we have lift off

well that was smooth… perfect launch, so far so good…

I just logged into the edcmooc website that has opened up and read the instructions…

Very clearly set out page, easy to follow instructions, and already a live twitter chat happening down the right side.

launch pad

this week’s to do list

  • read through all the pages for week one
  • watch film clips (add anything new to my blog pages)
  • discuss films in Synchtube
  • read academic references in week 1 resources page, and add to my blog pages (and if time also check out the references on the first page: Deuze, M. (2006). Participation, Remediation, Bricolage: Considering Principal Components of a Digital Culture.The Information Society, 22, 63-75 and Baumann, G. 1999. The multicultural riddle: Rethinking national, ethnic, and religious identities. London: Routledge)
  • consider and discuss how the theme utopias and dystopias emerging from popular and digital culture relates to how we think about online education
  • contribute to the discussion board
  • blog responses to the topic, tagging them with #edcmooc
  • create an image or other visual representation of your response to the topic and post it in a social media space. Tag it with #edcmooc
  • Tweet your thoughts – particularly if you can give a link to a blog post or other online artefact – to #edcmooc

Well… I’d better get busy

– I’ve already watched the film clips last week, so I’ll post my comments on them tomorrow to one of the discussion spaces

– I just found the Deuze article in my library, so I’ll read that in the morning too. Don’t know if I’ll find the book, but I’ll look

– not sure what they mean by ‘blog your responses’ – can I do that from here? not sure, will work it out tomorrow

– not sure when I’ll find time to create an image this week, but I’ll aim for Friday 🙂

#edcmooc wrap up of week one  here

sunday too far away….

I just made one of those Gloggy things…. an online poster – apart from wanting to learn the software and see if it’s something I would use in my teaching, I thought it might help me focus on the task at hand… so here is my first effort – let me know what you think!

Back to yesterday meanwhile…. my Sunday this week began, as they do in summers here, at the beach… because, apart from the beach being fabulous in every way, my daughter is basically a dolphin and hard to keep out of the water for any length of time… a keen surfer, and a trainee life guard… so there I was, turning snags on the surf club BBQ (that’s sausages to people who don’t speak Australian English) and I’m chatting away with another parent, and I ask her (because what else am I thinking about these days but my mooc) what she finds coming to mind when I say “science fiction”… I am asking because this course has made me realise how ignorant I am in matters sci-fi, and I need tips on what I should view next…), and she said what most people seem to be saying when I ask that question… Star Wars and 2001 a space odyssey… (and some other movie she couldn’t remember the name of with Robin Williams as a robot that becomes human)… so that just confirmed it, I really have to watch these things or I just won’t know what the significance of half the references in this course are….

So after duties at surf club, and picking up some art works my daughter had put into a local show (yay, she got second prize for a drawing and $15 – whoo hoo), we go to a video store to see if I can find a copy of 2001…

tree1 here’s an early draft of the drawing she scored a prize for – doodle art done to avoid paying attention in class no doubt, but hey, go girl I say…

well anyway, three video shops later I still haven’t found a copy of 2001… and I have encountered four young sales staff who have never heard of it…. I am feeling old 😦

So I come home not with any of the films I have started to think I ought to see, but instead with Solaris (how could I resist, it has George Clooney and it was only $9!) and a documentary about space travel called “In the shadow of the moon”..well the rest of Sunday was spent watching those and I dont’ regret either – the first because it has George Clooney in it, and the second because it’s a fabulous de-archive of footage and set of wonderful interviews with the American men who have been to the moon, and gave me lots of great quotes for my assignment here too, such as:

“I called the moon my home for three days and I’m here to tell you about it – that’s science fiction”
“I promise you, I’m human”
“Science and technology got me there, but what I was seeing and feeling – science and technology had no answers for”

I was intrigued to learn, or be reminded rather, (and hope it isn’t an omen for our impending course launch) that the first Apollo mission was a fail – a simulated launch countdown was staged on January 27, 1967, and it blew up….

and that just before the Eagle had landed, on the Apollo 11 mission, there’d been a “1202 alarm”… “computer problem… too much data”…

I was feeling there’s something very deja vue about our trip to the mooc….

reviewing scale & strategy – or, how to remain sane while in a mooc

focus time folks – the sudden upsurge in numbers online in the course this week has been a bit… omg.. from a sort of manageable hundred or so using the social media, to…?? I know we have been expecting this all along, but it still feels like a tsunami when it hits!  I’m not even going to try keeping up with reading discussions now…. Dirk’s cartoon that I quoted yesterday said it all..

So, a different strategy seems called for… which is pretty good timing for me as it happens, because I’ve been feeling guilty spending so much time here the past couple of weeks anyway, and now I have a good reason to change my roaming ways…

speaking of net surfing I just went to find an image and saw that, today’s google image is in honour of snugglepot and cuddlepie (favourite storybook for little Australians, about gum nut fairies in the bush) – how cute is that?

google snugglepot and cuddlepie 2013-01-17

Anyway, I know I’ve been spending quite a bit of time each day browsing around, following links, reading blogs, reading articles, watching videos, because my connection has slowed right down, meaning I guess that I’ve used my download quota for the month –  and it’s only half way through the month!

It’s been great though – I’ve learned a lot from all the reading, and been stimulated to think about some new topics, and I’ve enjoyed it… and whenever I find something of relevance to the thesis I’m writing I can tell myself I’m doing research rather than wasting my time – yay…

As I’ve been thinking about the course objectives and expected outcomes more carefully, I’ve reorganised this blog (again) this morning …. now I think I’ve settled on a structure and a simple routine, that should see me through the five weeks of the course delivery and interaction, and the production of the assessment task. So I guess I’m ‘focused’ now…

I remind myself that the course leaders reckon we should only be spending 3-5 hours per week on this course! So my preparation for the course has far exceeded the time I’m going to spend on actually doing the course…. hmmm

So, no more browsing and contributing to such a range of discussions in Facebook and G+ for me, just a really quick browse of them every other day, grab anything that seems to fit into the story I’m constructing here in this blog, limit my browsing to half an hour max each day, and post a quick message or two to one of the social media to share only the most interesting stuff I’ve found – I don’t have time to check, but I’m going to assume that if I inter-link social media, my one message will appear in all of them automatically…

Anyway, what have I learned so far in these prep weeks? I think this blog represents it pretty much, in its page organisation and their contents, but in short…

toolbox tiny tools for online communication & multimedia text production

I thought I already was tech savvy and had a good collection bookmarked in my personal ‘toolbox’, but I’ve learned a heap from conversations in the social fora of this mooc… and I’m really developing greater proficiency in using media I had accounts with but wasn’t actually bothering to use well…. particularly the inter-linking of social media is becoming an eye opener, now I’m beginning to really see the point of it – it saves time and connects you with masses more people, fast. They may or may not want to connect with me of course, but at least I’m able to give them the choice, and I’ve started following heaps of people on twitter and have started using RSS feeds too – I never really understood what that was all about, but now I’ve started using Google Reader and I get it – it really does save time, and I need that right now.

And that’s the point – you learn at the point of need
(amazing how many educators don’t get that, and construe their students as deficient and unmotivated, when the problem is more likely a lack of discussion and good task design)

I’m becoming a better blogger thanks to this course – I’ve been using blogs for years, but not in a particularly sophisticated way, just as private journals for my teaching and research, or semi-privately to talk with a small number of colleagues.. going ‘public’ with a blog has been something else…

crowd tiny managing conversation in a crowd

trying to participate in conversation with a very large group, in the FaceBook group, has made me feel a bit like I’m back in high school really…. the sense of crowd and competition to have your voice heard… not what one has become used to in professionally organised life… both quite fun at times and quite devastating at others – as when noone listens or talks back to you, and you keep trying to say something that’s intensely meaningful and important to you and it’s either ignored or trodden on, like so many jack boots on a flower…. and then suddenly someone ‘likes’ something you put out there and it makes your day… and then you’re just ignored again…. and then someone disagrees with you in a way that makes you feel things you’re not used to feeling…. and then you have to reconsider how you have worded your own messages and worry about whether you’ve offended anyone and that’s why noone is talking to you… and then you start imagining that everyone else is more ‘liked’ than you are… this can be exhausting!… and then you think, what the hell am I thinking? I’m not a teenager, why am I having all these existential angst moments? and then you take an academic interest in the phenomenon as a coping strategy, and then you accept that this is just an upscaled and fast forwarded version of normal everyday conversational life, and  you empathise with your teenage child’s transition from primary to secondary school coz that’s exactly what it’s been like for them… and then you reflect on how they were friends with everyone in first year, and how second year brought tears and traumas and realignments as people simply had to focus on smaller groupings and make some tough stances to work out who the hell they were and what they really wanted to be talking about, because it’s in the stories we spend our lives constructing that we find the friends who help us ‘get it all together’…

So yeah, streamlined management of the tools of trade is one of the most valuable things I’m learning in this course, because I’m feeling the need to learn that right now…


but the big take home message is the fact that nobody had to ‘teach’ me any of it – just throw resources out there and let me find my own way to the stuff I need when I need it…. relevance of all this to my teaching and research seems clear to me, in that I’ve been thinking for years that design is everything, and this experience confirms it for me – I wanted to do this course in the first place in order to feel what it’s like to be a student again, to better understand my own students… now I’m convinced that this ‘go help yourselves and feed each other’ approach to teaching works well, when the task and conversation are designed and articulated well, which I think they are in this course.

Should I ‘do something’ to up my readership? I really am not good with that kind of thing. I find it excruciatingly  awkward and uncomfortable to be honest – the whole business of going public as a blogger has been a VERY big step and it verges on the traumatic sometimes – but this is very much one of the themes of the course, so I have simply taken an academic interest in the phenomenon and am considering the whole experience as a mini participant ethnography of my own – sort of doing an empire strikes back on the course organisers, and using their course as they are using us who would participate in it… I think their design is brilliant actually, and I am learning from it.. and have now started writing about it in chapter 6 of my emerging thesis…. I have been doing similar things with my students for some years, but not of course on this kind of scale.. but the experiment they’re engaging in, because it’s so open, is very instructive (well that’s what I would think isn’t it? It’s been designed that way…. perhaps I am in the Matrix after all)…

pop sci-fi

I’ve always been keen on science fact, but I’ve never been a fan of science fiction (notable exceptions being Dr Who, Life on Mars and the wonderfully fantastically bad and therefore brilliant Lost in Space) , and so I’ve missed most of the ‘classics’ that everyone else seems to know inside out… so I am now getting familiar with movies I’ve only known the names of in the past, and look forward to learning more

discourses from AI & ‘post-humanism’

I’ve been exposed to a fair bit of communications theory over the years in my work with electrical engineers, and of theories of ‘culture’ in my word with students of business, and always found it interesting how differently technicians and scientists and business folk often view key themes of interest to me (such as culture, communication and language)  which due to my main education I see from a humanities / linguistics perspective…. I grew up in a social-functional theory of language (radically different from the traditions in linguistics that have been dominant in the US), and always find it very easy, shall we say, to critique discussions of communication, ‘mind’ and learning that are based on other, (to me less sophisticated and robust) theories of language (or based on no theory of language or semiotics at all, which is more often the case it seems to me)…. so as I read much of the discourse in the fields of artificial intelligence, I do tend to find myself laughing out loud sometimes…. I really can’t take it seriously… but I read on, hoping to learn and find something that might challenge me and make me really think hard about my own assumptions and beliefs…. haven’t yet, but I am striving to be open minded!… meanwhile, I find that Kress’ writing resonates with me still very much, all these years later…

the mooc debate

I started reading about the mooc phenomenon in earnest about 6 months ago, and it’s from that  general interest that I found my way into this course… and I really like the way having an assignment to do is helping me shape (tame?) my thinking into an exchangeable form of some kind… some kind other than the standard academic paper that is… it’s really rather fun thinking about it I’m finding 🙂

the mission

reminding myself of our mission here at edcmooc, in preparation for the launch…

This is my current interpretation, or breakdown, of what we’re being encouraged to do in this mooc – there is an emergent file on this in FB if others would like to contribute to it, please do – I’m sure we all have quite different ways of interpreting the learning objectives

1. to learn the tools of trade in digitised education (beyond my institution’s LMS)

  • blogs, tick – have already been using them for a few years and can’t live without them, either in teaching or in recording teaching experience for reflection, or in writing my thesis – I find the blog to be an effective, easy and pleasant way to compose and categorise thoughts and make notes on readings
  • FB, tick – used to only have an account in order to keep in touch with kids and their parents, but now see some purpose and value of it in professional context too
  • twitter, tick – occasionally read, but never used until I signed up for this course, and now see the value of quick, easy access to any kind of conversation, as well as cross-linking between different social media
  • flickr, tick – learned how to use it at least, though just playing at this stage, have no sense of need to use yet
  • youtube, tick – very glad I learned about playlists here, and will learn about personal channels soon. Obviously essential tool for the course in that much material will be delivered through it, but maybe also the platform for delivering my own teaching material… not yet sure. I have played with podcasting in my apple mac account, but mainly feel compelled to use institutional CMS and LMS – especially as we have just moved from blackboard to moodle and I am required to be informed about it and advise others, I have to keep focused on that… so I’m thinking about all these other tools in terms of how when and where to plug into Moodle sites that I am developing for the subjects I teach…
  • Gmaps, tick – love this simple tool and will use it with students in week one for sure, as all my students come from overseas
  • G+, tick – have been using for a few weeks now, getting my head around circles, communities, hangouts and various other options down the left side menu – not yet using pages, but wanting to learn if it’s the same, different or better than files in FB… and how it relates to Google sites and Google docs… I use Google drive every day for my research projects and find it absolutely brilliant and indespensible when working between devices and platforms, and in collaboration with others… but I haven’t really had time yet to get my head around how these various Google tools inter-relate…
  • scoopit, tick – have been reading others’ for a year or so, but just became a user a couple of weeks ago – really like this tool, and am thinking about how to use it effectively with students, possibly getting them to curate pages on their disciplinary topic as preparation for language development and reflective tasks… and in relation to teaching them how to search more effectively with Google
  • synchtube, tick – well, I’ve only looked briefly and signed up, I haven’t actually played with it yet
  • the rest no, not quite, not yet – I’ve looked at them, but haven’t become a user of more than the few above yet, as I don’t feel the need for more yet and will explore them during the course I guess, IF I can see from other participants and teachers that they might help me do my job – I don’t want to waste time thoughintegration of tools, sort of gettin’ there – I have learned how to link some tools, but I haven’t quite cross-linked everything because I’m still thinking about what and when I need to have them linked – like should I automatically have a blog post tweeted and notified on FB or G+, or should I make different choices each time? Will I piss people off with too much notification and sound like a self-promoting wanker, or will I piss them off by under-notifying and giving them ‘work’ to find the utterly fascinating stuff I post? I figured out how to get something I tweet to automatically appear on this blog, but should I also link my tweeting to my G+ and my FB and god knows what else? or should I stop worrying about it ?! I don’t know, I have work to do, forget it!

2. to explore common perceptions in our culture of great ‘promise’ and ‘peril’ with the advent of new technologies

  • in relation to MOOCs, tick – I’m organising new information I glean from others about moocs into a debate construct, that I will turn into a poster, probably as an assignment in this course, if that seems an appropriate and useful thing to do
  • in relation to other ‘tools’ of digital education…? well, I started last post to think about popular perceptions of twitter, and the history of simultaneous enthusiastic and worried responses to new literacy and mass media tools… and how uninformed notions affect the potential academic use of the twitter talk tool… and how I enjoy some of the silly, humorous tweeting of otherwise very smart people, and I am reminded as I write now of all the nonsense some people talk about the terrible dangers to literacy that txting supposedly represents – which seems nothing more than the sort of creativity stifling grammar police nonsense that Stephen Fry vents about here
  • currently I’m thinking more about AI though – more than I normally do anyway, because of some things that Laurie and others have posted recently, and because of the theme of the course, but also because of the thesis I’m trying to write, which is as much about perceptions of language in higher education as anything else… so I’m particularly interested in how people define and generally refer to ‘language’, and in this course where ‘artificial intelligence’ is likely to be a central point of interest in the imagining of both promise and peril in the digitisation of our lives, of how we know, and of how we represent knowledge, it interests me how we think about the ‘intelligence’ that is ‘natural’, or supposedly unmediated by ‘technology’… because the one defines the other, no? What is artificial is only so in relation to what is believed to be natural… and because AI is to date remarkably uninfluenced by any other theory of language than Chomsky’s, the assumptions made in the imagining and pursuit of computational intelligence and ‘language’ can be pretty hilarious (from my point of view)… and that’s where my focus will be through the course, as well as on which tools might be used effectively in the sort of language education I’m employed to do… my working hypothesis is that most of the hype on either side of the fence – the promise and the perils of technology in relation to ‘humanity’ – stems from some pretty questionable metaphors of mind and communication that have no theory of semiotics

3. to view, read & reflect on popular stories we tell about the use of technology, as either normal and integral part of our development, or as challenge to our understanding of what it means to be human

  • I haven’t started viewing the course videos yet, or reading the readings – I mean there aren’t any for our part of the course, the mooc, yet anyway, but I did have a browse in the EU part – the credit bearing course that is starting next week I think, because I am curious how the students’ in it (who will become our mentors in the mooc) are being primed to think about it…. but last time I looked the video material had been banned for breach of copyright. I found one of the readings in my university library, and it gave me much to critique! and will no doubt find its way into my thesis as an example of the problem I am focused on in that discussion…

4. to think about how popular ‘cyber cultures’ relate to formal educational practices

  • not sure about this one yet, haven’t had time to think about it

5. to consider & demonstrate in our own practice what difference digital makes to the presentation of academic knowledge

  • this interests me most of all I think, having dared to do a very non-traditional poster presentation at an academic conference in November, which was well received, and because I’m thinking about the nature of knowledge in my thesis, and encouraging my students to present their experience and understanding of academic English in different, storytelling, ways