Elearning and Digital Cultures, EDCMOOC, is taking place for the third time. And I am there, participating again. I was very pleased when Christine Sinclair sent me an email and asked if I could act as a Community Teaching Assistant, CTA, this time. Her request was easy to accept because I had enjoyed the course very deeply. I recognised there similar pedagogy which I had developed while working as an online teacher. I felt at home there.
Another CTA, Rajiv Bajaj, gives basic information about the participants in his blog post ‘interesting statistics‘. The course is really global, 35 percent of the participants coming from emergent countries and the number of countries is over 150. The education background varies from none to doctors. Participants’ interests vary more than I can imagine.
The curriculum is open and participants choose what to do. Materials are offered for every week with varying themes and discussion forums are in use. Writing blogs were recommended and the course has its own Twitter hashtag. Blogs are aggregated into daily News. For voluntary image competition the course uses Flickr. The studies are distributed and not followable, choosing one’s own way is the key. What can facilitating be in these circumstances? I can answer only partly. Directs questions for help can be answered or commented and CTAs are needed to help in the Hangouts.
But what could be real facilitating on a mooc like this? Christine has published a blog post about ‘who is the teacher?‘ and she gives an answer: teacher cares about the participants, teacher cares what happens during the course. The post is written for the first edcmooc, but it still helps in a similar way. The expert can say it shortly. The students do the work and they understand that so it must go. Peer learning is very important. The participants who register into edcmooc already know very much about the learning process during MOOCs.
What can be said about networked mentoring?
The term is young and its definition will probably evolve as what we do becomes fleshed out through action. For me this is my third time working as an Expert participant, Teaching assistant and now Community TA. It is possible to define that network mentoring means the direct and indirect support of individual in their learning through the affordances made available through networking technologies.
More specific examples are listed below (this was begun in some mooc, I copied from Google Drive creative commons)
1. Write blog comments. Check regularly the aggregated posts. Comment on individual student posts. You can provide students with rich feedback and a richer sense of audience (I hope I could 🙂 ) If you blog yourself, add its feeds to the reader so that others can find it.
2. G+ community. Feel free to join this space. We invite you to share links and resources in this space, lead or reply to discussion topics, answer students’ questions, participate in impromptu Hangouts or act in other ways to support the learning of students and the entire community
3. Hangout or Blackboard. Help the instructors to find students’ needs. I left this to the other CTAs who are much more skillful in technological issues and quicker in speaking and understanding English
4. Twitter #edcmooc, please monitor, engage in converstations with participants, share links and resources, offer support when possible. To do it efficiently you may consider apps such as Tweetdeck which allow close monitoring of hashtags. Rajiv recommended this.
5. other ideas: create screencasts, videos or other media that might assist in a student’s learning generally or to answer specific questions. You could post these to the G+ community or Twitter. Create your own blog and participate in course assignments, reflect on weekly sessions and or share resources. Curate content in other tools (Diigo).
The previous text is more like a to-do-list. Actually it is similar to the course guides given to all participants and many experienced students fill these recommendations without being named as CTAs.
I am most interested in the last guide which is as follows:
In general, model networked learning through openness, transparency of your thinking and connecting with others, This process is experiential and to truly understand the power of networked learning and openness students need to participate in a highly collaborative connected culture. Create successful learning environment for learning.
If I could do that I could have the identity of a network facilitator. I began my work by conceptualising human presence in the previous post (and many others actually) but it is challenging to go further. Coursera’s guidelines for responding to students are obvious to experienced teachers but they had one good point: Engaging students on questions that leverage your strengths or speak to your personal interests will make your time as a CTA much more enjoyable. Perhaps I have been too cautious this time and only followed the discussions, been afraid of speaking about my interests. I am – as licentiate in psychology- very conscious about this advice: “feed the community, not your ego”.
This post is long and I feel tired of using the English language, I must go to the kitchen for lunch. Have a good day!
Please take a cup of coffee. This mug is my daughter’s – she sent it into Facebook morning coffee conversations today and I got the permission to use it.
Mug humour is something which we will remember #edcmooc3 – and Whitney Farmer’s parrot taking away her earring in the first Hangout.