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Good question about the fragmentation of both content and conversation. I'd argue that it's not unique to the open online course format. Existing classrooms have the same fragmentation (students chatting in hallways, conversations in small groups in class, etc). What is different in a mooc, however, is that people explicitly experience the fragmentation of content/conversation, rather than the classroom model that doesn't acknowledge this fragmentation directly. After CCK08, one of the course participants wrote an article detailing the "technological dimensions of open online courses" - you might find it a bit useful to consider how others have previously experienced this course format: http://www.irrodl.org/index.php/irrodl/article/view/643/1402
oh, and to actually answer your question, The Daily (the email that you'll receive every day, mon-fri) will serve to aggregate the conversation.
Or you may discover that participants need a well defined space to aggregate their content if they so choose to. It will reduce one degree of freedom, but it may have a value.
Thanks George, this answer came at just the right time. Tomorrow I'm handing in a 3500 word assignment on the experience of community in a MOOC. I have cited the article you mention. Yesterday I would have said that I don't feel much, due to my limiited experience, a few weeks in mobiMOOC earlier this year and just days in Change 11, but now the conversation is really starting to pick up. Thanks for getting involved at this early stage. in response to @lewismal, aggregation is one thing, but sensemaking is the other. If you are developing a conversation on your blog that centres around your interests then that may help mitigate the sense of fragmentation.
See for more info Continuing professional development Education, Health and Human Service sector workers. Rural Australia Google Groups Doc http://bit.ly/gDLuCO and blog post for discussion & feedback: http://bit.ly/dHOMZT Contacts: http://about.me/malcolm_lewis
@George, I never considered how fragmented brick-and-mortar based courses are without the explicit comparison to online fragmentation in a MOOC. You make an interesting point in how fragmented dialog becomes even in face-to-face courses. It is natural and often overwhelming to see online with all of the tangible records of conversations but there are equal or greater amounts of dialog offline, and I would somewhat argue more circular conversations due to the lack of documentation as a reference to map the progression. @Rainbowhill nice way to draw sensemaking into the conversation. It is definitely nice to have those artifacts to document the progression of dialog.
Sounds like there are two different questions in there: managing communication and information for oneself and one's own experience and then the question of reaching "critical mass" within a learning community. In the case of a MOOC, the answer to the second may be tied to the first: sheer numbers will likely ensure an active community, but reaching a point where *you* feel the conversations are productive will depend on your individual approach. It's a different way of thinking about the learning experience, providing your own structure and having some faith that it's OK to drink from the faucet when you are thirsty and not otherwise worry about what you're not drinking. It's like going to a professional conference: you can't do everything, but you can get a heck of a lot out of what you do choose to do and participate in. My only concrete recommendations: choose a few tools you are comfortable with and work them else you get spread too thin and caught up in the technology, read the daily newsletter, jump into conversations and let your attention wander mindfully and naturally. Oh, and have fun! I plan to as a mostly-lurker :)
Thanks for all the ideas. I'm feelin better Ok about fragmentation in this mooc as I'll think well get several critical masses give the numbers and the special nature of the participants. My question relates more to doing this in networks of education & human service professionals who are spread out over several social media platforms. In Australia, teacher in schools are not using Facebook, but teachers and other professionals in child care are on Facebook. In Youth Services, Facebook and perhaps twitter, Health seems yet to have gone for a one platform but innovators are on Twitter. Linkedin is being used some professional groups. Email is still most common and ineffective professional social media. I need in my BRIG project mentioned above http://bit.ly/gDLuCO and http://bit.ly/dHOMZT, need to go to where the people are. In the rest of a the world, outside of this mooc, growing & keeping alive a critical mass is a key question. Marketing will be a key concern as will be skillful facilitation, understanding aggregration technolgoes and tactics will matter also. I'm yet to really understand what is possible but GraRRShopper seems interesting. I know a little of RSS but I feel I need to learn this to able to apply connectivism ideas to professional learning in context of sizable e-communities of practice. Am I on the right track?