Why Walk When You Can Fly – a final #etmooc reflection

This lyric, from a Mary Chapin Carpenter song of the same title, really sums up the experience of #etmooc, and why I was here. I came to #etmooc, at least partially, to find other people who wanted to fly – who wanted to push themselves beyond the everyday, who knew there was more out there, and who wanted to explore that “path less travelled by”.  I was not disappointed.

One of the biggest takeaways for me  has been the people, and the connections made. I did the connected learner experience last year through PLP Network, and it was remarkable, introduced me to some incredible co-learners, and helped me start to build a phenomenal PLN. In this learning community, because I had been nurtured by that one, I had the on-line learning/sharing experience to jump right into conversations, and to engage with people I had never met, which I think can be difficult for people who are new to this mode of co-learning.

One of my favourite moments of #etmooc was the webinar with Howard Rheingold. I loved the chance to interact with a major voice in digital literacy theory, in a “small-room” kind of environment. I am much more aware of opportunities to talk about crap detection, to encourage my students to critically look at the material they engage with, than I was before the module on digital literacy. I had my co-workers amiably shaking their heads at my energy this morning, when I bounced in and suggested a lesson on looking at a number of the on-line April Fools’ Day hoaxes, and what made them effective (and what could tip a discerning viewer off). Encouraging critical thinking has grown a larger section in my toolbox than it previously had.

I very much appreciated Christine Hendricks’ vlog reflection (http://blogs.ubc.ca/chendricks/2013/03/22/goodbye-etmooc/) on how her use of Twitter has changed due to her participation in #etmooc. I think, like her, that my Twitter use has really begun to evolve into deeper conversations with people I am connected to. I am more likely to direct a link to a specific person, or share a resource as part of a conversation, instead of simply shooting a really interesting link out into the random twitterverse, hoping that someone might find it useful.

What would I change? I would make myself dive deeper into the Google+ space, where I think a great deal of learning happened, which I didn’t feel terrifically connected to. I would set myself concrete deadlines for blogging – I really did want to do that more often, though I’m pleased with what I ended up publishing. I would probably not want to do a set of report cards in the middle of this kind of learning experience again, as they disrupted a flow I had established.

What am I taking away? A decidedly deeper (both concrete and theoretical) understanding of the topics we tackled; a great group of resources (in the diigo group and in the Google+ group) to go back to, as time allows; a fabulous extension of my PLN; and a higher comfort level with the asynchronous, multiple-spaced on-line learning experience.

To close (with apologies for the religious imagery – I am married to an Anglican priest, and have just come through Holy Week), I have been more confirmed than ever in my belief that we cannot “seek the living among the dead”. If we want to help our students (and our colleagues, and ourselves) move into the amazing world that’s all around us, we cannot rely on the tools that have equipped us for the past 100 years. Our students’ learning experience cannot look the same as ours did, because the world is not the same. We need to accept that there is some vocation involved here – where your great passion meets a great need in the world – and get on with our everyday work of turning water into wine. You know when you accomplish it – when you know you have given your students something that they will continue to remix and reuse, because it’s a life skill – be it critical thinking, the ability to be a contributing citizen of their brave new world, or just the curiosity to ask another great question.

“Why take when you could be giving, why watch as the world goes by? It’s a hard enough life to be living; why walk when you can fly?” (Mary Chapin Carpenter)

With huge thanks to all the participants and facilitators in #etmooc in this iteration. The porch light’s on, always, and Alec, there’s a candle in the window for your dad.


About lisamnoble

teacher, learner, mom, clergy spouse. Knitter, spinner, reader, free-weights fan, wearer of many (hand-knit) hats. Believer in changing the world (and education) lovingly, thoughtfully and irrevocably.
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9 Responses to Why Walk When You Can Fly – a final #etmooc reflection

  1. Hi Lisa:
    I love the Mary Chapin Carpenter line, and you are so much braver than I to sing it! I, too, wish I had connected more on Google+, but I think the issue is that we can’t really do everything. I focused on Twitter this time, as, surprisingly, that worked really well for me. I say “surprisingly,” because usually I am very long-winded, and putting things into 140 characters was a challenge. Maybe that’s why I liked it though…taking on a new challenge.

    I also agree with your point about being more comfortable with the asynchronous, multiple-platform, online experience. At first I felt the experience was really scattered, and I was a bit drowning in all of it. But somehow it all just came together and I felt no problem in moving back and forth between blogs, Twitter, G+, Blackboard, what have you. It felt like a continuing conversation, even though broken up in time and space. Not sure why that worked, and I expect it didn’t work for everyone. I wonder what it is that makes this doable for some people, and how we might help those for whom it’s not.

    It’s been great connecting with you, but I don’t really want to say that because I expect it will simply continue in the future!

    • lisamnoble says:

      thanks, Christina – I needed to sing it, because it had been wandering through my brain (and making me sing it out loud) because that’s where this took me. I am struggling these days with being the Core French teacher, and working on ways to share some of this learning with my students, despite working in our second language. So, I needed to remind myself that I wanted to fly, and find other people who were also willing to take that leap.

    • lisamnoble says:

      just re-reflecting on your comment here, Christina. I, too, wonder about why the asynchronous, multi-platform thing works for some, and not for others. The reason I see it as an important question is as a level of differentiated instruction. How do you help those who are new to this keep their heads up (and I think back to some of Keith’s writing at the beginning of the course)? How do we chunk this for people? How do we help them not be intimidated by those who are surfing the backchannel, tweeting, responding to what’s going on in the webinar, etc.?

      • Excellent questions–I wish I knew. Keith did raise some good ideas at the beginning of etmooc, things about introducing people slowly to these platforms, letting them practice first, etc. Maybe that would help? I know there were a lot of comments early on about being overwhelmed (including from me). One thing that really helped me was others saying that you just don’t have to follow everything. It took awhile for me to believe that, to decide that it was okay to miss a lot of things because I don’t go back and look at every single twitter message sent while I’m asleep, etc. But I finally got it somehow, and began to just enjoy the conversations I was able to have. I’m not sure exactly what happened to change my feeling of thinking that I was constantly “behind.”

        One thing that does make a difference is not to have specific activities/assignments that are supposed to be done each week. I’m in a MOOC now that has those, and I get the feeling continually that I’m behind, and the more behind I get the more I feel like giving up. I’m on week 3 still, and week 6 is starting. Etmooc had different topics, and webinars each week, but somehow even if one missed one or two of those, there wasn’t the sense that one couldn’t continue on with the rest because one should do the other stuff first. I liked that a lot, and it helped me for when I just didn’t have time to watch all the archived stuff I missed. Of course, that works for things where you don’t have to learn them one piece at a time and build on what’s gone before. For some courses, you just DO need to get the early pieces, catch up, before you can go on. That’s not working so well for me right now!

  2. Hi Lisa,
    Great post, I really enjoyed reading (and listening) to your thoughts about your etmooc experiences. I agree, “If we want to help our students (and our colleagues, and ourselves) move into the amazing world that’s all around us, we cannot rely on the tools that have equipped us for the past 100 years. Our students’ learning experience cannot look the same as ours did, because the world is not the same.”
    I look forward to continuing to learn from you in the future. Maybe you want to join the post etmooc blog reading group to spend some more time in Google+? https://plus.google.com/u/0/communities/111431081834171225314

    • lisamnoble says:

      thanks so much, Rhonda. The reading group sounds great, so I will follow that up. I, too, hope that the learning relationship we’ve created can continue. Are you liking Food in Jars?

  3. kbisaill says:

    Thank you for sharing your thoughts. Thank you for reaching out and making connections. When you feel the spark, you know it is something you can not deny. The passion and commitment you so obviously are feeling is contagious.

  4. Alec Couros says:

    Love this!
    Thanks so much for this reflective post an video. You’re awesome Lisa.

  5. Pingback: Reflecting on your learning | oclmooc

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