Reflecting Allowed

Maha Bali’s blog about education

People in my #fedwikihappening neighborhood are showing me the world as I’d like to see it


The title of this post is inspired by a blogpost by Alyson Indrunas (the title of which is actually inspired by a comment I wrote to her). This statement of hers is actual inspired by RadioHead lyrics to a song called Subterranean Homesick Alien

I’d tell all my friends
But they’d never believe
They’d think that I’d finally lost it completely

And this is Alyson’s commentary, which is exactly how I feel a lot of the time (and a lot of what Alyson writes resonates with me completely)

People in my neighborhood are showing me the world as I’d like to see it. And everyone else thinks I’ve lost it completely.

Warning: this post will make most sense to Fedwikihappening people, a little sense to #ccourses and #rhizo14 people, and maybe a teeny bit of sense to people who just read my blog a lot but have not tried any of this… otherwise, I’m sorry for the ramblings 😉

What about people who think I’ve lost it?

I feel this way about Twitter, cMOOCs, and definitely even more so with #FedWikiHappening which are really difficult to explain/describe to other people and they look at me like I’m absolutely nuts. Like anywhere along this spectrum:

  1. I have noooo idea what you’re talking about
  2. You call that professional development?
  3. Are you crazy to be doing this stuff in your spare time?
  4. You’re actually enjoying this?
  5. Who are you and what have  you done to my daughter/wife/colleague/friend?
  6. You’re seriously calling these people you’ve only met online friends?

For the most part, I don’t blame them. There’s been a couple of discussions in different places (#ccourses google+, twitter, facebook) about how xMOOC people continue to talk about xMOOCs as if they were the first MOOCs and the only MOOCs in existence (like this and this MIT Technology review as opposed to what you’d find written on Hybrid Pedagogy or DML Central), ignoring completely the original Canadian cMOOCs by Siemens/Downes; ignoring that the term MOOC (whether it was Dave Cormier or Bryan Alexander who coined it) was coined AT THAT TIME about THOSE MOOCs.

And I think, you know, it’s that people who are all about xMOOCs are often clueless about cMOOCs. Not the ones who are writing that discourse, they’d be delusional if they’re clueless; they can’t possibly not know they’re killing history (haha or FORKING IT into their own version!). They’re probably making value judgments to ignore it in order to make themselves seem more legitimate or something. Or something. Yeah. But anyway, my point is, up until today, and even though xMOOCs are still not that well-known outside particular elite circles, cMOOCs are even more obscure and less known. And the problem is that even though there is literature on them in respected places like IRRODL, reading it does not help you understand them. Much. I’m not sure if it’s the discourse on xMOOCs that clouds that, or if it’s something more. I think it’s something more.

Making cMOOCs, etc. Comprehensible (again)

I’ve written a lot about how I would love to make cMOOCs more understandable to other people, and that I think it might not be possible unless they actually experience them. Think about the barriers to undersanding or enjoying cMOOCs, they’d involve:

  1. An open mindset (hardest of all)
  2. Digital literacy esp. twitter, blogs, facebook, google+ (at least a combination of these if not all; some cMOOCs end up being more active in one space over another – e.g. #rhizo14 seemed more facebook-y, #clmooc more goolge+; #ccourses more Twitter – for me, anyway)
  3. Motivation in the subject matter
  4. Motivation to join that community of people (and you can’t necessarily know if you’re gonna like them and learn from them and enjoy it until you’re there, though if you do this kinda thing often enough you can predict because you know the actual people, like #ccourses and #fedwikihappening for me – I knew many of the people beforehand anyway, so I could make some predictions).
  5. Logistical things: having some time on your hands (rather than end-of-semester rush or big family events taking place; though to be honest if it’s a good enough experience I find time and just sleep less; but that’s just crazy me) -and oh, yeah, a stable internet connection (but everyone knows I work around that, too!)

But  how do you encourage people to experience them, given how much of a mindset-shift that would entail? And the time investment and change in your work process it would require in order for it to work out well for you enough that you relax and enjoy it instead of stress over it or worse, drop out completely?

So Alyson’s latest blogpost actually highlights one thing several of us in #FedWikiHappening have in common – we’re people who like to learn by doing and get our hands dirty. I know I personally read a LOT about Fedwiki on Mike’s blog and reached a point where I was like, “this is not going to make sense any more unless I try it myself” and here we are. Watching Ward’s videos on her blog now make sense ONLY because I’ve tried it. I’ve shown FedWiki in action to a couple of colleagues but I still don’t think they’ll totally get it until they’re collaborating on it. I think Alyson is suggesting in her blog that we try to find analogies close to the audience’s heart/mind to explain what we are trying to talk about (in her case OERs and Fedwiki). She makes genius analogies about mix tapes and versioning of songs and it is a genius analogy, I find… I think it might help explain FedWiki… and OER and licenses to remix, etc.

I still think even people who don’t want to learn by doing just really sometimes need to go ahead and learn by doing. Not because I am denying their right to prefer a different learning style, but because I am denying the possibility of them learning and appreciating certain things without trying them.

So there are a couple of interesting things I have tried that worked out for me pretty well this semester. With undergrads, though, not faculty. To explain twitter to my students, I tried the Scavenger Hunt activity and I threw my students into playing #TvsZ without explaining much about it to them because, really, you can’t understand it until you play it. Most of them did OK 🙂 Watch how one of my students mimicks my teaching style in this Prezi (this was part of an assignment to liquefy the syllabus by the way, which involves remixing it to make it more engaging for students, presenting it in multimodal ways and suggesting some changes; he didn’t suggest a lot of changes but the way he represents my teaching style is kinda hilarious):

(this blogpost is rambling, I’m sorry, but I’m trying to get a lot done before my daughter wakes up)

Fedwiki Attribution

Something came up today in Mike’s email and Kate’s comment on my Egypt after 2011 fedwiki post (no I am not going to link it from here, go find it). Mike talked about  the fact that in most cases on fedwiki you don’t want/need firstperson and should not need to refer to the original author, but that in certain cases (especially the case I mention above) it actually makes sense to keep attribution explicit. Kate made a point that someone (I think it was either Mike or Alyson, not sure) changed the text to third person. At first, I thought it was a good idea. Since it’s a fedwiki and all. And then  I thought it might not be. Maybe it’s a misuse of fedwiki, or maybe it’s an alternative use of fedwiki, but I think when a post is clearly personal/subjective, and the author is one of the fedwiki editors, it’s OK to treat that page slightly differently. It’s still fedwiki in the way it connects to other posts on fedwiki and in how it can be edited, but it would be edited differently than a regular post about “content” because it’s an “opinion” piece. Now, Ward (in one of the videos Alyson embedded in her post) talks about how Fedwiki is something that’s not a blog and not a wiki… it’s also like a blog and like a wiki. In that each person can still have their own space, but we can still work collaboratively on things. I thought I’d remember exactly how he said it but I don’t have time now to go listen again.

Incidentally, it makes sense for someone else’s fork of my own post to be in third person. Also, it makes sense for the non-consensus-seeking aspects of fedwiki that there exist two versions: one with my own voice on my own space; one in third person on someone else’s space. Only, there needs to be some sort of convention, I think, for clarifying whether the third person talk is an objective retelling of my personal story, or a copying or my subjective story. Not all stuff written on fedwiki (in fact, most won’t) require this.

Anyway, this reminds me of an adhoc discussion I had on Twitter last week with one person who’s experimenting with Fedwiki outside the happening and another who’s interested in trying it but not sure what it is. And me. So first person says, it’s like blogging, collaboration not necessary. I kind of think of it the other way around. It’s like wiki, but independence possible. I guess both are true. You can use it either way. or any number of other ways.

Fedwiki Help Image

On another note, I’ve been asking for more explanation via visuals as in static images rather than video (for actions, video is great, but for names of different parts of the fedwiki page, it gets confusing coz different people call things different names). So I created a thinglink that anyone can edit which right now has only 3 different links on certain parts explaining favicons, journal and external links (maybe a totally static still image would have been better, I don’t know!). Each link takes you to one of Ward’s page explaining the thing. Some of those have  images, some not.


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