Reflecting on My Experience in ETMOOC

April 1, 2013

             Launching into my first Massive Open Online Course, I truly did not know what to expect.  My primary learning experiences have been, for the most part, pedagogically structured, and it is only recently that I have participated in student directed learning.   To be quite honest, the chaos of the MOOC structure (or lack thereof) caught me quite off guard.  Although the purpose of the MOOC is to allow participants to ‘connect’ to others to facilitate learning, I felt very much disconnected without the familiarity of the teacher-centered classroom experience.  But I soldiered on, braced myself, and logged in to the majority of the sessions.  I set up a Twitter and G+ account, and even created a blog to connect with my fellow participants.  Unknowingly, I was creating my Personal Learning Environment and establishing a connected network within which to experience ETMOOC.  Better yet, I was beginning my journey into Rhizomatic and Connected Learning, where we create our own path to knowledge through questioning and exploration.

                As my ‘newbie’ anxiety faded and I began to experience a bit more comfort in the free-for-all format, I settled in and stopped thinking about the environment and started thinking about learning.  The topic of Digital Storytelling was introduced, and although the content was mainly focused on the K-12 learner, I found the concept of storytelling compelling and wanted to investigate this further.  In my professional and technical training environment, using storytelling is not typically used however, I dabbled with scenarios and examples with my learners in the classroom and found that these ‘stories’ enabled them to make the connection between facts and practice.  The post-learning feedback I received indicated that the scenarios I provided helped the learners to apply abstract content to real-life situations with a positive result.

                The third topic explored in ETMOOC, Digital Literacy, outlined the challenges of the ‘wild-west’ of learning and the challenges of navigating and validating endless sources of content.  Within my own organization, I do have a good measure of control over the content that I create however, I do not have a good content management solution nor can I prescribe specific content as mandatory.  Part of my role in supporting digital literacy for my learners, is to establish the evaluation of content through a set of newly established tags developed for this purpose.  Rather than having to wade through thousands of archived documents in our learning management system, my learners can filter by topic/provider/audience tags that will help them get to the most relevant content.  This step alone is greatly impacting the efficiency and reliability of learning content in support of building digital literacy in my organization.  Beyond access to and appropriate filtering of available course content, I am also creating e-spaces for learners to collaborate, explore, and interact with learning.  I am working to create environments that make individual and group learning visible. 

                Although the content I create for my learners will not be made publicly available, the Open Movement has provided a wealth of professional learning opportunities.  As an example, we are beginning to explore the integration of new technologies and learning options and need to ground ourselves in these topics before we can recommend any expenditure.  One of the upcoming MOOC opportunities is centered on Gamification, one of the topics we seek to explore.  I and a colleague will participate in this MOOC, at no cost, to gain a basis of knowledge that will enable further exploration of this as a viable learning approach.  It is also through open access to education that I’ve been fortunate to experience a variety of learning approaches including blogging, tweets, vlogging, and Instagram.  The possibilities are endless.

                The final topic in ETMOOC, Digital Citizenship, helped me to establish many of the participant expectations I now incorporate into my learning programs.  With the Connected Learning model, collectively we shoulder the responsibility to provide a forum for learning.  The migration of learners from the periphery into the center of the learning community should be embraced and fostered.  Variances in levels of participation should be expected and allow for those most passionate about topics to take center stage while those only tangentially connected can step in and out as they deep appropriate.  Taking a look at the ‘big picture’ and reflecting on the experience of participating in a MOOC, I may have now broken free of the pedagogical confines that I once ascribed to learning.  It is my hope that I can persuade and influence other educators to take a seat in the back of the virtual classroom as well. 

IPhone as a Learning Tool

February 12, 2013

Tonight I participated in an #ETMOOC BB Collaborate session with two of my fellow UMB grad students and about 50 other participants.  The facilitator led a robust discussion on ways to use technology to tell stories – storytelling being a valuable learning tool.

 Typically, I set aside time and space to participate in these sessions and create a ‘perfect’ learning environment for myself.  This usually includes my laptop, a notebook and pen, earphones, and a large cup of coffee. Tonight however, I threw caution to the wind and accessed the session on my iPhone while at a friends house. No earphones, no notebook, no cuppa joe.
I was a little distracted because my surroundings were not familiar, but I wanted to experience “learning” in a totally unfamiliar way. Separated from my usual learning “crutches” I really could focus on just what was being said and rely on my active participation rather than note taking to cement concepts and ideas. Being in the moment was exhilarating. I thought it was pretty slick to be able to access this session, connect IRT with other participants, and actively participate on my phone. I don’t feel that I missed out on any functionality until I found out that my UMB colleagues were simultaneously Tweeting. Well, one thing at a time I guess.
I love that #ETMOOC is creating these opportunities to explore new learning technologies.

Learning Freefall

February 7, 2013

I am a graduate student at UMass Boston and am participating in the ETMOOC along with three other graduate students. Our participation in ETMOOC is twofold: one as an ETMOOC participant, and one as a MOOC voyeur. Together, my fellow colleagues and I are examining not only the content of ETMOOC, but the impact of the MOOC frontier in general and the opportunities it holds for further exploration.
So as we held one of our initial debrief sessions, we inherently recognized that each of us is having a unique experience as we are wading through the ETMOOC tide. Some of us are in the deep waters very comfortably, while others are in the shallow end getting our sea legs. What makes the MOOC so dynamic is that each of us is creating our own experience and through that experience we are transforming our thinking.
We thought it would be interesting to examine where we are today and to re-evaluate our thinking upon completion of ETMOOC. Here is my self-assessment:
• I am a pedagogical learner; I expect to learn from an instructor and not necessarily other participants
• I like things organized and structured where I can visualize the 1, 2, 3 progression of learning
• I am not a fan of social media for things other than ‘socializing’
• I like directions and think they are an efficient roadmap to achieve a result
• I like to know where the goal line is and prefer to take the most direct route
Given the above, you can only imagine how the initial onslaught of ETMOOC has spun me on my heels. My first reaction was to retreat in defeat; but I’m smarter and more resilient than that. I stayed on for more.
What was really comforting is to hear that some of my colleagues were experiencing the same discomfort and hearing how they were acclimating to this new environment. We’ve already begun to change.
I’m tossing away my expectations and letting the learning happen. I’m in a learning freefall, and I like it already.

Connected Learning: Tools, Processes & Pedagogy

January 25, 2013

01/25/13

Still having difficulties getting into the Blackboard environment.  I may need to buy a new computer to do this which is not making me very happy.  Nonetheless, I do now have a schedule to connect with my local group and WILL figure out how to get access to the archive this weekend.  This was kind of a hectic week for me since we had a week-long work event that was morning to midnight for 5 days straight.  My liver and brain need at least a 24 hr recovery/detox so I’m up and at this tomorrow morning.

Jumping In

January 18, 2013

Day late, dollar short.  Story of my life.  I’m just recovering from a bout of the flu and am late to the ETMOOC party.  Today I’ve spent no less than 4 hours surveying, taking notes, and in general, trying to get organized to participate in the ETMOOC. Here is my TOP 10 LIST to get going in the ETMOOC:

1. I started with the  #ETMOOC site and began with the far left tab ‘ETMOOC’ and scanned each page to oreint myself to the site.

2. I created and linked my BLOG Lynda Learns to MOOC – yes, I know MOOC is not a verb, but honestly, IT SHOULD BE!!!

3. I created my TWITTER account @Lynda01890 – so follow me already!

4. I organized my comrade CONTACTS info (Alison, Christin, John, Matthew, and Tim) – luv you guys!

5. I linked to the GOOGLE CALENDAR for the #ETMOOC and also added the dates to my office Outlook calendar so I won’t miss anything.  I also emailed the calendar to my comrades.

6. I found @POCKET which is an application that lets you save TWEETS you want to read later – going to need to further investigate this

7. I identified the PARTICIPANT GUIDE – AMEN!!!

8. I found the ARCHIVE to catch up on the activities I missed!

9. I vowed to stay current with this stuff and try to devote an hour each day to surveying the #ETMOOC environment

10. I took a deep breath, and a long nap.

Stay tuned for more adventures in ETMOOC land.