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[multilit] Getting ready for COOLcast #2 and ChangeMOOC live events today at 2 and 4 pm GMT

September 21, 2011

MOOC is redefining some people’s concepts of lifelong learning.  In a MOOC you can do exactly what Kate says below, you can come when you have time and learn what you wish.  As I am trying to adapt some of those precepts in this course, this gives each of us autonomy in how we approach our work here.  It’s a question of which is most effective? Does the teacher know what the students need to know and set out a course of which they will all follow in order to learn that?  If the course is algebra 101 or beginning Turkish, it might be necessary to adhere to this model.  But if the subject is how to actually speak a language, or how people learn, or how the concept of multiliteracies has forced paradigm shifts on how we guide our students, then the MOOC idea is to crowdsource our knowledge and set up learning environments where participants can flourish through contact with one another rather than set out learning pathways, one size fits all, for the group to follow.

It takes more effort on the part of the students to cope with a course where students must set their own pathways. In th multiliteracies course this also allows us to set our own objectives, rather than a teacher setting them for you. What this means for this course is that at some point after two weeks I have to submit a list of (registered participants) who have ‘passed’ this course.  The requirements are that you produce an e-portfolio and present it to the group either live on Sunday Oct 2, see or asynchronously in your own time which you can negotiate with me.  The point is, you don’t have to feel constrained by arbitrary deadlines if you’re busy when the course “ends” officially.

Colleagues auditing the course are also welcome to join us and present; it’s very much a MOOC notion that there are some who register for accreditation and others for whom MOOC makes it possible for them to learn freely, because the course is open to anyone who wants to contribute to the crowdsourcing of knowledge.

Stephen Downes makes a useful analogy.  Suppose he steps off a train in Barcelona he is straightaway kidnapped by a tour company and taken here and there and shown this and that and after a few days he’s learned a lot about the city, maybe not exactly what he would have seen on his own, but he knows a bit about Barcelona. Alternatively he can step off the train and find the citizens have signposted it for him, so he can start at the info kiosk, get maps, find pointers in the streets, and at the end of a few days he also knows Barcelona, but in a possibly more meaningful, and possibly enjoyable, way.

What I had in mind when I started writing this was to address the direction of the course for these remaining two weeks.  I have in mind leaving pointers in the streets. One is to Change MOOC (which just had its first live meeting in BBB (Big Blue Button) – didn’t work all that well with 50 people – I got tossed out and couldn’t get back in – but we’ve ended up in Fuzemeeting, interesting, and listening in Livestream).  Anyway, Kate was there too, and she and I are going to pay some attention to Change MOOC. This week the topic is Mobile Learning, and this topic and the experience of involvement in a MOOC are both relevant to a course on multiliteracies.

Kate raised some interesting points in the COOLcast earlier tonight.  She said that with all these extra inputs from MOOC she was going to have to filter in a different way than before.  There’s too much input.  This introduces the dilemma that David Weinberger brought up when he coined the term the narrows in response to Nicholas Carr’s the Shallows.  If you try to avoid the rapids then you are trying to narrow the stream into a manageable trickle. Filtering is appropriate because it’s a way of accepting the stream and then sipping from the firehose, to use a common analogy.  What you don’t want to do is avoid the stream.  You need to get as much information as possible flowing your way but then set up your filters so you can manage it.  It’s like living in a flood plain but managing the water so that you get exactly what you need and ignore the rain, rather than moving to a desert where there isn’t much water but it’s much easier to manage it, but maybe you don’t really get enough.

This kind of control is how we deal with media. We take a lot of media for granted.  You don’t watch everything that’s on TV, maybe you filter it for available time frame first, then narrow that to shows on certain topics, then for quality, reliability and so on.  You are not at all concerned about what you are missing.

This is the way MOOCs work.  So you miss a lot, don’t worry about it.  Filter it down to timeframe, interest, quality, reliability and so on.  If you DO really want to see it even if it’s not convenient, catch the re-run, the recorded version. Don’t be concerned about the fish that got away.  Take what you can consume, benefit from that, and appreciate that you live near a connected ocean with lots of fish.

The great paradigm shift we are experiencing with regard to education, with the fact that there is now so much that’s out there and streaming past all the time, that there are so many knowledgeable people you can learn from who are sharing online all the time, so many more research reports that you no longer have to go to the library for, you just open the PDFs .. the shift is that it’s no longer a world where these things were in short supply, where you had to report to a brick and mortar institution and pay to get in.  Now it’s a world where learning is just a click away.  Like a kid in a candy shop you are not quite sure how to handle that.  Instinct tells you to grab everything you see.  Don’t.  Relax.  Filter.  Take your time.  Like any media, if it’s important, it will come around again on the retelling.  Learn from what you can absorb,  you’re better off that way than you were before. If you make it a habit to learn gradually and at your pace, eventually you will become knowledgeable, with knowledge to share with your connectivist colleagues.

Multiliteracies is about adopting that mindset and setting filters so that you keep the stream open but take in just enough water that you keep your crops irrigated, not flood your brain with so much input that you drown in it.  That way leads to the shallows.  Enjoy life, smell the flowers, and keep your filters set for constant learning at your own pace.  In this course, it means to keep learning every day, record what you learn, interact with the other learners here, and plan to give us your state of accomplishment in an eportfolio and presentation on Oct 2.  If you do that consistently, and keep working in that way as you strive at remaining a lifelong learner, you will have succeeded in this course.


On Wed, Sep 21, 2011 at 4:32 PM, Kate wrote:

Hey Vance,
Thanks for the info. I plan on trying both today. The Change MOOC is
ambitious for me given the TESOL courses but it’s a great opportunity so
I’ve given myself the goal to attend whenever I can’t and–most
importantly–not to stress when I can’t! That’s the beauty of the MOOC,

On Wed, Sep 21, 2011 at 8:21 AM, Vance wrote:

> Hi folks,
> People who attend the COOLcasts in Google Hangout space really like them.
> The next one is in a little over an hour. Read about it at
> At 4 pm GMT today, there is the first of the eagerly awaited ChangeMOOC
> live events. This one is in Big Blue Button, an open source presentation
> tool that you can use yourself. Come try it out.
> information for today at the above URL –

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