visually learning, collectively yearning


what a blast the past week has been with all these lovely pictures to look at and ponder on!

and the google hangout by the course teaching team this week was just wonderful, from my point of view. As I’ve been saying in various comments online (such as), I’m finding the ‘openness’ of this online learning we’re doing within and beyond this mooc quite extraordinary and fabulous… I am acutely aware of the storyline that says moocs are a disaster for higher ed, and fully expected this one to be pretty crap, as I said to Angela when we first met before this course began – we happened to attend the same small group meeting at the uni where I work about moocs and eLearning and in introducing ourselves around the table as you do we found we were both enrolled in the same upcoming mooc.. Angela had a bit of experience already, and was clearly quite enamoured of the potential riches they offer (girl in candy store was the feeling she described having), while I was the sceptic, enrolling just to see if it was or wasn’t possible for students not yet particularly proficient in English (the sorts of students my work at uni focuses on helping), and fully expecting this kind of environment would evidence a hundred reasons why it’s not a great place for them to be… and after this past month I have come away with quite the opposite than expected experience.

Obviously I’m not in the linguistically vulnerable position here (I’ll experience that when I try to do a mooc in one of my ‘other’ languages), and I don’t pretend to speak on behalf of others, but what I am finding amazing is the amount I’ve learned and been freely able to consider in this environment about my own teaching practice and what else I could be doing with available technologies and task ideas and subject design…. I mean I’m pretty happy with what I do generally (or I was til I came here), but I have learned far more than I anticipated I would, and I am coming away with a very different conception of what ‘open’ education means…. which I’ll probably elaborate on in the final artyfact thingy I guess…

but meanwhile, I’m just enjoying thinking about what a great opportunity this is, not just to learn a few new technological tricks of the digital trade, but to learn by doing what effect networking on this scale and at this speed can do for a renewed sense of joy and value and potential in an eLearning environment. and best of all is the ability to see so much of what goes on not just in this course context, but also in others, so that we can compare, and we can also immediately see and hear what others with every possible level of experience and perspective think about it all… I mean, here we are, hearing the team who have designed and are managing the delivery of this course, talk openly and honestly about what they are thinking as it happens! How often have you experienced that as a student? How often do you, if you’re a teacher (which most of us here are) how often have you been that transparent with your students?

This is a kind of openness and connectedness to ‘the literature’ (which now includes various modes of representation and delivery) that I have NEVER experienced before – not this fast. I mean it normally takes literally years to get this level of juxtaposed information and opinion based on extensive observation and experience happening in this way… that’s the big impression I’m getting at present anyway, and I’m really impressed! I think because of the ease of sharing digitised material in these social networking spaces, we’re currently able to make comparisons and develop collective understanding of what does and does not work well in eLearning not only faster, but with far greater fun and joy than is the usual dragging of self through the academic treadmill of ethics approvals to ask your own students a few bloody questions and publishing and peer review and yawn yawn – here it’s all happening live and now and it’s fun. what? no this isn’t higher education as we know it, it’s a damn site better! And what is more, and better still, the community of learners is more diverse and is growing and diversifying all the time. Nothing gives me greater pleasure than to see the facebook and G+ pages being posted up with messages in languages other than English – this is how it should be. It’s real. and it’s human.

None of which is to say I am oblivious to the problems and limitations, and I’ve been tracking the growing great debate for some time, and reading with interest various other and no doubt better trackers of this debate (such as Ronald’s blog and scoopit pages)… but somehow the more diversity that appears in this debate about moocdom, the more interesting it becomes, and that’s of course the other great take home message – opening up discussion like this is what higher ed is all about, not limiting and pretending there is only one ‘correct’ way of looking at anything

Anyway, that’s enough for today, got to look at some more visuals and read more blogs by others, and get to the beach!


7 comments on “visually learning, collectively yearning

  1. And your free and easy writing style says it all now Emily!I agree with absolutely everything you say. Likewise the experience for me has been transformative despite already being a disciple of the broad church that coursera is…

    I think the reason we have embraced the mooc concept in the way we have is because we have genuinely embraced the student experience here, not sat as an “auditor” on the sidelines as I see many academics are doing. It is all too easy to pop into a lecture theater and turn down your nose at another’s lectures and program, just as it is in coursera. I wonder how many academics are going to submit an artefact? This process in itself has been liberating, As you say, not just to learn a few digital tricks, but to learn it in a way that is connected with others on the same journey. “Letting go” has been a big part of the edcMOOC experience for me, it is that which has led me to see value in everyone and everything about edcMOOC. Academics, kindy teachers, people from far flung places and different cultures, the loud, the quiet, the skilled, the struggling; I’ve learned a bit from everyone, and I’m all the better for it. I’d say most of us are.

    I’ve run out of steam for my blog, that’s the only problem….!


    • hi Angela 😉 yes I think you’re right that we get a lot out where we put a lot in, and that we’re all enriched by going on this journey all together, especially when we’re different – we learn so much from just being openly exposed to other perspectives on a daily basis… and it’s especially good when genuine conversations develop from this environment !

  2. Hi Emily. As you know I’ve been following the growing great debate, too.

    I find the English-speaking aspect a curious one. For example, the EDCMOOC is being delivered by The University of Edinburgh. As the provider they have every right to deliver it in their official tongue (not suggesting you say they don’t).

    As a participant in this course, I have noticed proactive students from places like Brazil and Spain calling on their fellows to band together in study groups. I think that would be invaluable to those with English as a second language.

    But the obvious solution to this problem (if indeed it is a “problem”) would be for more universities from non-English speaking countries to deliver MOOCs!

    I wonder if the MOOC providers from China will be concerned about students not yet particularly proficient in Mandarin…

    • o I have no doubt at all that very soon we will be seeing a lot of moocs in many other languages… but I was just impressed that while that will inevitably come, meanwhile the English language ones can actually be quite good places for speakers coming in from other language backgrounds to learn this language by doing it, because the degree of social networking necessary to language development is actually possible in this space… I think it’s brilliant to see languages and levels of proficiency in the language of instruction all mixed up in one space, rather than people only experiencing their own language and their own language proficiency – I find, now, that a mooc can be a very ‘real’ social space in this sense

  3. Pingback: e-learning and digital cultures 2013 welcome | Pearltrees

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