Monday, June 23, 2014

C('est un) MOOC.

I fear that I will never complete the  Massive Open On&Offline Course that I have been working on for the past 26 years.

For those interested in the ins and outs of acronyms, let's just say that it is a....(or peut-être je devrais dire 'c'est un) "C-MOOC", where the community is the curriculum.

It is not just any old "C-MOOC", it is a "rhizomatic learning" course.

Learners, join the course and then are able to build their own programs in interaction with the other participants. The "rhizome" metaphor was developed by fairly recent participants to our course who have become fondly known by their surname intials: D&G.

Such was the attractiveness of their image that a distant lurker by the name of Cormier Dave adopted it to depict his idea of the learning process. Cross-fertilization towards distant groups is a clear sign of the influence of our community.

Learning "rhizomatically" means that there is no one starting point, there is no end point and that we are always in the middle of the learning process.  One might say that "rhizomatic learning" is a metaphor for the tangled paths that constitute the mess that is life-long learning.

Unfortunately for some learners, who desire more structured courses there are no clearly defined outcomes or carefully selected reading lists.Tasks are dependent on the roles that you take on in the community.

For learners who are unfamiliar with this program, they may find the initial contact with the other participants a little off-putting. They will have to become accustomed to the quaint accent, the specific expressions, and the rather irritating habit that the other participants have of spending hours in restaurants discussing 'cuisine' or existentialism.

Lurkers are welcome particularly during summer months when they will be able to enjoy the delightful entertainment, and the curious culinary specialities.

The massiveness of the course means that no one teacher could ever master all the content available to learners. We are, after all, in a space of abundance of connections, and content.

This space is largely offline for those fortunate enough to live close to the majority of the participants but many activities are available online too.  You will probably find some of the modules a little esoteric, but there really are people who have a keen interest in folk-medicine, or in sixteenth century playwrights.

Badges can be awarded if you match certain criteria and make an application for your competences to be scrutinised. 

Unfortunately for some ambitious learners, there appears that there will be no more 'unknown learner' monuments built for the time being. This badging format has been used sparingly for the past few years.  The best you can hope for  at present would be the popular "legion d'honneur" badge which is now even used to mark the success of learners who have participated in other competing CMOOCs.  Competences celebrated by this badge are diverse and you can even be awarded a posthumous badge in special circumstances.

Mentoring and integration
There is a big effort made to make sure that you integrate the course. Mentors are on hand to help you but they are sometimes difficult to identify at first.  Sadly, over recent weeks, rapid influxes of learners are sometimes discouraged as the platform which has been chosen can a bit flaky and threatens to crash at times of heavy traffic. There may be also be a question over the competence of the site administrators.

Despite all the efforts made,  there are frequent failures to complete the course.  Indeed, it has to be admitted that nobody has ever, or will ever complete this C-MOOC. While this may be considered unfortunate by some, there appears no short-term remedy to the problem. Perhaps with the rapid advances in genetics, some progress will be made to lengthen learners' participation. Fortunately the perennity of the course seems assured at present with the massive numbers of people involved.

Actually, I have been considering taking on a new course recently as I am attracted to snappy dressing and the delicious ice-cream tasting advertised as part of another curriculum but my involvement, indeed, my attachment to the #FRENCH course has meant that I shall perhaps never be as involved in any other course. I have tried to adapt my British "phlegme" to this sad reality.

I shall close with a little expression of resignation that I learnt early on in the course that I am currently studying:

"Ainsi va la vie!"

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Face values.

"So this year there were 224 candidates, 78 who didn't complete the year,  94 passes, and 52 fails.

The average mark for the year was 11.58 - that's 0,4 up on last year.  Well done!"

Anybody got anything to add? 

Well that's another year done and dusted, bar the second sessions. Thank goodness that's all over.

Marked for life

The English teacher handed me back another double-sided piece of paper.  We had gone through the motions, I had done what was demanded, she had marked her customary  '14/20 quite good', that  I noted vaguely. Paper, scrawl, paper, stamp, school bell, day done.

Serious Science 

I have absolutely no memory of any mark in chemistry. I remember the bunsen burners we were not allowed to touch, that the chemistry laboratory smelt bad.  I never really realised that science was serious stuff.

Science and comedy

There was the day that the chemistry teacher wanted to demonstrate how sodium reacts with water....

Now that I remember.  We all trudged out to the sea-wall.  He donned a science-fiction-inspired scientific mask, heavy gloves, and a scruffy white coat.

At the call of three, eyes-wide with excitement and a certain apprehension, we ducked behind the sea-wall.

Dramatically, Mr Slightly Nervous but ultimately Pretty Brave Chemistry Teacher (no memory for names) lobbed the aforesaid chemical substance into the sea.

Rather than the excitement of a fantastic explosion we got phizzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz.(2 minutes)......phut.

A scientific masterpiece.  His sophisticated mask did nothing to hide his embarrassment.

Face values

So what shall I retain from the cohort of students from 2013-14?  Will it be their marks?  Their scientific progress?  The agreeable blip they made in the data?

I think not.

There are moments, anecdotes, events, creations, which come back to me now. In this instance I can see expressions of emotion on their faces:
  • They have just made their first movie, their friends are crowding around a tablet trying to glimpse their comic performances captured for posterity.  
  • They are singing a self-taught Christmas Carol, their faces are lit up with joy. 
  • They are standing,  as a group on the top of a mountain, complete strangers, foreigners, three days earlier, beaming as one into a Chinese student's camera. 
  • They are completely engaged in conversation with a surprise visitor from the United Kingdom.
  • They are captured over-coming their difficulties to imagine a project playing with a pile of Lego bricks.
  • They are learning to dance hip hop with one of the students who has revealed himself to be an acrobatic expert. They are overcoming their embarrassment with gentle cajoling from the dancer.
These are not numbers, these are recognisably people I know.

Science Fiction.

0.4 above average! Lies, statistics and damned life in all that?

Numbers, tables and charts mean nothing to me.

I prefer real face values which really mark me.

Sunday, June 1, 2014

Nothing doing.

Nothing there? 

Let it come out onto the page.

Let its absence presence guide us.

Let us see what this is made of.

No ideas. No theme. No matter. 

I flit from image to image.

This one will do. 

It has no reason.
It came at a moment like this.
How did it get captured here?

(I was screen gazing, there were glistening droplets, masking a brick wall, making it come to life, giving it beauty.)

I had time for nothing.

And now here?

I have time for nothing.

What is going on now?

Your guess is as good as mine.
But you are reading this nothing now.

Ha ha ha!

Tangled up in nothingness.

This action is somewhat framed:  blank space, familiar icons; they will be our crutches.

When in doubt click on a picture, scroll, let it select itself.

Why this one now?

Click to preview.
Glimpsing this in a different perspective might help, might help me connect to you.

Not quite yet, more words are coming, are coming in an automatic order.

Who is in control? 
At this precise moment, the machine froze, the screen went blue.

Who is in control? 
Damn you. Ha!

  • Ctlrl Alt Suppr. 
  • Task Manager. 
Oops wiped that line out, come back. We are safe. A close shave.

Where is this going? 

Click through to preview. This nonsense is getting carried away.

Who is in control here?

I am going back to edit now.

Wait a moment. Just a sec, I will shift a few lines, add a few spaces.

Maybe it has made some sense, inspite of it all?

I add a bit more bold there, a bit more white space.

Preview? Service unattainable.
Preview, let's look again.

Down, down, more space, more space here.

Back up. Back up. More space.

That's it , that's all.

Nothing doing.

Strange that, how the title fell to the bottom of the page.

Final edit and note to self:

Nothing has presence not absence.