I finally got a moment this morning to return to #rhizo15 just as it is coming to an end. I read blog posts from Maha Bali and Maren Deepwell, both people who I know reasonably well. Their thoughts got me reflecting on the phenomenon of connected learning. #rhizo15 was a first for me this year, and I have to admit that due to other things going on in my life I found it hard to get really involved so I kind of skimmed the surface, dipping in when possible. I was able to get an impression of where it went and contribute to some discussions but was unable to do as much as I would have liked in order to really feel a part of the action. However, I did accomplish other important and trivial things!
Many accusations are thrown at cMOOCs such as #rhizo15 – that they are exclusive, self-congratulatory networks for example. I am totally with Maha on this. To quote Downes:
“You decide that you want to participate, you decide how to participate, then you participate. If you’re not motivated, then you’re not in the MOOC.”
Online collaboration and discussion by educators happens in the open, exposed to criticism. Those who take part are willing to take the risks involved and usually very ready to interact even with those who are not on their wavelength in a fair, transparent way. Such criticism is rarely raised in respect to exclusive, expensive educational contexts.
In Maren’s post on cemeteries it was the final image that particularly struck me. The perspective of the person on the hill looking down over the assorted memorials. This made me think of how I view the online communites (and there are many) I interact with and how there are certain members that stand out. These are often the ones I feel I understand, people I trust to guide me to the significant, the interesting or the provocative.
I have come to realise over the past few years that my self-determined learning through navigating the complex and relevant discussions online has provided the most powerful professional development I have ever undertaken in 30 years as a teacher. I haven’t sat in rooms to listen to people who have been briefed by my managers as to what I (and a roomful of my colleagues) need to know. I have experimented, gained competence and therefore confidence through participation in an ever continuing professional discussion, relevant to my needs. Deci and Ryan would fully understand where my intrinsic motivation arises from in this context. Funnily enough tonight I’m staying up late (midnight start in UK) to join #globalclassroom chat…how would I feel if someone told me I had to do that!