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Posted by on Sep 20, 2011

#Change11: Setting my learning expectations and goals. Agile lurking.

(A metaphor for MOOC learning, perhaps. Chatter, chaos, and signal to noise. Meaningful conversations to those participating in them. Literally, it is the sound of a noisy restaurant in Seoul recorded from my phone). 

I found myself feeling trepidation recently about committing myself to the Change#11 MOOC and for the last week or so I was struggling to determine why. I have read everything that has been posted to the site, I have followed the hashtag thread (#change11) and read blog posts as often as possible. I have done more or less everything except sit down and interact either through the discussion postings or even through my own reflection here on this blog. As each day passed, I grew more concerned over what I perceived as laziness, indifference, or even dread. 

By way of background, I participate in these types of things often. I participated in MobiMOOC (quite actively) and since the completion of that course, I have participated in a small research team that spun off from that course and we have authored two papers and are working actively on the third. These papers all address MOOCs to some degree, hence the professional, personal, and social interest in the MOOC. I have a background in education, a few advanced degrees, years of teaching experiences, a title that says Education Manager. Change 2011 seems a perfect fit. 

Yet I resisted and I am starting to realize that it wasn’t laziness. It was the balance that had yet to appear. I hadn’t determined a suitable mode of participation for myself in this course and yet was fairly confident that due to personal and professional commitments (just moved to Seoul, work, conferences, research groups, etc.) I wouldn’t be able to guarantee a level of commitment akin to the MobiMOOC. This troubled me. I like to do things at full speed, but this is a marathon and not a sprint. This is over 30 weeks. This is commitment. This is an opportunity to establish a nuanced approach to my learning strategies. A learning maturity of sorts. 

So, I do believe that I am going to define myself as an agile lurker on the course. I will read as much as possible, reflect as much as possible, yet remain slightly aloof (for lack of a better term). I will seize opportunities as they appear in terms of participating in meaningful activities or interactions (meaningful in terms of matching to my learning expectations and needs). I will monitor, occasionally poke and prod (gregariously), interpret, bandy ideas about, and occasionally come forth socially and interact. This level of participation will allow for the balance I am looking for, hopefully inoculate me against participatory burnout, identify a fluid information filtering strategy to avoid overflow, meander amongst nodes of activity in true flaneur style. Pick things up, ponder them, put them down, and go and make some things. Wander the lanes and buildings of the Change Campus (that is the metaphor I am using for MOOCs) and see what proves intriguing. 

This is my learning structure. The development of this structure are my learning needs. Balance, focus, exploration, meaningful interaction, adjustment. And now I feel better. 

Namdaemun Market, Seoul

 

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8 Comments

  1. just dropped in via ur twitter post, i like your mooc metaphor. I like the slow stroll approach suggestive of curiousity and wonder best wishes.

  2. I like your analogy as agile lurker – except to me I saw agile and thought of the software development process ;). I too have struggled with my level of participation in Change MOOC, and have had to remind myself that it is not possible to carry the level of activity that I sustained for MobiMOOC and eduMOOC over 30 weeks – it is simply too long for me to sustain the effort. I’m also struggling to engage – some of my reaction is the user interface of the change MOOC site – it seems to be a challenge for me every time I try to interact – and that challenge is partially what is slowing me down. I don’t have the energy right now to work around interface issues 🙁

  3. Thanks, Alisa, Rebecca for the comments. I think it is important, at least in the early stages of a MOOC, to be patient in choosing to participate. I want to do everything, but learning how to stroll, saunter is a good skill for me to develop and the Change MOOC seems long enough to afford me that opportunity. Rebecca, I use agile development at work as well so was wondering if that term would signal that! The interface for Change is a little muted, enough to actually dampen my enthusiasm for it. I don’t see a clear way to participate; it all seems like a journey to get a comment in there. That is fine, but I suspect that most of my participation will occur on this blog outside the general stream.

  4. Pardon me the economy of scale (can one plagiarize oneself?) in recycling my comment on the course thread. “Agile lurker” has to be my favorite takeaway from the morning’s flânerie. Hopefully (and I hope realistically). my lurking agility improves with each passing mooc.Count me in too on “identify a fluid information filtering strategy to avoid overflow, meander amongst nodes of activity in true flaneur style.” Rather than campus, my preferred mental model of dis/organization has been the city ~ sometimes the cities of urban studies that Kevin Lynch writes about, sometimes real cities I’ve known and more or less figured out how to navigate, sometime cities in literature ~ other times, Italo Calvino’s cities (a mooc for each?)Could we paraphrase Samuel Johnson and “”Why, Sir, you find no man, at all intellectual, who is willing to leave London. No, Sir, when a man is tired of London, he is tired of life; for there is in London all that life can afford”?

  5. Thanks, Vanessa! Great comments. “Hopefully (and I hope realistically). my lurking agility improves with each passing mooc.Count me in too on “identify a fluid information filtering strategy to avoid overflow, meander amongst nodes of activity in true flaneur style.” “I find myself already improving from the last MOOC to this one, at least in my confidence in myself as a learner to let certain conversations remain off to the side, to engage selectively, to look and investigate, and to reflect when possible. Lurking has a negative connotation, I think, so generally I prefer a flaneur approach. A nonchalant, yet engaged, dance with one’s environment. The trick is the agile part (at least for me). To be able to jump in, interact, and seize opportunity (for learning) when it presents itself. For when we are ready, the opportunity might not be there and vice versa. The ability to engage at the right time and place. A purposeful mindfulness (yet without an anxious urgency). “Rather than campus, my preferred mental model of dis/organization has been the city ~ sometimes the cities of urban studies that Kevin Lynch writes about, sometimes real cities I’ve known and more or less figured out how to navigate, sometime cities in literature ~ other times, Italo Calvino’s cities (a mooc for each?)”Good one; this is indeed better than the campus. The city works as its layers of complexity, fluid borders, constant movement and states of interaction map well to a MOOC. If you get bored (and I mean really bored), take a look at a project I had done for my Masters (http://michaelgallagher.posterous.com/pages/urban-cultural-heritage) discussing the city as a learning space (specifically for Cultural Heritage). “Could we paraphrase Samuel Johnson and “”Why, Sir, you find no man, at all intellectual, who is willing to leave London. No, Sir, when a man is tired of London, he is tired of life; for there is in London all that life can afford”?”I love it! A good learner heads to the energy at the source, to surround themselves with other pilgrims on other pursuits, all looking for truth, knowledge, a collective realization. An epiphany. These open structures lend themselves quite well to some literary explanations!

  6. This is my first MOOC and I have been on holidays for the past two weeks. I was starting to worry that when the school term started and time pressures mount that I wasn’t going to be able to participate anywhere near the level I have been, and then have to “drop out” through inactivity. Your term, “agile lurking”, provides a beautifully apt metaphor for me to take forward to a change in circumstances. Thank you.I like the reminder that this is a marathon, not a sprint because I feel that the longer this goes on the more I will understand what it is I can do.Aloof – maybe for me, more “adrift”. My metaphor for learning is the ocean – sometimes I can just float along the top and enjoy the moments; at other times it is extremely turbulent and I’m not sure I am going to survive. While on the beach the waves of learning can wash over me.Thank you for a great post and a timely voice of experience.

  7. Metaphors are sensemaking takes on chaos, our first searches for patterns, highly applicable to #MOOCs, #openlearning in general. #change11Glad to hear it was useful. I think MOOCs challenge the notion of even dropping out let alone participating. To stay even minimally engaged (even just by reading a post or tweet every so often) is easier than completely disengaging with the course (as if were something to reject like a virus). So, for me at least, positioning expectation was important and agile lurking, which I even viewed with skepticism when I wrote it as it sounded like rationalizing laziness, seemed the best metaphor for it. Like a flaneur. Meandering through the urban playscape (the MOOC world) and engaging with what I want, smelling out opportunity and grabbing those. The ocean is a good metaphor as well; adrift is almost a preferable state so to speak as it implies a severing from fixed location. Adrift as rhizomic exploration. We can steer in general directions, but we don’t have absolute control over where directional activity will take us. Open to the experience of being carried in other directions. But to drown? Perhaps a risk of danger present of being overwhelmed with information and activity. On the beach, waves as pulses of learning. Crashing on us, comforting at the same time, but with respites before the next waves come down. Metaphors are absolutely necessary for sensemaking when faced with chaotic activity; they are our first attempts at searching for patterns. Language in the seas of noise.

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