Week 3: Collaboration & Community

Welcome to week 3, October 8 – 14, 2014. 

As we reach the midway point in #oclmooc, we are diving back into the heart of our Open and Connected Learning MOOC by exploring two key concepts: collaboration and community. We are clearly seeing that our traditional definitions of the word “community” are expanding tremendously through our online interactions in this connected learning environment. Here’s one intriguing view of contemporary communities/groups and key issues they face:

“Agorophobia and the Modern Learner,” written by Jon Dron and Terry Anderson for the March 2014 issue of the Journal of Interactive Media in Education.

Here’s an eye-opening example of what one very progressive community of learning—“a class of six-year-olds inviting the world into their classroom”—used as the foundations for a collaborative effort to create their own digital footprints (lots of fabulous tools worth exploring here):

“Creating a Positive Digital Footprint: Online Open Experience,” posted by Kathy Cassidy on November 13, 2013.

We also, at this point, are probably realizing that what can seem scattered and messy—think about how our #oclmooc conversations extend across platforms including Blackboard Collaborate, the Google+ community, Twitter, blogs, and others at a dizzying pace—is, at the same time, deeply personal. We saw (at the top of this post) one online learner’s reflections on the theme of what online communities mean at a personal level. One of our own #oclmooc co-conspirators, Verena Roberts, provides her own personal observations about connected learning and communities in this brief video:

The key words and terms are all there for us in that video: sharing, communication, collaboration, building knowledge, social, support/help, variety in learning experience, fun, connection, autonomy, and flexibility. It’s what we are seeing here in #oclmooc, and what we’ve seen in other connectivist MOOCs, including #etmooc (the Educational Technology & Media MOOC), #xplrpln (the Exploring Personal Learning Networks MOOC), and #ccourses (the Connected Courses MOOC). These are dynamic, learner-centric communities of learning that bring us together under the guidance of master facilitators. They help us focus not only on the topics we are exploring, but on the process of gaining the most from each other as members of learning communities. And they are sustainable.

Collaboration and Community

As we explore the themes of collaboration and community with each other this week, it’s well worth noting that we have the potential to create another of those sustainable, permeable, linked-to-other-communities entities that is only as strong or as weak as its current and potential members are. Something to keep in mind is that many of the co-conspirators in this course are collaborating to produce #oclmooc because we met through a previous MOOC-as-community collaboration: #etmooc. We continued to interact, as learners, via #xplrpln, and at least a few of us (along with other #etmooc and #xplrln MOOCmates) are also interacting as learners via the #ccourses MOOC that began shortly before #oclmooc began and was scheduled to continue for several weeks after the formal conclusion of #oclmooc.

It’s not often that participants in face-to-face or online courses continue meeting long after the formal courses end, but that’s what happened with #etmooc, as we can see from this celebration of a post-#etmooc convocation that was held nearly a year after that course “ended”:

“#etmooc: Singing Happy Birthday to a Course,” posted by Paul Signorelli on January 22, 2014 on his Building Creative Bridges blog.

There are obviously many interests and elements that are helping create the collaborations currently underway in #oclmooc—collaborations to which you are contributing through your involvement in the #oclmooc community. One element worth considering is the loosely-connected network of platforms available to each of us. There is the obvious central meeting point provided via Blackboard Collaborate for our weekly face-to-face/online encounters; if all is going well for you as a member of the #oclmooc community, you’re also finding other accessible tools including Google+ Hangouts and Skype to bring us as close to (virtual) face-to-face interactions as we can be. We’re also continuing some of the conversations that begin in these weekly typed lectures and in the Blackboard Collaborate sessions (live as well as in their archived state) into other live interactions such as our weekly tweet chats (which take on additional life in archived form via Storify and other tools, exchanges within our Google+ community, and even extended, asynchronous conversations that work their way into blog posts that include conversations via responses attached to individual blog articles. For a more detailed overview of how some of our web-conferencing resources can support us, we have a learning object prepared by one of our co-conspirators:

“Dynamic Web Conferencing and Presentation Skills for Effective Meetings, Trainings, and Learning Sessions,” by Paul Signorelli; latest revisions completed on July 23, 2014

Paul’s “Web Conferencing and Presentation Skills” resource document leads us to consideration of another essential element of building online collaboration and communities: the need for first-rate facilitation skills. The good news for many of us is that the facilitation skills we have developed in onsite settings provide a solid foundation for successful online interaction: we need to listen; to be responsive; to be attentive; to genuinely care about what we are doing and about those we are serving; and to be creative, collaborative, and accessible. (A good sense of humor is also very helpful here.) The even better news is that our participation in connectivist MOOCs provides the benefit of offering hands-on opportunities to learn how to interact and effectively facilitate in online environments by interacting and effectively facilitating interactions through the work we do together in connectivist MOOC environments. It’s connected, experiential learning at its best—and if we’re doing it correctly, it’s fun, engaging, stimulating, rewarding, and supportive. For a brief reminder of facilitation basics, we can turn to our colleagues at the Illinois Online Network:

“Pedagogy and Learning: What Makes a Successful Online Facilitator?” posted on the Illinois Online Network website.

Included in that set of skills needed by facilitators is the ability to foster trust and create safe spaces for learners within online communities and collaborations—a theme also explored in Dron and Anderson’s article at the beginning of this Week 3 introduction. Cathy Davidson (one of our #ccourses colleagues) takes us a bit further into the topic in this brief interview:

“Building Trust in Connected Learning Environments,” an interview with Cathy Davidson; posted on the HASTAC website September 4, 2014.

As we become more comfortable with our online communities and collaborations, we eventually become aware that those communities can—and do—begin to become beautifully, seamlessly interwoven. People we “meet” and come to know very well online are already cherished colleagues if and when we physically see them face to face (e.g., at onsite conferences and other gatherings), just as it has been common to meet people face-to-face at conferences and then stay in touch via email, telephone, and even, occasionally, by our countries’ postal services. This, in turn, opens another avenue for exploration: if our onsite and online communities are increasingly intermingling, what’s to stop us from intentionally fostering blended onsite-online interactions? (#oclmooc participants wishing to try this might gain wonderful visceral experience by locating course colleagues who are not geographically far from each other and arranging face-to-face gatherings to collaborate on #oclmooc and other endeavors.) Paul is among those who have been exploring how onsite and online communities blend in a variety of settings, as we see from these two articles:

“Location, Location, and Location: Hanging Out and Learning With Samantha Adams Becker and ATD,” posted by Paul Signorelli on May 17, 2014 on his Building Creative Bridges blog

“ASTD International Conference 2014: Connectivity, Learning, Augmented (Emotional) Reality, and Phoning It In,” posted by Paul Signorelli on May 7, 2014 on his Building Creative Bridges blog.

This leaves us with one final discovery to explore: our online communities don’t just expand our view of communities and collaboration in terms of geography; they expand our view of communities and collaboration in terms of time itself. Most of us, when we first become immersed in online environments, still think about time in extremely linear terms: this is a moment, what follows is another moment, and what follows a year or two or three from now is an entirely different moment. But an interesting thing happens through online asynchronous interactions: if we post a thought, or an entire blog article on September 1, 2014, and you see (and even better, respond to) it on September 1, 2016, we (together) have created a “synchronous” moment that extends over a two-year period. Even better: if we then see that response and respond to it a few months later, the moment becomes even more extended (and, these days, not all that uncommon) “moment.” The implications for learning are tremendous: if we step outside current norms of courses that begin and end within precisely-defined time frames, we see what we are seeing with #etmooc and other connectivist MOOCs/communities of learning: learning through a particular course or within a particular (ever-evolving) community of learning potentially has no end point as long as participating learners feel the need and desire to continue that learning experience.

We’ll “end” this Week 3 exploration of collaboration and community with two more readings (followed by an all-in-one-place list of articles cited here) and hope that what we have read and seen inspires us to create and explore our own expanded moments through our #oclmooc community and collaborations. The first article is an expanded version of our explorations of synchronous-asynchronous moments in learning; the second is a much more deeply and richly nuanced exploration of the theme—accompanied by an invitation to explore synchronous-asynchronous moments asynchronously through a shared online document.

“Learning Time and Heads That Spin,” posted by Paul Signorelli on March 14, 2013 on his Building Creative Bridges blog

“Pointillist, Cyclical, and Overlapping: Multidimensional Facets of Time in Online Learning,” written by Pekka Ihanainen and John Moravec for the November 2011 issue of The International Review of Research in Open and Distance Learning.

Suggested activities for week 3:

Questions to Explore Via Blog Postings, Google+ Community Postings, Google+ Hangouts, or Other Online Interactions With the #oclmooc Community:

  • In what ways are you collaborating with other educators/trainers?
  • How to you encourage your learners and colleagues to collaborate with others outside of your school/university/workplace?
  • Where is your community?
  • How do you create community?
  • What keeps you engaged in a community?
  • What is the most dynamic community you’ve ever joined? What made it dynamic?

Webinar about the Global Read Aloud Project – Tuesday October 14, 7pm mountain time

Please join us for a webinar about community and collaboration with special guests Pernille Ripp, creator of The Global Read Aloud & Kelli Holden, grade 4 teacher at Parkland School Division & Global Read Aloud participant. We’ll be using Blackboard Collaborate for this event, here is the link to join the session between 7-8pm on Tuesday October 14th. If you need a reminder of how to connect to blackboard collaborate click here.

Weekly Twitter chat, Wednesday October 15th, 7pm mountain time

Please join us join us for our weekly Twitter chat. We’ll be chatting using the #oclmooc hashtag and discussing community and collaboration.

 

Resources to Explore (Resources Cited in This Week 3 Introduction):

“Agorophobia and the Modern Learner,” written by Jon Dron and Terry Anderson for the March 2014 issue of the Journal of Interactive Media in Education.

Alec Couros’ Keynote from FUSION 2013: “Identity, Networks & Connected Learning” posted on YouTube by Brightspace by D2L on July 26, 2013

“Creating a Positive Digital Footprint: Online Open Experience,” posted by Kathy Cassidy on November 13, 2013

“My Online Learning Community,” posted on YouTube on January 17, 2007, by an online learner

“Why I Connect,” posted on YouTube on February 9, 2013 by Verena Roberts

“#etmooc: Singing Happy Birthday to a Course,” posted by Paul Signorelli on January 22, 2014 on his Building Creative Bridges blog

“Dynamic Web Conferencing and Presentation Skills for Effective Meetings, Trainings, and Learning Sessions,” by Paul Signorelli; latest revisions completed on July 23, 2014

“Pedagogy and Learning: What Makes a Successful Online Facilitator?”, posted on the Illinois Online Network website.

“Building Trust in Connected Learning Environments,” an interview with Cathy Davidson; posted on the HASTAC website September 4, 2014

“Location, Location, and Location: Hanging Out and Learning With Samantha Adams Becker and ATD,” posted by Paul Signorelli on May 17, 2014 on his Building Creative Bridges blog

“ASTD International Conference 2014: Connectivity, Learning, Augmented (Emotional) Reality, and Phoning It In,” posted by Paul Signorelli on May 7, 2014 on his Building Creative Bridges blog

“Learning Time and Heads That Spin,” posted by Paul Signorelli on March 14, 2013 on his Building Creative Bridges blog

“Pointillist, Cyclical, and Overlapping: Multidimensional Facets of Time in Online Learning,” written by Pekka Ihanainen and John Moravec for the November 2011 issue of The International Review of Research in Open and Distance Learning.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s