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.