An experiment in chaos

The first week of  How to Teach Online was about the chaos of getting ready to learn  in an open networked environment. It was a week of expected chaos. Ben Betts,  in The Realities of MOOCs, explains,

cMOOCs are something of an experiment in chaos; their mantra is to gather a wide range of people together to discuss and discover a subject that interests them and enables them learn in anyway they see fit. This style of course is open—not because of cost (or lack thereof), but because of the manner in which participants learn.

But it seems to come most easily to those who have explored learning at its highest and potentially most self-directed level.

Learning how to learn, in a sea of choices, and new technologies, is difficult and challenging.

…the biggest challenge ahead for the MOOC Revolution is perhaps to be had in learning how to learn. Maybe then the field will open up to cMOOCs taking center stage in the future of online learning, (Betts).

Networked learning is even more challenging when our prior knowledge and skills are from an analog world, and not suited to the increasing complexity, connectivity, and velocity of our new knowledge society. Learning with autonomy requires practice and non-judgmental effort.

Richard Mendius, M.D. believes we must “be comfortable not only venturing into the unknown, but into error.”  It takes a conscious effort to become comfortable and cope with our fears and mistakes.  Linda Graham, In Developing the 5 C’s of Coping: Calm, Compassion, Clarity, Connections, suggests 5 things you can do to decrease your stress, adapt, and respond in a skillful manner.

  • Calm
    • The brain learns best when the body is in a physiological state of equilibrium – calm and relaxed, yet engaged and alert. Practice mindfulness and make resonant connections with others in the course. This will allow you to maintain a state of equilibrium.
  • Compassion
    • Be mindful and have empathy by keeping your mind and heart open when you are confused. Engage with what needs to be addressed right in front of you.  Compassion allows you to come to terms with what has happened:
      • this is what happened;
      • this is what I did  (understandable, even brilliant);
      • this did not go well (compassion making it safe enough to even look at that);
      • this is what I learned (a new narrative of self that allows us to live with, even be proud of, ourselves);
      • this is how I will respond (be resilient going forward).
  • Clarity
    • Mindfulness – as steady, non-judgmental awareness and acceptance of experience – and empathy – as an accurate acceptance of our self – lead to the clarity of self-awareness and shifts in our perspectives that allow us to see clearly what’s happening, respond to triggers and traumas with far more open-mindedness, and tolerate choosing what needs to change with far more flexibility than before.
  • Competence
    • Wise effort is essential to help you adapt. Mindfulness and learning from others as role models will help you perceive, discern, and let go of your anxiety. When you cultivate the qualities of loving kindness, compassion, generosity, gratitude, and blamelessness, you broaden and build our learning community.
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