Saturday, January 22, 2011

Chaotic Connectivism: A Confession

During our first live Elluminate session in CCK11 this past week, some program participants referred to the chaos in the course. Numerous people jumped right in on that word and after repeatedly referring to this chaos, I started to feel really badly for our facilitators, George Siemens and Stephen Downes. The participants were being so insulting. Why were they ganging up on them already in Week 1? How terrible as facilitators to find that people are finding the course so chaotic. Tough crowd! I had actually thought it was all quite chaotic too, but I didn't want to make them feel badly so kept my mouth shut.

WELL......, THEN I DID MY READINGS!!! It turns out that chaos is the theme running through all the Week 1 readings. Oops. I read that chaos is the science of all things being connected to each other. I learned that chaos is at the heart of connectivism where ideas and information fluidly abound and where things are unpredicatable....but where meaning also exists. It is our job to make our way through this chaos and find the hidden patterns that exist there.

So, George and Stephen - kudos to you for offering this very chaotic course. I totally get it now (well, not totally).

Mucking Through the MOOC

I spent this week mucking about the MOOC that will be my main event for the next 12 weeks as I participate in the Connectivism and Connective Knowledge course (CCK11) I've registered for through the University of Manitoba . I learned that MOOC stands for "massive open online course" and that besides the 20 or so participants in my for-credit group, the course would be open (and free!) to the rest of the world.

My understanding so far is that by making a course open, students have to evaluate and assess what is relevant or of interest rather than this being dictated by someone at the top. The result should end up being meaningful learning using the material, tools and technology that can best make that happen for the individual. The true test will be if my learning ends up being meaningful. Although, come to think of it, the meaning I take from it will only be a test of MYSELF and how well I engaged with others, with the materials out there, and with my own learning.

In a "scrap the structure" course, I really need to redefine how I organize things. Or is the very point that I don't have to redefine my organization skills but rather organize this exactly the way I want?  If so, then, really, isn't everyone a winner in a MOOC?

The group of for-credit students was feeling overwhelmed this week. Almost immediately, we came together in Google Groups to ensure we had a comfortable place in which to consult with each other, regroup...and breathe. This isn't to say that we wanted to shut out the rest of the participants (and we aren't doing that at all); it's more that we are still comfortable in smaller groupings...a safe, more intimate place to make sure we are on the right track. (It seems funny to talk about the intimacy I feel with a group I just met online last week!). I am excited to start making sense of some of this...

Dave Cormier's video here is helpful in defining what a MOOC is.