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Duck! It’s another hash tag!

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This is a picture of me, sitting at a cafeteria table, 3rd period, gloomy Tuesday, monitoring study hall. My colleague Rose is on the other side of the table–outside the frame–diligently working through a stack of grading.

An observant reader may notice the lack of stack in front of me. A thoughtful reader, and a particularly kind one, may silently congratulate me on the absent stack. Not so fast, Dear Reader; it’s upstairs. Mildly sorted. In a bag. On a chair. Behind my desk.

What a particularly astute reader still may miss is that the picture above is of an ostrich with her head in the sand, which may or may not be the first of several analogies used to mediocre effect in this post.

Why is my head buried is that imaginary sand? It’s my response to overwhelming amounts of input, and it’s a personal intellectual, and perhaps emotional, failing of mine. “Everything but the kitchen sink” makes me run from the kitchen.

What does this have to do with EdTech and media? How could this possibly be an #ETMOOC post?

I’ve started using my Twitter account again and also, last night, joined an #ETMOOC orientation session on the Blackboard Collaborate space. There were a lot of interesting ideas tossed around, like about digital citizenship and making learning visible, but I had a hard time thinking about them (and kept jumping to other pages during the session, thereby “checking out”) because I was overwhelmed.

There’s no aha moment here, no clarity of vision, no life changing ideas. Perhaps, Reader, you can offer some in the comments?

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9 Comments

  1. Stacy Olson says:

    I missed the session last night and plan on attending a repeat this afternoon, but I am having similar feelings, so your post is very reassuring. I keep telling myself that a lot of learning can be done in the “uncomfortable space” I am in right now……..and am trying to be hopeful and stick it out. So I cannot offer you any guidance, accept maybe to let you know you are not alone………

    • staceykerr says:

      Thanks, Stacy. It *is* good to remember the discomfort. I think it makes me a more compassionate teacher in the classroom, too. When I was “checking out” last night, I was really thinking of those moments when my students’ eyes glaze over!

  2. wiltwhatman says:

    Having similar issues.

    There’s lots of information out there, and what’s signal to some is noise to me, and vice versa.

    Part of the treason for engaging with the MOOC is to experience that, and try to solve it.

    Finding people with mutually beneficial skillsets, setting up a shared space (a collaborative blog, a wiki) and then using that space to work on a project could be one way.

    Finding a project other people have come up with and helping out.

    Checking out the hub, finding questions, answers, ideas and poeople you like and commenting on their blogs :).

    Using Google + and adding people to your circles – that way you can chat, have their messages delivered preferentially, set up Hangouts, and work together.

    Follow specific people on Twitter who you think you could work with, learn from, or contribute to, they’ll probably follow you.

    I’m a newbie to this, so there are better, more efficient answers out there. But maybe that’s a start.

    ps. I get my students to correct their own work.

    • staceykerr says:

      The shared spaces idea is a good one. Ways to carve out little areas…

      So, how do you get your students to correct their own work?

      • wiltwhatman says:

        Hi Stacey,

        I teach English as a Foreign language, to students who are looking for an immersion experience. Students are typically from their mid to late teens up to pensioner age.

        So, I mark for vocabulary, grammar, approrpriate use of grammar and vocab, register, and correct use of English (though it could be extended to cover compositional concerns).

        First I tell them why I want them to do it (because it’s faster, better and more efficient if they learn to correct their own mistakes, because in exams, the real world and, whatever context their focus/motivation is for learning, they’ll need to be able to self assess correct) and how, and I give an example of how we’ll do it.

        The how is simple. I set homework, say, for example, we’ve focused on academic essays. I set an essay, and I keep in mind what we’ve worked on in class, and the strengths and weaknesses of each student.

        They hand in the work, and I explain the correction code, the how and the why.

        The correction code is simply a set of abbreviations for types of errors. I post it in the classroom, i hand out handouts with it, and I post it online.

        Errors in homework are marked out, and noted with the code. It’ handed back to the student, and they correct the errors, and we have a short meeting (during class, while there is groupwork) to go through them. Any that the student can’t correct, we go through. This also gives me an opportunity to tell the student when we’ll be covering areas they need to look at, and gives me a good base for telling them they’ll need to focus when we cover them.

        Usually, I tailor correction to the student. I have a good idea of what they know, what they don’t, and what they can and can’t correct. And we don’t correct everything, unless the student has made few mistakes.

        Here’s a sample code.

        WF (wrong grammar form)
        SP (spelling)
        WW (wrong word for this context)
        WO (problem with the word order)
        P (problem with punctuation)
        R (problem with formal/informal register)
        PREP (problem with the preposition – common amongst language learners)
        FF (false friend – this word has a different meaning in english to that of your first language)
        WF (problem with the word formation, the beginning or ending).

        Looks like you sorted some signal from some noise. Hope it was useful. Good luck with the MOOC and maybe see you on Blackboard.

  3. Jeff Merrell says:

    I saw your link to this blog post on Twitter and thought I’d follow through on one of the items that came up during Monday night’s session – about commenting on blog posts.

    I was one of the people Tweeting last night on behalf of etmooc. I was overwhelmed, too. And I kinda do this for a living (I teach a graduate course on knowledge sharing and collaboration). Yikes. Please don’t spread the word.

    But just know that pretty much everyone feels this way (overwhelmed). One of the folks I know (who also works in this arena of knowledge sharing) says that the best way to make the firehose seem less like a firehose is to have a question in mind. It helps you focus and pick out things that are relevant. And ignore the rest of the stream.

    I’ve tried it and it works. Sometimes – for me – that question is simply who seems interesting to connect with. Sometimes it is topical. But I’ve learned to have some question in the back of my head to help me make that firehose more manageable.

    Good luck. Hope to see you around more at #etmooc.

    • staceykerr says:

      Thanks so much for the feedback, Jeff. It’s good to know I’m not alone, and I like the question idea. I’m forcing my honors sophomores to use a research question for the paper they’re working on right now as a way to focus their efforts. Perhaps the same idea would work for me.

      • Celia says:

        Stacey
        I too totally understand the feeling of being overwhelmed. Jeff has given you good advice. This is my first MOOC but not my first online course and I know that the initial stages are often difficult as so much is introduced at once.
        Once the weeks start rolling by you do filter the material, and select what interests you, find a connection to your experience or need and move on from that.
        The tendency is to think you need to cover everything and you do not, that is the beauty, it will sort itself out to matching you (or your needs and interests)
        One of the best things is the meeting new people to form part of you online network.
        Hope that helps.

        Celia @ccoffa
        Melbourne Australia

      • staceykerr says:

        Thanks Celia. The last online course I took was a Blackboard-based one in 2005, and the size of the class was small and the information presented was very controlled. It was an online environment, but it was a very teacher-led experience.

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