Communities, networks and moocs

I listened again the session with Beverly and Etienne Wenger (in First Steps of Learning and Teaching in Higher Education) and this time I was thinking about communities of practice and other concepts near it. I try to connect it in the situation in the fslt12 course that is going on. I found some touching discussion in Course question (Moodle, welcome week, the longest thread) and want to comment it here. I also remembered a blog post of Sia Vogel from October 2008: Being there and suddenly very lonely. Sia’s post was easy to find, she has still the same blog (like me). Sia got 19 comments to her post about loneliness. There was some discussion about third weeks of moocs, when participation numbers are going down. The enthusiasm is high at the beginning, but what happens on the third week? We live it in fslt12, which is called a domesticated mooc 🙂 and feels more like a course, but do we have that normal mooc syndrome ?

I copied some comments from our Moodle Course questions written during this week. I leave the names away because I am not sure if people want to be named here. You can see the names in Moodle.

Apologies for this, but I wanted to say that I’m really struggling to continue with this course. I confess that a lot of the discussions have washed over me in a confusing wave: there are just too many unfamiliar concepts and too many words applied in unfamiliar contexts. Perhaps it’s just me, but it feels like ….

I suspect that you are not alone. For myself, I too struggle with some of the concepts and discussions, often not really sure where they fit in. etc

Vanessa: I’m struggling too but that’s more about time and connectivity. It’s good point. I’m a bit fuzzy on outcomes myself but since I am just following (or whatever the appropriate term would be) I can just go with the flow to see where it takes me.

There are discussions about the amount of information, overload and the theoretical level and new concepts. Jenny comes to meet the students and they calm down (don’t worry Jenny, I am not leaving anywhere). Jenny’s and other students’ message is the same that was told at the beginning of the course (with Dave Cormier’s videos): do not try to follow everything, choose what you need and want. It is a simple advice that is always true, but does it help? How could we describe the situation? Here is one summary:

A MOOC is education that comes to me to be processed as I choose. Were it strictly defined as a “course” this approach would likely lead me well away from the understanding the outcomes promised me in the catalogue. And this is a frustrating process.

This is a learning process which begins with disorientation and frustration and you have to find the way yourself, with help of co-learners. Metaphors can help: Cris told about smorgasboard used during some MOOC and she gets an answer:

How about a carnival metaphor? School you buy a batch of tickets for selected rides. MOOC you get a site pass to try everything and find out there are more rides here than you thought.

Students may be disorientated with the directionality of the curriculum as I am with the apparent chaos of a MOOC. A MOOC allows me to play with uncertainty and depending on how my day is going, that can be scary or liberating.

Now I have used many quotes and forgotten my own experiences. I had the same feelings of loneliness and lacking meanings. I was eager some posts ago and I had feeling of belonging to this course, but it has disappeared. Perhaps my problem is, just now, that I have no teaching practice any more – I can see excellent mutual reflection about these themes. I thought discussions are practical and someone said they are theoretical. This is the world in moocs.I do not find my place or role in discussion forums.

I had already ended to participate any moocs but tried this anyway. The internet is my mooc. But I enjoy the sessions on Wednesdays, it is great to participate. Waiting for David White, he is my favorite tweeter and researcher.

My heading is ‘communities, networks and moocs’. I have not built many connections during these mooc years. No communities or networks but some names and habits for aggregating information and knowledge. Community of practice is suitable for work life projects but I am living a free after work life now. So my what-to-do list is open. It is not easy to be free..



About Identity with Etienne Wenger

Perhaps the best in First Steps of Learning and Teaching are the synchronous sessions on Wednesdays. Last week Frances Bell visited the course and this week Etienne and Beverly Wenger Trayner. (Your name is so long that I take only half of it to my heading. I’ve known Etienne for a longer time 🙂 I like the concept community of practice, we used it in teacher education and understood that boundary broking was important. I like the practice driven orientation, practice is a challenging criteria.

This time I think only about identity, its roots and concepts needed to follow it. Etienne and Beverly presented this slide :

Identity must be contextualized as the image tells: negotating identity in a complex landscape. I should like to take these concepts to describe human identity. Professional body, training and research – all are needed. Now I see, again, why it was difficult to me to follow Bonnie Stewart’s facets of digital identity. I cannot separate any digital identity, it is only listing behavioral elements, not interesting as such.

I need the whole personality and its context, cannot think without them. What did I learn in the session? Something I wrote to myself:

  • embrace the serendipity of your own history (what does it mean?)
  • category error in institutional thinkers (now I am smiling)
  • meaning is the driver of learning (true but how to find the meaning?)

Thanks for the session!

Yrjö Engeström meets Etienne Wenger

Networked Learning Conference 2010 published a video about the keyspeakers opening session. It was gorgious to listen at home and reflect through earlier experiences. I didn’t know that Yrjö and Etienne have met in San Diego in 1987-88 – they have a long history of disagreements but they appreciate each other. Yrjö was a marxist then (and still is, he said) and Etienne is an anthropologist. They give a short lecture about their basic concepts and a fishbowl discussion follows. I recommend listening to those videos.

Another enthusiastic event was to join a new ning community, ELESIG for elearning researchers. Thanks to Jenny Mackness for telling about that. I was very disappointed because Elluminate gave me no audio today when there was a meeting. The recording was available very soon and now, after listening to it, I’m happy and wise 🙂 .

And I have many articles to read from the NLC2010 conference and Elesig members. It’s nice to live and learn..