Estimated reading time: 2 minutes, 56 seconds

Reflecting Allowed

Maha Bali’s blog about education

Chaos, safety, vulnerability, and community in massive online interaction


Estimated reading time: 2 minutes, 56 seconds

I just participated in the first #moocmooc live Twitter chat on #FutureEd. I wasn’t sure what the topic would be, but it strangely intersected with some things we had been discussing in #rhizo14 for various reasons.

I can’t capture it all – i couldn’t follow it all and not all of it stayed with me, but that’s no surprise and i am comfortable with it, i accept it. My fave quote (which i now can’t find though i’d favorited it i think!) was by Sean Michael Morris, something like “agency is like cookies, you can never have too much of it”, or something like that…

Anyway. So I am just sharing here parts that I remembered off the top of my head.

We tackled the issue of chaos (which reminds me how Jenny described last week as “messy”) and some of us thought chaos was a good thing, a “joy” to be embraced.

We discussed issues related to trolling and bullying in social media and discussion forums of MOOCs, and this is something #rhizo14 facebook had been discussing thanks to a story I think
Vanessa shared about this Coursera MOOC on a topic related to Islam where people were apparently really rude. Surprise surprise!

There was discussion as to whether these behaviors should be prevented, who would be responsible for doing so, if natural roles emerging would be problematic… And then my favorite ideas started to emerge

Someone flipped the story completely (or at least, that is how I saw it) and said something about building a supportive community… That the supportive community is what protects the participants, and then I think someone said something about preparing learners to embrace vulnerability.

Right. Because when you think about it, that’s the only sustainable and least controversial solution. Any rule-creation will involve impositions of power by those who set the rules. Any rules would need to be contextual (i am not a fan of universality, and you just need to be a person on the margins of some context or other to understand why).

I am sure it is not simple to create this supportive community, or to help someone embrace vulnerability. I wrote earlier this week about my experience of embracing vulnerability in academic blogging and many others responded by sharing their own stories in the comments. I think someone mentioned on facebook that independence brings with it vulnerability… And so it does.

Opening ourselves to it is one thing. Helping others open themselves to it? To the uncertainty of it? To unlearning the need for structure and an external other to protect them, especially when that external other is supposed to be us? That’s hard man. I don’t know how to do it.

Yet 🙂

P.S. i don’t know how to do a storify inside WordPress but if there is a really simple way to do it, I would love to know so I can quote tweets as images directly

P.P.S. thanks to ppl who suggested tools for following Twitter chats, i used both tweetdeck and twubs this time. Twubs was good for pausing and coz it automatically put in the hashtag (i always forget), but tweetdeck was better for replying properly to people. Neither was prefect.

P. P. S. the word “troll” is interesing. I understand the connotation in this context, but i remember also a time when there were these cute little playthings called trolls, plastic dolls for kids. Big fad at some point …(to avoid copyright infringement, see this link for image)


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