Teaching, Learning, Growing
Reflections on March 2013
The Faculty Circle and MOOC experience was mixed. It could have been better, it could have been worse. For all intents and purposes it did what I needed it to do. I was able to confirm my ideas for developing and teaching online courses. I was able to give back to the teaching community at Salem State by participating in discussions and sharing my knowledge and experience. I was able to listen to fellow teachers talk about their struggles with technology and see them start to step into the online teaching arena by beginning work on translating their brick and mortar classes to Canvas.
Because of the Georgia Tech MOOC fail, we didn’t get to sit back and participate in someone else’s course; we had to create a space of our own and work there. Which was OK, but not as effective for generating discussion. It would have been nice to use someone else’s online class as fodder for discussion and debate. No one in our group was going to criticize what things were being done – we were in an under-inflated raft together, committed to make it work, and we did. Comme ci, comme ça.
I do still want the Coursera MOOC experience, so to counter the FOEMOOC experience, I picked a course that I knew had to be good. I enrolled in and have been working on completing Charles Severance’s Internet History Technology and Security course. I am enjoying the experience. I surprise myself with this one, though. I have not participated in any of the discussions and am not inclined to do the extra credit essay writing. I am content watching videos (GASP!) and completing the quiz at the end of each module (WHAT?!).
As a course designer I cringe when people start talking about recording videos and posting them online as the central focus on the course. I am shaking my head ‘no’ even as I write this because to me it seems like a waste of opportunity, to not engage students in other ways, to not leverage all the great things we can do with the web. As an online learner, I expect to be able to meet my classmates and interact with them. I want to know what they are thinking, what they like or don’t like, I want to know what they are working on and how they are applying the course material to their work. I expect the teacher to a part of the learning process, not just a content producer. Dr Chuck’s course has forums that are very active and an active Twitter stream, G+ group and Facebook group. The opportunity exists so I am not criticizing his course at all. On the contrary, the videos are great, the learning objectives are clear, the information is interesting and new to me, but not overwhelming. I am content watching the videos and checking my knowledge via the quiz. That’s it. It is a satisfying experience. I am happy with the course and am learning new things (for example, I will no longer make fun of Netscape because I now know the history of it). I value the simplicity of the course because I am so busy this semester I could not manage to participate in required activities that may or may not improve my ability to learn the material.
Participating in the Faculty Circle at SSU and IHTS Coursera course has been worthwhile. I am glad the SSU group was active and I would likely participate again. Taking a class in a MOOC format works for me – I like learning. I am already shopping for a summer course.
NERCOMP Annual Conference was fantastic. I am amazed at how far I have come professionally in the last 10 years. I have been active with NERCOMP and value my relationships and friendships very, very much. I helped prep and plan some parts of the event as the Social Media Strategist for NERCOMP and planning committee member for the Red Chair Project, and gave a short talk at SIG Master Breakfast. Beyond that, the warmth and generosity of the NERCOMP community was more evident this year than I can express. Walking in and being greeted by countless familiar faces made me feel so good. Meeting new people and being able to introduce old friends to each other was fun. I left the conference feeling grateful – tremendously grateful to be a part of the northeast regional higher ed community. Check out the Tweet archive here.
Last year at NERCOMP I used my network to help me decide what I wanted to do for my next career move. This year I used my network to help me decide if now is the time to go back to school. In prior conversations about pursuing a doctorate, I have had good leads, but not great leads. Nothing that really got me excited. This year at NERCOMP, the topic kept presenting itself over and over again. Someone told me they just finished, someone told me they just started, another person told me she just finished. It kept happening, so I jumped on it, feeling like it was time to really dig in again and look at my options (schools) and resources (time and money). I have started writing my statement of purpose and am feeling pretty good about it. I have support from old and new friends alike, thanks to NERCOMP.