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.

A new experience for a new year…

I have finally done it! I have joined my first ever MOOC and so far the experience has been amazing. The only thing that will get in the way is ‘time management’ but I have a plan.

I started off well with this intro that I posted on the ETMOOC Community:

“Hi everyone!
I’m Tina from Adelaide in South Australia and I am really excited to be participating in my first MOOC. I am currently at Cowandilla primary school and will be teaching a Year 3/4 class when our new school year starts on January 29.In addition to classroom teaching I also have a specialist background in teaching Greek, ICT, ESL, Music, Drama and Dance, from Reception to Year 7 (K – 6).
I love social media and the beauty of connecting, online and face-to-face, with amazing people from all over the world.
I am looking forward to sharing and learning with you all.”

Since then I have participated in the Orientation online session using Blackboard Collaborate, which started to make my ETMOOC experience feel ‘real’. Seeing and hearing Alec Couros made the session more personal plus chatting with others on the side, participants and moderators, helped me to connect even further. Add to this the updates that I am receiving from other participants in the ETMOOC Community on Google+, I now feel like I am on my way with my ETMOOC learning adventure.

I just took part in my second ETMOOC online session “Connected Learning – Tools, Processes & Pedagogy” and even though it started at 4:30am my time, I am so motivated at the moment that I started this blog post. I am glad that I got up early for this session because it brought me back from the land of procrastination. I think this came to be because I was feeling a little overwhelmed with so much happening, both in my physical world and my online world. It was timely for me when I came across Sue Waters’ blog post ‘Work smarter and stay connected in a learning community’ I took her advice to help keep things manageable and I now feel less overwhelmed. I still have a way to go before I have it all organised to suit my needs but I am determined to work smarter in 2013.

Next on my list is my introductory video/presentation and that I will leave until later when I will be more refreshed.

Here’s to a great ETMOOC experience for all of us participating and if you aren’t participating, give it some thought because it is a great way to learn online.