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.