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Making connections . . . on a GRAND scale!

Jean-Marie TaylorWhen life gets really busy – as it is for us during the summer at CTLT – it becomes even more difficult to find the time for professional development activities. And while I enjoy reading books and articles, my preference is for exploring ideas with my peers. This is somewhat of a change from my early professional life, when I preferred to “go it alone.” To be honest, having children really changed my ideas about learning (and the way that I teach as a result.) As I watched my children make connections between what they already knew and new information, it became more and more apparent that the more experiences they had, the greater the opportunities to make those connections!

What I also came to realize is that I can’t always help my students make the connections they need – I don’t have all of the experiences that they have, nor do they have mine. When I instituted a regular strategy of public reflection in my courses (“how did you make that connection?”), I found that students were learning more because they were helping each other make deeper, more meaningful and relevant connections.

It seems so simple, doesn’t it?

I carried this strategy into my own professional development as well and found that I was learning more as a result of engaging in conversations with peers and colleagues from across the country.

It’s been a number of years now, and this is a strategy that I have shared with many of the faculty that work with. So when I received an email this week suggesting that I take a look at the totally free, asynchronous, University of Illinois-sponsored eight week massive, open, online course (MOOC) entitled, “Online Learning Today . . . and Tomorrow,” I knew this would be an opportunity that I would not want to pass up.

Perhaps you saw something about this in the Chronicle of Higher Education?  On Tuesday, June 21st, Marc Parry published a piece (U. of Illinois at Springfield Offers New ‘Massive Open Online Course) that he aptly begins with, “What happens when you invite the whole world to join an online class?

I was one of the first 50 or so to register for the course on Monday (the course doesn’t officially begin until June 27th). When I dropped into the site today, I saw an enrollment update indicating more than 1,750 participants from 50 countries are now enrolled!

Are you interested in learning more about what a MOOC is? Take a look at this informative video from Dave Cormier!

[flv]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eW3gMGqcZQc&feature=player_embedded[/flv]

You may also want to check out the eduMOOC Online Learning Today …and Tomorrow public site for a more complete description of what this is all about, or mosey on over to Ray Schroeder’s edumooc blog for a looksee.

I’m not really sure what I’m getting myself into just yet, but as with most things related to educational technology and teaching and learning online, I’m up for the adventure. What I do know is that there will be lots of people there who have a lot of experiences I haven’t yet had . . . and who will make me even better at what I do and how I do it. I’m ready to meet them, and to reconnect with those I have already met in this wonderful journey.

Come join us!

Jean-Marie

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