Vicki Suter

Discovering the power of good questions

Why can’t I find my way in?

George Siemen’s tweet of the MOOC lifecycle:  intro . . . chaos . . . self-organization. . . sharing images/artifacts . . .subnetworks . . . frustration . . .dropout……core left –

I can’t even find my place in this lifecycle, it doesn’t list sorrow and a sense of failure.

Here’s what the MOOC-MOOC has felt like to me.

Where’s the door? How do I get in? [struggle with site, find dashboard, maybe this will help . . . nope. Lost again]  Who else is here? Do I know anybody? [read through introductions, post mine,  try to find it again because there were some pretty good questions in there, can’t find it. Keep reading to get some sort of sense of who’s here too many posts, can’t make sense, can’t connect.  I’m lost again.] (How do I get to know anybody?) What can I do here? [cool idea, massively crowd-sourced writing, whoops, the deadline is past. I’m still lost, can’t find my way in.]  What are people thinking and saying, maybe I can just lurk. [Wander around from blog post to blog post, twitter post, not sure why some of this stuff is here, it seems there are intimate conversations going on, I really feel like an outsider here.]

What I looked forward to, I have come to dread. Tonight I found myself sitting in front of my computer, my head in my hands, feeling like an utter failure.  Saying for the 10th time, that’s ok, you are learning how to do something new, and that means you don’t know how to do it. Keep trying. Just another half hour. Realizing ten minutes later that I’m standing in front of the refrigerator, thinking about making some cinnamon toast – my version of comfort food.

Out of my research language, I would say – I don’t feel a sense of place (there’s no there, there, for me), there is no social presence here for me (no people who greet me when I enter), I don’t have agency or a sense of personal power so I feel invisible, and I can’t figure out how to collaborate. I am bereft of a sense of presence. Yet I know that some of my favorite people are in there. Somewhere.


7 comments on “Why can’t I find my way in?

  1. Jesse Stommel (@Jessifer)
    August 16, 2012

    I think the signal to noise ratio is pretty vast in a MOOC. It’s what I’m realizing more and more as I proceed through this thing. And, actually, the signal to noise ratio is more comforting in this MOOC than any other MOOC I’ve participated in.

    Some reflections on where people are.

    Twitter: There is a lot of noise here. Howard Rheingold talks extensively about filters when it comes to our digital engagement, and Twitter requires a lot of very actively engaged filters. There are software tools that can do some of the filtering, but most of the filtering happens in the brain. Twitter, honestly, takes time. Best way is to dive in through experimentation without attachment to outcome.

    Dashboard : This is really just an assemblage of the various places people are. There is no there there on Dashboard. It is a window into lots of various theres.

    Blogs: Today, this is where a lot of people are, and there is a lot of there on a blog. The key, I think, is finding one and populating it. The RSS feed at the bottom of Dashboard shows the way into some.

    On how to make a there in a MOOC: What I’m realizing is that there is no place in a MOOC. It is an elaborate rhizomatic network of various distributed places, not a place in and of itself (except in the way that the universe is a place or Azeroth is a place). This is what I have learned through this experiment. What it depends on is active participants that make and find places for themselves.

    Here’s one you’d like:



    And maybe:

    The metaphor I’m discovering: A MOOC is like a large conference. You can’t know what’s happening in other rooms. There are lots of rooms. The key is picking a room and occupying it fully. There are lots of people. The key is entering into a conversation with several of those people. The rest is there but not a space any one person can fully occupy (if that makes sense). Honestly, you’ve made a space here. And it’s a good one.

    • vsuter
      August 16, 2012

      Thanks, Jesse – as usual you are always there, warm, welcoming and full of energy. When do you sleep?

      It is a little embarrassing that I did not transfer my considerable knowledge of conferences (how to attend, how to plan, how to hold) to this new environment. Some suggestions from folks about setting goals – like setting a goal to meet 2-3 people a day – that is exactly what I would do at a conference. In fact, I would look at conference registrants before hand and pick out who I wanted to be sure and connect with.

      So, I’m not giving up, I was never going to give up, just momentarily confused. Of course, that is the most teachable moment.

  2. Jesse Stommel (@Jessifer)
    August 16, 2012

    PS. The discussion forums in Canvas are not friendly to large groups like this. We just got off a conference call with the founder in which we gave them various suggestions about how their software needs to be scaled to accommodate large groups. That is a failure of the technology. I thought your introduction was brilliant, but I would also be at a loss if asked to go find it again.

  3. jankenb2
    August 16, 2012

    Hi Vicki, and welcome to the mooc. Before you abandon the idea of connecting with others in a mooc, please join us in a Google+ hangout, tonight, Aug. 16 at 19:00 MDT. The topic is K-12 education and we’ll be discussing how a mooc model can be applied to the K-12 curriculum….but this is a mooc, and the conversation is surely to move in a 360 direction. I look forward to meeting you online. Jenny

    #MOOCmooc K-12 Group
    Meeting Time: Thursday, Aug. 16, 2012
    7;00 pm MDT (19:00)
    Time Zone Help:

    Google Hangout Link:

    URL for the original Google Doc & Announcement

  4. Sheila MacNeill (@sheilmcn)
    August 16, 2012

    I (and probably everyone else on the course) know exactly how you feel. It is difficult to engage. And I wrote about exactly this yesterday I’ve found twitter really useful, but I do have an existing network which helps, but I’ve also met some really supportive people too. Stick with it and remember it’s not you – we all feel the same.

  5. Alison Seaman
    August 17, 2012

    I think that routine/structure counts in MOOCs. While I can’t comment on this one because I’m not around enough to have been able to be a fully participating member, I can provide you with the routine in my class last year. I remember having a ‘just our class’ orientation session on our first day of EC&I 831 last fall—we participated in weekly synchronous Blackboard Collaborate sessions—and that felt like the group ‘home base’. Then we’d go off on our own: reflecting, trying out new tools, blogging, tweeting, saving links, etc. throughout the week. I do think this is very helpful since everything is distributed and one has to develop the digital literacies needed in order to be able to cope.

    Like I said, I have no idea how things are working with MOOCMOOC but essentially you’re talking about wayfinding & sensemaking.

  6. Alison Seaman
    August 17, 2012

    Also, I’m not suggesting that you haven’t done so, but I think it’s worth mentioning that setting personal learning goals before starting at all can help a lot too. One will end up on diversions, sure, but that’s part of the deal. Goals can (help to) provide a point of entry build autonomy for those who aren’t already self-directed.

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This entry was posted on August 16, 2012 by in MOOCs.
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