Set your goals, so that they may guide your path

April 29, 2014 in Commentary, Course Information

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?

1 response to The open course you cannot fail…

  1. Dear Maren

    “Lurkers” vs “Silent participants”?

    Here are a few other terms that could be used:

    vicarious learners?
    silent participants?
    Non-public user?
    legitimate peripheral participator?
    virtual participant?
    marginal participant?
    passive observer?
    cognitive apprentices?
    potential member?
    proximate member?
    tacit member?

    See Let’s get more positive about the term ‘lurker’

    Which term best reflects the degree/ style/ of learning? If you read a book, but never talk about it, have you learned any less?

    Best wishes


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