Earlier this week I jumped into two Twitter chats that were happening simultaneously. One is an on-going reunion of participants from #etmooc. The other is part of a new, school-year-long professional development forum called Open Online Experience 2013 (#ooe13), a venture that also grew out of the #etmooc community.
That #etmooc connection between the two chats meant that I was not the only one attempting the double-Twitter-chat feat. Several online friends and familiar names were juggling back and forth, catching up on new projects, sharing goals for the year and just socializing.
For me (and I know for others as well) the chat exemplified the value of connectivist MOOCs and similar online learning activities that focus on connecting and building relationships as much as sharing content. By design, the community is the course. And if you are fortunate, the community and the relationships continue well beyond the course container (specified topics and start and end dates for the event).
Which is likely how I came to make this comment in response to Christina’s question:
It was a spur-of-the-moment answer that – as I now reflect on it – probably came out because I was in fact at an Irish pub in Madison, Wisconsin only a few days before these Twitter chats with (not 2,000 but) a large gathering of family and friends for a post-reception after-party at my daughter’s wedding. Maybe there is some kind of drinking-establishment recency effect (or perhaps I am just obsessed with pubs) but I honestly felt a similar level of companionship, social connectedness and welcome during the Twitter chats as I did at Brochach in Madison.
So yes, by extension, I could make a pretty good case that cMOOCs — if you have not experienced them — can be a lot like being at a pub with 2,000 of your closest friends. I’d modify that a bit to make it friends who tend to geek out about the same topics and issues that interest you. And of course no one really has 2,000 close friends. But picture a place where you could wander around and run into someone you hadn’t seen in awhile and just pick up where you left off. Or you get introduced to someone you don’t know yet, but they are a friend of a friend who has some different way of thinking about a topic you both care about. You grab a pint. Talk it all over.
All analogies – including this one – leave out key elements of the reality they are intended to describe. But my experience with cMOOCs is that they can routinely create these grab-a-pint-and-talk-it-over moments. Out of that emerges the real value of being connected.
And yeah. Ok. I am obsessed with pubs.