The Online Teacher


Could it be that sometimes a change of approach and a new perspective is what we really need?


The #ETMOOC topic this week has been Connected/Networked Learning, and I find myself on the verge of info/sensory-overload … not because I’ve had difficulty filtering and focusing on topics of interest or relevance (OK, maybe I have), but because I’ve participated in a variety of information-rich sessions, and now I find myself needing ‘quiet-time’ to process and synthesize all the garnered information. For me, this time is necessary to assimilate ideas and put my learning into practice. Could it be that my learning style is not well-suited to MOOCs, including the inevitable rapid speed chat and the massive number of participants? Or, since I’m new to MOOC-ing, perhaps I need more time to process my thoughts, or … the list goes on. Whatever it is, I find myself needing a ‘reading break’ –  ironic, because I consider myself good at multi-tasking (although research tends to substantiate that this is an illusion for most people), and I’m used to implementing change at a rapid pace (there’s nothing like having Moodle upgrades, course updates/changes, etc., while teaching a large number of students). However, this educational experience is different. There is a smorgasbord of material being offered free of charge, and I’m trying to discover the best way to digest the material.

My experience has taught me that stepping back from a situation or problem sometimes brings clarity, and yet this appears to be contradictory to the approach of Connected/Networked Learning. So, taking a break from pondering the “to MOOC or not to MOOC” question, I find myself looking at an #ETMOOC orientation message from Alec Couros, and as usual I am re-inspired by reading the following advice:

  • 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.

Finally, I catch the tweet of Glenn Hervieux ‏@SISQITMAN in the Twitter feed beside the orientation message. Glenn has shared an ‪#Educon slide presentation by ‪@joycevalenza on Digital Curation; a topic I am trying to learn more about. Ironic, isn’t it? Suddenly it dawns on me … this is what Connected/Networked Learning is all about – learning with others through the sharing of ideas, information, and resources, and information finding you when you least expect it! Could it be that sometimes a change of approach and a new perspective is what we really need? Perhaps … to MOOC is the answer!


Preparation for #ETMOOC

A perspective from one of many MOOC (Massive Open Online Course) participants!

Participants in ETMOOC

I have registered for my first MOOC (Massive Open Online Course), and as I read through the Orientation material from #ETMOOC leader and facilitator Alec Couros, I note there are some things to do in preparation for the course; things that will help to facilitate learning in this massive and open environment. For example, participants should:

  • Monitor the #etmooc tweets on Twitter I can do that! However, perhaps I need to work on the art of ‘tweeting’ more of my own views, rather than retweeting the insightful comments of others (which is so much easier).
  • Start contributing to the Google+ etmooc community  Well, I can try! I am impressed at the diverse  group of highly qualified participants from all over the world. One can easily lose track of time while reading brilliant educational technology related discussions and viewing extremely creative video presentations. My goal is to eventually contribute a  bit more than an introductory comment and the odd “hello” or “thank you for …” Once again, I adjust my e-mail notification settings.
  • Set up a blog … In progress!
  • Set up a calendar of events or schedule  …  As per to Alec’s directions, I am now subscribed via Google Calendar to see events in my own time zone. My calendar is synched and I am good to go!
  • Set up Blackboard Collaborate system requirements … Finally, something I already have in place.

Having worked on my list of things to do, I am able to reflect on some of the material posted by other MOOC-ers in this new educational community. A few of my favourite takeaways from the pre-#ETMOOC discussions are:

If the pre-MOOC discussions are any indicator, the upcoming sessions should be fabulous. A huge thank you goes out to all those who have helped with the organization of this event!