Bah Humbug!

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 seemingly 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.

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4 Responses to Bah Humbug!

  1. Stacy Olson says:

    I echo some of you feelings – not really sure how to navigate and sort through all the information presented. I am an all or nothing person……and get a little anxious that I can’t keep up with all the info. I like how you mentioned setting up boundaries….I suppose I will need some of of those….or I may just go crazy…..

  2. I found I needed to just forgive myself when I made technological mistakes, spelling/grammar mistakes and accept that I can’t engage with it all in my last cmooc. Hoping to carry forward that attitude here so that I can improve my networking skills and build a cluster!

  3. bettyannx says:

    Oh yes, I echo your feelings! It’s exhilarating but overwhelming. Trying to organize myself. You know all the presentations are archived and you can go online and review them?

    • Karen Young says:

      Oh I know they are archived and we can review them at our leisure, but when the information just continues to pile up, eventually don’t we all just hit delete? We know that we can use a search engine to find it later. Especially since this is an ever changing environment and what we hold to be sacrosanct now will be exploded as myth next week? I was reading a journal article by David Cormier (Dave’s Educational Blog) yesterday from 2008 and half of the linked references didn’t work. So if I am hoping to read/listen to what was used as a source for an idea for the article that reference is no longer there. I think this is where there is a huge divide in how our generation thinks vs. the younger generations. We are used to “I know” and they are used to “we know.” As an “I know” I need to see the reference before I will concur with the opinion, if I concur at all. This generation is ok with group think. I’m on the fence about that. I’ve seen younger friends go to Facebook asking for advice on parenting and now I know why so many people have horrible childhoods! How many people are aware of how regularly they are manipulated by the media? By public opinion? And how often is public opinion right? Sharing is one thing but group think is, in my opinion, scary.

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