Orientation

During the orientation week of #etmooc (January 13-19, 2013), we will do our best to help participants prepare for the distributed nature of this experience. A learning management system (LMS) will not be used. Rather, an array of ‘small tools, loosely joined’ will be adopted as to provide participants with an authentic, networked-learning experience. Below, you will find the key tools that are to be adopted.

  1. This blog – The etmooc.org domain will act as the central news source for #etmooc. Check the main page frequently for news & announcements. Or, you may want to use an RSS Reader such as Google Reader to be alerted when news has been posted.
  2. Your Blog – We’re hoping that every participant in #etmooc will set up their own blogging space. There are many options available. We recommend a WordPress-based blog such as WordPress.com, Edublogs.org, Google’s Blogger, or one that you host yourself. Or, you considering using a service like Posterous or Tumblr. Just make sure your blog has an RSS feed (these listed services all do – ask us if you’re not sure about your choice). Note: If you already have a blog and would like to use it for #etmooc, that would be just fine. We’ll just need to get a specific RSS feed from you that is linked to a tag or category (we’ll talk about this during orientation).
  3. Blog Aggregator – Reading the blogs of other participants can be tricky, so we plan to make this easier for you. Once we get all of your blog addresses, we’ll feed them to http://etmooc.org/hub. You’ll then be able to read all participant blogs in one place.
  4. BlackBoard Collaborate – We will be offering synchronous sessions at least twice a week through the web conferencing tool, BlackBoard Collaborate (formerly known as Elluminate). The connect link is found HERE. Be sure to bookmark it. Also, Collaborate requires a Java install the very first time you use it, so try it well before the session and/or follow this guide for first time users.
  5. Twitter - Twitter has become an essential tool for networking opportunities and just-in-time learning. As you begin to tweet about the course or share relevant resources, please add the #etmooc hashtag to your post. All tweets with the #etmooc hashtag will then be found via this Twitter Search or through the #etmooc Tweet Archive.
  6. A Mailing List – When you registered for this course, you provided an email address. We will create a mailing list and email you weekly with news & events. If you don’t like email, we’ll be sure to offer you unsubscription options.
  7. #etmooc Google+ Community – Conversations are often difficult to manage and follow on Twitter. The Google+ Community will allow for deeper conversation, resource sharing, and support. Be sure to join the Community and participate!
  8. #etmooc Google Calendar – We plan to provide many different events for participants, and we’ll also do our best to provide repeats when possible to serve different time zones. With your Google account, you’ll be able to subscribe to our #etmooc Calendar (with this link) and it will then be dynamically updated and accessible in your own time zone.

If you are not familiar with some of these tools, or feel that there is too much to keep track of, try not to feel anxious. The use of these tools (i.e., the what, how & why) will be covered sufficiently during the first few weeks (with just-in-time support thereafter), and one of the key goals for #etmooc is to help you manage complexity within networked learning environments. 

So to get started with #etmooc, here’s what you’ll need:

We also strongly recommend using an Internet browser such as Google Chrome or Mozilla Firefox. Safari  is OK. Internet Explorer (IE) tends to be more problematic than the others.

Bonus: Creating an identity page on a service such as About.me or Flavors.me is a good way to start positively creating and/or managing your digital identity online.

12 thoughts on “Orientation

  1. Just getting set up. I too appreciate the investment of time obvious in the planning. One suggestion after I read the Orientation page relates to this:

    “We also strongly recommend using an Internet browser such as Google Chrome or Mozilla Firefox. Safari is OK. Internet Explorer (IE) tends to be more problematic than the others.”

    I’m using an iPad with Safari. Don’t know if it is even possible to use the other browsers on the iPad. To save time, I set up an #etmooc folder on in my bookmark bar and bookmarked all of the links mentioned in the orientation post. Then I reached the paragraph that says “Safari is okay.” Do much for saving time. So, I’d suggest moving the paragraph to the top of the post and expanding on the rationale for using Chrome or Foxfire vs. Safari. I use both on my computer, by the way, but using Safari on the iPad allows me to sync bookmarks between my iPad and my computer. If you could also mention how an iPad user can use Chrome or Foxfire, that would really help me and I suspect many other iPad users.

    • Hi Denise

      There are other alternatives to Safari on the iPad. Chrome would probably be the best alternative, in my opinion. I think it’s just another app that you download from the App Store. And it’s free!

      • Thanks. I have done some research, downloading both Chrome and Firefox to my iPad and trying them to become familiar with features. See http://tinyurl.com/389gct for a comparison and reviews of individual browsers.

        Chrome comes out on top in the comparison, but Safari is still close to it and Firefox. More opportunity to customize seems to be the feature that pushes the other browsers beyond Safari. So far, however, I’m not convinced I should abandon Safari, but I am open to good arguments. I’d be interested in insights from veteran users of the other browsers.

        Regards, Dennis Richards

  2. I looked at the topics and schedule where it says that each topic is two weeks long to allow for “adequate attention and depth”. Are the “conspirators” dreaming in technicolor?

    • Hey Tom,
      Part of what we’re trying to do in that time is springboard a community. We are hoping to provide a taste of the topic, attack it from multiple angles, offer a number of events, support spontaneous events, and hopefully, nurture the development of groups that will take the topics to greater depth beyond the time allotted.

      • Excellent, but…

        I’d offer one critical question that, after all the learning, will go unanswered unless it is the subject of a major goal of #etmooc 2013.

        How will #etmooc facilitate a process that synthesizes the learning occurring throughout the course in a way that advances the professional knowledge base for teaching (PKBT)?

        Without a substantive answer to this question, we’ll keep reinventing the wheel each time #etmooc or like learning opportunities are offered in the future.

        Granted, individuals and participating groups that form will benefit, but I’d argue that the opportunity to advance the PKBT is one we have an obligation to consider and act on for the sake of the children.

        • That is an important question, but how can I answer that question for 700+ participants, all who come with many different goals, forms of expertise, and level of technical skill? Should the goal be that the organizers have some grand scheme to implement? Or should we work toward allowing participants to figure out this for themselves?

          • Now we have a conversation. Hope everyone is listening. ; )

            I posed a question: “How will #etmooc facilitate a process that synthesizes the learning occurring throughout the course in a way that advances the professional knowledge base for teaching (PKBT)?”

            You stated the challenge: “That is an important question, but how can I answer that question for 700+ participants, all who come with many different goals, forms of expertise, and level of technical skill? Should the goal be that the organizers have some grand scheme to implement? Or should we work toward allowing participants to figure out this for themselves?”

            (((Sounds like: challenge-based learning?)))

            Now, moving to the next level: I’m thinking of the reality show Gold Rush for an analogy, i.e. How is and/or should be developing a PKBT from the learning experiences we have during #etmooc like mining for gold? Think digging. Think gravel. Think specs of gold, etc…

            Watch a video clip here http://goo.gl/UmcaJ to get you thinking.

            Let’s start a list to articulate the inquiry process we are using.

            Question…
            Challenge…
            Creative thinking…
            ?…
            ?…
            ?…

            Ultimately, to begin to answer the question and and wrestle the challenge into a satisfying and useful shape, don’t we need a proper vehicle and container?

  3. Hi Alec
    Siemens, Downes and others have been offering what they term c-MOOC’s. the latest was a “mixed grill” like this. That means there is or should be significant data to inform your team as to the potential outcome of a pot pouri such as this. Can you discuss?

    There is a strong indication of follow-on support and participation on the part of your team. Can you or your team elaborate. What commitment is there in form and function?

    It is great that you are assuming that a number of participants who have minimal experience in the communications tools will be encouraged by the intro and indicated support to participate. As the saying goes, here there be dragons. Given the list of your colleagues, I wonder whether these many issues have been discussed or whether this team really sees this event as their hands on learning experience. I am not sanguine, given the details, that this is not the case.

    • Hi Tom,
      I don’t know if I follow. However, if you’d like to find out what exactly *this* is, we encourage you to join, participate, give feedback, etc.

      The team, made up of members who volunteer their time, has put this together with $0 in funding and with the goal of creating greater conversation and participation around the listed topics. We’ll do our best to support learners, encourage peer-support, and hopefully, nurture a passionate community of theorists and practitioners that will gain *something* from this experience.

      The development process has been entirely transparent. There are a number of blog posts (search #etmooc), Google Plus #etmooc developers community, and a number of open Google Docs with planning information.

      We welcome your participation, including your critique. But I do hope that you spend some time with us to discover, with us, what *this* is, what works, and what we could have done better. We’ll do our best to make sure that our failures are as widely known as our successes.

  4. Dennis, apparently we’ve exhausted the nesting in your query, and I can’t reply to your last question with a ‘reply’.

    Could we take this to the Google Plus Community? I think there it would receive a lot more feedback, and that was where it was intended.

    I’m going to close off the comments at this point, as I had originally intended to close off comments in the pages so there were fewer places to reply.

    Feel free to copy the thread, or re-write the questions. I’ll look for it, and there are many others that would join in a more informed and richer conversation.

    Thanks for the conversation – to be continued! :-)

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