Monthly Archives: December 2013

2013 in MOOCs – Which Event Best Defined the Quest to Solve Education?

As we say goodbye to 2013, the year after The Year of the MOOC, I remain unable to adequately define the acronym that graces this blog’s header.  This year Oxford Dictionary gave it the old college try, creating a definition more inclusive than exclusive and in doing so adding even more confusion to a rhetorical landscape littered with LOOCs, HOOCs, cMOOCs, xMOOCs, urMOOCs, SPOCs and other -ooc misfit acronyms.  Research and media remained focused on structural descriptions:  MOOC design, its workings, its assessment strategies, its back-end data collection and aggregation.  Developers continued to herald the model as education for everyone and an example of reinventing education, even in the face of research noting the model’s penchant for providing adequate instruction and scaffolding for those who, to channel Derek Zoolander, already read good and do other things good too.  Some look at recent events as the beginning of the end for MOOCs or the inevitable trough of disillusionment a la Gartner Hype Cycle, while others remain bullish on the MOOC and its place as a standard bearer for the future of higher education and educational technology.

I don’t look back on 2013 in search of takeaways. 2013 was a result of 2012, the year of the MOOC, which was a result of 2011, the proliferation of unique experiments in distributed learning.  There is an interconnectedness to it all, and for those who wish to focus on the lack of interconnectedness between the 2008 version of MOOC and the 2011 and beyond MOOC, both models were at heart about offering coursework to large numbers of people online for no charge. Continue reading

On Conferences, Twitter, and the Novice-Expert Journey

Yesterday I read Rebecca Hogue’s blog about her experience at #MRI13, Impostor in the Room, and felt compelled to respond…I attended three conferences over the past month, and like Rebecca I am a doctoral student still navigating the journey from novice to expert, so I often feel like an impostor in rooms filled with people who have become pseudo-celebrities in my professional life as I must stand on their shoulders to build my dissertation.  At the time I choosing not to as I did not attend the conference and thus did not understand its dynamics.  It is odd to be in California and have a Twitter feed full of people determining where they are going to have dinner, sharing anecdotes and inside jokes in the space they often share resources and engage in scholastic conversation.  This is the nature of social media, though, and we all utilize it in a different manner.

Fabian Banga has furthered this concern at his blog eter, defining Twitter as both a neoliberal and postmodern social network that encourages isolation rather than community, the focus on follows and followers rather than communication.  As Fabian looks at the situation from a level removed from MRI13, I responded to his blog with my thoughts and recent experiences navigating the terrain.  I also added a few thoughts on how conferences can do a better job of including the peripheral players and giving them a sense of belonging rather than isolation.

I did not attend #MRI13, but as a student in learning technologies who continues to navigate the journey from novice to expert, I wanted to share my experiences with Twitter in this field, as they differ from those expressed by Fabian.

While I began using Twitter in 2010, it was not until Fall 2012 that I truly engaged the platform. At the time I had begun initial research toward my dissertation, and many of the contemporary scholars were active on Twitter. I followed them. I also began blogging (a lot). For the most part, those I followed did not follow me. I did not take this as a sleight, but more as the expected outcome of joining a new network…the idea of legitimate peripheral participation, zone of proximal development in a social setting, and my place as a novice in their expert space. As I gained comfort with the field, I began responding to select tweets of these scholars. Continue reading