#CLMOOC: Arriving Right on Time

Whenever you arrive is the perfect time. You are always right on time.

I was reading this blog post by Tania Sheko yesterday morning. She reflects on jumping into the Connected Learning MOOC (CLMOOC) a few weeks after the official Make Cycles have come and gone. Tania acknowledges that she only minimally popped in and out of CLMOOC and is only now getting to some of the newsletters and Make Cycle ideas.

There’s a mantra which Tania cites in her post that was embedded early in the CLMOOC experience – something that has become part of how a lot of us think about CLMOOC:

Whenever you arrive is the perfect time. You are always right on time.

But, what does that mean, exactly?

The idea came from discussions in the first years of CLMOOC, sponsored by the National Writing Project, in which facilitators were trying hard to think about how best to leverage an open, online networked space where anyone could engage at any level they saw fit or had time for. The worry was that after the first Make Cycle was up and running, anyone new coming in would feel left out. Time of arrival itself would act as an exclusionary marker.

Whenever you arrive is the perfect time. You are always right on time.

So, the intent was to try to situate the CLMOOC with no a real starting and ending point. The timeline of activities might follow a certain arc, mostly due to logistics, but the arc is merely artificial in nature. Arrival and activity could potentially happen at any time, even long after the official Makes are first introduced. This illusion of timelessness, though, is hard to pull off unless you follow the Netflix model and dump everything in at once and let people Binge Learn (which, in fact, is possible after the summer). In reality, we are so attuned to a timeline of activities (this is Day One, this is Day Two, etc.) that giving yourself freedom to say, I’m interesting in that, so I will do that — I am not interested in that, so I will ignore that, is a somewhat discomforting notion for many of us.

But there are people who wander into CLMOOC weeks or months after the unofficial “end” and dip into the activities, engaging with the #CLMOOC hashtag and in the CLMOOC Google Plus Community, and other spaces. Not many, but some. I think most people still feel the time-bound nature of learning. They see a catalogue of activity in the archives and think, Oh, I must have missed it.

Whenever you arrive is the perfect time. You are always right on time.

CLMOOC facilitators share versions of this phrase a lot, as a welcoming and inclusive message. And we do mean it.

But the reality is that the words we say with best intentions don’t always work. Some people still feel left out if they didn’t take part in the summer experience. Others feel as if the possibilities are too large, to grand, to just dive in, solo. And others might think, I’ll just wander through what they did, and get a taste on my own time.

Perfect. That’s part of the CLMOOC experience, too. Wanderers are welcome!

Whenever you arrive is the perfect time. You are always right on time.

In the past, we’ve had some interesting revelations about how the CLMOOC extended into learning spaces — at schools, through Writing Projects, into other online experiences. (And the CLMOOC is built off the ethos and models of other open online experiences, and so it goes).  Sometimes, it is months or even years later that we learn about it. That indicates we probably don’t ever hear about a lot of other connections, too.

There’s a “trust factor” when you help build an open network that something is happening beyond the field of vision, even if one can’t see it. We learn in the moment in hopes for understanding far beyond the moment. It’s like being the classroom teacher with young kids (or even as a parent) and thinking, I have faith that what we are doing here, now, will impact their lives down the line.

Back to Tania  … I pulled out a few lines from her blog post (see up top) which I think makes me the happiest of all, as one of the CLMOOC facilitators. The ways in which she articulates how CLMOOC is a welcoming network of people with different experiences and backgrounds (which could still use more diversity in the mix) and a community that values her play and work, and even monsters, that she can turn to beyond the summer months is heartening. I feel it, too. To see others express it is satisfying beyond belief.

Whenever you arrive is the perfect time. You are always right on time.

Peace (it’s time),

  1. This captures the spirit of the MOOCs I’ve followed, and the reasons why I make the time to read and engage. It’s also why I hope to create a similar on-line space to attract people from the youth development, mentoring and tutoring community, along with the donors and business partners who need to be proactive in how they support such programs.

  2. Lovely post, Kevin, and powerful. The mantra is reassuring each time it’s articulated because you might feel fine about not keeping up and then you start to feel guilty again – hence mantra.
    In terms of my quote (which would have been lost like so many words except you captured it so nicely), it’s so reassuring that people you meet in online communities such as this one – communities might not be the right word – do not go away as soon as the mooc finishes. I would be so sad if they did! Even as I’m too busy to participate, I’m smiling and nodding as I catch glimpses of the people I’ve grown to love. And I’m always happy to meet new people. Kevin, you take so much time in a very thoughtful and creative way; it makes such a difference to me and I’m sure to many other people.

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