Week 5 at the Introduction to Box’Tag SOOC

BT01Week 5 is the final week of the synchronous phase of the Introduction to Box’Tag Small Open Online Course (SOOC). As of this morning there are 131 participants in the course.

There were 25 participants at the start of this cSOOC. It has been interesting to see the course flourish as the participants approach Dunbar’s number, 150.

Thanks to Adam Brimo and his colleagues, the course will be available online as an asynchronous resource for the Box’Tag community.

This is the second SOOC in which I have participated. Both SOOCs have underscored for me the centrality of a community driver. In the Box’Tag SOOC, Paul Perkins has been a remarkable, vigilant, supportive and encouraging driver.

Allan Hahn has been a prime mover in the SOOC and he has played the role of mentor. This is a vital role in a SOOC too, I believe. Driving a community is very demanding and it is very helpful, and reassuring, to be able to come up for air during the day-to-day activities and talk with a mentor. Allan has addressed too some important philosophical questions about Box’Tag in the discussion forums in his gentle way.

I have really enjoyed meeting the Box’Tag community in this SOOC. Participation and profound engagement have bubbled away throughout the course. I have been delighted in the ways the community has explored and discussed the course content. I have a sense of belonging from the SOOC that is very powerful.

We have made limited use of social media to extend the reach of the SOOC. The OpenLearning platform remains the primary vehicle for the SOOC. There is a Facebook page for the Canberra PCYC, University of Canberra Research and Development of Box’Tag.

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I do think SOOCs need technology stewards too. In this SOOC, I have been monitoring activity on the OpenLearning platform but Adam Brimo and his colleagues have developed a powerful resource that requires little stewardship. It seems more like cheering from the sidelines.

I have a profound sense of service pervading this SOOC. A group of dedicated and passionate people have come together to share and in reading have come to know that they are not alone.

A Course, A Community?

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Shortly after the #ucsaffire Festival earlier this week, I wrote a post about small open online communities.

In the post, I noted:

I had a brief conversation with Danny Munnerley about the capital C in SOOC. Danny made the excellent point that C stands for Community rather than Course. I am going to act on this excellent suggestion and think about longer-term aspects of open online opportunities.

Stephen Downes picked up on the post and observed in OLDaily:

courses have start and end dates, and communities don’t. So if your thing has a start and end date, it’s a course. It may foster and support community, but it’s something different. (Stephen’s emphasis)

I agree entirely and do need to make a clarification.

The cSOOCs with which I have been involved are available after the chronological end date of the course. In sport coaching we discuss concentration and dispersal. I am thinking this is what happens in cSOOCs too. We come together for focussed discussions and then go off about our daily business.

Danny’s proposal resonated with me in so far as the resources created for the cSOOCs are available to foster and support community development.

I have been thinking about edgeless learning and lifelong learning that may or may not involve credentialism. In my earlier post, I mentioned Susan Blum‘s Huffington Post article in which she argued:

If our ultimate goal is to educate human beings, then we must focus not only on knowledge and information, discipline and surveillance as measured by tests, but also on non-academic pleasures, motivations, skills, and the full array of human engagement that sustains attention and meaning.

Thanks to Stephen’s clarification, I do think this blending of courses and communities is part of the transformation Terry Heick discussed recently and is part of the reflection Debbie Morrison discussed in regard to MOOCs.

My realisation … when I discuss cSOOCs, I should specify that these are available after the ‘end’ of moments of concentration of collaborative or cooperative activity. They remain as resources in the dispersed communities they were designed to foster and support.

I am thinking that is the potency of the lower case c in cSOOC.

Photo Credit

Rainbow Over Innovation Park, Yorkali Walters CC BY-NC-ND 2.0