Friday, May 8, 2015

Skimming stones...

I stared intently at the pebbles on the shore.

There might be one that would fly just right.

I picked a medium-sized pebble up, weighed it in my hand, turned it around in my fingers to feel the flatness.

Yes, the flatness was fine.

It was just heavy enough but not too heavy.

I placed it carefully in my hand like my brother had shown me.

This time, perhaps for the first time, I might have the measure of him.

Already, I was dreaming of six, seven eight ricochets across the loch, in the dimming summer light.

I gave the stone an almighty flick and watched it skim...-...-...-...-...-...-...-

Learning to skim...

I suppose, given a long time and a lot of imagination, I might have come up with idea of skimming stones.

I suppose the years that I had spent watching the older children play had helped me understand the gestures...

It had given me something to aim for...

I suppose that this time I was old enough.

I was ready.

In the end, I supose it had been really the time spent with my brother which gave me the desire to play this game.

Skimming stones online...

It was no accident that I became aware of Dave Cormier.

It was a natural progression from the first blogs that I started reading, a few years ago now, - those of Stephen Downes, Steven Wheeler, Graham Atwell and co.

The years that I spent observing from afar, picking up pebbles, weighing them up, skimming them privately in my little pond were preparation.

I enjoyed the activity of learning...networking and learning online.

I suppose that I was not aware of the progression or of the map that I would draw.

It is always easier to understand the map after one has left one's tracks...

Bounce 1: Rhizo 14

Like many others, I chose to do #rhizo14 because I was familiar with the stones which had been skimmed before.

I had seen the videos on MOOCs, studied the blog, the slides.

I wasn't going out across the lake without an idea of direction.

The fact that I would meet other people who interested me is not surprising.

I had been networking actively over a number of years.

Eventually, if you search intelligently, you find the people that you can connect with.

Bounce 2:  Connected courses

Once you have found a group of people that you can get on with, one thing leads to another...

The presence of Howard Rheingold and Alec Couros as faciliators for the #ccourses MOOC was attractive.

Over the years, I had developed the skills necessary to benefit from the experience.

I could have had the best teacher in the world in the past but would have been unable to participate fully before.

Bounce 3: CLMOOC

I followed some of my new friends...

Bounce 4: MOOCMOOC

I followed some of my new friends...

Bounce  4: Rhizo 15

Thinking about the week 4 challenge in #rhizo15 now: "Is a Dave necessary?" well I suppose now, the answer would be that he, as in 'the Dave Cormier', is not really so necessary for me today.

I like it when he is doing what he does.

I don't think that he is irreplacable.

He has done his job.

He has done a great job.

He has rendered himself almost redundant...

There are other interesting educators out there to work with that I was unfamiliar about before.

I am getting to the point where one MOOC can bounce into another, when connecting with some friends will lead me to more adventures around the web loch.

Is a 'dave necessary' to an cMOOC online course?

I would say that that depends on the skill-levels and the connections of the participants and what you define as course.

'Is a 'dave' better than a team of 'daves' - I think that it is potentially more interesting to have a team working as facilitators now.

Bounce 5: ....

Once you get the knack connecting the dots, connecting the MOOCs, skimming the stones becomes easier.

In the beginning you need somebody that can model activity, that can introduce you to others to practise with, to measure yourself against, to ask the right questions.

There was my brother...and there was a could have been somebody else.

No matter now.

This is my story of skimming stones.


  1. "In the end, I suppose it had been really the time spent with my brother which gave me the desire to play this game." When I think about it, memorable learning experiences are connected to a person. True that Dave is not replaceable but unnecessary after initiating the course. It's his reputation, partly, that draws people to the course, yes? I'm thinking aloud. So people gather because of him and also because they might know people they've learned with before. In the first instance you might stumble across the course but either way you're exploring online spaces and getting to know people.

    "I could have had the best teacher in the world in the past but would have been unable to participate fully before." And that's what I'm trying to 'teach' students in my school. Actually I'm trying to spark a fire in them. Thanks for your thoughtful writing, Simon.

    1. I'm quite bad with names and I quite envy people who can reel off influential educators & thinkers in their field... eg I didn't realise that I had seen Dave Cormier's prescence and ideas through P2PU university and amongst the rhizo bunch I'm realising some names are familiar to me already too. I think this may be through Hybrid Pedagogy journal. Reputation is useful but not always reliable in drawing a crowd when you have recognition lag like me. ;)

  2. I can relate to your stories here Simom, I remember my Dad teaching me to drive a manual car, actually before I sat my theory test. He drove my brother and I onto a large empty field, got out of the car and said "Right, drive around for half an hour. Don't hit me and don't kill your brother." Egged on my my brother, when out of site I would speed and in the wet dirt try to do skids. That space to learn without instruction, with the atmosphere of trust stays with me and I reference it a lot when I think about giving someone space and time to learn.

    I think connecting to people helps us form our own patterns as we absorb some of their approach into our own approaches. The truly amazing thing is each of us will never know our influence. In academia it's measured in citations of papers, but we hardly realise it - we cite and reference our teachers every single day. Loved reading this post, rich storytelling.