I can’t put this unique course aside without digesting and wrapping up some more aspects.
1. Workflow-related things. My use and sequence of the tools emerged in rather different ways than expected. Comparing to my initial map, many tools and resources turned out to be much less relevant than expected:
- The “hub” was just one blog among others;
- the wiki was just a static (although crucial) page rather than a living text,
- many external groups remained unimportant for me, such as facebook, or Google group,
- many resources did not fit in my workflow, such as pageflakes.
My typical workflow went like this. I had arranged the participants’ approx. 200 rss feeds in four folders on my aggregator, ranging
- from those who had their feed announced very early/ in the expected way,
- and the other ones contained in the the central opml file,
- to those that have been collected in the delicious tag of cck08
- and those that I discovered belatedly.
In the first weeks, I worked them through in just this sequence, expecting the most from the former ones. Later I did it the other way around, leaving the most promising core feeds (including a few from the last category) as the “dessert” for the daily culmination.
The criteria I applied for selection were much more ruthless than in my normal blog reading habits:
- If a post from a non-dedicated blog did’t carry the tag cck08 or at least connectivism, I skipped it.
- If it was about the topic of the wrong week (except on Mondays), I skipped it.
- If it seemed to miss the week’s topic, I left it.
- If I didn’t quickly enough understand the connection to the topic. I discarded it, as well (in a rigid way that somehow frightens me and that I will have to think about more, because this effectively means that I ignored things that were not easy enough to understand).
- For the remaining posts, I checked if they somehow resonated with me or “struck a chord”. (Of course, I developed a bias in favor of classmates whose posts had previously resonated with me. In this case I had much more patience. Also if they had commented on my posts, thus showing patience for my unfinished thoughts. So the bias was a sort of reciprocity.)
One may say that I missed one goal of the course: To be content with an arbitrary selection and with the uncertaincy of what I may have missed. Rather, I tried to scan, or maintain an impression of, everything that was going on, and after the overwhelming first weeks this was not totally impossible.
Many resource collections such as the Technorati or Delicious tags served only as a kitchen sink, as a scavenger for resources that I might have missed. For some of them, I did not even check them regularly, such as the Daily’s “Contributions” section, the margin columns on the Moodle course start page, or pageflakes.
Only after I scanned my feed reader on my own, I turned to the Daily’s “Highlighted resources” section and checked if I had missed the relevance of some posting. It was a big temptation to use these commentaries (discussed at Lisa’s critique post) instead of autonomous judgement and filtering. On the other hand, I would not have liked to miss it in the Daily. Perhaps it could simply be shifted by one day, i. e. the “contributions” section would apply to the current day but the “Highlighted” section would refer to the previous day?
Another thing became much more relevant than I previuosly expected: The use of a separate feed. I did not know how to do this when the course started and I did not think it was so important, but in hindsight I am glad that I tried the feed address for the blog category, and it was so simple and so useful.
To keep track of my own comments on other’s blogs, I did not use Delicious as usual, and I did not subscribe to their comments feeds, because they were too many. I just put the shortcuts in a folder called “mycomments” and doubleclicked them once in a while. After there was a reaction, I moved them to a subfolder called “reacted”.
2. Skeleton of weeks structure. Learning from blogs and decentralized resources was not really new to me. But to learn something through this way, to learn a specific, delineated subject, to apply this method to a curriculum, that was a challenging experiment. And it worked. The surprising thing was how much I eventually embraced the pruning of all serendipitious tangents, and a tough thing was the time pressure caused by the relevance of all twelve “lessons”. But the proof of concept succeeeded, to crossbreed topic coverage and free-ranging methods. And this success and fun compensated the pressure.
Some participants wrote that they were behind the schedule, working at their own pace. This would not have worked for me. I liked that there was a shared topic which generated a common interest and the reactions that have turned out to be so fruitful and valuable.
3. Model and demonstrate diversity. How could a single teacher demonstrate diversity without cutting himself into two halves? Stephen proved that he can do it. He did it with his seemingly fierce attitudes. e. g. towards forums, and his stance towards some of George’s sayings. With his pronounced, woodcut-like, coined views, he sometimes pushed to limits where few are willing to follow him. This was a great and important experience that prevented us from the false impression that the new theory were just for harmony-seeking and like-minded people. After all, George and Stephen still have more opinions in common than discrepancies.
The differences between our two facilitators were so beneficial that this might suggest that a connectivist teacher should always operate in tandem.
Because students are always diverse. I realized this once again when I read Lisa’s suggestions, many of which would not work for me. (Maybe the reason for this is that history was my worst grade, and her suggestions may be optimal for her students.) For instance, my visual style is not object oriented but spatial, so I wouldn’t like that “connected text boxes doesn’t count” for her requirement “Get visual”. She perfectly used the object image of a planting bed to show me what I wouldn’t like at all: A frame, marking out a restricted context. Or a “focus” (the readings). Or specifying what “types of content might be appropriate for” the variuos tools (I welcomed the freedom to largely avoid replying in moodle). Or a “responsibility to participate” in synchronous discussions (where I am lost since I prefer asynchronous channels). It was fascinating to see how, despite such different preferences, still so much more can be resonating.