In a course with such an open structure, what makes a participant feel behind on the morning of Day 2? Having grappled with this feeling of falling behind myself, I wonder if the nature of the course, specifically, the massive, distributed text that is created by participants bears responsibility? My experiences in traditional ed tell me to look at the reading load in a course to estimate and manage my workload. In this course, the texts are everywhere and constantly growing. I’ll breathe, sample and respond, knowing I could never read it all. Behind, after all, is relative.
The phrase “free 4 all” is apt. It might be the simplest, most elegant description of a connectivist MOOC experience. Optimistically, I wonder, What is free? What is 4 all?
Facilitators can certainly organize resources, synchronous sessions and suggested strategies. Ultimately, the M stands for “massive.” Learners in this course will experience the massiveness at times as a free 4 all. In traditional ed and professional learning, institutions minimize how and when a student experiences “crowdedness.” A large university, for example, designs ways for learners to feel a part of small classes, small communities and to have explicit support. In a MOOC, how do participants begin to experience connectedness more than crowdedness?
Reading introductions and responding to others might be a great way. Of course, looking at the stream of introductions will make participants face a reality that sounds like this:
At the start of this course, with a sprawling “course text” growing on screen in front of me, I’ll make daily decisions about filtering, learning all the way from the strategies and reflections of others. In order to accept (or combat) the dissonance, I’ll set goals for learning, and experiment with strategies reading and responding. In the end, I hope that the access to thoughtful learners is free and the content that surfaces to help our massive group learn about educational technology is 4 all.