Wednesday, June 24, 2015

A Bovine Metaphor

The beauty and terror of #clmooc is its lack of limits.

In looking at how people have engaged with the make cycle this week, I've been impressed by the variety of ways to introduce themselves so many have uncovered. In the process, I've tried to come up with a metaphor for the mooc for those who are wandering around a little confused. I picture people sitting at their computers with a hopeful, eager face, a face like we wear when we want to be included in a group but aren't quite sure if we get the conversation we've come upon.

Here is one way to look at the mooc.

Imagine you are a cow. In a field. And the field is filled with many things that might interest a cow, such as, oh, other cows.  Or salt licks. Or fresh hay.  Maybe a pond to stand in when the sun is at its highest.

Around the field is not a traditional fence. Instead, there is a flexible band, about four feet high, made of some rubbery material and looped around the fence posts that keep it in place.  The fabric is imprinted "#clmooc" in a repeating pattern. The material is perforated in some places, so a cow can see through the fence in some spots. A cow attempting to get through the fence might just stretch it, making the space in the pasture bigger.  Another cow might puncture the material, and make a hole big enough to step through. A third cow could eventually find an actual opening in this strange enclosure and walk out to (pardon me for saying this) greener pastures. Other cows might continue to graze contentedly in the pasture as it is demarcated by that strange, but clearly branded, material.

That is my current metaphor for the mooc.  Some people will graze the mooc, content to watch the feeds on Twitter, Facebook, and Google+. Some will get curious about what others are doing and stretch the fence a little to explore a new tool or website that sounds intriguing. Some will break the fence and let the world and its issues into what seems to be, at first, an academic space. And some...well, some will leave the pasture. Maybe they will return. Maybe they won't.

My history with the whole process the last two years has been to check in at the beginning, go crazy making, connecting, discovering, and then moving on near the end of the mooc's lifespan when my summer got really busy.  Maybe that is what will happen again this summer.

In the end, though, this mooc is my mooc. Well, it's your mooc, too.  It's OUR mooc.

No comments:

Post a Comment