Reflecting Allowed

Maha Bali’s blog about education

2014: Thanks for the Year of Hyperconnecting

| 22 Comments

2014! What a year! It’s like the gift I am getting for my patience for the very stressful 2011. That’s not to say 2014 was not stressful; it was, but at least I was back at work, done with my PhD and, through connecting, had a heck of a wonderful support network and the most amazing learning opportunities and the professional development of a lifetime. Thank you everyone who has been a part of this journey. I cannot possibly name you all, but none of you are nameless – you know who you are and you know how much I love you.

After finishing my PhD and defending it in October 2013, I wondered how I would manage my professional development. How would I keep up with what’s new in the field, how would I continue to learn? I needn’t have worried. cMOOCs and the people I met in them helped me do that – through their own writing/blogging, through links/articles they shared on social media and reflected on in their blogs, through helpful and critical comments on what I posted myself, through collaborative work we did together. It was an empowering year.

I ended 2013 admiring the journal Hybrid Pedagogy (which helped me come back to the ed tech field and get my current faculty position) and wondering if I could ever write something for them, and am finishing it having authored/co-authored 4 articles for them, been invited to write a guest post for Digital Writing Month, and now looking forward to writing a monthly column for them (yikes, I better get to writing next month’s column soon!)

I ended 2013 slightly perplexed as to what a cMOOC is and wondering how my paradigm of pedagogy can fit within my ed tech work… And with the help of an email from Jesse Stommel found out about Dave Cormier and Howard Rheingold, whom he suggested had ideals that would fit well with mine. I started my year with Dave’s life-transforming #rhizo14 (though really, it stopped being Dave’s and became “ours” pretty soon), going through star-struck awe of Dave to friendship and interviewing him online for JPD. I went from reading Rheingold’s Net Smart to being interviewed by him for DML and knowing him through #ccourses and being invited to participate as a co-facilitator midway through. It’s safe to say that throughout 2014 I became somewhat of a serial cMOOCer (addicted) and an “expert” in the whole thing (though each cMOOC experience is different). Through #rhizo14 collaborative autoethnography i got closer to people I had initially clicked with (like Sarah and Scott) and others where it took more time to get deep (like Keith and Simon).

In early 2014 I joined the editorial board of the Journal of Pedagogic Development and it’s been another wonderful community (not as visible on social media) and also a great learning experience to realize how useful (as a learning experience) it is to be a regular peer reviewer for a journal, and what it means to try to be as supportive as possible in my peer review feedback even when I was deeply critical of it.

In April 2014, I participated virtually in #et4online, and because I really wanted to make the best of it, and fate put me in touch with Jim Groom, it was the best conference I ever attended. Now, I am on the steering committee of next year’s conference, and have submitted different panel proposals with different groups of people.

Soon after, Shyam Sharma’s idea of edcontexts.org became a reality and it has been a joy to work with the wonderful group of us co-facilitating this (esp to get closer to rhizo14ers Clarissa, Tanya and Len) and everyone we’ve featured as an author or in a “favorite five finds f5f post)

I started 2014 knowing little about educational gaming and ended it having taught it twice to undergrads (thank you Hoda for the opportunity to co-teach creativity with you) and enjoyed it immensely.

In summer 2014, I finally got to play #tvsz, a game I had read about but could not for the life of me understand. By November 2014, I had collaborated with 6 others to hack it and play it with my own students.

I spent the latter half of 2013 reading lots of blogs about MOOCs, including Mike Caulfield’s, and ended it with an invitation to join the small group of awesome people doing/playing with #FedWiki

I discovered Audrey Watters sometime during 2014, was in awe that she ever read my blog, and ended the year with 3 articles published on EML where she is editor.

I had forgotten my creative side and my inner techie geek, but thanks to #tvsz, Kevin, Terry, Simon, Susan, Alan and more people – I now write poetry again and make all sorts of fun things that use tech in artistic and fun ways.

I’ve had awesome feedback from people as I blogged about challenges I faced and ideas I had, and none so influential, I think, as the inspiration from Michelle Pacansky-Brock’s Liquid Syllabus.

And the mothers. Motherhood can be such a lonely and stressful experience. I could not have survived this year without the support of other awesome mothers, esp those in my department (won’t name em so as not to embarrass em) but also a lot of my online friends who are moms and encourage my writing about parenting – Bonnie, Laura R, Laura G and many more.

I’ve come from around 100 twitter followers to over 1,000 but that’s not the cool thing. The cool thing is that of the roughly 1,000 people I follow, I actually know a lot of them. Some through MOOCs, but not all. Not all are the same level of closeness, of course, but still. If I were to walk into a room with my twitter “buddies”, I am guessing I’d be having an awesome time saying hi to at least 75% of them, many of whom I truly care about and who care about me.

The reason this year has been awesome is because I discovered lots of wonderful open, connected educators who welcomed me in and empowered me to play. It remains frustrating that these ideals are much less prevalent on our campuses than we would like. It is a shame that so many people miss out on these wonderful connections and deep experiences. And I would still like to continue to study them, explain them, and even modify them in ways that would make them more inclusive and welcoming to newbies who are less risk-seeking than myself.

Thank you to everyone who has been part of this year and made it what it has been – simply by being yourselves and opening up and letting me in. You’re right here in my heart and on my mind.

22 Comments

  1. Seems like you need a map of all of these connections …. a visual of what happened in the course of reaching out and connecting in ….

    • Mmmmm good thinking… Maybe i can make a visual with a thinglink that links to some of these websites. Awesome idea! Omigosh now I really wanna do this! Kevin, you inspire me all the time. It won’t be too pretty but hopefully it’ll be functional at least. I did not have time for links in this one so the visual thinglink should help.

  2. Maybe use something like this? A Tube Map Generator? Just an idea … http://beno.org.uk/metromapcreator/

  3. @Bali_Maha The metro map generator … one option for mapping out our connections and communities beno.org.uk/metromapcreato… #ccourses

  4. What a nice post, Maha. It’s been great getting to know you this year!

  5. I think you would benefit from exploring Thinkup: https://www.thinkup.com/ It is Gina Trapani’s startup that analyzes your Twitter and Facebook feeds and spits out truly cool stuff about them that you might not have realized. It has a 14 day free trial so you can do some neat end of year analysis. For example here are a couple from my account: “Sometimes the tweets flow like water and you just don’t need a day off. In 2014, @telliowkuwp’s longest tweeting streak lasted for 43 days, from June 22nd to August 3rd.” Free, year-end analysis. Fun.

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