Monday, February 13, 2012

Sensemaking in a MOOC

I had come across Jupidu's post on Sensemaking in a MOOC a while back, but I haven't had much time to respond to it just yet (until now I guess ;-)  ).  I was actually thinking of my participation in MOOCs in general; as well as the two MOOCs I am now participating in - those being Change11 and DS106.  I was actually thinking of points 1, 2, 4 and 5 in specifically and I thought I would do a bit of compare and contrast between the two:


  • Sensemaking works around identity creation – in every environment f2f or virtual I’m building my identity and this “self” is in continuous interaction with the environment and with the other learners as well.
  • Sensemaking works retrospective – I’m making sense out of experiences reflecting about them, as I’m doing it now with this article I want to write. And therefore sensemaking is influenced by my memory of situations.
  • Sensemaking is social – of course it is in the Mooc! I’m a kind of aware of some the learners who participate in the Mooc, who write in their blogs, twitter, discuss, think about the questions of the experts, reflect the online sessions, relate the inputs to their daily work, comment their ideas, …
  • Sensemaking is ongoing - yes, of course, we are in the middle of something, reinventing learning, cooperating … and at the moment we don’t know how this Mooc actually works – and we, all the Mooc participants try to make their individuell “sense” out of the Mooc

Even though DS106 does have a wonderful WordPress based community, I tend to not go on there as much to see what my fellow students are up to.  Part of this is a function of time - I don't have a lot of it, and the daily email recap that I get from Change11 does give me the headlines and I can pursue things in depth from there if I wish (this is in-fact how I found jupidu's post).  This mechanic influences how social I am.  While the DS106 tag does make my post harvestable by the DS106 elves that work in the background, it doesn't necessarily mean that I will be going to the site as often, which means I tend to be less social (than I should).  This means that, for me, DS106, sense-making is less social and more of a solitary activity.  Sure, there is some social element, but not as much as MobiMOOC, Change11, and CCK11 for example.

Sense-making is retrospective indeed, in more ways than one!  For example, looking at DS106 assignments, I find that there are quite a few of them that I've done in the past just by experimenting, but I didn't know that it was digital storytelling at that point.  It's a great opportunity to go back, pull some of those projects (or candid shots) and tell a story around them - a "making of" type of thing and perhaps how I've grown and learned more since then.

I guess, in the end, my sense-making in a MOOC works on a MOOC-by-MOOC basis.  While the underlying mechanisms may be the same, they act differently depending on what sort of situation I am in :-)
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