MW talks a lot about sharing. Sharing is the base of a network. I know MW says "the base of an online social network", but I will claim it's the base for any network. If you don't share, you don't connect and you don't have a network. For me is the most important difference between online networks and AFK networks, that you have incredible amounts of peers to network with online. AFK= away from keyboard. An expression I adopted from the movie TBP AFK about the people behind Pirate Bay.
But then...it's not at all rare that 30.000 people signs up for a mooc. How do you start sharing with all these people? I guess it's human to feel the need of confidence before you share your thoughts and your work. How to find your PLN in this crowd?
Anne Marie McNally has a suggestion for how the mooc providers can learn from the online dating:
"I think there are some lessons we can learn from online dating – I fill in a profile and the system recommends to me people I may want to meet for a virtual coffee. If I can make stronger connections, I am more likely to stay with the course and the group. I expand a little on it here: http://myeducationmusings.blogspot.com.au/"In a way I like her idea. However I do realize some problems. If a piece of software had had to group the participants from the EDC mooc I would probably never have met inspiring persons like @Amy Burval and @Céline Keller. My reason to mention exactly these two is, that they work a lot with music, which I almost never do, so I guess a "dating" software wouldn't suggest us to each other. Which for me would have made the community around the course less inspiring. Don't get me wrong here. There was A LOT of exiting people in the community. I just say, that they might not had been a part of my group, because I'm not as skilled in some fields as they are. It would clearly had been my loss.
What I try to say is, that a rich PLN for me is a network of sharing, caring, communicating and diverse individuals. Networks must contain a certain grade of plurality. That gives the possibility for the shared content to surprise, excite maybe even mindblow instead of just being supportive. My personal experience shows Google+ and Facebook are great places to bring different people together around a subject, thus create the room for discussions and evolution of PLNs.
A little more about the AFK networks. As I wrote in my introduction blogpost, it was the lack of sharing and inspiration between me and my colleagues, that drove me to the online networks in the first place. When I used to work in a very creative team-oriented school in Denmark, we shared a LOT of ideas and discussed how to do this and how to try that. It was very dynamic, and it made me the teacher I like to be.
I'm not the only one to have experienced how the lack of sharing networks influences your satisfaction with your efforts. Maureen Maher commented on the blogpost:
"Interesting how some schools are more teamwork oriented while others require you to work more alone. Found it delightful to work as a team in Vienna, but finding teaching in California very isolating."Another reason to enroll mooc's is to learn. And for me learning is a creative process. Creative of course in the way that I have to add something new to my inner impression of the world, but also as being real creative. I have to work and play with, not just read about, the new skill or content I learn. So I learn better, when I have places to be creative. And I get that in networks with other people playing around as well. When I am in that stage I love to share and discuss my thoughts, ideas and objections.
My awareness of the sharing, creative and networking part of the learning proces has increased much since I entered e-learning. You could say that my "digital me" has great influence on my "AFK me". When I plan my classes now there's a lot more working with web 2.0, blogging, commenting on each other's work, expressing through both text and pictures or other medias. And sharing so they get the feeling of how they are a part of a greater whole and they can get inspired by their peers work. The students (age 11 - 14) like it a lot and they now often seek these methods even when I do not initiate it.
I'll end this post by reposting two videos. The first was posted by @Angela Towndrow during our edc mooc. I forgot who posted the second, but I think they both fit fine into openness, creativity, networks and learning.
And then I'll turn to the next project: figuring out how to make a digital artefact about openness in education, which is the third activity in week 1.
How to succes in a mooc