Friday, 30 May 2014

A final review on #BlendKit2014...a thank you and comments on our Learning Culture

Hello and Welcome Back!

This is my very last post on #BlendKit2014 - as I am not submitting a portfolio, I'm now done the course - but I'm not done learning.  Not by a long shot!

I will be continuing to take MOOCs and continuing to write about them - although not always here.  I will share links to my blogs as they are posted just in case you want to keep up with me :)

I'm starting a course on Gamification from OpenLearning - I expect to start posting about it in a week or two...You will get the details here as soon as I can release them!  If you've read my blog before, you know that Gamification and E-Portfolios really sparked my fire!

In the meantime, I have been reflecting on my MOOC experience in #BlendKit2014 (specifically, although Intro to Marketing on Coursera has been similar in experience).  The community we've built.  The shared experience. I've come to realize something.

Universities have it all wrong.  When they say MOOCs can't replace the school culture, the classroom experience and the one-on-one interactions with the professors, I have to ask, "What dream world do they live in??".

When I attend Saint Mary's University, I was lucky.  In the grand scheme of things it's a small school, although in Canada we would probably consider it a medium school.  I knew who my profs were.  They might know my name...but generally I was "Oh right, the one who wrote about...".  I didn't have many convos with the profs, the classes weren't filled with debate, I didn't know half of my class.

Which was ridiculous.  Some classes had 30 people in it.  Some upper level courses had 12.  I didn't know them.  They didn't know me.  We had a "sage on stage" most times with limited discussion.  We didn't try to help each other to understand the material or the context.  We were not a community as such.

Now again, I was kind of lucky.  I was on the executive of the English Society.  I arranged to have profs come in for symposiums to share their latest research (we made for a great group to tell you where you ideas had room for improvement!!) and often a beer or two after.  I had office hours and spent some time debating concepts, imagery, context, symbolism, etc with a few students - generally not those in my class though.  I didn't ever feel like my understanding was important to anyone else. I was alone in making my education count.  And...that led to me maybe not working quite as hard as I should have...

I worked ridiculous hours while in school - one year I did 52 hours a week for an entire semester, went to school full time and still had a social life.  Crazy? Yes! Did I do homework?  Barely.  Did I put forth nearly as much effort as I do now?  Nope.  Not by a long shot!!

Learning about Blended Learning meant I did probably 6+hrs/wk of work to understand the content and context of the work.  Researching, piecing things together, and reflecting in this least 6 hours/week.  Just for this course.  I have been taking 8-10 more at any time.  But I had help.  I had a community of people who would talk about concepts on twitter, Google+ or my blog.  Or the discussion forums.  Or LinkedIn.  I had a personal learning network.  I made connections that I want to stay connected with.

People shared their ideas, their understandings, their successes and failures (real or perceived).  They invested in each other - showing their work at various stages, looking for feedback and advice - which they got!  Our shared goal was to have a deeper understanding.  That we all have a deeper understanding.

MOOCs can drive the Learning Culture.  It's driven by the participants, not the university and not the professors.  Each may take part, but it is the students who take the lead, help each other, look for deeper meaning, share, support, and ensure no one who wants to get ahead is willingly left behind.   We drive the Learning Culture.

We did.  Us.  I'm so glad to have had the chance to take this course with each of you.  We came in from many different walks of life, experiences, and understandings.  We finish this course with a shared experience, a shared understanding, a shared desire to help our connections find a deeper learning.

Time for some Confidential Information...

I was very intimidated at the beginning of this course - I realized that I was one of the few who didn't teach in a school or - even scarier - in a university.  I thought about dropping out a dozen times in the first week even though I loved it, was learning and having fun.  Seeing so many people with PhD or EdD after their names or job titles that were followed by at X University...Yikes!  I only had a little ol' BA...and I seldom talk about it!  And I have been working in retail (and retail training)...Double Yikes!  But this community (thankfully) quickly grew and made me feel like it was OK to come in from a different angle.  That my experiences could add value and occasionally a different viewpoint.

Had I taken this course at a brick and mortar institution, I would have withdrawn and run for the hills by Week 2.  I'm glad I didn't.

I've written a slightly more defined version of what I am emotionally trying to explain here over on  The culture we created is just as relevant as the culture at any brick & mortar school - and possibly more valuable!  What we created was something I was never able to find at any university (even though the schools all say they have it).

Thank you Dr Kelvin Thompson and Dr Linda Futch for creating this fantastic program and providing the forum for a Learning Culture to be built.  Your feedback and participation in Social Media played a great part in our community development.  Your in course emails provided great feedback and support to a gal who felt like a fish out of water but was loving to learn about Blended Learning.  Should you ever run this course again from a corporate training perspective, let me know!  I'm totally in!!

To my fellow coursemates, I look forward to staying in touch via twitter, each others blogs, Google+ and the LinkedIn group.  I hope to see you again in another course and wish you great learning, great understanding, great happiness and great success!