The excellent practice started by Anna Smith in the CLMOOC takes off in Kevin Hodgson’s always evocative blog, Kevin’s Meandering Mind. Below is my response to his post, sometimes channeling the MOOC itself and sometimes as myself. Don’t know quite how that split happened, but I hope it isn’t confusing. We are making Lego Institutions. Sorry for the mess. Connecting and constructing is dirty business.
1. As has been said, you need to put the food down where the goats can get to it. Community organizers get down to the neighborhood level and perhaps the MOOC can, too. I think that this might start with wider diversity in the facilitator class. And maybe the facilitators need to be more like community organizers put the food down where a more diverse goat population can find it.
2. You have to gather somewhere. G+ is a space we do not own. Heck, even ordinary folk can’t buy Google stock IPO’s when they come out. And Google is, in the end, an advertising seller and reseller using us in excahnge for the tools they want to provide. There are open tools and I think we need to consider them for the next time. The big problem is creating content and using new tools at the same time. Maybe the MOOC needs to be smaller, maybe the community needs more skin in the game.
3. The fact is that the number of brave folks willing to enter into the game of personal transformation in even a small way will not ever be very large until some tipping point or flash point is reached. Connected learning as a coherent theory is still one on the outside looking in so I think it cannot help but seem…chaotic. Connecting is a game played on many levels and it is an infinite game, one that can and should be played to our dying days. Theory is difficult to internalize when it is hard to find a field to practice in. This MOOC has been such a field, a t-ball field. Like t-ball it seems chaos. Some kid hits the ball and every other kid descends on it, regardless of the inefficiency. The point is this–we are still playing the game and it takes time to learn your position and respect others positions.
4. It all starts with reciprocation and patience. The MOOC itself should tell us something about this lesson. The creators of the MOOC took over a month to bring this together. And we are pretty competent connected learners. We are still learning how to facilitate and probably have not done enough work at the ‘neighborhood’ level to help folks coalesce. We are doing lots of other MOOC activities, but I think we have been too busy with Hangouts and twitterchats and newsletters and the stuff that concerns the theory of connected learning. We haven’t gotten down where our people are to actively invite and provide specific spaces for that or suggest specific spaces for that. I think it might be time to do more of that, but the remit we have may be too large for us as a group. I think we need another level of facilitator who can help specifically with this. This is not a criticism of what has been constructed and what has been done. I am proud of the MOOC. Ours is a model for others to follow and to improve upon. Patience and reflection in the middle of the chaos is the order of the day.
5. I believe that professional change is possible. I believe that personal change is possible. I believe transformational change happens when enough folks change personally and professionally. How many will MOOC manage to have helped change? Will that change be carried down off the mountain? Maybe only the use of a certain tool will come from this. Perhaps one principle will be internalized and brought back. Who knows, if a value like equity or full participation or social connectedness makes its way in some active practical sense then we have begun well at the end. We are trying to change the ecology of learning to one where we have way fewer takers and more givers . That is a big deal with big pushback. All I can beg for is patience, the rhizomatic, connected learning world won’t be built in a day. I suspect that we will come to understand the story of Moses and the promised land utterly.