Exploring Digital Culture

Entries by a MOOC participant

It’s A Happening!!


Hamish MacLeod’s comment during this week’s EDCMOOC Google Hangout was a fitting cap to this weeks’  discussion on being human, the importance of relationships and connecting with others in a Digital World, and my belief that Personal Learning Networks (PLNs) must be an integral component to a successful MOOC.

declaration of independence

Our guide for the week was to “focus on what it is that is most valuable, most precious, most essential about ‘being human’, and to use that idea as a way of re-grounding our practice, our ethics, our politics and our world-view.”

So, what does it mean to be human?  If you examine our suggested readings for the week:

Do we look to the Preamble of the U.S. Declaration of Independence?

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

This gets sticky because it just talks about men, God and Americans.

What about the Cartesian model in which the critical determinant of being is rational, fully-conscious thought?

“I think therefore I am.”

It appears that people don’t know how to think anymore. They rely on technology.

Or  the concept that being human means being Conscious?

Well, here comes Freud’s  “theory of the unconscious [that] precipitated a ‘Copernican revolution’ in which the very understanding of what it means to be human ‘change[d] perspective’.

Not alot of answers there.



One of the reasons I am participating in this MOOC is to help train teachers to delivery engaging online content.    This means helping both students and teachers to foster digital relationships using digital tools.  It doesn’t just miraculously happen. I think that we have seen that the faculty of this EDCMOOC were very deliberate in trying to create an environment that promoted a sense of  community and collaboration and “human-ness”.  

“These are crucial questions for those of us engaged in education in all its forms, because how we define ‘desirable humanity’ will inform at the deepest level our understanding of how and why education might be conducted and why it matters. Paying attention to online education foregrounds these issues in a new way, helping us look at them afresh.”

 This thoughtful planning is essential to the success of a MOOC experience.


PearlTree Taxedo Mosaic Contest Image

But, most importantly, it has been the self-creation of smaller groups, Personal Learning Networks, within the larger MOOC that has contributed to the success of this MOOC.

Consider Felicia Sullivan’s  small group formed around asynchronous VoiceThread.

Keely Sorokti says : “This Voice Thread is the place I go before starting my EDCMOOC reading/viewing or checking my various streams. It is what I’ve been listening to as I start and end my day. I look forward to hearing more voices as the course continues!

Or, the 60’s A Study Group in the Discussion Forums of people over 60 — or almost.

This group was started by Dolores McCarthy 2 weeks ago with the post:  “Who out there is over 60? We are the digital pioneers (I think that term more than immigrants!). I think a group discussing out long term experiences would be fascinating!”

To date, that forum has had over 1.1k views, connecting people of like minds and ages!

And, lastly, my own experience with the Fraingers*, a group of 16 from around the world who have been active in this MOOC since November — 3 months before the class even started!  (Fraingers:  my friend-strangers, strangers I’ve friended on Facebook coined by Ary Aranguiz in her blog:  Learning as Nomads and Strangers)

I share Ary’s sentiment when she comments in our Google Community:  

“Befriending total strangers who live half way around the world because somehow through asynchronous and synchronous interactions you realize they catch your drift, which leads to increased states of creativity, and collaboration, even a manic compulsion to be connected to one’s computer or phone at all hours of the day…….. the truth for me is that I’ve only had this type of professional camaraderie twice in my career.” 

In our Personal Learning Network, we have connected, we have a common purpose, and we have transcended the space/time continuum using the tools of technology and have used our common experiences to learn together, to laugh together, and to create some extremely powerful and creative artifacts of our experiences here in EDCMOOC.


Indeed, this is a HAPPENING!


This is the dawning of the age of Aquarius, 

Harmony and understanding

Sympathy and trust abounding

No more falsehoods or derisions

Golden living dreams of vision

Mystic crystal revelation

And the minds true liberation

This is the dawning of the age of Aquarius.



4 comments on “It’s A Happening!!

  1. Sorokti
    February 19, 2013

    Couldn’t have said it better myself Cathleen! Thanks for the shout out to our Voice Thread group. We had our first synchronous gathering last Saturday via Google+ Hangout. It was so fun to see people’s kitchens, living rooms, children, etc. as we got to know each other in a deeper way. We decided to share our draft digital artefacts (I’ve decided to adopt the UK spelling for now) this coming week in order to get feedback prior to submitting them. I think that might just get me to complete this course! Expanding my personal learning network has been one of the huge benefits of participating in this course. I look forward to future collaboration with many you.

    • cathleennardi
      February 19, 2013

      Thank you for your comments. I too am adapting the UK spelling as most in our PLN are there and down under. We also had a google hangout, which was a hoot. One person was actually driving, and another in a back corner of a McDonalds restaurant!! We also will share our artefacts with each other prior to submission. I don’t know if this MOOC experience would have been as enjoyable without the Fraingers, although I was able to branch out to people like you, Felicia, and others. I know that if I participate in another MOOC, I will take the lead in forming a PLN.

      Looking forward to seeing the artefacts produced by my colleagues.

      I am sure we will continue to collaborate in the future!!

  2. Irma Walter (@englishontarget)
    February 23, 2013

    I get worried when people talk about connecting and relating to others as defining the human nature, because I’m an introvert and all human contact really drains me. Even hangouts exhaust me.
    There must be another common denominator.

    • cathleennardi
      February 23, 2013

      Irma. I think that connecting with and relating to other people help us have those “Aha” moments of euphoria that for me define being human. That is not to say one couldn’t get the same feelings when looking at a piece of art, listening to music, practicing yoga, or taking a walk on the beach. It is the “feeling” that is most important! Thank you for your comments!

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This entry was posted on February 19, 2013 by .

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