Sharing as accountability

This was the title of a talk given by Dean Shareski to ETMOOC last week.  Dean is always entertaining to listen to and for me there is no doubting his sincerity and passion for his belief in sharing as accountability.

But Dean and I don’t really see eye to eye about sharing as accountability, as testified by the discussion generated by this blog post more than a year ago.

From his talk to ETMOOC, I don’t think either of us have shifted our positions that much, although in this talk he did not explicitly mention sharing as a moral imperative  and he did ask participants what the dangers of sharing might be.

Dangers of Sharing

However, at one point, he still said ‘You should feel guilty if you are not sharing anything’. Is there a hint of taking the moral high ground there? To be fair I think these comments are usually made (but not always) in the context of teaching. As David Wiley has evidently said, it is pretty impossible to teach without sharing.

But do we have a common understanding of what we mean by sharing?

  • sharing as a reciprocal relationship involving mutuality and interdependence?
  • sharing of thoughts and feelings in social communication?
  • sharing as altruistic giving and distribution?

Interesting is a summary of Peter Corning’s book ‘Nature’s Magic: Synergy In Evolution And the Fate of Humankind’, where Corning writes:

Work by Gintis, Bowes, Fehr and  Gächter indicate that strong reciprocity among humans is egoistic, not altruistic or cooperative, and depends on aggressive punishment of cheaters.

So maybe sharing is not all it is cracked up to be?

I should stress that I am not anti-sharing. More that I think it important to take an informed and balanced approach to the practice of sharing, such as found in the discussions around cooperation and collaboration, for example by


All this is on my mind because of the work I am doing on Howard Rheingold’s Towards a Literacy of Cooperation course and my thinking about how sharing, cooperation and collaboration inform each other. I will be surprised if I come out this course without having undergone a shift in my understanding, so maybe the next time I see/listen to Dean talk it will be through a different lens.

ETMOOC Orientation Week

ETMOOC which is being offered by Alec Couros and his conspirators has just come to the end of its first week – which focused on Orientation.

ETMOOC is described as a MOOC with a ‘weak centre’ which marks it out as being very different to OLDSMOOC, which I have been ‘observing’. OLDSMOOC feels as though it has a strong centre, even though it is distributed across a variety of platforms.

This week I attended ETMOOC’s live Orientation session and an Introduction to Twitter session and from these sessions ETMOOC does feel very different to OLDSMOOC. For a start it has a very different audience who this week have been asked to introduce themselves in the ETMOOC Google Community. My email inbox became so inundated with posts that I had to set up a filter.

At the beginning of the week I was very struck by Tomas Lorincz’s introduction and that together with many of the other introductions has made me realize that I will have to do something more creative with my text-based introduction on this blog – but that is going on my ‘to do’ list, for sometime in the future.

And now at the end of this week, I go to my filtered folder and right at the top is this post by Glenn Hervieux which describes participation in a MOOC like working on a jigsaw puzzle. I think this is a great analogy.

Evidently ETMOOC has almost 1500 participants from over 60 countries,  355 blogs have subscribed to the blog hub  (and as an aside, sorry but I really do not like the idea of featured blog posts -feels a bit competitive and not quite in the spirit of community) – 200 people attended the first Orientation session in Blackboard Collaborate and 71 were in the second session that I attended.

Participants have been invited to run a session if they are interested. Nice touch!

An interesting point is that ETMOOC is being run on a ‘zero budget’. Evidently ‘not one dollar has exchanged hands’.

Some principles of participation were strongly emphasized:

  • Collaborative and cooperative working on shared problems of education and society
  • Collaborative creation of experience
  • Trust (much was made of this)
  • This is a connectivist MOOC  (cMOOC) which relies on its members to connect and co-create knowledge. cMOOCs are discursive communities creating knowledge together (Cormier 2012)
  •  There is no assessment, but badges will be awarded
  • Topics will be crowdsourced
  • Participants will control their own learning spaces, but key questions are 1) How are you making your learning visible? 2) How are you contributing to the learning of others?

Many of the particpants in ETMOOC appear to be new to online learning and were reminded that many people are afraid when first posting online or joining a MOOC. This video was used to excellent effect to illustrate how that might feel:

There is lots of advice on how to participate in this MOOC including a Dynamic Guide to Participation

And recordings of the live sessions are in the Archive

The topic for next week is Connected Learning.