What is Open Online Experience 2013 (#OOE13)?

In short, it is a year long K-16 professional development program focused on educational technology.
It is also, and more importantly, a community of educators who are sharing and learning together. Register here.

Overview of #OOE13

This course provides a rich, immersive experience into the study and use of educational technology in teaching and learning. It is a professional development program with a difference: it is open to any teacher or faculty member who has internet access, and it has been designed on a “connectivist” model. Here’s a brief definition of “connectivism,” taken from a “connectivist MOOC” (Massive Open Online Course), here.

“At its heart, connectivism is the thesis that knowledge is distributed across a network of connections, and therefore that learning consists of the ability to construct and traverse those networks.”

OOE13, as a connectivist course, emphasizes the development of connections, between pieces of information, ideas, but also, and perhaps most importantly, between people. One of the things we hope you will take a way from this course is a network of people from around the world that you continue to learn with long after the course is finished.

In other words, one of the outcomes we hope you achieve is to start developing a personal learning network (PLN) to facilitate life-long learning. This post explains PLNs and their value well.

This video by George Siemens describes some of the basic ideas behind connectivist online courses, though #OOE13 is not structured in quite the same way as the one he describes here.

Video link

The course organizers / facilitators were heavily influenced by a connectivist MOOC that most participated in: ETMOOC (Educational Technology and Media MOOC, where “MOOC” stands for Massive, Open, Online Course). The structure and topics of #OOE13 are very similar to those of ETMOOC, as discussed below, under “A bit of history.”

Structure of the course

#OOE13 will run from September 2013 to May 2014. This sounds like a long time, but there is only one topic per month (see below), and each month there will be approximately two synchronous, online presentations (which will also be recorded for later viewing) by some of the course facilitators or guests. You can attend or watch as many of those as you choose. We are also planning to have weekly Twitter chats, moderated by one of the facilitators, focused on issues related to each month’s topic, but you do not have to attend all of those, either.

We will encourage each participant to set up a blog if they haven’t already, and to post ideas, reflections, comments, questions, etc. about the monthly topics there. An important part of making connections with others is reading others’ blog posts and commenting, but it’s up to you how many posts you read and comment on.

This wiki will serve as the hub of the course. There is a page with an rss feed of all the blog posts. There is a page with an archive of the tweets and twitter chats. There is a page listing all the official and unofficial groups. There is a discussion page. There is a page with all of the shared bookmarks broken down by each topic. There is a citation page for any research that participants find. And there is a calendar page listing all of the activities going on during the year.

There will be an official Google + group for the participants, and an #OOE13 group on the social bookmarking site Diigo, where we can post and share links to things relevant to the course.

There will be learning groups for the teachers at some specific schools, and we encourage other participants to spend the first month finding like minded educators and creating your own smaller groups within #OOE13 on any service you like. There is no restriction on the number of groups you are part of, whether that be none or 100.

First semester topics:
September – Topic 1 Welcome Event & Orientation to working and learning in a blended environment
October – Topic 2 Connected Learning – Tools, Processes & Pedagogy
November – Topic 3 Digital Citizenship – Identity, Footprint
December/January – Topic 4 Digital Literacy – Information, Memes & Attention

Second semester topics
February – Topic 5 Content Curation – Using what is there
March – Topic 6 Digital Storytelling – Multimedia, Remixes & Mashups
April – Topic 7 The Open Movement – Open Access, OERs & Future of Ed.
May – Topic 8 Celebration – Final projects plans for the future

Interested in participating?

For those who are interested we have created (read stole from #etmooc a short survey to gather information. Please feel free to share this survey with anyone whom you think would be interested. We will contact you again before August.

A bit of history behind the development of the program

(By Brendan Murphy)

The problem with my position (technology integration and professional development) is teachers don’t have time to learn from me. I organize before school presentations. I organize after school presentations I am open to coming to their classrooms when they are free. The problem is teachers just don’t have the time. I’ve created videos,and I’ve considered buying an online professional development series, but those solutions have drawbacks also; Imagine you’re a non-tech savvy teacher, would you even know there is a Google script that allows you to automatically grade and hand back online quizzes? Would you have the time to watch a one hour webinar then spend two hours trying to figure out how to implement this in your classroom?

What I needed was all of my teachers enrolled in a program that had both asynchronous and synchronous learning, It has a bit of research and a bit of opinion. It was chock full of teachers from all levels of education and all skill levels. I needed it to be a place where everyone is comfortable asking questions without looking stupid and experts only have to be willing to share what they learned and not feel pressured to know everything. What I needed was etmooc.

A little ways into the etmooc course I realized that this was the perfect way for me to deliver professional development to my teachers. The first most important aspect of etmooc was the sense of community. Long before the first day Alec Couros, who conceived of and started the program, made it perfectly clear that anyone who was a part of the group had full power to add or modify a part of the course as they saw fit. There were many sessions that Alec had almost nothing to do with at all. The professional development my teachers need is like that. They need a culture of learning. They need a feeling a safety. They need the freedom to choose to learn what will be of the most use to them. They need etmooc.

At first I just tried to drag and drop the etmooc structure onto a 10 month schedule, but it gets a bit more involved than that. Content does not in itself create a good learning environment. It has to fit the needs of teachers who have a full time day job, and often are taking graduate courses on their own. I have to take time to build a sense of community around the content so that teachers value the learning and make the time to participate.

I have tried to emphasize a few key components while designing #OOE

  1. A shared learning experience embedded within the school and continuing for the entire year.
  2. Value the time of my teachers; allow them the flexibility to learn what they want when they want it as well as discovering what they don’t know.
  3. Provide support.
  4. Build a culture of shared learning and experimentation that allows and encourages teachers to try new things in their classrooms.
  5. Help teachers to build a professional learning network that is effective for them.

It is my hope that many of the educators who participated in #etmooc. now and in any future iterations, will also be participants, co-learners, and mentors here in #OOE13.

For anyone interested in helping to organize this experience please leave a comment below or email me at dendari AT gmail DOT com. You can also search for and apply to join the Open Online Experience Planning Community on Google+.


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