Contemplating the Early #ETMOOC Experience

With ETMOOC now two weeks old and almost half way through Topic 1: Connected Learning (Tools, Processes & Pedagogy), things are truly starting to take-off. It will be fascinating to see how long the legs last. I am hoping that it remains strong.

What is so great about what Alec Couros and crew are creating is the sheer range of participants. Of course this could be said of all MOOCs. Yet, this particular one seems to have a magical mix of educators, a number of seasoned, tech savvy established types and a whole lot of fresh, eager to experiment types, cutting across all grades from elementary to university. It is an impressive movement to track and participate.

I must admit that my MOOC experiences have been more of a gradual escalation. A few years ago, when this thing really got going, I was so fascinated and eager, but so quickly overwhelmed. It took a number of experiences for me to really feel like I had better set of bearings and could negotiate between my lurking and my participation.

When it comes to MOOCs, my desire often has outpaced my will. Plus, I have been involved in a for-credit graduate course more months than I haven’t over the past three years, if not more. Combined with my teaching load, I kept getting to a point where I just got too bogged down to continue. Despite the best of intentions, once I lost my momentum I always felt like I was in a insurmountable hole and already missed too much to get back into the mix. Yet with each experience, I started getting better and better, like tracking things with better filters, managing the amount of time I could engage more effectively, and catching my breath when I needed without completely disengaging.

By the time I jumped into #DS106‘s Camp Magic Macguffin, I started feeling like I was more successful MOOCing it. I had l already “finished” a MOOC at that point, although I have never been the most regular or consistent of bloggers. Even though I did have to stop participating in DS106 towards the end of the run, as a host of responsibilities needed more immediate attention, I felt really good about what I had accomplished. However, that was definitely the first experience where I truly felt that I was in a course that was more of a community. Those University Mary Washington peeps have really built something awesome with A Domain of One’s Own.

The coolest thing I can say about ETMOOC is that it already has the same kind of feel, more community than course. Sure it is loosely distributed and might not have all the trappings of the DS106 machine, like the Daily Create or Assignment Bank, but it has so much potential and the same kind of vibe. After all, ETMOOC is a really the evolution of the EC&I 831 open course experiment Couros conducted at University of Regina a few years ago. Given that short but significant legacy it doesn’t seem like a great leap to see DS106-style components developed and potentially built off ETMOOC as a platform. That too would be pretty awesome.

So despite all of the competing claims on my attention, I can’t help but want to stay connected to this thing that is happening. One of the beauties of ETMOOC is that each topic runs two weeks, almost ensuring that anyone can catch their breath along the way. That two week window is probably the one thing that has me feeling the best about staying involved and might be the master stroke for me in the planning and execution of this MOOC.

9 thoughts on “Contemplating the Early #ETMOOC Experience

  1. VanessaVaile

    although filters (like yard work and house work) are a never ending task requiring continual upkeep and tags often need tweaking, “catching my breath…without completely disengaging” is probably the one that really hits home. It’s hard to align mooc activity with what I actually have time to do without neglecting other calls on my time. Connectivity is another issue that cuts into what I can manage but also one I won’t let deter from participation

    1. Fred Haas - @akh003 Post author


      We cross paths again in the vast MOOCness. Filters are a perpetual challenge. And tags are something I love but rarely ever feel completely successful in working with them. I always feel like I am leaving something out.

      I know I go through what seems like four or five of the seven stages of grief regarding my filtering and online participation (overwhelmed, guilt, frustration, reflection, and hope). There are times where I do have to disengage too, but as I get better at managing my fascination with MOOCs, I feel more empowered and less overwhelmed. That is is helping me catch my breath. Plus, I absolutely think that the two week thing is one of the genius aspects of this experience.

      We can help each other stay engaged, checking in now and again.


      1. VanessaVaile

        you get better at tagging the more you tag ~ and it becomes more of a habit. nothing like having to back tag bunched of posts or bookmarks to drive home the importance of tagging as you go. helps to when the tags still make sense later…

        the two weeks to a unit really does make a difference, better than the one week in many, a relief after the whirlwind pace of a unit a day… this is Tuesday, we must be in Belgium

        if you miss feeling overwhelmed, just wait ~ it will be back. but also neat crossing paths… that will happen more and more

  2. David Saunders (@DesignSaunders)

    The #etmooc community has been absolutely remarkable. The Blackboard sessions have been informative and engaging, but the follow up conversations, blog comments, and DMs have deepened the learning beyond any other online experience I’ve had. Given that most MOOC participation drops off after the first few weeks, I’ve also wondered about the long-term stability of this community. But I am here to stay and am looking forward to learning and connecting more over the remaining 8 weeks and beyond!

    1. Fred Haas - @akh003 Post author


      I am with you. I think the sessions have really offered a little something for everyone. The community that is gathering has been kind of amazing in their capacity to meet needs at both ends of the edtech spectrum. That is definitely something that is different and interesting about ETMOOC to me. I am really hoping that some innovative developments might evolve to keep this thing alive and potentially repeat iteratively for a while. To me it has the potential to be a big tent that can grow bigger and accommodate more and more as others feel compelled to join.

      It is great meeting you through ETMOOC.


  3. lisamnoble

    Thanks for this. I, too, am loving the 2 week stretch to give me a chance to breathe. I’m way behind on my blogging, but am participating by commenting, reading, and tweeting. I’m a little afraid of the Google + spot, because I don’t know if well enough, and I feel like I’m missing things there. Trying not to feel like “this is just too much” as I’m working on reports as well. Appreciate the focus on staying involved.

    1. Fred Haas - @akh003 Post author


      You are more than welcome. Thanks to you for the kind words. I know exactly what you are feeling. There is only so much anyone can digest. It takes time to figure out how to pick your spots. All the reading, commenting, and tweeting definitely hooks you and tends to beget more. Contribute when you can and feel no guilt. Of course you will miss things. We all will, but there is still so much still to be gained even if its only on a limited schedule. Good luck!


  4. veronica

    As you say “more community than course” In my country, Uruguay; teacher´s really have lots of opportunities to make courses After reading that sentence I realised we really need to make more “community”. That´s one of our responsibility as teachers.

    1. Fred Haas - @akh003 Post author


      I think you have rephrased the idea quite beautifully, certainly more poetic then I did. In fact, your reply reminded me of how often I make it a point at the beginning of my English classes, “We want to create a community of writers in this room.” As the current semester comes to a close, it is good to be reminded of that notion. Thank you taking the time to read and respond.



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