Last year I learned, collaborated and played with people from around the world because last January I joined ETMOOC, an Educational Technology and Media Massive Open Online Course. I had participated in online courses before, but I had never participated in something of this scale without knowing at least other participant; and by the time I convinced myself to take the risk and join, it had already started. I joined anyway and so very grateful that I did.
I had two goals when I joined ETMOOC: to meet more educators who were interested in curricular transformation and to make my learning more visible. I jumped right in to the ETMOOC community, joining the conversations on Twitter and Google+, participating in webinars, curating, blogging and even contributing to the crowd-sourced Lip Dub video.
I have been thinking about what to write in this post since we started planning the ETMOOC Anniversary Twitter Chat and Hangout a month ago. ETMOOC impacted me in too many ways to list. There is so much I could say about my experiences in ETMOOC, the people I met, the connections I made and the experiences and opportunities I have had since. In fact it is a little surprising that I am not still writing this post right now there is so much more that I could add to it.
Instead, here are just a few of the many things I gained from my participation:
An Orientation to Connectivist Learning
ETMOOC was a Connectivist MOOC, structured so that participants could make their own rhizomatic learning connections. It was designed to provide participants with the tools to effectively manage their own learning in a connectivist type of environment. The course itself followed a more connectivist model, it wasn’t hosted my any major learning institution or one of the big xMOOC providers, and it was organized, developed and facilitated by a group of conspirators.
Since ETMOOC I have participated in several different MOOCs, and explored the differences between connectivist MOOCs like ETMOOC, and the more institutional xMOOCs that most people think of when they think of MOOCs. I have developed and helped support communities of learners. As I do so, I continue to refine the tools and strategies I honed in ETMOOC and give back by mentoring other connected educators in their connectivist learning journeys.
A Gigantic Extention to my PLN
Participating in ETMOOC had the effect of super sizing my Personal Learning Community, my PLN. I don’t know the official number of ETMOOC participants. I am not sure the metric that could be used to measure participation, given the way that participants were encouraged to take their own path through the course material there was certain ebb and flow of participation in the ETMOOC community as people engaged in different ways with the course material. No matter how many participants there were I was fortunate to make connections with many them.
Not only did I meet many, many passionate, inspiring connected educators through my participation in ETMOOC and the collaborations that have evolved from it, I finished a transition in my attitude about connecting with others. When I first started developing an online presence, I started with an attitude of protection in my digital identity (limiting the amount of personal information I shared online, trying to ensure all I posted was fully finished and presented me in the best light.) I even limited the connections that I made thinking that since I only had so much time to connect, I must limit the number of people and blogs that I follow and connections that I make. I now realize that while there will always be too many interesting opportunities to take advantage of the more that I share and connect with others, the more I get back. Verena Roberts has been a great role model for me in this journey.
Exposure to New Ideas and Though leaders
Through my participation in ETMOOC I learned about new tools and had authentic reasons to use them and I became more overt about sharing what I know with others in face to face and online interactions. I think of this as the ETMOOC attitude: actively constructing my learning experiences as I share my learning and reflect on the experience.
As ETMOOC was winding up I knew that I wasn’t ready to let go of some of the relationships I had made during the course so I started a Google+ Community called Post Etmooc and invited people to join me in continuing to learn together. I had never participated in a Google+ Community before ETMOOC, and I had never started my own community but it seemed like a good tool to use to stay connected so I learned how to start a community. I invited some friends to help me run it, and we learned how to host Twitter chats and hangouts and we continue to learn together. Over the course of the year as the group has evolved from a community that explores a different topic and blogger each month to one that celebrates the learning and experiences of the ETMOOC community. I think this reflects our growth as connected educators, many Post Etmooc community members are busy with their own projects and communities but it is still nice to have a space to share our learning.
My ETMOOC Journey Continues
Even though the formal experience of ETMOOC ended many months ago, I still continue to grow from the experience. I still follow the ETMOOC Twitter Feed, collaborate with my former classmates, and share my learning experiences.
Please join the Post EtMooc Community in celebrating our ETMOOC experiences with a Twitter Chat on January 14th and Hangout(s) on January 21st – don’t worry about the 10 person limit in hangouts, we’ll host as many as we need to accommodate all who want to participate.