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Advice (to myself) on working in the #etmooc

January 18, 2013

In “Is that a question I see before me?” Stacey Kerr explains that she holds a question in mind when she sits down to read through the content of the MOOC. She arrived at this helpful strategy by taking the advice of another participant, Jeff Merrell.

Kerr’s post, and her relief at receiving some helpful guidance from a connection in the course, reminded me of a request for help posted in an open course I helped with on last summer.

Our course, decidedly not massive ( 30 registered participants), had a group of facilitators anxious to dig in as learners when the course started. One participant, a relative newcomer to open format (aren’t we all), posted for help when 4 or 5 facilitators jumped on the start of the course armed with their ideas, their keyboards and, presumably, a great deal of caffeine. In the first few hours of the first day, the text of the course became massive. Our newcomer felt buried. He sent a group message to the facilitators on the second day of the course, saying the experience was overwhelming and “too free.”

I’ve excerpted from the message I sent him in the hopes of helping him and keeping him in the course. Digging through my sent file reminded me of my own approach to learning in a course with so much content. The advice I gave then I’ll follow now myself starting this new course.

Don’t despair! While it is definitely up to you to decide if this medium is too free for you, I think there are some strategies you can apply to make things feel more manageable.

You might try setting some goals before you log in. How long will you read? How many posts will you respond to? Do you want to do some extended writing or ask questions of participants? Perhaps by choosing a direction each time you log in at first, you will feel a little more comfortable. Thanks for reaching out for help. Keep letting us know what you think.


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  1. I needed this. I can’t seem to find the focus. I joined late and am swimming in information. I’d like to find some middle school teachers, especially writing teachers, but I’m not sure how to do so. I think I’ll add a #midschool hashtag for making a connection. Your post helped me focus my own learning. Thanks.

  2. Oh yes — I see you put #etmooc in the title of your post. Great idea! Thanks.

  3. gemmaholtambarnsleycollege permalink

    Great advice. This is my first MOOC and I have been struggling to feel part of it. Going to try setting some goals this weeks to see if it helps.

  4. Allison adams permalink

    Great insight and a comfort. As soon as other people started to post about managing content and participation I relaxed. I am playing catch up (forgot about the calendar and couldn’t figure out when the BB sessions were ;$). Sheri- hang in there it will get easier!

  5. Excellent advice – and thanks for the link to Stacey’s post. I think there’s a good number of us #etmooc participants who would benefit from approaching our interactions with these questions in mind!

  6. Thanks Joe, for posting.

    I took the new users experience you mention here and used it as a touchstone for a post on Instructional Design.

    Trying to figure out, as a designer, some of the reasons why people feel buried, and how design and delivery can shape and contribute to that.

    Wouldn’t have had the ideas I had without your post.

Trackbacks & Pingbacks

  1. Some things I think I might have learned so far… « Experiments in the world of moocery
  2. Etmooc Comment Scraper Output (continued) « Connection not Content
  3. Some things I think I might have learned so far… | #moocie

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