How do we crowdsource sense-making? – #edcmooc

image courtesy Harold Jarche

The e-Learning and Digital Cultures MOOC (#edcmooc) has me contemplating the need for tools and a processes to help crowdsource user blogs as well as the synthesis of material.

Right now one of the things I wish I had access to is an RSS feed aggregator that can be contributed to by collaborative groups. For instance, a bunch of people want to share their blogs with each other, but no one person wants to curate the process.  It would be great if something seamless and easy to use like a or Storify for group curation. I’d also love to have the capability of something like a Reddit or Diig that could be used for groups so good ideas and resources could float to the top through recommendations or votes. If a developing folksonomy for the group could be displayed and somehow voted on that would be a great added feature. Basically, how do you crowdsource the synthesis and highlighting of collective ideas?

Making sense of MOOC conversations: Part 2 – #edcmooc

So I had thought that one of the solutions to focussing and managing the mass of input in a MOOC was to create more manageable sub groups.  After sorting and reading through a number of posts and conversations, I’m now thinking that providing or making available a really helpful guidebook for those who are new travelers in the MOOC universe.  A guide for thoese who don’t want to go to a new place without some sort of preparation. What would go insuch a guidebook?  My previous post point to helpful starts and since then I was directed to a a guide for participants at ETMOOC.

I also was reading a post by a colleague of mine, Peter Taylor, today on how to make space for relationships which also seems part of the solution and shares some elements in common with Cormier, Ilzel and Chan’s recommendations. Taylor speaks to links between focused conversations as related to the ladder of influence.  While these are envisioned as face-to-face conversations the steps also apply within a virtual ecology.  The steps include:

  1. Objective (getting the concrete facts, things observable by all)
  2. Reflective (eliciting feelings and associations)
  3. Interpretive (considering the meaning and significance)
  4. Decisional (formulating a decision or an action)

Finally, Andrea Carrasco shared a Disney videon called Paperman on the EDCMOOC Facebook group page.  The animations definitely echos Inbox from the Week 1 clips.  But it also speaks to the larger experience of communicating in the MOOC.  You put your communications (paper airplanes) out there.  They don’t seem to reach an audience.  But through the force of a massive communication network the ideas and concepts find a away to aggregate and bring people and ideas together.  So perhaps trusting in the openness of such a large learning experience and resisting the urge to control is really what is necessary.


Shifting Metaphors from Classroom to Journey – #edcmooc

David Cormier has created a nice little video animation that quickly and clearly describes 5 simple steps to learning in a MOOC.  They are:

  1. Orient — find out where everything is, what are the key deadlines, etc
  2. Declare — put your ideas out there in some place — discussion list, blog, tweet, FB post, etc
  3. Network — find people who you find to be of interest, reply, retweet, and comment on what they have said
  4. Cluster — pull together or join a group of folks who you will share the learning experience with.
  5. Focus — remain clear on what you want to get out of the experience and try to remain true to that without getting distracted.

While Cormier doesn’t say it, it seems that these steps do not necessarily have to happen in a linear order and that they could be shuffled around.  I would put them in a networked pattern, much like the one Cormier draws for the network concept.

For instance, it might help to start with focus and learning goals and actually come back to them regularly to reassess or revisit them. Likewise, you might network and seek out individuals and ideas before declaring your own.  You might do this with more than one concept and group.  Also the idea of cluster might equally apply to concepts and themes as they do to people and groups.

A couple of other folks I’ve come across have also shared tips for success in a MOOC.  Ilzele at Random Ramblings has her own 5 steps to MOOC success:

  1. Prioritze
  2. Skim
  3. Group-Up
  4. Organize
  5. Have Fun!!!.

Brittnay Chan at MOOC Nook shares her 4 steps for not being overwhelmed

  1. Pick your favorite
  2. Start slowly – listening is great
  3. Don’t feel you have to do everything
  4. Have fun!!

So clearly there is overlap here.  Echos of Cormier’s “focus” are in Ilzele’s “priortize” and Chan’s “pick your favorite.”  Orienting (Cormier) and starting slowly (Chan) seem compatible.   And Chan’s “listening is great” seems the perfect compliment to Cormier’s “declare.”   Skimming and networking share the features of exploring new content and new people.  Ilzele’s “group up” and “organize” seem to capture two different features of Cormier’s “cluster” — group up = clustering people and organize = clustering content.  Both Ilzele and Chan want us to “have fun” which also seems embodied in Chan’s  “Don’t feel you have to do everything.”

So it would seem that there are both content and interaction lessons.  And as I consider these bits of shared wisdom and insight, the metaphor that comes to mind is that of a journey rather than a classroom.  This is not a new nor original metaphor for learning, but it might help to have this metaphor rather than the mental model of a classroom.  If I am on a knowledge quest rather than fulfilling a requirement or an external expectation of achievement I might find more joy and excitement.

LIke any good journey, I would as Cormier suggests orient myself to the environment.  I would perhaps  prioritize, focus or map the key places I’d like to visit.  I would make time to explore interesting people, resources and content.  I would share my stories as well as listen to those of others.   I would collect and organize treasures found in a knapsack and capture my insights and reflections.  And at the end of the journey, I’d make time to take stock and assess where I had been and where I might go next.

So other things that come to mind with the metaphor of a journey — when and what role does a guide (in the person or information format) play in the journey?  Do you always need one?  How about a translator?  How do you know what to pack or prepare ahead of time? How do you find help when you are in trouble?  What are the other things required of a journey into learning?

Looks like Amy Burvall has some interesting things to say about exploring in asserting that  we should become digital Vikings.


Multiple entry points, individual agency, and connectivism – #edcmooc


The E-Learning and Digital Cultures MOOC (#EDCMOOC) has taken the approach in design to make multiple platforms possible for engaging in the content of the course — many, many discussion lists and all manner of social media platforms.  Given the large number of students and personal technology preferences, this seems to be a strategy that allows for some management of how a student might engage with the course.

For instance, I am primarily checking the Twitter feed, Facebook Group, Mash-up EDC MOOC News which pulls in blog feeds, and tracking two discussion threads — one a Synchtube group of folks who are online educators and the other a discussion of one of the four videos assigned for week 1.

I also have some very specific learning goals for myself for this class.  Such as:

  1. experience how a discussion oriented MOOC runs
  2. experiment with technique and strategies for making the most of collective insights and knowledge
  3. explore individuals and concepts that focus on learning process and instructional design

With these in mind, I’m able to identify content from scanning quickly posts, titles, etc.  It makes me realize how critical it is to distill the essence of your ideas into a compact tweet, blog title, discussion title, Facebook post, etc.  That these can signal your interests to others and help you find individuals with whom you might enter into more in-depth conversation.

My previous thinking on self-organizing groups and organizations applies to this class.  Theories of connectivism are now on my list to explore a bit further.



Embodied Presence in a MOOC – #edcmooc

The five instructors of the e-Learning and Digital Cultures MOOC (#edcmooc) held a live Google+ Hangout today.  Each instructor took themes and questions from various parts of the first week to amplify, discuss and present.  Part synthesis and part engagement in the dialogue, the group highlighted interesting contributions, answered questions, talked about course design intents, and may other elements.  The Hangout+ was incredibly helpful in providing some focus and energy to massive amount of content being produced by students.  Most importantly it provided an embodiment,connective thread, leadership or focus to the course.  Very powerful indeed.

Additionally simultaneous twitter and Google+ feeds allowed for students engaged in the Hangout to contribute the overall conversation.  In many ways this was one solution to the issue of my post two days ago “Making Sense of MOOC Conversations”.

In talking to my colleague Kei today about this course, I also wondered how might this role of “synthesizer” or “meaning maker” be codified.  Could it be something that students would be tasked with?  Could a small study group (in-person or not) provide similar meaning and focus as long as members of the group knew their role in synthesizing content?  Clearly this is a model used in Law School in the U.S. (and perhaps elsewhere) .

A new set of interesting possibilities are now swirling in my head to continue to be considered.


Creating Ownership, Engagement, Buy-in

In thinking through the mechanics and design principles for self-organizing spaces, it seems a key element to ownership, engagement and / or buy-in is the extend to which an individual’s contribution are found value or useful to the group.  Or perhaps it is that for some, it is this element that is most critical, while others find the ability to express or be heard is paramount and still others find the connections to others having the most meaning.  There are standard theories in volunteer management / motivation that look at affiliation, achievement and power as the key factor propelling engagement in an organization (

Peter shared with me some thinking he had done on the SICW endeavor to come to some collective and growing community of researchers, activities, educators in this realm.  It was gratifying to know that some of the thinking I had shared with him on self-organizing groups was taken up.  That my ideas had some value.  So then the question is how do we creating meaning and value within the context of self-organizing groups?  How do we make accommodations for varieties of motivations?  How do we meet varied needs for connection and engagement?

Part of me things that it is critical then to provide many levels of intensity for engaging and opportunities for coming in and out of a space.  I will need to think on this a bit more.

Thoughts on 119 Organizational Design

So I’m starting to think about the 119 and its organizational design.  Starting to pickup more concretely literature in this area.  It seems to me that looking at the 119 as a case connects to literature from the following areas like:

  • Organizational Studies
  • Business Management and Leadership
  • Collectives and Cooperatives
  • Grassroots Organizing
  • Volunteer Management
  • Motivational Studies
  • Social Network Theory
  • Complexity Studies
  • System Thinking
  • Network Design

This format rests within a long history of community action and engagement coupled with traditions coming out of the business sector formed during the middle part of the last century and then amplified by advances in science and technology which have produced new ways of sharing and communicating.

The 119 sits somewhere between social network theory and organizational management theories.  The organization is concerned with organizational tasks such as creating goals and outcomes, designing roles and responsibility / accountability, and coordinating and communicating key information (management and leadership).  At the same time, there is a need for trust, community, reciprocity, social bonding and bridging (social network). The system also mechanisms to provide feedback for adaptation and response (system).

Thinking too on what self-organizing groups need in terms of platforms, coordinating structures, values, etc.

It also seems to me that the 119 Gallery responds and adapts within a context of problem-based organization.  Laurie Ross’s report on Youth Workers talks about Dilemna-based approaches.  It seems that there is something there.  The idea that problems become and opportunity respond and adapt systems.

For instance, current tensions at the 119 appear to revolve around roles and responsibilities and confusion when these are crossed without prior understanding.

I’m going to start reading on some older literature from the early 1990s to early 2000s about these concepts.  I am thinking that while the business sector has had a lot of these ideas shifting around and there exist NPO models, articulation of these concepts within the NPO literature is under-developed.