#Change11- Half way point reflections

Well it’s time to take stock a bit – not the ideal time – with Xmas looming and everything that entails and needs thinking about  – mostly food. Every year I cannot believe how much food is consumed 🙂

But how much of Change MOOC have I consumed and what are my tentative and first reflections at this point.

There have been 14 weeks of presentations and activities and I managed to keep up with all of them but two (and I may yet get to the two I missed – that is the beauty of this type of course) :

Week 01 : Orientation
Week 02: Zoraini Wati Abas
Week 03: Martin Weller
Week 04: Allison Littlejohn
Week 05: David Wiley
Week 06: Tony Bates
Week 07: Rory McGreal
Week 08: Nancy White
Week 09: Dave Cormier
Week 10: Eric Duval
Week 11: Jon Dron
Week 12: Clark Aldrich
Week 13: Clark Quinn
Week 14: Jan Herrington

I have found it fascinating  and very enjoyable on a number of levels.

  • I have been intrigued by which elements of the MOOC have been changed and which have been kept the same as previous CCK type MOOCs and have noted that this MOOC has had more of a conference style than previous MOOCs.
  • I have really enjoyed the range of different presenters, with their different styles and the different tasks they have set. Although not many people, including myself, have responded to the tasks, I still think these are a very valuable part of the course, as they help us to understand what is important to the presenters.
  • Some of the MOOC presentations have fed directly into research I am doing to the point where I have been anxious about whether we (my colleagues and I) can get our research out in time, before it has all been said and discussed already. There has been the element of trying to keep up with the ongoing conversations and work out how they relate to our research – and consider whether our research is going out of date as we do it!
  • The MOOC topics have helped me to feel more abreast of current discussions and issues in relation to learning, networked learning and e-learning. Some of what I have learned in the past 12 weeks that I have attended has already fed into a research paper that has been submitted and accepted, and into a forthcoming project.

What have I found difficult or what would I change?

Despite my blog post ‘Doubts about slow learning’ there is no doubt that I am a slow thinker, reader and learner – not by choice, but simply by capability – so I have found the weekly change of topic very difficult to keep up with.  For most weeks I have managed to find the time – but for a couple of weeks, I gave in and recognized that other priorities were higher on my list.

On the other hand – you can’t get bored when the topic changes weekly – so there is a fine balance to be maintained here and I suppose everyone’s personal balance point will depend on his or her personal context.

What have I done differently this time?

I have now participated in 6 MOOCs and written 5 research papers as a result – either loosely or closely related. I realize that I am all the time slowly learning more about how to participate in MOOCs and each time I approach it a bit differently. This time, I wanted to make more of an effort to make connections across the MOOC network. I have not been brilliant at this, as I still haven’t spent enough time reading other people’s blog or Twitter posts, but I have tried to respond to anyone who has commented on my blog. If I’ve missed anyone it is because of lack of skills, organization etc. rather than intent.

Initial reflections

I am all the time reflecting on what it means to learn and participate in MOOCs and why I find this way of learning so intriguing. I notice that Heli (who I met in CCK08) is also thinking about this. What is interesting for me, is that in my ‘day job’, i.e. the job that earns the money – only a few have so far been interested in MOOC pedagogy as Heli calls it. But I sense that this is changing. I remember talking about CCK08 to a group of academics in 2009 and being met by a wall of blank faces. That group is now hoping to design a course on MOOC principles. Exciting times!

I think participation in Change11 has not been that high – but personally I don’t see that as a problem. As I have mentioned before in a post – a colleague once said to me that however small the numbers, those who are at the table are those who are meant to be there.  I always find that very helpful.

There have also been those who have missed having a central discussion forum, e.g. a Moodle forum as we had in CCK08 – but personally I am OK with no central forum – in fact I sincerely hope that Stephen, George and Dave stick to their principles of how they think learning in MOOCs should be modeled, demonstrated and exemplified and don’t get swayed by low engagement figures to cave in and provide more structured courses. For me – the whole point is to recognize that we need to learn in distributed open spaces and educators need to help learners to develop the skills to do this.

20-12-11 Postscript

Evidently I was wrong about the low engagement – which is good to hear. 🙂 Here are the figures that Stephen has posted on his blog today


it’s not really that low, in my view: in addition to the more than 2000 people receiving the daily newsletter, we’ve had 38,000 visits and 135,000 pages read during the 14 weeks of the course – and that’s just on the main site, not counting all the Twitter and blog posts read on other sites. And the have been 1300 blog posts harvested and almost 2500 tweets – you can read 766 blog posts online.

10 thoughts on “#Change11- Half way point reflections

  1. John Schinker December 22, 2011 / 7:05 pm

    It’s interesting that you cite making connections with other participants as one of your goals, and also one of the challenges you face, even as a veteran MOOC participant.

    I haven’t been nearly as engaged as you have, and my participation has varied widely as my interest in the week’s topic and my time commitments to the “day job” have fluctuated. But one of my stated goals as I began this process was to improve my personal learning network by making connections with people who share similar interests, and sustaining those connections beyond the context of #change11. That has been very difficult for me.

    It’s not just that the number of people is overwhelming. There really aren’t all that many people blogging and commenting and actively participating (rather than just consuming). But I think these are weak connections we’re making. I comment on different blogs at different times. Occasionally, I tweet or respond to someone else’s tweet. I’ll occasionally catch a recording of a live session, but very rarely attend live. But it’s hard to get to know people and build those sustained kinds of connections without regularly seeing the same people all the time.

    Another frustration I’ve had is that my thoughts on the content keep getting sidetracked by the meta-analysis of my participation in the MOOC itself. I find myself too often drifting away from the content to discuss the MOOC experience (like I’m doing now). How long does it take before that wears off?

    Thanks for your reflection. It’s helpful to know that others are finding value in the course, and struggling with some of the same challenges.

  2. jupido December 23, 2011 / 5:38 pm

    Thank you Jenny for your reflection, also I was looking back today (reading my Blog posts again, observing what changed during these 14 weeks). And wow, I didn’t know that you already attended 5 other MOOCs!
    I didn’t succeed in writing a post today but I want to underline that I’m very happy without a discussion forum as well 🙂

  3. jennymackness December 30, 2011 / 4:24 pm

    John – thank you for your comments and apologies for the delay in writing a response. You make many interesting points.

    I think making connections with others does not depend so much on how many MOOCs a learner has attended (although it clearly helps to be familiar with at least some of the associated technologies) – but more on your purpose for attending the MOOC and also on what being connected means to you personally (by ‘you’ in this and other sentences, I mean MOOC learners in general).

    I agree with you that most of the connections made are weak – but that suits me, as even in F2F situations I do not have a wide circle of connections – but rather a few ‘special’ ones. I never have been a ‘party goer’ and I’m not very good at ‘small talk’ (which I don’t confuse with ‘personal’ talk) – so the limited number of connections that I have in MOOCs is, I think, a consequence of who I am as a person.

    Another point is that I think it is easy to forget that connectivity, does not necessarily mean social connectivity – it can also mean conceptual and neuronal connectivity – viewed in this light, your connections can seem much greater 🙂

    Finally, I have found that the close/strong connections that I have made through MOOCs have all been in working with others – usually on a research project of our own making, but sometimes simply to discuss issues and topics that are of common interest. These discussions take place away from the public MOOC environment, but are influenced by what is happening in the MOOCs and originally come about because of MOOCs. It is always a bit of a surprise to me that there are not more voluntary collaborative ventures generated by MOOCs – or perhaps there are and I just don’t know about them. The greatest benefit of MOOCs for me has been the resulting collaborative working with other MOOC participants (but this has only been with 4 different people, so you can see – a very small number of connections – but very meaningful ones).

    And finally, finally – in response to your paragraph

    > Another frustration I’ve had is that my thoughts on the content keep getting sidetracked by the meta-analysis of my participation in the MOOC itself. I find myself too often drifting away from the content to discuss the MOOC experience (like I’m doing now). How long does it take before that wears off?

    For me, I know it won’t wear off because its the aspect of MOOCs that most interests me – i.e. how people learn in them, to what extent teaching and learning will have to change to accommodate MOOC principles, if indeed we want to accommodate them, and so on. I find the whole process fascinating and that is probably why I keep coming back for more 🙂

    Many thanks for taking the time to comment on my post. I can relate to just about everything you ‘say’ 🙂

  4. jennymackness December 30, 2011 / 4:26 pm

    Hi Jupido – thanks for visiting my blog and leaving a comment. Hope you have enjoyed the break over the festive season and are ready for the next stint :-). Looking forward to reading more of your blog.

  5. Jeffrey Keefer January 3, 2012 / 2:30 am

    This is a breadth of fresh air, thanks for taking the time to share this and remind me that I wanted to do something of the same, which is now on my list for this week.
    One of the things you mentioned intrigues me, and I want to hear a bit more about — how have you taken your experiences and transitioned that into research and publications / papers? Can you talk a little more about this? I have struggled with how to take experiences that engage and interest me and transition them into research (that which REALLY lubes my gears!).
    I am also glad the holidays are now winding down and I can start participating a bit more in the #change11 MOOC as well.

  6. brainysmurf January 3, 2012 / 6:50 pm

    Thanks for this, Jenny, I always enjoy your reflections. Coming back to John’s post and your reply, I too find myself oscillating between MOOC content and mooc meta-analysis and I enjoy this very much. This is mooc #3 for me (and my most ‘involved’ to date) so I am continuing to refine *how* I mooc as well as considering the content itself. I still have a blank whiteboard sitting behind me, waiting for some kind of doodle/drawing about how to link it all together. 🙂

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