Tag Archives: Twitter

Drinking from the Online Firehose — Preparing for the #FutureEd Coursera #MOOC

A few weeks ago, my colleague Jeff Merrell and I decided to participate in two different MOOCs (Massive Online Open Courses) related to education that are running at the same time. We have regular morning chats over coffee to catch up on what we are learning about the content in each course as well as the learning ecosystems being created. We tried this divide and conquer strategy last year in order to learn from each other and it worked quite well; in 2013 Jeff participated in #etmooc (Educational Technology and Media) and I participated in #edcmooc (E-Learning and Digital Cultures). I found it fascinating to watch the interaction between two MOOCs that cover related topics and take place at the same time.

This winter Jeff is participating in Dave Cormier‘s #rhizo14 Rhizomatic Learning – The community is the curriculum MOOC and I’m in the #FutureEd History and Future (Mostly) of Higher Education Coursera MOOC being facilitated by Cathy Davidson.

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Participating in #edcmooc last year was intense to say the least. I learned some things along the way about how to filter out some of the online noise so I could focus on content that supported my own learning goals and helped me develop my personal learning network. As I started exploring the #FutureEd Coursera discussion forums this week I came across a forum about Twitter that reminded me of how overwhelmed I was last year. One of the participants posted the following comment about Twitter:

Don’t you find the word limit a bit of a struggle?  And how quickly does your tweet disappear in the flood of other tweets?  It is a challenge to even read all the posts coming in.

In the hopes that some fellow MOOCers might more easily join in on the Twitter conversation, I share below how I have set myself up to wade through the flood of #FutureEd, #rhizo14 and #moocmooc tweets to find the treasures that can be uncovered.

How do you drink from the social media firehose? Share your practices in the comments.

Find Your Fellow Learners

My brain cannot wrap itself around the massive part of MOOCs so I almost immediately attempt to connect with a few people online who are in the class and are active in the spaces that I use on a regular basis. I can’t be everywhere so why not find people who I am likely to bump into more easily with my existing online practices? Before the class began, I started following the #FutureEd hashtag on Twitter in order to create a public Twitter list of people who are using the #FutureEd hashtag.

Screen Shot 2014-01-30 at 11.42.35 AMCreating a public Twitter list does two things:

  1. Starts to create a community of learners who can more easily connect with each other during and after the course
  2. Allows me to follow the tweets from people on the list in a social media management tool called Hootsuite (see below)

When I add people to this #FutureEd Twitter List they get notified that they have been added and they can subscribe to the list and decide whether they want to follow other #FutureEd participants on the list. I have found that focusing on the human element while participating in a MOOC is what motivates me to stay involved — see My Human Element in the EDCMOOC.

In addition to finding fellow learners on Twitter, I also found them in Google+ and created a #FutureEd Google+ Circle for myself. Check out what is being shared on Google+ about #FutureEd. There are some people who prefer Google+ and I don’t want to miss out on what they are sharing.

The Power of Hootsuite: Create Filters to Slow Twitter Down

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HootSuite is a social media management tool that allows you to sift through the the onslaught of information that bombards you when you try to learn via social media. What follows is an explanation of how and why I will be using this tool to follow the #rhizo14, #FutureEd and #moocmooc tweets. I’m sure there are other similar tools out there as well – share in the comments!

I find that setting up Search streams in HootSuite helps me quickly scan through tweets that might be of interest based on particular hashtags. Note that you can use OR searching to have one stream bring back tweets from different hashtags that you want to group together in some way. I can’t imagine using Twitter without a tool like HootSuite. I do not monitor Twitter on a regular basis so want to be able to see older tweets that I would miss if I only look at my real-time stream. Screen Shot 2014-01-30 at 12.51.59 PM

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Screen Shot 2014-01-30 at 12.51.50 PMAnother great feature of HootSuite (and I swear they aren’t paying me to say this) is that you can create a stream that follows a particular Twitter list. So, for example, I have a HootSuite stream that is showing me all of the tweets from people on the #FutureEd Twitter list I created.

Q: Why would I want to do this in addition to following the #FutureEd hashtag in a stream?

A: Because I can learn so much more and further develop my PLN (personal learning network).

When I follow a list in HootSuite, I see all of the tweets from everyone who has been included in that list, not just the tweets that include the #FutureEd hashtag. I’m going to make an assumption that people who have signed up to participate in #FutureEd are a pretty interesting bunch (and this has proven true so far!) so I’d like to see what else they are sharing on Twitter, not just their #FutureEd tweets. And this is one of the benefits of building a personal learning network. I will likely learn something new from one of these tweets. I will be able to get a sense of who amongst this group of seminar participants I might want to connect with in other ways outside of the context of this particular online seminar.

Screen Shot 2014-01-30 at 12.30.12 PMNOTE: This is a remix of a previous blog post I wrote while participating in an open online seminar called Exploring Personal Learning Networks.

It is also an attempt to #showyourwork, an idea put forth by Jane Bozarth.

firehose photo credit:  donnaidh_sidhe via photopin

Levels of Scaffolding

The first blog post I wrote as an EDCMOOC student shared the scaffolding I put in place around myself as a learner in order to avoid dropping out of the course. I am happy to report that I stayed engaged the whole time and am ready for more MOOC’ing! Last week, Peter Taylor, left the following comment on my scaffolding post:

A blog post on different levels of scaffolding, http://wp.me/p1gwfa-sK
The first level is the one we think of in education, but I’d be interested to hear discussion on how that kind of scaffolding in MOOCs could lead to the other levels
[“1. Someone starts with a final structure in mind and provide the workers (or students) a safe scaffolding they use to complete the structure (or students come to understand the ideas and be proficient in the practices)…..”]

I am not an expert on scaffolding (I’ll leave that my colleague Kimberly Scott and others like Peter). However, I do think Peter’s question is an interesting one. How might the kind of scaffolding that I describe in the #EDCMOOC – Week 1 Scaffolding to Avoid Dropping Out post lead to the other levels of scaffolding that Peter describes for MOOC participants? But also, how does the scaffolding put in place by the instructors and other course participants enhance learners experiences and help them go deeper?

When I read Peter’s Scaffolding post, Level 3 stuck out for me. I’ll come back to levels 4 and 5 – need some more thinking time on those.

3. Someone (or someones) has (have) a synergistic cooperative or collaborative situation in mind—drawn from past experience and current understanding—and provides scaffolding to more than one group of workers (potential cooperators) to lead them towards a place where, if and when the groups meet, their interaction creates more than the sum of the parts. That is, like two sides of a bridge joining in a stable arch, the resulting situation is something no group could provide for itself (see strategic participatory planning)

In the Voice Thread group I’ve been part of during the EDCMOOC, we have been discussing ideas for ways to support various types of MOOC learners — how to provide scaffolding — so that individuals can meet their personal learning goals whatever they might be. I think that the EDCMOOC team at the University of Edinburgh definitely had a synergistic cooperative situation in mind, this EDCMOOC, and provided scaffolding to all of us which led us to all sorts of places where we met up and interacted. And from my own personal experience the interactions I’ve had with both the Voice Thread group and the group of #edcmchat students in the live Twitter chats have produced interactions and content that is much more than the sum of the parts.

So what does the scaffolding look like that produces the outcome described in Peter’s level 3 scaffolding? In the case of this particular MOOC, some of the ways that the teaching team provided scaffolding to foster 1 + 1 = 4 outcomes are listed below:

  • Designed a final assessment that is peer-reviewed instead of instructor-reviewed. This meant that in some cases people were forming groups or using existing social media communities to share their work prior to submitting. My Voice Thread group, for example, had a Google+ Hangout well before the due date of the final assignment where we shared drafts of the digital artifact and conducted a peer review that helped us iterate and tweak our final submissions.
  • Encouraged various ways of connecting with other students and course content. While there was a Coursera discussion area, it was not frowned upon if particular students, like me, wanted to interact on Twitter, Google+ or other places. In fact, it was encouraged (even though this makes the measurement of a MOOC difficult). In the two Google+ hangouts hosted by the teaching team, they answered questions on Google+ and Twitter — they met the participants where we were, not where the teaching team deemed we should be.
  • Directed participants to various groups to facilitate connecting with other students. During the second Google+ hangout, Christine Sinclair, spent some time talking about various groups  that were forming, specifically the Over 60 group. Jen Ross shared the EDCMOOC Voice Thread group with others in a blog post.

I also think that in a MOOC, the teachers/facilitators themselves are actually not able to provide all the scaffolding. Participants start emerging who provide some of this scaffolding. For example, Ary Aranguiz started the #edcmchat Twitter chat which was not part of the course design. Ary along with other Twitter chat hosts AndyDMMitchell, Eleni Zazani , and @kmallwein (list not meant to be comprehensive – many others played a role) did an excellent job of including Twitter newbies in the conversation with tweets like this one:

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Felicia Sullivan artfully provided scaffolding by being a quiet leader in the Voice Thread conversation. She seeded the conversation with a prompt and then replied quickly to member’s comments throughout the course, keeping us coming back for more!

But this is my experience. What are your thoughts on this topic?

  1. What are other kinds of scaffolding that could be used in future MOOCs to facilitate this kind of cooperation and collaboration amongst and between groups?
  2. Who was left out despite these various scaffolding methods?
  3. Were there things that didn’t work for you?
  4. Have you seen examples in other MOOCs where scaffolding was not put in place or didn’t naturally emerge? What happened?

photo credit: pni via photopin cc

We write to taste life twice. ~ Anais Nin

A colleague of mine, Georgianne Hewett (@georgianneh), just shared a fun Twitter tool called All My Tweets that shows you all of your tweets on one page. She asked the question, what do your tweets say over time?

She then shared her favorite quote from her own list of tweets:

We write to taste life twice. ~ Anais Nin

This quote couldn’t have come to me at a better time (I started this blog earlier this week). Rather than getting hung up on worrying about how I will come across to whoever happens upon this little space I’m occupying on the web, I’m just focusing on writing, on tasting life twice and reflecting publicly.

This is also why I love Twitter. Not only did I read an inspirational quote, I also found a new tool. Plus I pasted all of my tweets into Evernote so that I can now search them. I went back and looked at my first tweets which made me realize how much has changed in my digital literacy journey since 2009 when I created my Twitter account.

  • Tweet #1: setting up a twitter account – finally taking the plunge Jun 27, 2009
  • Tweet #2: Attended a social media workshop today and finally understand the benefits of twitter – or is it just one more thing to distract me? Jun 27, 2009
  • Tweet #3: won’t get much of a following with so few “tweets” – so far Twitter hasn’t pulled me away from FB – wonder what will grab me about it? Jul 03, 2009

I guess 3 1/2 years later I’ve answered my question about what will grab me about Twitter. It expands my personal learning network, it helps connect me to something larger than myself, and it sends me little gifts.

1573 tweets later, I’m convinced!