#oclmooc and Connected Courses MOOC: The World as Our Learning Space

September 5, 2014

Diving into two connectivist massive open online courses (MOOC) this month, I am learning to pay more attention to how rapidly our learning space is evolving.

Each of the MOOCs—the Connected Courses MOOC (#ccourses) offered by a “collaborative network of faculty in higher education developing online, open courses that embody the principles of connected learning and the values of the open web,” and the Open Connected Learning MOOC  (#oclmooc) originally started by a group of educators in Alberta and now expanding rapidly to include trainer-teacher-learners worldwide—offers me a different learning opportunity.

ccourses_logoIn #ccourses, I’ll be among those learning from and with a group of educators I very much admire and whose work I have been following for many years. There’s Mizuko Ito, whose work as a cowriter of the Digital Media and Learning Research Hub report Connected Learning: An Agenda for Research and Design broadened my understanding of and appreciation for connected learning after I read and wrote about it in early 2013. And Michael Wesch, whose YouTube video The Machine is Us/ing Us about Web 2.0 entirely changed the way I taught and learned and saw the world after watching the video in 2007. And Cathy Davidson, whose book Now You See It introduced me to the concept of “unlearning” as part of the learning process and who is listed as a participant in the September 15, 2014 #ccourses kick-off event. And Alec Couros, whose work on #etmooc (the Educational Technology & Media MOOC) in 2013 opened my eyes to the wonderful learning opportunities inherent in well-designed connectivist MOOCs and drew me into a community of learning that continues to sustain me in my training-teaching-learning efforts. And Alan Levine, whom I first met through the New Media Consortium several years ago and whose work on creating a blog hub for #etmooc set a high standard in terms of facilitating connected learning online and continues to provide learning objects to this day—nearly 18 months after the course formally concluded. And Howard Rheingold, whose writing on “crap detection” and so much more is a continuing source of inspiration.

oclmooc_logoThe #oclmooc experience, for me, will be very different. I’ll be working, as a “co-conspirator” helping design and deliver the MOOC, with an entirely different group of educators I very much admire—colleagues from other connectivist MOOCs, including #etmooc and the Exploring Personal Learning Networks MOOC (#xplrpln) designed and facilitated magnificently in 2013 by Jeff Merrell and Kimberly Scott at Northwestern University. I know that the learning curve for all of us has been tremendous—moving from learners in MOOCs to learning facilitators in MOOCs in less than two years—and that the best is yet to come. We’re already honing skills we developed in #etmooc and elsewhere—using Google Hangouts for our MOOC planning sessions, scheduling tweet chats to facilitate learning, organizing a blog hub so #oclmooc learners can create and disseminate their own learning objects as an integral part of their/our learning process. And as energetic and inspired trainer-teacher-learners, we’re pushing ourselves to further explore open connected learning and educational technology with our colleagues worldwide.

So yes, I am learning to pay attention to how rapidly our learning space is evolving—because I am continuing to learn viscerally, through the use of online educational technology, that the entire onsite-online world, more than ever before, is our primary learning space.

N.B.: This is the first in a series of posts documenting learning through #ccourses and #oclmooc.


Innovations in Social Learning: From Print-based to Digital Environments

May 2, 2011

When a classmate introduced me to Michael Wesch’s 4.5-minute video The Machine Is Us/ing Us on YouTube a few years ago, I sat in stunned silence for quite a while. Because it introduced me to Web 2.0 in a uniquely visceral way. Showed me that the world had changed significantly while I had been asleep intellectually and socially. And because I knew I would be working through the thoughts inspired by that brief video for months, if not years, to come.

I had the same reaction two nights ago when I finally made the time to watch the online archived version of the MacArthur Foundation’s 100-minute Panel Discussion on Re-Imagining Learning in the 21st Century and immediately followed a link to see Digital Media: New Learners of the 21st Century,  the 50-minute PBS program which is at the heart of the Panel Discussion program.

To say that all trainer-teacher-learners should watch, think about, and discuss how the content of these two beautifully interwoven presentations is already affecting what we do is to underplay the significance of programs’ content.

Both presentations are forward-looking, as suggested by inclusion of John Dewey’s reminder that “If we teach today’s students as we did yesterday’s, we are robbing them of tomorrow.” And both shows document the growing impact of what Karen Cator, Director of the office of Educational Technology in the U.S. Department of Education, calls the transition from print-based classroom learning to a digital learning environment in one of her contributions to Panel Discussion.

While the focus of both programs is on education for students not yet in college, the message for all of us is: if we don’t learn from how these students—members of our future workplace learning and performance audience—are learning and if we don’t effectively apply those social learning techniques to what we are offering our adult learners, we’re going to become obsolete as learning leaders.

Cator—just one of several first-rate and thoughtful Panel Discussion presenters—overtly reminds us that “We have an incredible opportunity to transform learning into a deeply social experience, one that can leverage mobile technologies, social networking, and digital content. We can leverage the long tail of interest and design education environments that include prior experience, outside-of-school experience, multiple languages, families, the community, all the places that students live and breathe…”

It’s a change many of us are noticing as we acknowledge and attempt to foster the growth of new onsite and online spaces in our lives—social learning centers (also referred to as learning environments). And both programs—the Panel Discussion and Learners of the 21st Century—provide plenty of encouragement for those efforts by showcasing five innovative programs and projects.

There’s Quest to Learn, a school for digital kids. The Digital Youth Network and its fabulous YOUMedia collaboration for teens with the Chicago Public Library. The Smithsonian Institute’s digital scavenger hunt. Middleton Alternative Senior High’s augmented reality project in Middleton, Wisconsin. And the Science Leadership Academy sponsored by Philadelphia’s Franklin Institute.

And there are the voices of the students themselves. Engaged. Confident. More articulate and innovative than many people twice or three times their age. And the sort of people all of us should very much look forward to working with very soon in our own workplaces and learning environments.


Michael Wesch, YouTube, and a Vision of Students Today

June 1, 2009

Less than a year ago, most of us would have asked “Michael who?” if someone mentioned Michael Wesch. That was before the Kansas State University Anthropology professor posted a short video, “The Machine Is Us/ing Us,” on YouTube in January 2007 and became one of 22 winners of the 2007 Wired magazine Rave Award a few months later for his exploration of how Web 2.0 is changing the way we see the world of information and ourselves.

The number of people who have watched the video has increased exponentially. It has now been viewed 3,610,519 times, so Wesch’s posting of two new pieces within the last week—including one on how students view the learning process, “A Vision of Students Today”—has already attracted over 140,000 viewers. More importantly, Wesch and his students in his Digital Ethnography project, are making us sit up and pay attention not only to what is happening in contemporary classrooms, but how students are discussing it: with an enchanting and poignant burst of creativity.

His work is a great example of everything that is right about Web 2.0: the use of shareware to quickly produce thought-provoking pieces which challenge us to reconsider much of what we know; the open sharing of what he and his students are producing; and an invitation to join them as they build a new community through the Digital Ethnography Working Group and its blog.

An interview with blogger John Battelle offers insight into how Wesch works and reveals that, for “The Machine is Us/ing Us,” it took “about 3 days to put the video together, but of course it took months of thinking and research.” The Digital Ethnography site at Kansas State University includes items such as his posting on October 18, 2007—a discussion of the immediate reaction to “A Vision of Students Today” and an accompanying piece on how we obtain and process information, “Information R/evolution.”

Then there is the work itself. It’s edgy. Emotional. Controversial. Captivating. And it inspires reactions, as evidenced by the more than 200 responses on the YouTube site and the growing number of posts on Digital Ethnography. Wesch, on that site, claims it “is currently the most blogged about video in the blogosphere,” and it’s not hard to see why. The students featured in the video tell us what—and how much—they read (books vs. websites), write (term papers vs. emails), and listen to; how much time they study every day; and how many hours they need per day to accomplish all they set out to do.

“Vision” is about far more than one group’s experiences in school: it makes all of us who are involved in training think about what we accomplish, how we accomplish it, and what we might be doing differently in a world where the time it takes for lessons learned to become obsolete diminishes year by year. (One student suggests that by the time she graduates, she will be accepting a job which doesn’t even exist at the time she is earning her degree.)

The good news for trainers and other educators is that there isn’t going to be a lack of work for us anytime soon. The even better news for those of who like to learn is that there’s no end in sight for that part of the process, either—particularly when we have people like Michael Wesch and his students around to teach us.

This item was originally posted on October 22, 2007 on Infoblog at http://infoblog.infopeople.org.


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