It has been 4+ weeks in #etmooc and 2+ for #edcmooc. This is a note to myself – a think aloud about participation. In the end, I am trying to discover balance. What mix of activities works for me best a digital, connected learner? And why?
I find myself generally reading/watching more than writing. And writing more than creating other forms of digital artifacts — video, Storify and the host of other forms that are made possible by digital technology. Somewhere in between the reading/watching and writing is actively participating – jumping into Twitter conversations. Commenting on other learner’s blog posts. Attending live sessions during which there is the opportunity to participate with other learners in real-time.
[Note: One of my personal learning goals is to explore creation of those other forms of digital artifacts more over the next few weeks. Both etmooc and edcmooc offer opportunities to do so. This week marks week 2 of digital storytelling at etmooc. And the final product of edcmooc is a personal digital artifact.]
But back to observations about what I actually do.
Reading and watching includes:
- Consuming edcmooc content. I am referring here to the type that falls into more traditional academic content: Videos and readings selected by the course designers. Each week is designed to cover a segment related to the overall course topic – elearning and digital cultures. Readings/videos in the first couple of weeks have focused on utopian and dystopian views of technology in general and technology and education in particular. I have also watched a recorded Google Hangout with the course’s instructors.
- Consuming etmooc content, which is intentionally revealed in a less “course-like” fashion than edcmooc. Someone with a point-of-view or expertise in the topic covered by each two-week segment will facilitate a discussion about it via Blackboard Collaborate. Sessions are recorded. Additional content generally emerges from the on-going dialogue and conversations held among participants in etmooc (e.g., someone points to a blog post, an article, a thought-leader).
- Writing for me is a reflective, sense-making practice. So in this category I only count what I write in this blog as “writing.” This is post number 9. So roughly – 1-2 posts per week. And that makes sense to me. Weekends seem best fit for writing at the moment, given my work schedule and the fact that I write a lot as part of my profession.
- I have participated actively (in real time) in 1.5 live, synchronous events – the original orientation for etmooc and half of another etmooc live event (I had to leave for a work meeting).
- I have commented on several etmooc’ers blog posts. Probably more commenting than I have ever done. I find this interesting.
- I have posted a couple of comments to the edcmooc discussion forums. Less interesting overall than commenting on blog posts. But still beneficial in terms of sharing a bit and sharpening my thinking.
- I have engaged on occasion in dialogue on Twitter for both etmooc and edcmooc (more the former than the latter, but I think this may be a temporary phenomenon). etmooc conducts regular Twitter chats but I find these difficult to participate in due to timing (6-7 pm CT). My wife and I try to hold these early evening hours to reconnect each day – a fortunate outcome of our both living within walking distance of our workplaces. I did, however, try to participate in one Twitter chat while making dinner:
I honestly am seeing value in both types of “content” — the more structured “read this” content offered up by edcmooc and the more “let’s discover this” approach my the cMOOCers at etmooc. Both approaches overlap, actually. I don’t mean to argue that edcmooc offers less opportunity to connect with others in real dialogue. The designers of the course are actually doing a wonderful job of facilitating connections, given the constraints of the Coursera environment. But just purely looking at the type of content I am looking at more deeply – long form articles, videos, etc. — I am finding that my desire to go deep on topics is being fulfilled by both course designs.
I do, however, feel much more connected at this point to the participants in etmooc than edcmooc. Again this may be a temporary phenomenon and in large part directly under my control. But I do suspect there is something going on with the connectivist approach that increases the probability of potential connection being converted into real connection. And I further suspect that it’s because of the reliance on blogging vs. discussion forums.
To my question about mix of activities that are best for me – and perhaps, the habits that I need to develop to achieve a productive balance for learning. My self-talk tells me to do more creation – both written and “other” forms of digital artifact. Weekly seems a doable pace at the moment with the opportunity to take advantage of an opening here and there and increase the pace.
But what I am finding most appealing about the open-ness of each MOOC is that I can be continuously engaged at some level throughout the day and week. There is a tension in that attribute. It is easy to feel overwhelmed, falling behind, not keeping up with new and interesting people you meet. But the comfort is that the people are there at all times. As are their conversations (past and current) and thoughts.
Perhaps I do value connections more than content – a clear judgment emerging from my digital experience in the past couple of years. But do my activities really reflect that? Not sure. Something to work on.