Reflections of my #ETMOOC experience

In January last year, I signed up for an unforgettable experience with the Educational Technology & Media Massive Open Online Course, or ETMOOC for short. I deliberately use the word ‘unforgettable’ because, 12 months later, ETMOOC is still in my life through Google + and my personal learning network on Twitter.

When I signed up for ETMOOC, I didn’t know what to expect but I did know that Alec Couros is an amazing educator, with a passion for open and connected learning and teaching.  It was this knowledge that persuaded me to take the ETMOOC plunge and dive into the most amazing online learning experience.

It’s hard to believe that a whole year has passed since that first day in January. I still can’t believe how much I learned and shared with others. Perhaps it is difficult to remember how long ago this all began because ETMOOC is still very much a part of my everyday life and, to this day, I continue to learn and share with this amazing network of connected educators.

I wanted to reflect on my ETMOOC experience, but when I began to write about my experience, I got stuck.  There were just so many and varied learning activities to discuss and I did not know where to start. A dear friend of mine helped me to move forward by guiding me to think outside the box. She asked me a range of ‘interesting’ and ‘abstract’ questions, and my answers to these have formed the basis of the following reflection.

Learning with ETMOOC

Often, as educators, we discuss the concept of a ‘safe learning environment’.  I pride myself on being able to create this sense of security for my students, but it was during ETMOOC that I first experienced it for myself. There appeared to be no right or wrong, just thinking and possibilities! There were dates but no deadlines and I felt free to dip into the course and then dry off as I needed to.  I could come back to it after 6 months and it was OK. There was an overwhelming sense of it all being OK!

I moved through the course at my own pace and, because there was no pressure, it meant I could learn at my own pace. It was about me and it was about connecting!

Alec Couros offered reassurance every step of the way.  His integrity and passion for learning shone through his instruction and empowered us all. It was through this empowerment that I learned so much; from Alec and from others; and built a supportive network of like-minded, passionate teachers.

If I were to describe ETMOOC as being a particular shape, it would have to be a circle to represent the ongoing, and never-ending cycle of learning and reflection, as well as its smooth and seamless continuing existence through the powerful and valuable connections I made.

If ETMOOC were a country, it would be Greece because, for me, education goes way back to the time of the great philosophers and I certainly encountered many great minds – and great quotes – during the course.  Greece also represents the sense of deep wonder I experience when I visit that amazing country, which was similar to the wonder I felt discovering the new learning and connections during ETMOOC. Lastly, Greece represents the feeling of home and welcome I experience while studying through ETMOOC.

With ETMOOC, there was always someone there at any time of the day or night. The social glue that brought us together through music and movement, is a constant reminder that learning can be fun; it can be social, it can be binding. I never had to learn alone and I continue to learn and to wonder. I didn’t just learn new skills, I learned through teaching others and through sharing.

ETMOOC has been one of the most powerful moments in my learning journey and I am so glad that I signed up to do it.

My Edublogs nominations for 2012

This is the first year that I am nominating my favourites for the #eddies12 and it is quite a buzz! There were so many amazing educators and blogs to choose from and I wish everyone the best of luck.

  • Best administrator blog – The Principal of Change by George Couros
    I am constantly amazed at what George comes up with on his blog as it is always relevant and timely. George is inspirational and has played a big role in educators from Australia, especially Adelaide, connecting online. As our opening keynote at the CEGSA 2012 state conference in Adelaide, George connected with the audience and created a flurry of online activity which has continued to grow.  George is very open and honest in what he writes and he is a wonderful support for anyone who seeks him out online.
  • Best individual blog – Free Technology for Teachers
    One of the first blogs that I started to follow for technology resources. Following Richard Byrne (@rmbyrne) I found lots of little gems of information and resources.
  • Best teacher blog – Bianca Hewes (@BiancaH80)
    Bianca is an inspiring teacher of English from New South Wales. I heard Bianca speak at the biggest TeachMeet in Sydney earlier this year and she was inspirational. We met up again at ISTE2012 in San Diego and it was great to connect again as Bianca is so friendly and approachable. Her blog is informative and I especially enjoy the Project Based Learning  section which is comprehensive and reflective.
  • Best class blog – Ms Cassidy’s Classroom Blog An excellent class blog from 6 and 7 year olds in Kathy Cassidy’s class. It’s fantastic to see what young learners are capable of doing and it is a privilege to be invited into their learning environment.
  • Best individual tweeter – George Couros (@gcouros)
    I am nominating George for this award as he reaches a major audience through his tweets which are always informative and relevant. He shares so many great links and articles to read that it is hard to keep up. I have added depth to my professional learning through George’s online sharing and I really appreciate his dedication. Judging by his many followers, especially the Aussies and their retweeting and tweets to George, I know that he has made a major impact on their online professional learning.
  • Best twitter hashtag – #ozteachers Lots of great learning and sharing between teachers in Australia and worldwide. I have found lots of wonderful resources and have made great connections through this hashtag.
  • Best free web tool – Storify
    A great free app that lets you create stories from social networks. I have enjoyed using Storify  to build stories by capturing tweets and adding narrative and other media. Extremely user friendly and allows for creativity.
  • Best educational wiki Educational Origami
    This wiki is full of a variety of resources and worth checking out. I have shared quite a few of the resources in my teaching and with my colleagues.
  • Best open PD / unconference / webinar series K12online
    An excellent online conference open to all educators interested in emerging technologies and classroom practice.
  • Best educational use of a social network Twitter
    An amazing online networking service that has so much to offer and has helped me to grow professionally online.
  • Best free web tool Google Drive
    Has made life easier for online access of files, documents, videos…from anywhere at anytime!
  • Lifetime achievement Sue Waters
     An amazing educator who has given so much to us all, Sue deserves to win this award. I was fortunate to meet Sue twice this year, at ISTE2012 in San Diego and at ACEC2012 in Perth. Sue is so giving of her time and expertise, at any given time of the day as she works in both hemispheres. Her blog The Edublogger is a wealth of information, links, resources, tips, tricks anything to do with blogs and online learning. Thanks Sue for your tireless work both online and f2f.