Tuesday, 15 January 2013

Bah Humbug redux!

So of course I posted this in the blog I created for moocmooc using Word Press thinking to myself " I am sure I can use the same blog and just change the categories section to etmooc. How hard can it be?" Every time I begin to get the least bit smug about my increasing ease in the world of online communication something happens to keep me humble, such as my inability to follow easy directions (no matter how many times I put in etmooc into the category section it remained unmoved by my pleas! Plus of course the internet deciding to be temperamental today.) As you can see, I've resigned myself to creating a separate blog for etmooc.  I believe in the end I will probably create an ode "Why I detest WordPress and other communication technologies," wrap myself in a warm blanket and cry into my cocoa.

Sensibly this time, instead of blindly using WordPress (it's so easy everyone says, ha!) I actually researched which blogging software might be better for someone of my limited online capabilities. So here I am in blogger, wondering if I'll abandon the postings in WordPress, creating more internet junk. I wonder how big the landfill is in the land of lost digital communication? Where does it all go when we've finished using it? Does the internet get full? ( I just checked on Google and yes I believe it does. Does this mean I have to clean up this as well as do housework?)

Needless to say here is the post I posted earlier in WordPress. I think this is the third time I've tried to put this up.

"So introductory week for etmooc and I already missed last nights discussion on twitter or blackboard or where ever it was! So looks like my first introductory etmooc post is going to be a grumpy Karen post I guess. Or a "maybe I'm burnt out from cmoocs" post? So my name is Karen, from Canada, specifically Kingston and I am a middle aged instructional designer, who got here by way of elementary teaching, museum education and then museum administration, who continually, every decade, has gone to school to upgrade and re-certify. So this is not my first mooc as I have taken classes with Coursera and Venture Lab as well as the January 2013 cmoocmooc. I had hoped that with this one I would spend a little less time lost and a little more time connecting (unlike the moocmooc where I spent a great deal of my time lost, and connected a bit [I now follow 8 people on twitter-ha!]), but perhaps I am expecting too much of myself and this course. I should be used to the online confusion that cmoocs generate but for this course I am looking for some clarity which is why I liked the longer timeline.

What do I mean about clarity? I need time to digest all the conversations, to think about what I have read, to ponder over what I have watched or heard. I expect that I am one of those people who does require that I "turtle" when I am trying to make sense of new learning. I am all for engaging, exchanging ideas, conversation, etc. but when it comes to the big ideas, organizing it in my mind and making connections I need distance from the noise. And this is the problem for me within a cmooc I guess. The noise is the constant twitter stream, blogs etc which is where these new ideas emerge. It is the same as a discussion within class. You have a discussion, through the interaction with your peers, you suddenly have a new perspective or insight into a problem or idea and what do you need to do? You need to go and write it down, reflect and refine.

So I feel like I am in a catch 22. I need to immerse myself in twitter and reading blogs etc, but I also need time to think about things, which means I am not reading blogs and twitter, thereby cutting myself off from the constant conversation with the "class" and perhaps missing that crucial aha moment (and yes I know there is an archival stream for twitter for etmooc.) I expect I am in the orient phase and I have got to decide what my boundaries are for participation. I just saw a twitter post that said "drinking from a fire hose takes practice and skill," and I am only used to a tap! So I guess this cmooc is going to refine my fire hose handling abilities and bring some clarity to the process.

Perhaps this aspect of the online community is the toughest part for the learner to overcome? It seems that the majority of students decide to exit from the course, either by becoming a permanent lurker or leaving the class entirely, in the first two weeks. As educators, perhaps we first need to think less about the contents of the mooc and more about the structure of how to manage "the fire hose" so learners aren't intimidated by the flood of information. And as a new twitter user you can't help but be intimidated. While the introductory week activities are great (I am still working through them) where was the twitter meet posted? I obviously missed it. And if it was posted in twitter isn't that self defeating for those who are just learning twitter? But is this just because I am not a digital native?

So for digital natives who use twitter regularly, where is their pain point for mooc communication? Have they already learned how to manage the "fire hose?" As my children's generation are much more comfortable with online technology, with <strong>seemingly</strong> less need for face to face communication to satisfy their need for socialization, would they not embrace the opportunity to learn online? Do they have the same drop out rates for moocs and if so why? Is the pain point for digital natives the self regulation required to complete the course? The ease in which you can leave a course (so you don't really have to commit)? The idea of not getting a mark or not having it count towards a degree?

Even though I am grumpy about missing the first chat (and I see it will be done again today at 1:00 while I am in a meeting) I'm glad to be here in the digital maelstrom."


  1. Cheer up. Sorry about the wordress challenges, actually that is the easiest platform for us to syndicate to the etmooc hub. If the problem was not seeing it aggregated there, that is my fault because it is taking me a while to check everyone's feed.

    But this will do fine.

    And no, there is no filling point for the internet. It is almost infinite, or close enough of an approximation.

    1. Hi Alan,
      I realized later that I wasn't patient enough with the process, but I was not sorry to ditch wordpress as I used it for the moocmooc as well and lost an entire post that took me at least an hour to write. I have spotty internet connection in this location and i think blogger may be more forgiving of my connectivity issues.
      As to the internet filling up, so to speak, they are running out of isp addresses (supposedly) so does that count?
      Thanks so much for getting back to me!

  2. Hi Karen,
    I feel so close to how you feel about the overload of information and also respecting my own my pace when it comes to learning. And this might be the reason why I love taking online courses. I feel I can follow my own pace. Let me share some stories of the past. When I was doing my teacher training in the early 80s, I remember teachers saying "You have ten minutes to read this text and then share your opinions with your team" Never managed to finish in the 10 min. and with the time, just because I labelled myself as "slow reader", I lost interest in reading but just took things easy knowing I would go back home and read it respecting my own time.
    So, I wonder if being faster makes a big difference when it comes to being a successful leaner, I don't mean I am successful learner but I manage to learn. Above all, I love learning Karen. But hate deadlines lol. This whole process has influenced my teaching process, I have learnt how important it is to respect each other's styles.
    One more thing, Wordpress does not work for me, why spend time learning how to deal with that brand when blogger is so much easy for me?
    And MOOCs, I love this #ETMOOC, it feels good to me, I had enrolled for a course at Coursera about online teaching, we were 40,000 people enrolled, and it was such a chaos that I left. This is what I love about being a self-directed learner. You can choose what, where, when and who with.
    And I think young people love being digital especially to socialise though still have doubts whether they would be able to be consistent and strong enough to deal with online learning. Actually, I sometimes I wonder why we, educators, are so willing (desperate educators?) to learn and lose track of time so easily and our students feel tired and hardly find the time to do any HW, maybe socialising online is very time consuming. I am aware that sts do many things aside FB, modern life has this challenge, when I was a child or teenager I had to time to play on the street, Karen.
    Love reading your post, love how you elaborate your ideas and post questions. Feeling to wordy here, and a little messy. Well, I'm learning after all.

  3. Well Debbie,
    I loved the response and I replied to your post yesterday and posted it and viola! It is not here today. Ah the joys of technology. Perhaps I have inadvertently hexed this post?

    So I should let you know that I am wordy too so write away! I agree moocs are wonderful for self directed learners. I do feel like I've been given an enormous box of chocolates that I can pick and choose from (so I don't have to eat the ones I don't like!)but I also feel rather greedy, in that I am worried I am going to gorge myself on moocs. Mooc overload!

    As to teachers, and being a teacher I think all of us who are in the profession have experienced a teacher not being respectful (or even down right unkind) of our needs as learners and have sworn not to do that to our students. But we all have "bad" days as teachers when we've not been at our best and our lesson plans fall flat or we are confronted with a situation where we cannot cope as well as we would like to. I just apologize to my students, let them know I make mistakes too, use it as a teachable moment if possible and move on. It is why I loved elementary teaching so much but all of my frequent moving around isn't good for a career in a classroom.

    As to having enough time to spend on the computer that is going to be a huge issue for me in the coming months as I don't want to be glued to a computer more than I have to be. Since I work on one all day the last thing I want to do is spend all evening on it. I need time to move and create in the physical world as well as the digital world.

    I, too, was someone who used to spend time outside playing with others. For my children outside play was important too. But at Christmas I watched my nieces and nephews play on their ipads. The internet is the new playground. No playing outside, no building forts in the snow, no walks in the forest. I worry about that, but then I need the feel of wind on my face and to watch the sky colour as we head into dusk and hear the birds chirping and twittering in the trees to feel renewed and refreshed.

    As to wordpress and blogger, well I now have two accounts of course (and twice the amount of digital housekeeping to do!). I'll probably have to ask Sue Waters how to resolve this issue but I am maintaining both accounts because before I could close the wordpress account people had already responded to what I had written. So I felt I should keep it open too. Social contract at work!

    Looking forward to continuing the conversation!