Wednesday, 2 January 2013

E-Learning and Digital Cultures

I have just started participating in my first MOOC (mass open online course) – it is a free course offered by the University of Edinburgh entitled E-learning and Digital Cultures:  I’m mentioning this because…

Firstly, the course itself does not begin till the 28th January – but many of us having received our welcome email have been speaking with prospective course members in our FaceBook Group:  since late November. Given how hard it can be to get our students to engage in Web 2.0 even on courses that are under way  it is intriguing to see what can happen when engaged and motivated people are linked this way. I am inspired – but wonder how to transfer this to my own students at a later date…

AND, given that if I want to tackle an issue from the student perspective, I find the best way is to set it as a question for students to answer…  I have already offered my students the opportunity to work this problem out for me, as an assignment question on my new Peer mentoring in practice module, viz.:  Is there a role for online peer mentoring? How can we create online communities? If any students choose that topic, I can feed back their responses here.

Secondly, I am going to take the opportunity to blog about the course – its ups and downs and learning opportunities – here in Last Refuge rather than by setting up a specific blog for that purpose and that purpose alone. So for my convenience – and yours if you follow – here are quick links:

Space to think & try some new ideas:
           Keep a wish list with pictures on Pinterest
          Join our QuadBlog experiment
          Study Group for the course
          Feel overwhelmed? Vent here

We can add ourselves to the
           Google Map
           Blog list and:
           Read the rules

           edcmooc course page
           course members who themselves are tutors: Group page

Student room:
         Facebook group
         Twitter people on the course

Tech Tools:
           Tech tools for education
           What’s your recipe?

Journals, articles and videos all related to this course, and to the wider field of MOOC’s and technology:

The library is online at Diigo; we can add ourselves to the group. Tag any link with edcmooc so it’s easier for us to search: Diigo

First question posted in our ‘classroom’:
Q: What is your definition of “Digital Culture” ?

So – on becoming an on-line student:

1: How sensitive are we: First of all I leapt into the FB group – introduced myself – read other people’s introductions and ‘liked’ them as a way of saying hello… Then I got upset that no one liked me back (one kind person did – but only one). A younger me could have felt so rebuffed by this that I might not have come back again. I mention this not to celebrate my new maturity or to sigh over my poor weak former self – but to note that this sort of unintended ‘rebuff’ could be exactly the sort of thing that ‘tells’ our tentative students that this on-line space is no more welcoming of them than the traditional classroom… So what’s the solution? Set ground rules e.g. Don’t bother ‘liking’ anyone – just browse around and get involved when you want to… Be warned – there are more lurkers than active participants at first – don’t be upset if no one ‘likes’ you are what you say?

2: How overwhelming it can be:
Web 2.0: We have been invited to communicate with each other via Blogs, QuadBlogs, FB, Twitter, Google+ and probably more… I stopped even being able to think after those were mentioned. I have joined the FB group – and I will keep this Blog – but the thought of multiple conversations going on in all those different spaces does my head in (as we say in the vernacular). Solution? With a small group – I think offer just one main dialogic space – though of course people would still be free to take forward their own conversations in as many other spaces that they wanted. With one space everyone knows where the discussion is taking place – and everyone can be connected with everybody in a targeted and time efficient way. In a mass course – perhaps divide people up by on-line space of choice – so some will be dialogic in FB and some in Google+ - but you don’t need to feel that you have to be in all of those spaces to keep on top of things...

FaceBook: I have my FB linked to my work email – I do a bit of Web 2.0 as part of my job… Every time anyone posts in the #EDCMOOC FB group – I get an email. There are about 135 of us in the group at the moment, but already there are 32,000 course members. If everybody joins and posts my in-box will be even more overwhelmed. Today when I was brave enough to look in my in-box there were over 200 emails – and it is the holidays. I don’t know how to divert these #EDCMOOC FB emails to a separate in-box: they come from different contributors linked by subject – not by correspondent. Solution? Warn people that this will happen – and suggest a positive frame of mind. Perhaps another idea would be to get a separate email account for situations like this – and not to use one’s everyday one at all. That way all the alerts can go into that one account and they can all be deleted at a stroke: no in-box need ever feel so deluged again. Too late for me for this MOOC – but something to think about for another time.

People: There are so many people posting in the FB already before the course proper starts; how do I manage this? Some time has helped here; after a while I can see the people whose posts interest or intrigue me, so these are the names I will look for first – and these are the people whose Tweets and Blogs I will also try to get a handle on. Sadly these are not the people I am likely to be quadblogging with – because so many of them, being all proactive and engaged, have already formed quadblogs with other people. Solution? Be philosophical this time – and snap up the interesting proactive people quickly next time!

Twenty-six days and counting till the course actually starts!