In the first week of #rhizo15, Dave challenges us to create our own learning subjectives – Learning Subjectives -designing for when you don’t know where you’re going. I am reminded about my early frustrations with EduMOOC way back in 2011 – and my need for the MOOC to provide me with learning objectives – oh how far I have come in the last three years – and how far this whole idea of unstructured, networked learning has come. In EduMOOC, I rebelled against the lack of structure by providing my own structure. Unfortunately, the experience didn’t lead to more connections – something was missing. There is a glue in #rhizo that didn’t exist back in EdueMOOC. Anyone know what the magic sauce is?
I reflect on what I want to get out of rhizo this year. For me, what has made #rhizo14 so valuable are the collaborations that came out of it and the new friends that I have made. I’m involved in collaborations through my face-to-face university program. None of those collaborations have been as rich and rewarding as the collaborations I’ve had with #rhizo14.
Last year, I taught a course on Emerging Technologies and Learning. As part of the course, my students needed to complete a group project. The project served two purposes – to explore an emerging big idea in learning technology, and to learn online collaboration by actually doing it. Unfortunately, several of the groups choose to meet face-to-face to do their group projects. The result was that the groups who actually collaborated online created better, deeper projects. Something unique and interesting happens when you collaborate using the online medium. As a teacher, one thing I failed to do was to provide enough scaffolding for my students. They were not comfortable with technology, and asking them to collaborate online provided too much of a stretch for many of them. Instead, they fell into what they knew, and organized face-to-face meetings to collaborate (for many of my student, the technology class was their first and only online learning experience). They needed a little more structure to help them get started – but I didn’t want to provide too much structure as I wanted them to figure out their unique ways of collaborating online, rather then my ways of collaborating. There is a balance here, that needs to be tipped in the right direction in order for optimal learning to occur.
And so, my learning subjective for #rhizo15 is to explore further what makes the collaborations successful, and what scaffolding is needed to foster collaboration in others. What feeds online collaborations? What constrains it?