#ocTEL Cormier: MOOCs not great for someone who “‘just wants to be told what to do’. The MOOC favours independence and goal setting”
This tweet caught my eye and it caught the eye of one ocTEL participant (I’ve noticed how some of you — like breakbeat DJs, which perhaps you are at evenings and weekends — don’t give away your real names) who blogs about feeling a vagueness of direction on the course: “First aim this week, find a path”.
In commenting on responses to the Big and Little Questions activity, on blogs and on the forums, the most common suggestion I’ve made is that you spend time thinking about questions that really matter to you. What I mean by this is that the purpose of the activity is not to test who’s got the best insight into the “hot topics” of the moment on technology and learning. It’s to encourage you to reflect on the issues you have — the ones that made you think it might be worth your while to do a course like this.
The potential benefit of doing this is that it will guide the decisions that you make throughout the rest of the course. As outlined in the course text and the handbook, you are going to need to do some sifting in this course. You have to go down some paths, and ignore others.
I like Jay Cross’s analogy to describe the differences between formal and informal learning:
Informal learning is like riding a bicycle: the rider chooses the destination and the route. The cyclist can take a detour at a moment’s notice to admire the scenery or help a fellow rider.
Formal learning is like riding a bus: the driver decides where the bus is going; the passengers are along for the ride. People new to the territory often ride the bus before hopping on the bike.
Most courses are buses taking you from a fixed point A to another fixed point B, but (in common with other ‘connectivist’ MOOCs) ocTEL is more bike than bus. There’s no fixed destination, and taking detours is fine. But if you take lots of detours without having an idea of the overall direction you’re heading, you may get lost and frustrated. You don’t need to be obsessively goal-driven, but taking time to think about what TEL issues really matter to you may save you time over the next seven weeks.
Here’s one nice example from the blog of someone who I’ll call DJ Lwoctel [update: further detective work suggests she may also be known as Louise]:
How can I engage academic staff with using TEL for the right reasons and in the best way? …
The struggle we are facing to generally engage staff is huge and daunting as there are only a few of us to do this. I have found forums like this very useful – for one thing I discover that we are not alone and others face the same resistance – or apathy – or is it fear of getting it wrong?
hi David, one of the things that struck me about the bus/bicycle analogy is this: when we find such a good and useful approach to our own professional development (as in connectivist MOOCs, though I imagine they don’t work for everyone), we find it difficult to re-apply in our f2f contexts where the learning/teaching is in a more formal context… the analogy helps. I’m trying to think of ways of making the analogy fit for making formal learning also benefit from some connectivism as well, and I think that might be in the sense of possibly allowing people to switch buses along the way or sometimes reach their destination with a bicycle if they prefer 🙂
I am often trying to create space for different students to reach different destinations through different pathways in my f2f teaching – and the online aspect of things helps with that, because it removes the time/space boundaries of our f2f meetings… doesn’t it?
Hi Maha, and thanks for the thoughtful reflection. Yes, online takes away some boundaries. It also has its own constraints, and ‘affordances’ as evolutionary psychologists would put it.
Interesting thoughts. I find that I am always on the bike in my institution and getting others to get off the bus and either follow me on their own bikes or even take their own detours is very difficult indeed! What is even worse is that I have constantly been entreated to park the bike and get on the bus myself!
Hopefully with a new team in place who do appear to be cyclists themselves, things will now begin to change 🙂
Personally, I prefer cycles over buses both figuratively and literally! I (weirdly?!) revel in getting lost in a vast sea of information, discussions and interactions – so much to learn and on my terms – perfect. Perhaps our traditional education system is geared for the linear journey but our professional life isn’t a nice neat straight line, it is zig-zagged and windy and more importantly does not necessarily have a clearly defined destination.
I also fully agree with you Julia, there seems to be a majority vote for sitting on a bus rather than taking the risk of a scenic bike ride. Wanting to take the long road I find is viewed as a bit crazy and requiring too much effort.
Hi Maha, I think you touch upon a key point: how to make what we learn on courses such as this, relevant to our, for want of a better word ‘everyday’ life. The boundaries between our everyday or professional f2f life and the more borderless online change in different contexts, but ensuring that there is some connectivity between the two would ensure what is learnt in one sphere is not denied to another. I am, like you, keen to help my students reach the destinations that fit their future goals, and to do this online resources and networks are increasingly necessary – before I can help them fully, I’ll need to find my feet first!
David, I’m the blog poster suffering from ‘vagueness’ but thanks to your and others’ comments have put fresh air in the bicycle’s tires, and decided to work on a few routes to get me started!
The webinar was good. Jim Kerr said to make MOOC a personal experience by way of blog, push our comfort zone and that resonates with me. I visited Google+ and saw Wendy Taleo’s post. Found her on Twitter and pleased to know that she is an Instructional Technologist from AU. Inspired by her blog, http://wentalearn.blogspot.com.au/. Writing requires much thought and so I have been reluctant. But my Su’14 grad course with Penn State U will require that activity so I’m going to push my comfort zone, and ocTEL is helping with that. There are many networks out there in social media and I think I finally found a context for my PLN here with #ocTEL. Thank you!