Yesterday was the height of a utopia followed by trepidation and perhaps a little heartache. The #edcmooc pre-course group had been spending two months connecting, experimenting and learning together. We seemed to be at the height of a utopia after Saturday night’s first Twitter chat #edcmchat where 128 people participated. Wonderful activities followed including new connections and discussions, ideas for next steps, a survey, learning how to analyze the chat session, and continuing to wait for that magic moment when the actual class would start. After the email arrived and I started looking at the class site and expectations, I wrote the following on G+ with a variation on Twitter and Facebook.

Now I’m wondering how the wonderful group cohesion and free spirit of the pre-course #edcmooc group will change as the formal class gets under way. How will the more formal course discipline with deadlines affect the learning that was already occurring.

I watched the short movie “The Inbox” and looked at Twitter and the discussion forums. It all felt very forced with none of the enchantment that I had been experiencing the past two months. I went to bed rather than ponder further,  but woke up to the feeling that we had been living the Inbox to some extent. In the beginning of the movie, you get a sense of   the grayness  of the daily routine of life. Some of us in the pre-course group have remarked on the feeling of being in a rut doing the same thing every day. It was not that we didn’t enjoy what we did but there had to be something more. You see that in the movie where the young man  looks longingly at the clasped hands of a couple or in the young woman who wants to connect with someone through the stuffed bear that can be held close.

The #edcmooc red bags arrived as an email in November encouraging us to try out different social networking tools before class started. A student developed presentation shows a timeline of the digital “ red bags” that began to connect a small group of about 160 people. You could liken each activity to one of the post-it notes in the movie where you learned more about each other and yourself. This included the anticipation that you had about the start of the class on 28 Jan. I felt that it was very much a Utopian existence filled with opportunities to learn with no undue expectations that you had to learn. Although that was tempered as  suddenly several thousand joined the student created Facebook group about a week before the class started. (Angela Towndrow sums up the panic in her blog on “My #edcMOOC Freakout” on learning that the class actually had about 32,000 registered in mid January ).

So where are we now? I feel that the red bag has been torn and there is the fear that something wonderful has been lost before it really started. At the same time, perhaps we are like two people meeting in that park holding red bags anticipating the next step – not quite sure what to do next but still filled with a nervous joy about the possibilities. That’s where the Inbox ends leaving us to imagine our own ending. Will it be Utopia or Dystopia for this young couple?  One could imagine both with moments of euphoria from connecting followed by disillusionment as reality sinks in.

So I am sitting here writing this digital post-it note ready to toss it out to the digital red bags of #edcmooc.  I wonder what will be the ending of the #edcmooc pre-course participants. Will the #edcmooc experience evolve into a more mundane academic discussion of big words like utopia and dystopia. Or will a vibrant learning global community emerge on the other side. Only time will tell but I hope it will be the later.

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