Tag Archive: connecting

I’m beginning to find little value in Facebook, Google+,  Twitter or Coursera  forums in helping organize knowledge and share meaningful conversations relating to #edcmooc.   Not surprisingly it’s exactly the same problem that we have in my workplace.    Prior to Jan 22, conversations were easy to handle and information generally easy to find.   But with the start of the #edcmooc  course on Jan 28,  the FB group has grown to over 4400 while the G+ group is over 1500.  Twitter feeds on #edcmooc turn over faster than one individual on Tweetdeck can adequately handle and the Coursera forums are like all the coursera courses where too many posts make it hard to read and respond in a meaningful way.  Additionally as new people jump on board they do not know the ground rules of various social applications and are apt to do things like misuse hashtags.      There is no way a person can read all the conversations even if you just focused on one social application.  And replying to any one thread becomes even more difficult especially on Facebook where notifications take you to the start of a sometimes neverending thread .  Fortunately a few people have jumped in to act as facilitators and coaches but not near enough for handling the sheer volume of people involved.

So what’s the solution with 40,000 people involved?  I ask because my workplace community is larger than that which is one of the reasons that I wanted to take this course to see how all this knowledge could be managed for better learning,  sharing and building/finding connections.   While there are some smaller groups set up for #edcmooc,  the noise seems unbearable at times.  Yet I don’t want to completely silence the noise because sometimes you need to connect to the larger stream of conversations just to find interesting connections or tidbits.   So how can technology help with that instead of just piling on more applications.

My initial response to the first week of class is based on both the formal lesson plan (using resources identified by the instructors) and my own expectations of what I hoped to get out of the class.  Based on the course content, I’m beginning to wonder if this class will help me achieve those expectations (especially the one to better understand how to juggle all these conflicting social networks and applications).   I do think the course format will bring home how broken social networking applications  at massive scale really is.  So now the question is what do I do about it?   Do I take the easy way out  and become a silent observer just doing the bare minimum interaction based on course content.  Or do I continue to build smaller networks that help me achieve a degree of satisfaction in connecting with interesting people trying to do the impossible – handle social networks at large or massive scale.

During our first ever #edcmchat (Elearning & Digital Cultures MOOC #edcmooc chat) session on Twitter, Andy Mitchell voiced a concern that I have also had and in fact talked about in a previous blog: “There’s so many webtools available now I struggle to find time .. I often feel I am playing catch up”. Angela Towndrow, an #edcmooc quadblogging partner, asked “Do we need to set aside time to keep up like getting a haircut or going to the gym….?”. My initial response was that I didn’t know… “the networking stream keeps moving even when you disconnect – calls for a blog to think it through.” There was certainly no way to give the subject much deep thought when tweets were rolling through at about 18 tweets per minute (pretty slow compared to events like the Olympics but fast for this new group).
With more time to think about it, my answer turns out to still be a work in progress with an initial answer. As I walked along the Potomac River this morning near my house without any social media, I realized that disconnecting to play catch up was not the obvious way to keep up with social tools. Sure a person can take time away to research and test various web tools; it’s usually what I do now to see if there is a capability that we might like to bring into my workplace. However, the real test is in using the tool within a network where  learning comes from both trial & error as well as coaching from others in the network. And that’s hard to do on your own if you disconnect from networking. Instead, I think that a venue like #edcmooc provides the perfect way to catch up on technologies and techniques for digital connectedness. I’ve listed some of the reasons, although I suspect there may be others.
1. Moves you out of your comfort zone
2. Provides a safe environment to network and experiment
3. Gives you access to people with many different skill levels and experiences – both in the network and adjacent to the network
4. Provides great feedback – both positive and constructive
Before I started the preparation for #edcmooc in mid-November, I was in a rut. I used a number of tools in my workplace and a different set at home (e.g. Twitter, G+, Facebook). But I wasn’t pushing myself to really learn anything more – I’d gotten comfortable with the minimum of interaction through relatively well understood social tools. I might test something new and then move on. The #edcmooc pre-course preparation has pushed me out of my comfort zone into interacting, chatting, searching, researching, connecting, testing and sharing experiences in a richer, deeper way. At the same, there is no pressure to perform like there is in a work  environment.  Also,  the wide depth of knowledge and experiences of the participants make it a joy to act as both a learner and a teacher/coach/mentor where needed.  This includes people who may not be directly in the network but are looking at similar capabilities or have skills needed by the network.   And the feedback so far has been both positive and constructive.  I have not had this same level of experience since I first started on the pioneer path with social media in 2005-2009. It’s exciting and challenging at the same time.  The biggest challenge is the time to fuse all the knowledge and perhaps develop a plan for the way ahead.  In other words, what do I want to do with all this knowledge and the networks that I am acquiring?  That will be for a later blog.

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