Hard to believe it has been 10 years since I first started ETMOOC.
Why after all this time do I still engage with this community and with the people I met along the way?
Because ETMOOC was the beginning of giving me a space to learn and grow, to share ideas, to experiment fearlessly with people who were willing to let that happen. Not only let it happen, but encourage it, challenge constructed ideas of learning and open new windows to what can be a better way of learning and doing.
It encouraged curiosity, creativity, openness and sharing, risk taking and fun!
The first thing you have to understand about ETMOOC is the mastermind behind this course, Dr. Alec Couros, is a networking god. He got together a most superb team and enlisted the help of people everywhere to make an exciting, innovative course. It was obvious he thought very deeply about what he was trying to create and the people who supported the whole learning experience were equally onboard.
This is not an extensive list by any means nor is it in any particular order except #1.
1. My Professional Learning Network: This is the greatest gift I received from participating in ETMOOC. I may be a small voice in the wilderness, but the network I have grown started from the kernel sowed by my participation in ETMOOC. I have been engaged with this group for 10 years. From there to #CLMOOC and #Rhizo14, and #ccourses and #olcmooc to #TVSZ (all versions!) I've ended up interacting with amazing people that have been a part of my life since. We've all grown and changed, but we still connect.
2. Personal Connection: It doesn't matter how often I am online, but I can still reach out to this networked group anytime I want to trial a new idea, comment about the world we live in, offer words of praise, support, enlightenment or have the same reflected back at me. Given the nature of my job and my home life, sometimes I have disappeared for months at a time. But that connection still exists. And I use it. Almost daily when I am online.
3. Self Awareness: I've learned a lot about myself as I took this 10 year ETMOOC journey, both as an educator and a student. Understood why sometimes learning new things is hard and frustrating. How sometimes that frustration is a good thing and sometimes a bad thing, especially if I allow it to turn me away from learning something new. I've also realised I am lousy at self care and won't really be good at it until I stop investing so much of my energy in my job. As a friend once said, "How are you going to use your precious energy?" So I am contemplating that a lot lately.
4. People: As I look back at the spaces ETMOOC opened up for me, I have been lucky to interact with so many talented people. University professors, classroom educators, artists, instructional designers, graphic designers and other people who value creativity and expression. Sharing and supporting comes so naturally to people. And some of them have remained friends to this day. How often can you say, "I took this course and I still hang out with them 10 years later". Online?
5. Creativity: I enjoy creating silliness just because it is fun. Being introduced during ETMOOC to #DS106 was mind blowing for me. #DS106 Radio? A blast! I had so much fun creating sound content. Whether it was my own Halloween show, Headless DS106, The 3Ts Cooking Show, Three Fingers of Gin for #DS106 Noir, it was all a mix of goofiness and learning how to use software like Audacity. Where would I be without it? It taught me the art of the possible with their amazing #DS106 handbook. But also their amazing Daily Create! Do I do the Daily Create everyday? Not anymore but I love seeing what other people produce. Some of my best poetry and life reflections are on the DS106 website. Thank you Jim Groom (I am a True Friend) and Alan Levine!
6. Being a Zombie (or a DragonBovine): #ETMOOC lead to #TVSZ. I am huge fan of games and #TVSZ 2.0-6.0 were so much fun!!! I created movies, wrote a ton, posted pictures to free myself from being eaten (or to entice people into allowing me to eat them...) and generally paid no attention to my paid employment for a few days in order to play. Created out of the fabulous brains (BrAIns!BRaInS!!!) of Pete Rorabaugh and Jesse Stommel, it was fast paced game with ever evolving rules and layers and always supported by Janine DeBaise and her students. Hugely enjoyable!
7. The Impermanence of Software: As part of this reflection, I have been rereading my blog. So much of what I created is no longer there. Storify- shutdown 2018. Mozilla Popcorn Maker- video editing software-Is hosted at the Internet Archive as of 2016. Windows Movie Maker-Shut down in 2017. My projects didn't make it over. Piktochart is still here, and Audacity, but I am not sure what else will disappear with my content. DS106 is still there (thank goodness!) but it does make me think of the ephemeral aspects of creating. Maybe I need to learn how to be a stone mason so I can make a more permanent record. (oh wait, that doesn't necessarily last either!)
8. New Software: I have to admit I haven't kept up with all of the software changes. I think one of the reasons I do more writing and less video and photo oriented Daily Creates is I am a still a beginner with creating product using photo editing and video editing software. It takes some dedicated time for me to learn new programs and currently I have little to none. But when I finally have some breathing room (retire) I'll make the time.
9. Memories: It's been a while since I blogged. Three years. The pandemic has taken a toll and I feel like I work harder now than I ever have. Maybe it's because I've had to restart so many things, rewrite rules, review new policy, etc. It hasn't helped that my father became ill and died during the pandemic. But reading through my blog reconnected me with the joy of the journey, the giddy and heady fun of learning and creating, especially the silly stuff, when it seems I may have had a sense of humour. No ETMOOC, no blog.
But I've also recognized that I stopped writing my blog when I took my current position. I still write all the time, but it is historical, or museum related, or policy oriented, or analytical. Not for pleasure. Not for fun. I spend so much time writing that doing it for my own personal growth and enjoyment has become a thing of the past. And that is sad.
What else is sad? I can see how safe I felt online back then. When I first got comfortable with Twitter it was a safe space. Much of the free software we were using at that time didn't seem too threatening. Now we all have to really think hard about the impact of social media on our discourse and our lives. Of how much we share. or if we should share at all. It's no longer feels like a safe space. Thanks to Chris Gilliard via Alan Levine who really opened my eyes.
10. Social Media Training: More than ever, students need to be able to understand how they can be influenced by social media. This means that for the people in the classroom right now, student and teacher, media training is a must. We need an ETMOOC reboot more than ever. Not only how to use the software for making, but how it can be manipulated and made for creating disinformation and misinformation.
Thank you to everyone who created such hilarious, fun, illuminating and worthwhile offerings with me all those years ago. Thank you to everyone who continues to connect and share with me. Who reaches out to encourage me. You make being online uplifting. I hope I do the same for you.
Thank you ETMOOC. You've been hugely influential on who I am today. And don't the best learning experiences always do that?