This post is a complex (but rather obvious, really) epiphany inspired by blogposts Alan Levine and Paul Signorelli (though probably both of them slightly inspired by the hangout I missed in which Alec Couros reflects on #etmooc – gotta watch that eventually; but me and video… sigh… but that one sounds like it’s worth watching).
“Virgin” connectivist experiences
I have been wanting to use this term since #ccourses started and I’m not sure I’ve done so but here I am. I agree with Alan that our first connected experience has a certain rush to it, and that can NEVER EVER be repeated again because you’ve had it, you’re used to it, it is no longer as impressive as your first. (ok, I get how not all “virgin” experiences might not necessarily live up to that haha)
Anyway, my virgin connectivist experience was #rhizo14 – but at first while reading Alan’s post I felt that it didn’t really fit all the criteria Alan suggested. Like, it didn’t have “makes”. But then, I thought about it a little more, and realized that even though Dave didn’t really suggest “makes”, people like Kevin and Terry were doing “makes” from the beginning and a lot of people did makes on the side like haikus and stuff – I wasn’t a frequent “maker” in rhizo14 but it was still an amazing experience for me. I always thought #rhizo14 was special for me for two reasons (as opposed to #edcmooc which had potential):
a. I was blogging (so Alan got that one right – blogging can be key, not optional for me any more)
b. Facebook group (allowed for deep connections and relationships to individual people – it wasn’t a swarm of faceless people, but individuals that you got to know deeply)
oh but what else?
c. There actually WAS a “make” in #rhizo14 that was so different from the ds106 types – the collaborative autoethnography. It’s a make we “began” and have not “finished” and it’s partly sustaining a sub-community of rhizo14ers…
oooh oooh and another “make” that sort of has some rhizo14ers in it…
d. www.edcontexts.org – some but not all of us are rhizo14ers
Bu I never really got into the idea of “makes” until #clmooc and I’m so glad I did. Still doesn’t come naturally to me, but it was a good start… and then of course the #dailyconnect idea which came up during our twitter chat for #ccourses
Blogging vs Makes
I am not saying “vs” to suggest these are opposing forces. But I’m suggesting that for some people, blogging is “their thing”, for other people “makes” are their “thing”. Some people are really good at both (err Terry and Kevin); some people grow into either one. Ever blogpost of Simon’s is a make, in my view. Someone like Susan Watson makes & blogs really well (zeegas embedded and all). I’m not a natural “maker”. Tania specifically said that she’d not been ready to do makes but she clearly enjoyed watching us do them and now she’s doing cartoons and stuff! Awesome 😉 Someone like Maha Abdel Moneim (a wonderful find from #ccourses, so cool to meet another Egyptian connected educator like me in this way) – is not into blogging but is more auditory/visual. The combo of make/blog is good for an experiential learning cycle, though, right? “do”, “reflect – so what? now what”. But the “do” can be something that’s not a “make” in the traditional sense (agreeing with Gardner Campbell’s comment on Alan’s blog)
So I think what Alan was describing are things that work for some people but not all… blogging works wonderfully for me (discovering the “writer” in me was an epiphany last year – my blog is still not a year old! But close). Makes are also not for everybody and could turn people off, if they were the only thing.
In #ccourses, Helen Keegan’s #WhyITeach make was a simple low-barrier high-connection one… which brings me to…
I think good makes are either:
1. Low-barriers-to-entry (like the #clmooc makes that are quite simple; some ds106 daily creates, too)
2. Sustainable (require lots of time investment – like the collaborative autoethnography; but of course this needs a community to form prior or else it falls apart – in the #rhizo14 case I feel the collab autoethnog keeps us together)
3. Collaborative, where possible (and now I wonder why #edcmooc asked us to do individual artifacts without an option for a collaborative one; then I realized in MOOCs in general it’s hard to know who will commit to working with whom, so depending on another person can be problematic… except that in #ccourses I’ve done a LOT of collaborative makes and they’re… cool… but were never required by anyone).
(Side note: And wow, this list above is really good fodder for out #tvsz game coming up – we need some low-barrier and collaborative ones… not sure we can put in some sustainable ones, though 🙁)
So let me revise all this, shall I?
A good connected experience in my view involves the following:
1. Individual connections – I only need to look at my DM stream to know who I’m connecting with these days. It’s one of my favorite places to look. Currently, it’s got Sean Michael Morris, Paul OD, Pete Rorabaugh, Andrea Rehn, Jesse Stommel, Keith Hamon, Bonnie Stewart, Laura Gogia, Kevin Hodgson, a real-life friend, an ex-student & a few others I’ve been DMing for the past couple of days. There have been times during #ccourses where it was full of Alan Levine, Mia Zamora, Susan Watson (hehe I still remember the day when I told Alan “I realize we can’t DM forever” and he was like “why not?”)
2. Some group connections – I know people look at it as cliquish but I love it when someone like Terry or Simon write a blogpost and tag some of us on it on twitter, or someone like Kevin creates a cartoon or Susan does a zeega and tags us – and then I love it more when groups of us create something beautiful together – either connecting our blogs or doing something like the Maya Angelou multiple-voice-zeega or the I’m connected song (ok, so these two makes were suggested by me, but still, inspired by everyone else, really).
And then HOW you connect is really secondary. Blogs are a textual way we express ourselves and we can make our blogs connected if we comment on each other’s blog and blog responses to each other, etc. But if someone blogs “alone”, they’ve not really connected. I remember blogging alone for a few weeks before #rhizo14 started. I enjoyed it but it’s a different experience (I talk about this a bit in my #digiwrimo guest post, coming up next week inshallah).
Makes don’t help you connect if you’re not looking at each other’s makes, or doing collaborative makes. One of the best experiences I had during #clmooc was writing this collaborative post with Shyam for edcontexts.
Hangouts… now hangouts… there it REALLY makes a difference to draw in participants and #ccourses has not done enough of that. Glad the last one did. #clmooc did a great job of inviting participants into hangouts from early on. Dave Cormier eventually started doing that. I can actually WATCH things like that, coz they’re interesting conversations 😉
But see, I’ve got so many other connected experiences going on that have nothing to do with cMOOCs. Kind of. The preparation for our #tvsz 6.0 (zombie-less hack) for example. Yes, you could count #tvsz as a mini-MOOC of sorts. But my point is that the process of working on it has been a beautiful connected experience in itself. And you know what? It’s a “make”, just a very long, sustainable, collaborative one with lots of hangouts and mini-connections and some blogging and lots of email (Andrea Rehn writes beautifully about this).
OK, post’s now long enough – you get the picture 🙂
Last word: success is never “finishing” (as Vanessa Gennarelli quoted by Dave Cormier)