Short Mid-week Reflection: MOOCs, the Wild Wild West?

This is my first experience with taking a MOOC and learning more about them. There are certainly enough courses out there, and tons of information about them online. This seems to be exponentially growing faster than the time I have to read! I wonder how many of the sites I am furiously saving to Delicious I'll be able to return to. The scenery reminds me of the United States' westward expansion into new territories in the 19th century, and the wild wild west! So many routes, so many areas to develop, so many opportunities. Seems like anything is possible! 
And, in some cases, so little law :-)

I see many advantages to e-learning and MOOCs, but I also wonder if there are individuals that think taking a MOOC is a short cut to obtaining the same knowledge and skills they would get from a brick-and-mortar face-to-face course, with a little judicious blending (Will It Blend?). It seems to me you still only get out of it what you put into it, in a well designed course, no matter what the venue. 

I am very impressed by the experience, knowledge, and the ability to communicate of my fellow students that are actively participating, and by the two webinar guests we have had so far, Dr. Tony Bates and Dr. Oliver Dreon. The attendees even had ample opportunities of directly posing questions to outstanding experts in this field, not sure that would have been possible any other way. I had the feeling of "being there" in a real classroom during the webinars. A sense of place. I am only sorry that due to time zone differences some students were unable to attend in real time, but I think that viewing the recordings would still be a very valuable experience, and "almost there".

Now I just have to figure out which trails to take through the continental divide!

Answers to first questions

1. What is your intention for this course (why are you here)?
  • To learn more about instructional design.
  • To learn about on-line learning environments and their "knowledge-flow" dynamics.
  • To learn how the individuals in these environments interact with each other.

2. What issues do you think are important?
  • To me, to obtain a sound knowledge of at least one instructional design theory or approach, and how it can be applied in real-world scenarios.
  • How to distribute a limited amount of time between activities. Say I devote 3 hours a day. How much time do I budget to creating my own "Artifacts", how much time to read suggested recognized experts, how much time to read other students' posts and provide feedback? Can I do them all well? I think I will be re-prioritizing every day, I expect a fluid and somewhat unpredictable environment.
3. How will contribute?
  • I am not sure yet. I am a believer in using the least technically challenging solution to a problem, even though it may not provide the biggest flash, "swag" or entertainment value. A lot of education seems to be "entertainment based" to get the attention of the student. So that will be a challenge to me. I am here to learn, not to entertain you or knock you over with my cleverness and technology.
  • Having said that, I realize we are also here to learn from each other, so if my posts are valuable but do not attract attention, no-one will learn from me.
  • This blog will probably be my biggest way to contribute, but as I do not yet know the nature of the assignments, and am not "peeking forward" too often, there may be other venues. I am interested in also using Tumblr sometimes, but not sure if it can be linked to the main blog. 
  • I hope to contribute by providing tools or workflows that can be used in teaching and learning. That is a step up from just posting my own learning experiences, which realistically speaking may not have much value to others, but are crucial to me.
4. How would you like to see community develop among participants?
  • I am not sure yet. I have a wait and see attitude, I have never done this before, and don't want to come in with any expectations, except that I want it to be a positive learning experience.
These types of courses are new for most people. In fact about 90% don’t even participate. How will you overcome the fear of learning in the open and the frustration of using new technology?
  • For me the technology is not new, I have blogged, created YouTube videos, used iPods and iPads in teaching and learning, created Sites, streamed live video, video conferenced, used cloud services, etc. before. What is new is how they can be applied in this course, and how we will interact with each other utilizing different technologies.
  • I think one of the biggest frustrations will be that many of us will be in very different time zones, and synchronous interactions will be difficult. 
 How do you plan to courageously work through any setbacks, and not give up?
  • I am not a quitter and once I commit myself to something almost always see it through, even if it is painful or there are setbacks. I find that simple meditation, even for a short span, helps to relieve stress and refocus on the positive.
I plan to refine my answers over time, may note why I may have changed them, give credit to others when appropriate, and am open to any feedback. Good luck to everyone in this course!

First week, Friday, Just noticed I missed some questions!

Describe your best teacher and your worst teacher ever.
What types of behavior and interaction with students are most memorable?
For best: Teachers that amused us, inspired us, challenged us with problems or questions we could solve. Teachers that made learning fun. Teachers with hands-on activities.
For worst: Teachers that expected us to memorize long lists of facts, to be regurgitated at testing time. Facts that were expressed in the classroom in boring ways. No humor, no excitement. Mostly repeating what was in the book that we were supposed to study. Teachers that asked questions that hardly anyone could correctly answer.

Based upon your observations of their behavior and interaction with students, make a list of four DOs and four DON’Ts

  • Try to create interest, excitement, attention, amusement in the class.
  • Try to involve yourself with each and every student in some way.
  • Try to impart knowledge in easy to digest chunks.
  • If pure facts are to be memorized, surround them with something creative, interesting, compelling.

  • Create glassy-eyed students that not paying attention.
  • Get discouraged by some students that will not be interested no matter what you do.
  • Just repeat fact after fact from the book. 
  • Assign homework that just regurgitates the facts presented in class and in the textbook.
How can you apply your list to help you facilitate online learning?

Not sure if this means as a student or as a teacher. If as a teacher I would:
  • Chunk material in easily digested pieces.
  • Give brief, frequent tests that not only challenge memorized facts, but also how they can be organized in higher-level thinking.
  • Provide frequent and easy to obtain support to anyone "falling behind"
Suggested Reflections
In your blog share some of your reflections of what you have learned this week.
I have learned too much to write down in the limited time I have left. I spent a lot of time looking at other people's posts, but not sure it was worth it. It was fun to meet others, almost like FB or IG. While I got a feeling of community and unity in purpose, there was nothing I could probably not get from reading assignments. I am not used to having facts and opinions spread out all over the place, with no central "hub" or outline. I am sticking with the course though.
Describe how you will participate in the workshop.
I am not sure yet. Somewhat torn as to where to allocate a limited amount of time. I do want to participate. But am concerned about efficiency and have to define it for myself yet. That is, time in vs. maximum gain out. While I love helping others, I am here to help myself first. Sounds a bit selfish, I know, but if the theory is that by helping others I will help myself somehow I hope I get it! Ok, on to week 2! (or is it one?!)

Looking forward to this

I started this new blog for the "How To Teach Online" Course. I was the Digital Media Specialist at Connecticut College for 12 years, and left on good terms in March 2012. I was part of the Instructional Technology Team. Would like to learn more about course design and Instructional Design, and the MOOC experience. #tomooc

In case anyone stumbles across this blog, it's part of my How To Teach Online course