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 peeragogy.org 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 MOOC.me 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 🙂

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Comments
  1. Many interesting thoughts about the difference between k-12 and adult education packed into the beginning of this post. I have been thinking about how many may see the skills needed to participate in this type of experience as significant barriers to participation. And how much self-motivation is required to keep up with all of it.

    I am glad you had a good week. As a (mostly) lurker I gained a great deal from the experience. The risk of exclusion is something that seems very real in this model. I give the organizers a great deal of credit for doing their best to make everyone feel welcome.

    • Thanks Andrew – that was a quick read! Yes it is possible, but I didn’t go too much into the “M” needs to stand for “meaningful” NOT “Massive” pitch. As I explore bringing connectivism to k-12, the goal is to create inclusive, sustainable leanring enviornments that meet the needs of all the learners, including the facilitators…

      I agree – I think that I really learned a lot about the team effort that is required in order to create and facilitate a successful MOOC. A BIG thank you to #moomooc facilitators – I don;t think I ever really knew who they all were? Different people did different things? Proves to me that as Team Teacher, of the K-12 MOOC this fall, I will need a supportive community and I can’t do it alone.

      Thanks for the note…:)

  2. Mark McGuire says:

    Hi Verena and others.

    I bet there are many stories like your out there about people who have accepted the invitation to join an “open” learning environment and discovered, once inside, that some are more “inside” than others. I suppose it takes more than a change in the rules of the game to change the behavior of the players.

    My level of experience is probably similar to yours as far as MOOCs are concerned, but I haven’t tried to start a course based on connectivist principles. I admire your determination and ability to stick to it. I think your objective – to MOOCify K-12 – is an important initiative. It raises some issues that are specific to younger learned (for example, Internet safety and a limited ability to work out what sites and resources can be trusted), but these are not MOOC-specific. For me, the most important part of the MOOC acronym is the first “O” — the “Open” aspect. I have two school-age boys (10 and 13), and I have been following their progress through school, as parents do. Kids their age are already preparing themselves for a life and a world very different from what their parents are used to, and it concerns me that universities are so very far behind the times. Perhaps our children will be better able to deal with openness, collaboration, and change generally than their parents and grandparents. Let’s hope so — they will need these skills even more than we do. I will follow your blog and see if there is anything I can contribute to your project.

    • Hi Mark – Totally agree that the “open “concept is so different for k-12. I think to be truly connectivist (and encourage the idea that we all learn together) there has to be two parts to a k-12 “mooctified” project. One part faciliated and moderated by an adult and “not open”. Another part open to everyone, including parents, admin, other teachers – all learning together about how to weave our way through this new world. We all have different skills to contribute, and we need to learn how to really listen to each other, collaborate with each other and appreciate each other ofr the skills that we already have. That includes encouraging youth to teach adults+ about digital tools and communication and older generations to speak about “skepticism” and learning to really think about the “reality” of the learning.( Is what you are reading and watching really true, how do you know?) Together – I really believe that there is new more meaningful learning potential – just haven’t figured out how to get there yet……Any ideas greatly appreciated…:)

  3. Thanks so much for this—I’ve been wondering what MoocMooc was like in relationship to other “cMOOCs” (all my prev. exp. was with xMOOCs). I’m glad that you found community at MoocMooc (I did too!) and I hope that MOOC environments will increasingly open themselves up to respectful, non-hierarchical, creative conversations and collaborations like the ones that you finally found.

    • I just went over your blog post – thank you – and after starting in cMOOC’s, I ahvent’ had the same patience for xMOOCs. They seem like two completely different concepts to me and each has their own purpose. In mooctifying k-12, I am referring to xMOOCs, which means I really ahve to fcous on the “community” based on interactions. Thanks for your comment.

  4. Thanks for writing – lovely to see how you became more confident as a learner-teacher (the concept is nice and fuzzy in cMOOCs!).

    I was interested to read about how you overcame your hesitancy to participate in this course. I’m new to connectivist MOOCs, so didn’t have any preconceptions. It’s a real shame to hear that not all cMOOCS have necessarily been as open as this one.

    One of the biggest strengths I found in MOOCMOOC was how welcoming the emergent community has been. (I wonder how much of this is because the MOOC has been playful and unafraid of being heretical or subversive of its own medium?)

    I think the community that gathered around MOOCMOOC, and the individual attention of the instructors, really helped. I certainly found it really positive.

    • What a learning opportunity it has been! I want to reiterate that this story was “my” perception, and I imagine that many people did not feel the same way. However, as I said above, the digital environment in KEY in my attempts to #mooctify k-12 opportunities. I imagine that students will always feel alone in order to “learn” how to connect, but they also need to learn how to connect and create networks (for those that don’t already know). Perhaps this is an area I could learn from youth – think about the texting, facebook, and gaming networks…As an educator, I don’t want to enter in their worlds, but I do want to learn about the skills that they have developed to encourage participation and inclusion. I think there is a lot out there that we don’t know about yet….:)Thanks for your note.

  5. Great post, and a great lesson on how great ideas and persistence can pay off in becoming part of the Connectivist neurostructure. The MOOC MOOC was definitely a great experience–perhaps even transformative. Glad, too, that http://www.notyourfathersschool.org could be part of your thinking. I guess we should welcome each other to our CLCs!

    • #moodmooc facilitators did a great job on creating a community – as well as promoting connectivist networking principles. They proved that you can do it all. I think the short time span helped, and the participants were fantastic as well. Not that they weren’t fantisatic in my other MOOCs, it just wasn’t what I was looking for. I’m glad I can finally accept that MOOC doesn’t have to fit a specific design, and that’s ok. That inner voice kept “me” going. I think the feedback that I receievd from the #digifoot12 participants also affirmed that something different was possible. We created a similar environment (although even more dependance on the skills of the participants for the sustainability of the course than #moocmooc) but I think that the length affected the overall community engagement. #moocmooc offered me the opportunity to be a true participant (and not faciliatator) again, and they played “my way”. A great way to finish the summer, and one project, and start another!

      Thank you for your timely blog post this week – although I ahd a temper tantrum, it got me thinking….K-12 is doing the same thing, just calling it something else, so I see lots of potential!

      Looking forward to more chats with my CLC!

      I’m presenting a how and why k-12 MOOC’s at Learning 2.0 on Tuesday, Aug 21 10 am MDT
      http://www.classroom20.com/forum/topics/creating-a-minimooc-for-k-12
      Verena 🙂

  6. Dan Lemay says:

    Verena, Thanks for running digifoot12 this summer. It gave me a taste of what a mooc might be like. I’ve signed up for Keith Devlin’s Mathematical Thinking mooc this fall. My goal is to get some of my HS math students to participate. We can have an on the ground learning community plus hopefully build some online connections hopefully building an on line study group. Getting HS students a successful introduction to online learning is probably one of the best things I can do for them. I agree the key to successful online learning is finding that group of people that push you on and also that give you a chance to help them learn.

  7. VanessaVaile says:

    I recall similar experiences getting rebuffed in my 1st MOOC, PLENK2010 but counterbalanced by welcoming reaction to commenting on blogs. I still follow some of them and a few are in my Fb network now too. I might not have thought to comment on blogs if I weren’t a blogger. A few in the forums were kind enough to answer direct questions. Next time, I made a point to be welcoming to anyone identifying themselves as lost first timers and have noticed others doing so as well.

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