This seems too long for the discussion area…

Throwing this link in on the weekend. Think it should go here first then maybe into resources as the students already have enough to read.

Dialogue and Community in Online Learning: Lessons from Royal Roads University by Joshua D. Guilar and Alice Loring


“Subject matter is shared among partners not as an object but as a subject with its own particular perspective. Interpretation is open-ended inquiry and not a search of unalterable, objective truth.”

“In an I-thou relation, each partner listens to the other with the possibility that what the other person says may be true. Students’ roles change from being passive learners to becoming co-creators of understanding.”

“The experience of learners is central in adult education (Vella, 2002). Learners in educational programs seek to change their place in the world (LaPointe, 2006; Mezirow, 2000). They join a degree program because they want a new job, a promotion, or to take their career to a new level in the same position. These changes require changes in the perception of self, others, and life.”

Many more points of interest to me in this paper but my prime interest is in discovering how to fit and best enable as an expert while recognizing that I’m inside someone else’s story and their change process.

We don’t have defined roles as “experts” beyond (maybe for me?) experience in open courses and we aren’t tutors or teachers but we do exist for some purpose and for myself I find it compelling to develop a role as helper because A) online classes can be lonely places for students B) I would like to enhance and encourage in a genuine way without clogging up the discussion area with a display of myself as a learning object.

This all started with the 50 word limit suggestion (which might be too short) but as an operating principal forced me to think how a diverse group of talented and empathetic people could best serve the student.

As a side note, my wife did two Master’s degrees at Royal Roads University and the cohort system was enormously helpful. Can we build a literacy that involves the supportive concept cohorts that exists in a changing environment where we may meet over a project like this then break off to other projects with other people?

Should this be in the experts discussion area?


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  • helinur  On June 2, 2013 at 3:11 AM

    Hi Scott, I liked your blog. I think that we should have writings like this on our experts area. It would help our learning.

    You have defined your expertise as a helper and we can see you helping many students. You want to see the loneliness of participants inside Moocs and want to help them through these negative feelings. That is great, I think. You have found your role. You can use yourself as a learning object, you can share emotions.

    We should define also other roles of expert participants. I began in my blog to define what I am not and got feedback from Jenny and Marion about what I am.
    Show must go on

  • VanessaVaile  On June 8, 2013 at 11:30 PM

    Interesting article ~ I can a lot of relevance for GED, ESL and other adult learning (which the residents of the Ivory Silo™ don’t seem to consider worthy of attention. I’m going to send the link to Cynthia Fonder who teaches GED and adult ed for the county.

    The post though is just a hair short on context, so I’m guessing it’s for a course, fslt13 from the tag. 

    What about “getting inside” by classes? Obviously, it wouldn’t feasible for all but what about occasionally, especially on first runs. Get involved in email conversations with students – connection for them & 1st hand user input from them?

    And I came across a blog that might interest you – a NJ Instructional Technology counterpart,


    • scottx5  On June 9, 2013 at 10:46 AM

      Thanks for the link to serendipity35. I’m going through the post on lurkers being possibly auditors and will check out the other continuing discussion. Any form of silencing through labeling (or any other means) gets me going.

      Yes the post was for the First Steps in Teaching and Learning (FSTL) MOOC given by Oxford Brooks Univ. I volunteered as an “expert participant” along with a bunch of others to assist first time online participants with the non-technical–unsure what to call it? Confusion, overload, fear of first contact? Not sure if my nudging and pestering is effective as I’m confused myself over what to do. It’s not mentoring in the sense of my being a subject matter expert nor am I building a relationship (though that happens a bit). More like the characters at Disney Land I read about who wander about and give directions and tips like best rides with shortest lines and quiet places to rest with your cranky kids. Call me Goofy:-)

      If online learning is to be anything more than a stripped down correspondence course there needs to be some sort of community of “buddies” or companions available to act as a kind of partner to take to the first few dances until the student gets their feet under them. At the post-secondary level I don’t think there’s an awareness of how very brave it is to jump online and claim membership by participating with people who are called “experts”, have major lists of qualifications after their names, are seeming snotty toffs or suspiciously friendly like the Walrus and the Carpenter to the young oysters.

      Thanks again for the link, have time to do a lot of catch-up reading after FSLT and might even blog about it. Taking any more MOOCs? This is interesting to read between times:


      • VanessaVaile  On June 12, 2013 at 3:27 PM

        Goofy… if like that.That’s my function in a lot of moocs too. I thought (briefly) about fslt again but had other on the menu. I like the atmosphere. Same for the two UK x-moocs. Maybe there is a pattern there.

        Over the years (and in wildly disparate subject areas) I’ve found that not knowing everything and admitting to it is way better (and more credible) than being a know it all ~ this after being told as GTA not to. it also turns students in collaborators, co-conspirators ~ plus when teaching hard cases, creds for being up front when you tell them what they don’t want to hear. Obviously, that’s not appropriate in all situations but not all that difficult to tell when

        Walruses (plenty in f2f too) are more dangerous than the snotty toffs.

        I’m in a couple of post-mooc groups and trying to get a handle on G+ for my adjunctiverse social media gig. Most recent has been Technicity. Talking about jumping in, I am in a group designing a connectivist MOOC on the city. All first timers there too.

      • scottx5  On June 12, 2013 at 7:32 PM

        Nice how invigorating it feels to be part of an “education system” that doesn’t feel like it’s out crush people’s spirit. All the things I’ve saved to help with easing new instructors into online success are now welcome to be sent in to PD for review after I’ve been fired. The person given the job is a really nice person but the institution is rotten and no longer rates my assistance. Some part of me says that attitude is wrong but I’ve tried being nice and that didn’t work so I’ll being nasty (or for this area “normal”).

        Good to have a place to put my energy in FSLT. I hope it works out that I can learn how to be a useful helper to first timers. Some parts of the education system seem more than welcoming of change. The rest can spin their wheels talking to their ever smaller selves.

        Do you think we are becoming part of a new “establishment” that will go bad like all the rest?


      • VanessaVaile  On June 12, 2013 at 8:08 PM

        with any luck, we won’t live that long…

  • Carolyn Jones  On June 12, 2013 at 4:36 AM

    Hi Scott – I’m lost! I realise I am commenting on your latest blog but I can’t find a way of writing to you in this blogging format in any other way – (I’m very new to blogging!). Would it be possible for you to email me directly please? My email is:
    Many thanks for your comments on my Future Lab/Cardiff University research proposal.

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