Below is my response to Heli Nurmi’s blog Good Bye linked at the First Steps for Learning and Teaching MOOC where we and others acted as assistants. The course is completed now, the sponsors of the course need a rest so Heli has started the debriefing. Speaking for myself, there’s a great need for orienteering of newly online class participants that could become a necesary feature of evey class and especially MOOC which can stray from the familiar and lose people before they can even settle into the community. As a service this seems best handled by volunteers. For the beginning of this conversation please go to:
Like the idea of being called ‘voluntary assistant’ or as Marion pointed out Auditor as an alternate name to Lurker has the source ‘Listener’ which reminds me of the role of ‘Navigator’ in Polynesian open ocean sailing between island settlements. (see Wade Davis “The Wayfinders: why ancient wisdom matters in the modern world”). Titles could also emerge from Ecology and the environmental “services” certain creatures to catalytic reactions perform.
For me, I kept quite busy in the discussions and feel I might have overdone it by a long shot. Blogging is not something I do much of but do tend tend to invade and occupy discussion areas rather rudely and wonder how others view this? Am I the one who “talks too much and scares people off?” The ogre in the sitting room?
My participation was entirely voluntary though I consider it of great benefit to have taken part so some form of exchange was involved as should happen in all learning experiences. One problem to struggle with for me is I mostly hated school and see it still as a place of concocted realities full of traps and shaming devices. School for me was a sealed aquarium where if I couldn’t breathe at least I could provide amusement for the viewers outside the glass. This distorts my performance as an adviser to young teachers? It might but I try to keep it in check though my love of learning and knowing that much of schooling is directed from a level well beyond concern for human values, only economics and careerism of those at the top.
I have a great deal to think about regarding the role we provide as (whatever we will call it). There books on mentoring, mindfulness, community sustaining, networks, active listening and many other that need to be read. Including a lot of reflection. The promise of online in any form is in developing a new literacy emerging from older knowings of how we are human and need each other. If education is to be open to everyone then we can’t make assumptions around their understandings of “how things work” or “how things are done” from our limited Western perspectives.
In the end, though it is hard to make up rules for engaging a new environment I would welcome orientation and direction from Oxford Brooks for the role we filled.
Thanks for starting this conversation and will leave my reply at my blog too.