What Now?

I have spent so much time exploring where I was coming from in this course (EC&I 831), that I am now finally feeling able to explore what this course has to offer me.  I am looking back at what has been discussed so far and trying to make sense of this.  Unfortunately, the course is already 2/3 done, so I guess I have to play catch up.  But at least I have a sound foundation from which to work from.   I also have the benefit of 0thers’ blogs to see how they are making sense of this course.

When Dr. Schwier first spoke about the idea of community in virtual learning environments, I started thinking about where I fit into this learning community.  I very much felt like an outsider.  I have no problem thinking about the concepts and even blogging, but I have had a very difficult time engaging in online conversations.  I very rarely comment on others’ blogs and my use of twitter is still mostly as a lurker.  I have very few tweets, but have spent a lot of time reading others’ and following useful links that have been posted.  Luckily for me, a community is hospitable (Connections: virtual learning communities, p. 19) and allows for forgiveness in this area.  But is it also authentic (Ibid, p. 21)?  I do not feel that I have developed meaningful interpersonal relationships.  Perhaps the most engagement has involved Leslie.  Although I haven’t met her, I am willing to bet that she has a very vibrant personality, resulting in a natural ability to make people feel as if they belong.  She is also very engaged, making it difficult not to notice her contributions.

It is clear to me that how I am thinking fits in very well with George Siemen‘s talk on sensemaking and wayfinding.  I spent the first part of this course (and my blogs) trying to make sense of where I was coming from and how this fit into this course.  I guess  I am now at the wayfinding stage of figuring out what I’m going to do with this information.  Not to be a term dropper, but all of this does fit in with Dave Cormier‘s theory of Rhizomatic learning.  The problem is, I hate it.  This kind of learning has been driving me crazy.  I have never before felt this behind in a course.  The final project is looming over my head and I still don’t feel like I have a handle on it.  I almost wish that I could have explored this course as a participant, rather than as a credit student.  As a credit student, we are expected to explore these new ways of learning within the old parameters of education (marks, assignments, and a finite end).  There seems to be a bit of a disconnect.

Interestingly enough, I found this flicker photo with the keyword ‘chaos’.  It is called “Weird and Lost” and underneath it was written,

Where do I come from? Where do I go?
What shall I do?
I lost my way…


Schwier, Richard. (2011).  Connections: virtual learning communities.  Copestone: Saskatoon, SK.  Free epub available  here



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12 responses to “What Now?

  1. I have to agree with much of what you have said… I too have not tweeted as much as I should or commented on everyone’s blogs. However I am reading, reflecting and learning from these. Sometimes I have thought to myself I should have (and could have) tweeted that as opposed to someone else did it for me. I am changing how I am using these tools. I think that now I am ready to say more and do more which has been a huge shift for me. Professionally I am taught to hold back and let other share their experiences so it is a huge leap to put yourself out there. I find myself ready to take that next step and let others decide if they choose to read….it sounds like you are too!

  2. Hey there,

    I don’t think all of us are completely comfortable either. I think that’s the point! I imagine this is how our students feel all the time; we are wrapping up a unit when they feel like they are just getting a handle on it and worried about their project or exam! I too am behind on the two major assignments. I guess the way I look at it is that I have learned so much that regardless of the mark in the end (if Alec reads this I would still love an A), I know I have acquired so much and will continue with it once this class is said and done. I would love to return as a participant because I know I would learn even more the second time around. As far as where you should go and what you should do…keep going forward. Keep reading and forcing yourself to respond. In the beginning it’s something forced but it eventually becomes a habit. I have found myself wondering how many of us will continue to write, read and respond on these blogs after December. I might go into withdrawl! But I am sure that no matter where you find yourself on this journey you have taken at least a couple steps in your learning so discuss those steps for the final projects. Good luck!

  3. As Sarah mentions here in the comments, yes, much of the point is to make you uncomfortable and to expose you to a way of learning that is becoming coming for many people, including many young people. This will eventually become more of a norm than the exception, and the organized chaos is reflective of a very different future of learning.

    I hope that you can take the next 1/3 of the class to take a more active approach to your learning here. I am not sure that some of what you could have been doing (e.g., commenting on blog posts) is that entirely different than, say, commenting in a discussion forum. I am wondering what threw you in that respect (e.g., the tool, the nature of the communication, etc.) and would love to hear more about your experience.

    Keep on working at it – put some time into it as you would with any other course, and you will be fine, and hopefully will gain an entirely new perspective on learning.

  4. onepercentyellow

    Wow! Today has involved a long line of people affecting me deeply in this online world. I can’t tell you how much it means in this strange place of Montreal for me to know that I have made anyone feel more comfortable, more welcome, or more inspired to engage. It has been a bit of a crazy week, and I’m struggling to express the deep currents that seem to be shifting around me, but every time I have opened my computer today, it seems to be expressed for me. We all live inside a deep longing to connect. The most familiar way we feel connected is through acceptance – some external confirmation of our worth. In this class, external affirmation doesn’t happen in the predictable modes we’re used to. It doesn’t happen with deadlines and 100% on multiple-choice exams. It happens in those quiet ways – when you learn how to embed a link in a comment (oh yeah, Sarah), when you find value in doodles because someone else has validated you, or when you find someone authentically sharing what it means to be human. It’s not really grade-able. It’s about process and not product. I mean, I guess we’re graded at the end… I wish it were a pass/fail, being a bit more in line with process.

    And this is the absolute beauty of this class being open! Next year you can sit in on this and other open courses and participate again, learn again, gather together again. The opportunity for connection is long-lasting. I went the opposite way – I have sat in on this class twice already. This is why I chose to do the video thing as my reflections, as I wanted to really take the chance to challenge myself to do something new. My twitter community and my comfort in the online world has not happened all at once!! And I have been watching all the rest of the class and thinking about how behind and unprofessional and out there I am! It’s all about perspective.

    a marathon response… 🙂

  5. Yr Athro

    Hi Christie
    I’m going to take a quote from your blog: “As a credit student, we are expected to explore these new ways of learning within the old parameters of education (marks, assignments, and a finite end). There seems to be a bit of a disconnect.”
    There is a disconnect. The old parameters are based on a 19th century model of schooling, and are built on the assumptions of institutions with walls. However much we object to these infrastructures, we can’t change that thinking and process as it is such a massive infrastructure. That doesn’t mean we can’t change things in our classrooms and in our practice. Some days I feel like I’m working in a parallel universe. What we all have to do is to engage in ‘small acts of subversion’ in order to move things forward. Change takes place in our classrooms, not in the Principal’s office. That change affects us as teachers and as learners.
    For you as a learner, that doesn’t help, and as Alec has said above, that makes you uncomfortable. It’s called cognitive dissonance (see an overview of Festinger here http://home.sprynet.com/~gkearsley/tip/festinge.html )
    I lead a teacher education programme, and in the first year we help students develop their teaching based on sound principles of teaching and learning. At that stage in their learning they want rules to follow. In the second year we try to get them to question and break the rules so that they understand what the rules mean. I spend a lot of time in tutorials dealing with confused students who are trying to let go of rule-based teaching.
    What we don’t need is teachers who can only follow rules. We need thinking performers who can challenge history and develop new ways of thinking. It’s not comfortable on the front line, and that’s where you are. The disconnect means you are engaged with this process but that you are not there yet. It’s uncomfortable, but it’s important. Learning implies change; change is difficult; change means loosing your way for a little while until you find it again; change doesn’t happen over night.
    Keep at it; this is a very important part of learning.

  6. I’m not sure if I’m ‘doing it right’ either but I do agree that the point is that this is part of getting to know the future of learning. I think I do the most sharing on Twitter because I’m an avid reader. I’ve also really tried to make more of a concerted effort to read and comment on more blogs in the last while. Figuring out how to schedule my weeks has been trickier than I thought.

    One major struggle I’m having at the moment is using ‘open’ tools because working as a public servant, this is not possible for our work right now. They talk about this as the future, especially given how virtually located our colleagues are these days, but there are so many security and privacy issues with our network and the information we exchange that often result in limited ‘intranet tools’ that we are able to use. Mainly I’m limited to SharePoint, NetMeeting and an instant communicator tool. Bureaucracies can really inhibit innovation so I’ve been focussed more on building my PLN, reading, sharing and blogging. Also, it seems that with my MacBook becoming a few years older, I have less access to apps because I’m not using Snow Leopard. But maybe I need to be more utopian and less pragmatic given my current work situation?

  7. Christie I have always believed that the “road to success is always under construction.” The way you have described your journey in this class to this point was a great summary of what has occurred in the class for many of us I believe – the pace is somewhat immaterial I think (except the traditional need for a grade). Cormier would say that developing this desire for ongoing learning means success – in this class I would say that is too – you have taken yourself out of your comfort zone – how much is somewhat immaterial I think.

    Just stay on the road…

  8. I hear you, and commiserate. Good luck with your project. I hope you get what you need from this class. As one of the other students commented in my blog, individual growth is important. Every student in the class started at a different place so don’t compare yourself to them. Ask yourself if you are a more informed teacher? and can you apply what you have learned in your teaching? If you answer yes then you and your students win.

  9. Wow, I’m really impressed with this post and comment thread! With your openness and honesty about where you’re at in the course, and with everyone’s fantastic and supportive advice. You don’t see this kind of communication happen in a face to face course very often. Good luck with your project!

  10. I can relate! It took me a few weeks to really get into the swing of things. I still am no where near others in thier usage of twiiter and their “sharing” however I have embraced social media. I am now “wayfinding” myself through the process of integration. How can I best use this new found tool as an educator. I have forced myself to take risks, I will never know the power of social media unless I try!

  11. Hi Christie,
    I really appreciate your honesty. As everyone is saying, I think that we’re all finding our way, and maybe some are just more experienced online than others. It definitely is a different way of learning. I know that I’m still trying to come up with an idea for my Summary of Learning, and like you said in regard to your learning style, I too usually have much more of a handle on final projects than I do right now! This definitely makes me uncomfortable too! However, I guess that’s what learning is all about – challenging ourselves! If you want to bounce ideas off of someone for your project, just send me a tweet! Good luck with everything!

  12. What has really helped my take risks in this class and push myself through the new experiences is our unbelievably inspiring classmates. All around me people are taking risks and facing their fears and living to tell the story. I am so grateful they are telling their stories because it supports me in the journey. The web of connections is also a safety net so when you take a leap they are there to support you.

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