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