Moving Forward from Orientation Week

It’s been an amazing week of #etmooc. The experience hasn’t even fully begun, and we already have 1647 registrants, 355 registered blogs, 851+ blog posts, and 1000s of tweets. To get a sense of the global reach of #etmooc in terms of network interactions, take a look at this analysis provided by @marc_smith found below (or view this link for full analysis).

January 18th analysis of #etmooc

For many people, even the more experienced networked learners, MOOCs can be overwhelming. In fact, some posit that complexity is an essential part of the experience. However, I am hoping to provide a bit of guidance and encouragement here to assure you that feelings of ‘being lost’ are common, but through persistence, sense-making, and personal connections, the vast majority of learners can persevere and make great gains through the dissonance and complexity.

Here are a few things that are likely important as we move forward:

First, during this Orientation week, there were several Blackboard Collaborate sessions that were offered and recorded. These include the Welcome & Orientation (slides available here), an Introduction to Twitter, and an Introduction to Social Curation (links go the session recordings). We also ran an Introduction to Blogging, but for some reason, the recording failed. However, @suewaters has kindly agreed to offer a repeat of that session during this coming week (see Calendar). These recordings are here for your convenience, and do remember that all sessions are optional. If you missed the sessions, you can always come back to them when you are ready.

Second, if you haven’t yet joined the #etmooc Google+ Community yet, I strongly recommend doing so as it has already become a great place to share resources and ask questions. For those newer to edtech, I believe that a Google+ Community will be an easier place to navigate and connect with others. There are even specific categories set up for finding a mentor and for Q & A.

Third, if you have a blog, and haven’t yet added it to the #etmooc Blog Hub, Alan Levine has created a straight-forward tutorial to make this process relatively easy. If you are a Google Reader user, I have created a screencast tutorial to guide you through the process of subscribing to #etmooc participant blogs. Important note: Don’t even bother trying to read every single post from every participant in #etmooc. Instead, read, comment on, and share blog posts (e.g., on Twitter, Facebook, or in your own blog) when you come upon ones that interest you. Collectively, we will provide everyone with an audience and an opportunity to be read more widely.

Fourth, if you haven’t yet done your introductory assignment, it is never too late to do so. If you are looking for inspiration, or want to see how others have approached their introductions, search for #etmooc on Youtube and you will see many wonderful examples. Or, you can search for terms such as ‘introduction’ or ‘intro’ on the #etmooc Blog Hub for other great examples. Note: I am not pointing to specific examples here intentionally, as I am hoping that you will discover these through similar search and sharing techniques.

Finally, I want to share a video from #etmooc’er @bhwilkoff titled “#ETMOOC Is Overwhelming. So, Let’s Make Some Meaning.” I think Ben makes some really important points here, and I’ve summarized and expanded upon these below:

  • MOOCs are overwhelming, for everyone, no matter what your experience is with networked learning.
  • There are processes and tools that you can use to filter and curate the vast amounts of information being created and shared, but that’s not the only approach or focus for sense and meaning-making.
  • Connecting with even a few other participants in a MOOC while creating deeper relationships – relationships that last beyond the experience itself – are successes often associated with MOOCs and other forms of networked learning.

#etmooc’s new topic, “Connected Learning: Tools, Processes & Pedagogy” begins today and will run through February 2nd.

Think of today as a fresh start. You are better prepared for that fresh start than you were a week ago. You are more familiar with the #etmooc community, and you have becoming more skilled with and cognizant of the tools and processes necessary for sense-making in a networked environment. Congratulate yourself for making it this far. And, here’s to your continued success and to the growth of our community.

Alec

9 thoughts on “Moving Forward from Orientation Week

  1. Thank you so much for including my reflection on this post and in the email that went out. The conversation so far within the blogs and on in the Google+ community has been more challenging and engaging than any other for me in the last 3 years. And that was just the introduction week. Can’t wait to see what happens when we all dig in to the content as well.

    • There was on line in particular in your article Rodd that struck a note with me “Many said that when they did come across something they found interesting or amusing, nine times out of 10 they just wanted to keep it to themselves.”

      I’ll have to get my thoughts together and blog in more depth about this but my experience as a teacher, tech coordinator and administrator tells me teachers (by their very nature) often keep things to themselves. This has been an age old challenge as teachers often worked alone in their silos, maybe the only teacher at their grade level, no internet, no social media, PD was an event (until we meet again) and the list goes on. What does this foster “isolation”. The second reason is teachers grow tired of sharing when it’s a one way street. We all know them, the ones who are always looking for something or want something from us but seldom reciprocate.

      Now we are overwhelming educators with information and maybe, just maybe some are dealing with all the proliferation by withdrawing back to just leave me alone and leave me alone. This unfortunately will set us back even further than before and undo the tremendous potential which lies in an undertaking such as this #etmooc. How do we find the balance?

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  3. I appreciate the reflective inspiration in Ben’s video comments back to me. We continued our conversations and Ben developed another metaphor for our connective nodes: neighborhoods. http://youtu.be/G0Q1T6Y3Eh4 He encourages us to move into new directions, to “spin it down” into smaller communities — neighborhoods of similar focus– and move forward with new connections that last after this course. In all his work, he encourages more than conversation and connection, but also dialogue, direction, and action. So, as a middle level educator, I invite other #midleved to a new neighborhood: Build Neighborhoods: A Middle Level Invitation

    Thank you, Ben Wilkoff, for nudging me from connection to action.

    • Wow. That is some compliment. Thank you. I have so enjoyed the discourse in your neighborhood that I might just move on in for a while. I hope that we start to see many more neighborhoods pop up to tackle specific issues in our education landscape (like Middle Level learning). More than that, though, I hope that everyone starts to form long-lasting conversations that far outpace the original scope of this course. And I hope I get to be part of them.

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