Week 1: Connecting All Learners- Online Networks

Welcome to #oclmooc!

This week, September 24 – 30, we are focused on introducing the type of learning experiences you’ll find in #oclmooc, making sure that you know how to use some of the tools we’ll be using and encouraging participants to join the conversation. Through the five weeks of #oclmooc we’ll be introducing ideas, sharing resources and suggesting activities, but the exploration and sharing that participants do during that time is more important than any particular content.

Here are Dave Cormier’s suggestions for success in a Mooc. Dave is the special guest in our first webinar on Thursday September 25th at 7 pm mountain time. You can find out more about Dave on his blog. We’ll be using Blackboard Collaborate for this event, here is the link to sign in for the webinar. Here is the link to our help page for Blackboard Collaborate.

Suggested Activities for this week

Start participating in the community spaces

Here are some suggestions for activities that you could do this week. Since this is a connectivist Mooc, none of these activities are required and the only person who is going to be assessing your work is you. You might have already done some of these activities if you have participated in a Mooc before or if you read the Getting Ready to Connect post or email.

  1. Start a Twitter account if you don’t already have one. View some of the #oclmooc tweets. Send a tweet with the #oclmooc hashtag or reply to a Tweet that has the #oclmooc hashtag (or both). There are instructions for setting up a Twitter account here, and suggestions for other ways harness the power of Twitter in the resources listed at the bottom of this page.
  2. Start a blog if you don’t already have one. There are instructions here for setting up a blog if you don’t know how. Add your blog to the blog hub if you didn’t when you signed up for #oclmooc. Didn’t sign up for #oclmooc? You can sign up here. Read blog (or two) from the blog hub and leave a comment. Not really sure what to say in a comment? Here is some advice on writing good comments from Mrs. Yollis’ grade 3 students, and some from Grammar Girl if you prefer your advice from an adult.
  3. Join the #oclmooc Google+ community. If you don’t know how to join there are instructions here. Write a post introducing yourself if you haven’t already done so. Read a few introductions from other participants and comment on one or two of them.

Some of you might be wondering why we are emphasizing replying and commenting so much. #oclmooc is about making connections which is hard to do if you are just reading things posted by others. If you are used to just consuming content, not creating it, this might seem like a huge step. We encourage you to try it anyway, even if all you have to say is: “I’m in #oclmooc too and I am looking forward to learning with you.”

A special note for lurkers

Some people are more comfortable watching the action and not participating, in other words lurking, especially when trying something new. It’s ok to lurk, especially if you have never participated in something like #oclmooc before. But one of our goals for #oclmooc is to create an environment where you feel safe to move beyond your comfort zone, so we hope that you will eventually move beyond lurking to participating. Want to learn more about different levels of connectivity? Check out CleverSheep’s post The Seven Degrees of Connectedness.

Many of the #oclmooc co-conspirators met while participating in #etmooc. Two of them lurked for almost the whole course, before finally participating on the last day. We’re glad they did because if they had never moved beyond lurking we’d never have met them, and they wouldn’t be helping to support #oclmooc.

Remember there is strength in numbers. There is no rule that you have to take part in something new, like a Twitter chat or webinar, alone. When another co-conspirator first started participating in webinars she would project them via her classroom SmartBoard and invite other participants who were taking the same online course to join her. They all learned how to use the technology together and were able to ask each other their “silly” questions. They didn’t participate in a webinar by themselves until they felt more confident with the technology.

Join the conversations

Here are some activities you can do to join the some of the conversations that will be taking place. Some of these are synchronous (where everyone will be participating at the same time) and some asynchronous (participants can take part at different times).

  1. Create an introduction post on your blog. You might want to write a little about yourself, why you chose to join #oclmooc and what your learning goals are. (It’s ok if you don’t have any learning goals beyond participating and learning what a Mooc is.) Post a link to your intro post in Twitter, and in the Google+ community. Read a few intro posts from others and comment on one or two.
  2. Watch our our first synchronous event, cMooc Stories, on Wednesday September 24th at 7pm mountain time. This will be a conversation about cMoocs, why people choose to join, what they’ve gotten out of participating and their advice for newbies. This will be a Google Hangout broadcast live on our YouTube Channel. you can watch by clicking on this link. (Don’t forget to press play, it sounds silly, but the video won’t start to play unless you do. It also won’t play until the session is being broadcast, no matter how many times you press play.) You’ll be able to add comments and ask questions when watching the video as well as on Twitter, remember to use the #oclmooc hashtag.
  3. Participate in our introductory webinar with Dave Cormier, on Thursday September 25th at 7pm mountain time. Here is the link to connect. If you’ve never used Blackboard Collaborate before, you might want to view these instructions for connecting beforehand. Even if you’ve used Blackboard before, it’s a good idea to log in a half an hour early because you might need to install plugs and do other technical stuff. Once you are connected, you can step away from the session until it is about to start. If you’ve never participated in a webinar before, you could even watch some (or all) of one the archived webinars from #etmooc so that you know what to expect. But since we don’t have anywhere near the amount of participants that #etmooc did, there will probably be a little less chatting and participation than you’ll see the in archive.
  4. If you are feeling a little overwhelmed or you have questions about #oclmooc, how to participate feel free to join us in an optional Google+ Hangout on Sunday September 28 from 2-3 pm mountain time. We’ll be available for the whole hour, but you don’t have to join for the whole time if you don’t want to . You can pop in at any time during the hangout to ask your questions, or just hangout.
    If you’ve never participated in a Google Hangout before you’ll probably find this tip sheet useful. Click on this link to join the hangout between 2-3 pm.
  5. Participate in the Twitter chat on Tuesday September 30th at 7pm mountain time. All you need to do participate is focus on the #oclmooc hashtag on Twitter, but if you’ve never participated in a Twitter chat it can be a little overwhelming at first. The first thing that you need to know is that you don’t need to read every tweet. Here is some more advice on participating in a Twitter chat from the Educational Technology and Change Journal.

Links to resources with more information

Moocs

Sue Waters post Work Smarter and Stay Connected in an Online Learning Community (since Sue wrote this, Google has discontinued Google reader)

ThechThought’s 25 Tips for a Better Mooc Experience 

Preparing for a Connectivist Mooc by Alison Seaman

Twitter

Josh Stumpenhorst’s video has easy to follow instructions for using Twitter

Twitter Tips for Beginners by BufferSocial

The Power of Twitter for Education by co-conspirator Rhonda Jessen outlines many of the different ways that educators use Twitter, including how to follow Twitter without having an account

Cybrary Man’s Twitter Page has lots of links about Twitter as do all of his resource pages

100 of the best Twitter Tools sorted by Category by TeachThought

Blogging

The Personal Blogging Challenge from Edublogs lists 8 steps to get started with blogging

Connected Courses post about Blogging Like a Champion

Comments4Kids is a hashtag that is used to encourage comments on student blogs

The Student Blogging Challenge takes place twice a year, their site has great advice and resources for student and classroom blogging

Edudemic‘s video has advice about blogging including how to think of ideas

31 Things To Try

The Connected Educator Starter Kit is one of the many resources available on the Connected Educator Month website. p.s. October is Connected Educator Month, make sure you check out all of the activities they have scheduled.

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