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This blog was started as my reflections on the 2011 Change MOOC. It is now an on going journal of my thoughts on Higher Education, specifically teaching Biology.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Bid a fond farewell to #MOOCMOOC

The the chaotic networking of #MOOCMOOC has come to an end.  Final reflections:  Like any MOOC, what I took away was inspiration and clarity.  Yes, sometimes I also get new skills, learn new tools, or start thinking about things in a radically different way.  This one helped to firmly establish my feelings on some things, provided some insights, and gave me some inspiration.

Like any MOOC, I also learned some things from negative examples.  The first one is organization.  I feel better in a MOOC when there is a touchstone that the community or networks can center around.  I don't mean a concept, but some point in virtual space where we can organize things.  #change11 was a good example of this.  The Canvas LMS system seems like it would be good for some things, but it didn't seem to work for #MOOCMOOC.  Part of this could have been the organizing framework, but part is also limitations in the system (I've tried building things in it, but it lacks some functions that I really like for my classes).  I think the single biggest problem I had was finding the central platform where all of our comments/blogs/tweets etc... could be collated.  Finally found that one Friday...it was under the Dashboard icon which was at the bottom of icon pool.  It also wasn't something in Canvas, but an outside link.  All that was there were the blog and twitter feeds.  I also kept getting random announcements from Canvas, but no central daily newsletter that made sense to me.

Again, I'll go back to #change11.  One thing that really helped me there, both when I was actively participating or lurking, was the daily newsletter.  It told me what was happening that day, if there was a webinar, but then it had a brief rundown of blogs posted in the last 24 hours.  I could use that to go look at what someone said.  This time, I really felt like I had to hunt for that information.

The other thing that this showed me was that twitter has a point where there are too many people using one hashtag.  There were times I could see people's tweets getting lost, and some were actually interesting points (which I either favored or replied to...I'm bad about retrweeting).

The attempt to use different tools each day to carry out discussions was novel, but sometimes I again felt that connections were missing.  For example, Google Docs doesn't work for me when you are there with people you don't know.  It works better for me when I can see their comments and have an idea of where they're coming from.  I'm sure others had better experiences with that than I, but for me it felt very disconnecting, not connecting.  I much rather get into a chat, so I can start feeling out the person's reasons, instead of getting snapshots that don't always relate. 

As I said up top, I did leave #MOOCMOOC with some new ideas, fresh inspiration, and some more solid footing.  It goes to what I've said about MOOCs here and in tweets, what you get out of a MOOC is what you put into it.  Further, no MOOC will match your expectations; each one has surprises and annoyances.  We don't all fit the same mold, so not all things will work equally well for everyone.