For the last two months I have been fortunate to participate in ETMooc, an Educational Technology & Media, massive open online course. It is a cMooc, a connectivist Mooc, structured in a way that encouraged the development of a learning community. Participants have been encouraged to share their knowledge, support and encourage others, and participate in meaningful conversations.
I’ve participated in online presentations and webinars at least twice a week for the past ten weeks, mostly by listening and chatting in synchronous online spaces, but sometimes by listening to archived sessions. I have connected, collaborated and shared my learning with the etmooc community on Twitter, in the Google+ Community, in blog posts and comments, in weekly Twitter Chats, and in Hangouts. I have shared my learning at work by inviting my coworkers to participate.
I know that I learn best in a layered learning environment, when I am able to connect with the back channel on Twitter and in the event chat, and a front channel that I can talk to about the experience.
I had the time to participate in etmooc because I am not in the classroom this year, so I don’t spending my nights and weekends planning, correcting and doing the rest of the administrivia that teaching requires. In case you aren’t a teacher, or you don’t live with someone who is, this letter from Brian Hargreaves published in the North Battleford News-Optimist newspaper is a great crash course in how much time teachers spend being teachers. It is only because I am not teaching this year I had the time to fully participate in etmooc.
Three years ago my school board participated in Learning in the 21st Century a year long course with the the Powerful Learning Practice. I was taught by Will Richardson and Sheryl Nussbaum-Beach to learn in a Distributed Social Network. It was a really powerful experience for me. I learned how to participate in the backchannel at the Kick off Event. I started blogging and Tweeting. My school board had several cohorts participating. I was in a group with four other teachers from my school, at least half of the time I participated in sessions that were live and I was in the same room as at least some of the participants. The learning relationships I developed were mostly local, or at least within my school board.
ETMooc Connections + Staying Connected
I didn’t know any one else in etmoc when I jumped in a week after the start, and immediately pushed beyond my comfort zone by posting an introductory video and participating in the etmooc crowd-sourced lip dub. I like how etmooc was structured, the planning that went into the scaffolds for community building, and shared experiences. My personal learning network grew and stretched rhizomaticaly. I had conversations on Twitter, in the Google+ Community, and in blogs and comments, in Blackboard Collaborate, in crowd-sourced documents, and in Hangouts. I made friends, and learned with people I have never met in person, talked to, or even exchanged emails with.
I had two goals when I started etmooc. One was to meet and connect with other educators, especially Albertans. I don’t know many teachers here in Edmonton, and I would love to meet more. My goal has been met. I have met fantastic educators from around the world.
I have taken steps to ensure that these extended learning relationships continue after etmooc ends. I do bi-weekly G+ Hangouts, learning play dates as Erin Luong calls them. I have started a Post ET Mooc Blog Reading Group. I have already started to collaborate on a project with Verena Roberts and I know we will work together on other projects. I will get to meet a few of my new tweeps at EdCamp Calgary next month, which I am really looking forward to.
I have been blogging much more frequently, a habit I hope to continue after etmooc formally ends. I made several videos: my introduction, my contribution to the edmooc lip dub, a pop up video about digital storytelling, and I just joined with an etmooc tweep to record our introduction to a Marshall McLuhan’s Understanding Media reading group.
How Have I Changed
I am now doing more social curation and sharing my interpretation of events with others. My second goal for etmooc was to make my learning more visible and post about the webinars I attend and host at work. I have met that goal and also written about how to host a webinar to share your learning. I curated the conversations in the back channel after the first and second Open Learning Panels.
I think more about open learning, and have already started to contribute more. I have volunteered as a mentor for the student blogging challenge. At work I am introducing my coworkers to social media and we are exploring the role that social media and extended learning communities can play as we get ready to implement the Career and Technology Foundations curriculum.
I am sad that etmooc has come to an end. As a result of my experiences I am confident that I will be able to find the learning I need, when I need them. I know that many of the relationships from etmooc will continue, in the Post ET Mooc blog reading group and beyond.