Moving On: cck11, mobiMOOC and next steps

After our bittersweet wrap-up discussion on Elluminate this morning, I know that others are pondering, researching, and developing  various types of mooc/metamooc/wemooc, imooc, ourmooc 😉 etc. projects.  My idea is not an entirely original one and I look forward to engaging in conversations and exploring opportunities to build connections and collaborate with my fellow … Moocsters?  Moocees?   Many thanks to George Siemens and Stephen Downes for inspiring us and bringing MOOCs to the masses.

My preliminary project plan will be updated to reflect a clearer understanding of the potential roles to be filled in developing such a project.  It will be especially important to explore new connections and actively engage in discourse with other inspired individuals.  The following 5 weeks of participating in mobiMOOC will provide an extended opportunity for self-reflection  and learning related to participating in and engaging with the content, facilitators, and learners in a MOOC setting.

Trying on new hats

One of the primary lessons learned during the final year of my education degree was in developing my teacher persona; something I feel was somewhat sorted out after about 5 years in front of k-12 students.  Here I sit, 7 years after graduation attempting to articulate my online facilitator persona.

To facilitate this process, my rru cohort has been presented with a number of readings on philosophy including Dewey’s  (1916) Democracy and Education and Schonwetter, Sokal, Friesen, and Taylor’s (2002) Teaching philosophies reconsidered: A conceptual model for the development and evaluation of teaching philosophy statements.  These readings, combined with my experience facilitating within 4 very real walls last week, wearing my teacher hat that doesn’t seem to fit so well anymore, has me feeling elated, confused, and somewhat frustrated.  Elated because for the first time ever, I truly feel as though I am getting to know who I am and as a result, am able to share more of myself with others- the passion I possess for eLearning will shine through and (hopefully) motivate my students.  Confused because I have to put a name on it, describe it, present it, it, it, it… and frustrated because I believe that a shift in my thinking approach to the task at hand will provide some enlightenment and allow me to clearly express my more modern philosophy, but I am not sure how to make such a shift happen…

So then, a plan: make some notes and then review the readings for the details

Some things to consider…
student-facilitator (teacher) interaction:
– it is my responsibility to provide my learners with a safe environment for learning where they feel comfortable expressing their thoughts, opinions, and personal stories.
– As the SME, it is my responsibility to share my subject matter expertise with my students to enhance their learning experiences, this can be done using a variety of teaching strategies and learning objects and by simply being me and sharing what I am passionate about.
– It is my responsibility to
student-student interaction:
student-content interaction:
listed in order of my personal priorities 😉

Connections

A brainstorm with networks at the centre, is swirling as it grows in awareness.

telephone computers internet manufacturing all-things-mechanical food-chain water-cycle sports transportation medicine genealogy  language city-planning society

Making connections…
Connecting with people has never been a talent of mine but as my enthusiasm and passion grows for learning and technology, I feel more and more compelled to shout from the rooftops “I love learning!”  The desire to surround myself with people I can talk to is coaxing me out of my anti-social shell and it feels amazing.  I have enjoyed a variety of conversations that I could never have imagined and life is starting to make sense.  I am inspired.

Acknowledging connections…
A confession: “when you would talk about us working together, I never saw what you saw”
We did the math and figured out that four years have passed since I was inspired to apply for and was accepted into the Masters in Distance Education program at Athabasca University.  Four years ago, if my partner had asked me to describe what us working together would really look like I would have provided a description something like “well…we’ll design custom software training programs for companies who need them,” vague.  Even ten months ago, I did not have the contextual detail necessary to describe what I want to be doing in my dream job; but now I do 😉  Our week has been fueled with discussions related to my gushing affinity for learning theory, connectivism in particular, and he responded with concepts related to software architecture and development which evolved into a discussion about knowledge creation that occurs when we (in the broadest sense) interact with each other, and when we interact with technology and (most exciting to both of us) when we interact with each other through, about, and with technology.

Understanding connections…
My brain feels ready to burst with tectonic shifts related to my perceptions of knowledge creation and approaches to teaching *ahem* facilitating.

shopping for MOOCs, an investment in CCK11

I love shopping! Really, really, but was forced to curb my spending habits as I got closer to 35; chalking it up to maturity.

My interests have shifted.  Old inclinations to spend money are becoming yellow and dingy.

This morning I attended the premier Elluminate session for CCK11, my first Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) experience.  My current feeling of elation is not incomparable to the thrill of a successful trip to Winner’s Home Sense but I haven’t spent a penny.  The experience requires only a personal investment and I choose how much.
There is something greatly empowering in understanding and valuing the experiences we choose for ourselves; “You will get out of the course, what you choose to put in”.  There are no tests, ‘readings’ include videos to be viewed at my convenience, and perspectives from around the world can be shared, discussed, expanded on, etc.  As I meander through the halls of New Academia Centre my heart swells and my pulse begins to race.

My participation in  Connectivism and Connective Knowledge 2011 (CCK11) was inspired by recent research and interest in the theory of Connectivism; which I am discovering is the learning theory at the heart of my personal philosophy of education.

The MOOC course is up and running, concurrently with my grad program LRNT504 (soon to be 505), the 3 week online “Introduction to Project Management” and an open course of learning & knowledge analytics that also caught my eye while shopping at New Academia.

I feel quite aware of what I ‘need’ to put into each of these courses and where my priorities are; but how wonderful to have a shopping basket spilling over with free, interactive, collaborative  and so very connected learning opportunities!

Really?

Ok, I’m responsible.  Early last week, I nay have been overheard expressing curiousity about laughter yoga.  Now I know 😉
<3thankyouteamfour

8:30 yoga followed by …. finishing with 4 1/2 hours of case study presentation prep.  Then home to blog!

Really?

So, typos and all, I’m off to bed wishing my chort sound and restful sleep free from learning theory or research terms.

Just think, only 2 more days of academic boot-camp and then it’s a piece of cake right?

To my amazing, fun, and supportive team, cheers & many thanks 🙂

*sigh*

UPDATE:
Regarding the Case Study: Hindsight

The case study assignment presented a number of challenges unique to my second team; I found myself focused more on how/when things were getting done and less on what I was experiencing through my individual research.

In trying to get a jump-start on the assignment, I focused my research on journal articles; as much as possible, I located full-text materials in the RRU library databases.  I was amazed with the response I received to an email asking for assistance in locating additional material.  The Librarian’s response was filled with information regarding the articles I requested and was supplemented with four more suggestions that they hoped I would find useful.  Our librarians are a spectacular resource; their passion is evident in the services they provide for us.

Interestingly, little material from these articles made its way into our final presentation or executive summary.  Practicing the skills of using available databases was of great value to me and I will approach future research endeavours more confidently.

As a team, we did not establish clear roles or individual expectations.  Would I be presumptuous in claiming that this was due, at least in part, to the reality that we were a team composed of four men and one woman?  While I blatantly led our team in organization, much of the individual components fell into creation collaboratively.  Our presentation took shape over the course of many hours working together around tables.  Individuals researched unique components but it was fascinating to watch succinct details evolve through holistic discussions about the scope of the project, our audience, and our achievement goals.

Once we had established a clear audience and our educational purposes, we found it much easier to apply appropriate learning theories to justify our proposal.  We shared a collective sigh of relief when we realized that the following were case study appropriate:
•    Intrinsic motivation (Kalyuga, Chandler & Sweller 1998) = no= one wants to get sick
•    Observational Learning (Social Learning Theory—Bandura) = monkey see- monkey do
•    Neo-Behaviourism (Skinner) = passengers will respond to the stimuli we provide
Applying these theories to a specific example allowed each of us to develop a clearer understanding of each one.

Our post discussion debriefing was a highly valuable component of the Case Study assignment even though we did not break down our process and analyze our ‘feelings’ (all boys remember 😉  We shared a few knuckle bumps and smiles of congratulations and relief. But, more importantly, we discussed personal areas of weakness and where to find opportunities to strengthen such skills in the future, in addition to acknowledging appreciation for the individual elements that we contributed.

When approaching future projects, I will confidently work with my team to assist in organization and writing as I know these are my personal strengths.  That being said, I will also embrace opportunities to learn from my colleagues how to apply and better understand learning theory in its application to a variety of scenarios.  I will also, stretch my research muscles to develop a greater breadth of knowledge about the topics I am engaging with.

Ah Ha

Leaving the house, arms laden with 2 clumsy bags and a cup of coffee.  Calm…really?  Bags settled in the trunk.  I move to sit but pause to wonder “What the h@ll?”  After a few long minutes of rubbing away the oozy splatters on my new ‘first day of school skirt’ I realized that I had been pooped on.  No time to change, grin and go.  Good luck right?

“You will learn a lot!” My instructor’s words run across my mind every day and with a smile, I know; I am experiencing the certainty every day.

One of my struggles this week was with the idea of being placed into a number of teams and I questioned, why, after being taught to avoid the negative implications of setting up teams in my secondary classes, were our RRU instructors placing us into direct competition with the peers we were forging productive relationships with?  Now that the second team assignment is complete, I have come to the understanding that the idea of a team itself is not focused on  competition and the nature of winning but rather, teams create an environment of accomplishment in working with others to be successful in common endeavours. 🙂  Learning how to work outside of the isolation of my teaching classroom is eye-opening.  For the first time, that I can remember, I am enjoying being part of different teams; we value each other more than I ever could have imagined.  They do not rely on me to ‘beat’ anyone else at anything, rather, we welcome each other’s unique talents and perspective.

Breaking Through Walls

Preface to this and future entries:
Please indulge my rambling imagination and desire to express myself genuinely.

My brain is spinning:

absorption into group work
article critique~comprehension!
linking readings to lectures but still behind on reading
challenging myself in social contexts
peer feedback/connection building
Myers-Briggs
quiet reading breaks at lunch
case-studies
school/home
blogs
shared enthusiasm/sense of adventure
I laugh a lot 🙂

*whew*

During small group discussion this morning, I explained that I feel as though I am finally growing out of a 35 year identity crisis which has been an amazing journey so far.  This week, I have been shaken by the awareness of how little I actually know and how much I have unintentionally become entirely self-absorbed.  Being with 25 professional peers with eclectic life experiences has only served to increase my awareness of personal lack of knowledge.  As I write this, I feel by heart-rate increase slightly and whispers of doubt try to creep up.  I am optimistic that as I accept being open to everything being offered to me intellectually; the more fortuitously I will grow into myself.

This morning we completed the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator test.  My frustration levels rose as I read through and struggled to answer each of the questions.  Now, does not feel like an appropriate time for me to be making assessments about who I am, based on how I feel about my progress in personal growth.   It only took a short conversation with my partner to realize that my frustration lies in being forced into a ‘type’.  In the eyes of people who know me, I have been many ‘types’; it is only recently that I have begun to develop the confidence to break out of the boxes I feel as though I forced myself into based on the influence and expectation of others.  This morning; my personal bias with ‘types’ was preventing me from realizing the genuine, non-judgmental value in an assessment like the MBTI.  This evening, we took some time to read the supplemental information that I received from Hilary and, with a chuckle, my partner responded “I don’t know; that pretty much sounds like you.”  The irony in this, is that I was worried that the MBTI would place me into a box that I am in the process of growing out of; I struggled over many of my answers and still doubt the authenticity of many of them.  I have come to realize that the types I am associated with highlight my strengths in such a way that instead of feeling constrained by the walls of a box I feel empowered by my freedom to move between a variety of them.

Introduction Relfection

When Bill Muirhead asked us to reflect on the experience of constructing introductions to our cohort.  I was intrigued by the idea of the “Impostor Syndrome” and very quickly remembered the bouncy, blonde, aerobics instructor that I invented in 1997 for sole purpose of meeting new people online.

As a result recent intense personal growth and new awareness to my place in the world, it did not even cross my mind to describe myself in any way that could be conceived as untruthful or exaggerated.  Honesty motivates and forces me to strongly consider who I am introducing myself to in order to define which parts of me to start with.  I am hopeful that I will develop a number of sincere relationships with members of my cohort; through the course of friendship building, we will have opportunities to experience various sides of each other’s personalities.  Initially however, what it boils down to is first impressions.

My cohort at RRU is unlike any other group of people I have interacted with.  They are not adolescents or my students and they aren’t high powered executives waiting to be impressed by my skills.  By the same token, they are not my friends from back home or college or professional connections that I have made since I started teaching.

For the first time in my life I am engaging in a great adventure with a group of peers who want to be impressed by my skills only to determine how they will compliment their own; they are working professionals who share a passion and motivation for innovation in what they do.

So, how did I choose to introduce myself? Honestly with a little horn tooting mixed in for good measure 🙂

What were the main lessons for me in this activity?

1. always review your post to ensure wonky code doesn’t make a first impression on your behalf 😉
2. Take time to think about who I am in specific contexts.  In this situation, I spent time determining how I would describe myself as a learning professional and I choose to share information that would reflect my characteristics as the relate to this particular situation.

Guided Reflection Questions:

1.  What questions could potentially amplify feelings of inadequacy?
“What do you do?”
“What have you studied in the past?”
2.  Questions that could reduce feelings of inadequacy?
The 4 questions we were asked to answer were non-threatening to me; they are innocuous and promote the sharing of non-skill related information about ourselves.

Getting Organized

The hours are ticking by as I listen to the seagulls outside of my office window.  Already I am feeling challenged and with that some feelings frustration but, more importantly, I am experiencing exhilaration! The journey has begun.