Thanks to frangers – thoughts and connections now lost in forums and the ether

22 04 2013

Before I started week two I really wanted to gather my thoughts from the first two weeks of this MOOC.  I’m not sure one post is going to do it as there is so much going on.

In the induction week we were encouraged to get into small groups for discussions and this lead me to read quite a lot about participation in MOOCs. I hadn’t really thought about my participation / contribution up to that point and so my first musings were about expectations for participation.   As I tutor I would expect full-participation (I’m optimistic like that) but now I have a whole series of question:  what form would that take?  Does it matter if someone is lurking and not contributing?  Is it confidence or laziness?  Do we want quality or quantity when it comes to contributions?

As I haven’t answered any of those I can only say that I felt that my digital self should reflect my real self and that I would need to work hard to achieve this.  I picked up Twitter – happily reviewing a couple of times daily and tweeting (well, mostly retweeting so far) anything that I think is useful to develop a repository of thoughts over time.  Happy with these first steps…

Next to ‘replies’ and this is where I am getting into a bit of a knot.  I find some gems, have interesting things pop into my brain but then find it very difficult to maintain this.  For me it feels like finding the end of a thread in a tangled ball of wool.Image If anyone has any ideas for preserving the connections better I would be very grateful.  I would like to find some of these ‘frangers’ again (friends / strangers  – it’s taken from a post in the ocTEL forum somewhere…) or at least credit them and send others there too.

I think this connectedness is really important and therefore links to the first thoughts about participation.  I then remembered this light sculpture (Komisar) that uses Boolean logic to produce different interactions of colour and brightness as a visualization of interactions in an open system.  For me it is a visual metaphor of the interactions that a group of learners have / could have: Sometimes small, sometimes only dimly and occasionally shining brightly etc. but that each ‘worked’ in that moment…


Bob Garvey: ‘…a good learner is well connected with an array or strong and weak connection with each participant offering different perspectives, insights, skills and knowledge.  The learner draws on this network to further this learning but, in turn, they may help other members of their network to develop and change. There is a natural symbiosis here…’ (cited in Coaching and Mentoring (2009)

Happily this leads to ‘sharing’.  I think I have gained far more from the contributions and posts than I have from the course materials. I have been amazed at the generosity of the donated resources.  I have found that the webinar chat space is a particularly good resource – again thank you!

Finally onto just how disruptive to traditional practice will MOOC be?  I think this is more of a longer term change rather than an imminent seismic shift but that the ripples from its potential impact are worth working with now. Change is inevitable and we should be actively involved with this in our own contexts.  This reminds me of someone’s ocTEL big question – ‘how do we take the T out of TEL?’



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