or as kids. We need to work together. She talked about one of the biggest struggles is connecting to parents – getting our input…I laughed…how to overcome the intimidation? Creating a new culture? The real paradigm shift?

So while I have come full circle – and I now have someone taking the course who has the same interests at heart that I do (I found at least one audience member)….I wonder how I got here? Where did I get the courage to e-mail, tweet people and connect? Why is it so important to me…and why did they chat to me? Their time and energy was so prcious and appreciated!  I definitely got lost along the way and had NO idea what direction to go in….but I kept trying..and I am looking forward to an amazing course and the challenges it brings….

I think that I have learned that I have many identities digital and f2f (Bonnie Stewart is doing some great work on the digital topic…but I digress)..that I have developed and discovered to get to my ultimate goal –

What am I really trying to achieve? I want to offer  social, media and technical literacy to the masses. The youth have vast experiences and skills and so do adults, and I want to bridge them together. This isn’t just about teachers not using technology in the clasroom. It’s about accepting that to really learn about social, media and technical literacy – we need to work together…While my course starts me along that path…I think my work with will keep pushing me in that direction….

Better get back to the course….I still haven’t figured out a PLN scavenger hunt!!!

Next post – how I created/designed the #DigiFoot12 course…and why…


Blogs that I read today that are encouraging me to proceed with my #didigFoot12 course and push myself to do more amazing things…..

This poem speaks to me and makes me stand up for who I really am:

People Like Us

June 18, 2012
tags: , ,

via Bonnie E on pinterest

this is a cross-post from the blog of Olaf Lewitz. 

People Like Us

Some people—few people—have a sensibility of others
that is more than
gradually higher than the average.

We sense other people’s feelings and group relations faster than others,
often before those people sense and realise for themselves.
And our sense is not only faster, it’s deeper, more accurate as well.

We learn early in life not to boast this feature of ours.
We might even be irritated by it,
because each of us has been punished in some way or the other for using this gift
(and then speaking her mind).
People notice us. We stand out from the crowd (even though we try not to),
for two reasons:
We listen.
We care.
The experience of someone actually listening to and caring for them is unusual for most people.
They are attracted by it.
If you’re a women, chances are you’ve been misattributing this attraction to sex
—and the male sitting across you might have too.

But this is different.
To meet someone (say, on a train) who not only talks with you and looks at you,
but actually listens to what you do (and do not) say and watches you,
really sees you as you are, is an outstanding experience.
You have this listening and sensing gift.
Are you proud of it?
Maybe not – because it’s quite normal to you and you’ve had it working against you in the past.
Most people can’t handle honest feedback.

But we do.
We actually crave it.
We need people like us to get it from.
The problem is, how to identify people like us.
Because of past experiences we tend to crouch down and hide in the insensible crowd.
That way, we still sense, watch and listen, but we dampen our feedback.
We don’t stand out, and we don’t notice people like us.

So straighten up!
Stand tall, proud, and make yourself visible!
Look above the crowd to see others like yourself.
You probably noticed similar people before.
You noticed them because they felt grounded, more present, more in-the-moment than the rest.
They struck you as interesting, maybe as attractive, but you didn’t see them as similar.
You might even have felt intimidated (as others surely have been by you).

But as soon as you stand up, proudly,
and let your amazing self be recognised by them as a peer,
you’ll see them stand out from the crowd and really see you just as you do
really see them.
Just leave your comfort zone and really, sincerely, get up!
Let yourself be seen.

It’s an amazing experience.
You will love it.
And you might love the people like us.


via Olaf Lewitz – @OlafLewitz

Poem by Vanessa Miemis and Olaf Lewitz


Seth Godin’s Book Description

makes me realize that if you have a dream and a passion you have to live it….We are all artists and we only have one life to live…..


And finally David Truss writes about Blurred Identity Lines….

I am beginning to find out that there are others like me, its ok to stand up for what I believe in and there is a path to follow….but in the meantime, who really knows me?



Posted: June 13, 2012 in Uncategorized

Hope  I spelled it correctly…

After finishing the first draft of my Lit Review- I thought I could take some time trying to “connect” and learn more….My conclusion in my Lit Review suggests that many Emerging Technology projects are “MOOC”like in their endeavours. I follow Howard Rheingold on twitter. Last week he asked for volunteers for a “peeragogy handbook”. I thought it would be to help write one…

I had to write an e-mail to Howard saying I would be interested….

My first e-mail started like this:

Hi Howard-

I wanted to tell you about why I would like to be a part of your project.

Classroom 2.0 sent out an e-mail asking encouraging everyone and  anyone to participate in a book project about teaching using technology. I wrote a “chapter” because I ha just created what I thought was the most “cutting edge” example of online learning and was rpoud to talk about it….and because I am a mom of 3 kids under the age of 7 and I still consider myself a stay at home mom….This is a copy of the project:

I learned about MOOC’s earlier this year, and was a participant in the #change11 course. I was transformed as a learner and have been in overdrive ever since.  The “over drive” part led mt to your book “Net Smart” which I was hoping could “calm” my dendrites and give me some real life examples of how I can “stay engaed” as a learner and maintain some balance in my life….

I was absolutely flberghasted to see your tweet about this study….

Since #change11, and discovering the opportunities of “open learning” I felt a need to “create a MOOC like course for the K-12 audience. I wanted to “bring” online learning into the regualr classroom and demonstrate that leanring in this day and age goes beyond the four walls.  I found out that I could do an independent project as part of my MET through UBC. I decided to learrn about MOOC’s and the possible design of a MOOC miniMOOC to start in July. I sent an e-mail to Steve Hagardon, Classroom 2.0 and he said that he would love to try and create a network for people trying to “offer” MOOC’s online. I started setting up the concept of a miniMOOC.

Then, after many negative responses, I was given the opportunity to work with a professor (Alex de Cosson) who asked for 3 things in an Independent Project, a Lit Review and PLN and a possible journal article about my experiences from an enthographic autobiography point of view.  He encouraged me to choose books, articles and blogs that I wanted to read – and relate them to my passion. I thought I was

Since I “needed” to read Net Smart – it was the frist one on my list.  The first chapter killed me, kind of reminded me of “The English Patient” short but a killer…but once I finished, I realized my mind was going so fast before I read it, I needed to slow down in order to fully undertsand…that i needed to focus my attention (and how to do it) I was extremely grateful for the analogies and comparisons of the “new learning” through social media to Socrates and Gutenburg. .Of course my reading Net Smart I changed most of my other choices and led me to learning about Mimi Ito, and seriously reconsidering the work of danah boyd. The idea of the “ecology of learning” resonated throughout the readings included the works on connectivism – especially by David Cormier.

I spent May 25-27 at my first “unconference” called connectedCA hosted by the Calgary Science School. It was here that in a session by Bill Belsey, founder of www., we sat in a sharing circle and talked about why we were there and how we feel so bullied and put down by others in Education because we think differently.

Before #change11 I asked the University if I could take “face to face” courses this summer- because I felt like I was “missing out” on something. Although I didn’t know what that something was….In the last year as CEO (Chief Education Offcer) of ww

And I reflected…and didn’t send it….


My actual e-mail looked like this:

The same day I received an invite (from Howard) to be a participant in helping to create a Peeragogy Handbook:

Between editing my Lit Review….I have spent the last week learning about how to be a “Peeragogy Handbook” Newcomer. I received an e-mail from Joe Corneli welcoming me…and in anticipation of the weekly “check-in” in Blackboard – today – I said that I woudl go over the draft of the handbook and write up notes on my first impressions….


So…in the hopes of extending my PLN – this are some of my next steps….The explanation on how to set up a MOOC is excellent in the handbook- if I only I had known about it before I tracked down resources and people….It gives me some assurance that I am doing  things kind of correctly….