OLDsMOOC Week 2; learning but not as we know it

Week 2 has been an exercise in balance. In stretching and being stretched. OLDsMOOC; where experience is all – this is learning but not as we know it. Context is critical to success.

OLDsMOOC operates on multiple levels; the challenges of the technology, the keeping up with comments and discussions, accessing the range of learning materials, making notes, critically reflecting and then – finally – actively engaging with the learning subject. Deconstructed in this way, it doesn’t look so different after all. What exactly is it presenting the challenge?

At the end of Week 2 I’m finding my way around; much the same as being on a new campus or in a new town. The strange is becoming familiar. The challenge has been working through the materials and learning activities. But there’s nothing new about this either. Any learning experience has content and OLDsMOOC is flexible, it’s not as though the assessment is critical so what exactly is my problem? Because there is a problem, and as Week 3 begins, I’m realising it’s more about me than the MOOC. It’s about how I manage my workload and respond to new experiences. In particular it’s about reaching a point where I’m no longer keeping on top of the essentials. I’m not blaming the MOOC; it just happens to be the activity skewing the balance to a point where some reassessment is required.

So why do a MOOC? Firstly, why not? The potential challenge of free open educational opportunities can’t be ignored. Media have hyped up the implications, presenting them as threats as much as opportunities. The MOOC word has embedded at a speed symptomatic of a twitter trend or viral email. Concepts associating worth with monetary value are being challenged by MOOC openness where are experts are seemingly giving away their expertise for free and networks of subject specialisms emerge out of nothingness. ‘Everything solid melts into air’ is reversed. Out of virtual space comes the solidity of connections, working groups, the #oldsmooc hashtag. Far from the self-destruction of modernity, MOOCs are creating realities at a speed and intensity which has to be experienced to be evaluated. No one knows there they’re going and to be part of the journey is exciting.

So I’m still MOOCing…

Hanging on in there…

Knowing some critical reflection on work load balance is required, but this insider experience of the digital revolution is too important to be ignored. I’ve might have only cursorily glanced at Personas, Force Maps and Ecology of Resources, missed the Google Hangout and not yet watched the Week Two video but in terms of learning, OLDsMOOC is invaluable. Bring on Week 3…

MOOC Week Two: making sense of strangeness

Last year I suggested doing a MOOC for Christmas. Participation seemed a good way to experience online learning design  but after my first week with OLDsMOOC, I realise how passive my previous MOOCs have been. The challenge of OLDsMOOC is it demands action and integration. OLDsMOOC is too big for lurking. You need the sense of a group with a shared purpose. Otherwise it’s like being in a giant city for the first time; full of iconic landmarks and exciting to be there – but even better with map of the public transport systems and some familiar faces to share it with.

DIY Multimedia at https://groups.google.com/forum/?fromgroups#!forum/olds-mooc-diy-multimedia  is taking shape and it’s exciting to be sharing everyone’s contributions in this way. Useful commonalities between OLD and the use of multimedia in teaching and learning are emerging. Both areas sit outside subject specialism. Multimedia is part of being digitally literate.  The recognition that digital literacies would benefit from sector wide funding under the JISC Developing Digital Literacies programme was welcome. However, funds tend to go to teams already embedded in digital ways of working with the risk of assumptions made by innovators and early adopters about individual confidence and competence with working in online environments. This also applies to OLD. Experts in face-to-face design and delivery can be left to work out OLD for themselves; this can result in a mass of content posted online with little variety or interaction. A common complaint is ‘I set up a discussion forum but nobody used it!’ Experience of an online course, or MOOC, in particular the loneliness of the long distance learner, or overload of information, is invaluable. OLDsMOOC is experiential learning at its best.

The strange becomes familiar: Facebook has arrived on OLDsMOOC!

Facebook and OLDsMOOC

Facebook has arrived! After the strangeness of Cloudworks and initiation into Google Groups, the OLDs Facebook site offers a welcome familiar face. Facebook for me has become a useful mechanism for keeping up to date with community groups and organisations as well as family and friends. To see OLDsMOOC appear here was almost a relief; at last, an environment I can integrate into my daily online routine.  The link between familiar online environments and retention might be worth further investigatinon.

The OLDs calendar of w/b on Thursdays is another anomaly I’m finding difficult to adjust to. I can’t shift from feeling Mondays is the start of the week. Does OLD work best when operating on a traditional time scale? Another question to reflect on for future practice.