Wednesday, September 24, 2008

CCK08 Dropout

It's official. I am a CCK08 drop-out.

Say What?

CCK08 is the Massively Open Online Course on Connectivism and Connective Knowledge being taught by George Siemens and Stephen Downes. When the course was announced in the spring I eagerly signed up. However, as the start date for the course approached my doubts about being able to keep up with the course (plus everything else in my life) intensified. Can doubts intensify? If they can mine did. The first week I dipped my toes in the CCK08 waters; I signed up for the RSS feed, I set up my profile on Moodle, I introduced myself, I read the assigned readings. I told myself I would get more involved in week 2, when I had more time...

The Thing About September

As a teacher and parent of one school aged child and one preschooler living in the Northern Hemisphere I have to say that September is a crazy month! As a parent I'm trying to get the kids into their new routines and make sure that I register in time for all of the activities that they would like to participate in. As a teacher in a distributed learning school this is a very busy month; our enrollment pretty much doubles as we go from September 1st to September 30th. That means lots of meetings with families, helping to order and distribute resources etc. along with teaching classes and marking, ahem assessing. My husband is a teacher too, so needless to say things are a little crazy here in September. Something had to give so we dropped Beavers (the 1st step in Boy Scouts in Canada). Great, now I'll really get into the course...

I'm Fine With It, Really

Photo by A Boy And His Bike
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I've just not been able to keep up even my week 1 level of participation. I think I have to face facts; I'm a CCK08 drop-out. But I'm ok with being a drop-out. I don't feel stressed. I didn't feel like I had to read every single blog posting or Moodle forum. I was not flustered that I couldn't participate in the Elluminate sessions or watch the UStream broadcast live. I guess that as I approach my one year anniversary of building my on-line personal learning network I've gotten used to the fact that you can't read everything. You can't watch everything. I feel like I'm standing at the river's edge; there is a constant flow of interesting information (with the occasional bits of flotsam) and if you try to catch everything you'll drown.

What's Your Story?

Did you sign up for CCK08? If so, what has been your experience?


  1. I did not even sign up. I knew I could not do it (time was the problem). I did sign up for Scott McLeod's Influencer book club and did a pretty good job of keeping up.

    I like this post. It does not matter whether we keep up with everyone or are as connected as everyone. The important thing is that we learn something and do something new even if it is at our own rate. I feel like I am standing at the edge too, dipping my toes in here or there (love the analogy!)

  2. We can't do everything, even though we sometimes think we can. I often remember an old Berenstein Bears book called, "Too Much Pressure" -- Brother and Sister Bear are over-scheduled, and eventually Mama Bear has a mild breakdown. Of course they learn their lesson (and preach it to us) and it's all very tidy. We've found that with young kids, it's not always that easy to find compromises and things to drop!

    A wise mentor of mine captured this somewhat by saying that you can really only do two-and-a-half things well, especially in this life stage. You can jam more things into your life, but you won’t be doing anything well then…and they won’t bring much happiness or satisfaction. I think there’s real truth there. We try to do too much.

    You dropped out of a free experimental course. I had the tougher decision last year to drop my ed-tech masters program, but I've never regretted it -- I wasn't doing anything well in my life.

  3. I instantly butrst into song when I saw this post title - 'beauty school drop out' from Grease!

    I haven't dropped out yet but I am 'struggling' to keep up & haven't engaged with it like I had planned. But the beauty of this is that is all recorded, so if I want to have a look at it all in a few months time, it will still be there.

  4. Hi Claire - I can relate. Commitment are easy to make when they need to be attended to in the future, not today!

    Obviously, we need to make choices with our limited time. Priorities and life circumstances change. Glad to hear that you're not stressed with making the decision to discontinue.

    Take care

  5. @Louise, I noticed that in the early days of the course there were a number of people who sounded stressed about keeping up, reading it all, and learning some technologies that were new to them along the way. There was no way to know if the majority of these voices were folks who were paying registrants, or part of the hoi polloi like me. I suspect that if I were taking the course for credit my stress levels would be higher! It made me think about the experiences of my own students as they start up their distributed learning courses.

    @Jeremy, yes it feels good to spend the time mastering something rather than doing lots of things poorly :) It's all about balance. At lunch today my colleagues and I were talking about the choices we make with our leisure time. There was one 'you can and should do it all' voice, but most of us were acknowledging that we've given up certain activities that we enjoy to keep our lives sane. Interestingly the divide seemed to be based upon the ages of our kids.

    @Sarah, I totally agree with you that because the Ustreams and Elluminate sessions are all recorded we can go back when we have the time. I haven't ruled out dropping back in!

    @George, I really appreciate you commenting here; I can't even imagine how you and Stephen Downes have managed to keep up with and comment on so many of the CCK08 conversations. I've been fascinated by the number of course participants who have clearly not interacted on-line using blogs, RSS, Moodle etc before. To me that is very exciting--it brings new perspectives and voices.

  6. I'm not really a drop-out - yet. I'm keeping up with Stephen's commentary, following some links, watching our CCK08 Facebook group, etc. I haven't been to the Moodle discussion forums this week. I'm in the background; I'm waiting for a spot where it makes sense for me to contribute, where I can add true value based on my experience and background. Right now, I'm using the two "Os" -- observation and objectivity. This is how I'm trying to keep balance these days - learn what I need in order to make an informed contribution and be OK about not contributing or participating beyond what's realistic for me or helpful to others. Cheers.

  7. When you are 50, you are going to look back and wonder why you never realized how beautiful you were, how talented you were, how hard you tried. The advantage older women have is that after their real mother passes, they learn to be their own good mother. They learn to say to themselves the same things they would say to their beloved daughters.

  8. @Lisa, thanks for sharing your level headed approach to participating in this course. I have to admit that after posting this I feel the pull to wade back into the CCK08 waters and your strategy seems a good way to go!

    @Ruth, thank you for your beautiful words of wisdom; they have given me an uplifting start to my day.

  9. Claire,

    Don't forget that you might be able to drop in later. Like you, I was swamped with real life during the first couple of weeks of CCK08. It was only this week that I had enough time to start reading anything. I think I'm still learning things, even though I missed the stuff at the front end.

  10. @Jason, that's the real beauty of a course like this, eh? The conversations, Ustreams etc will be there for at least a while beyond the end of the course.

  11. I have also been in the extreme periphery of participation for the course, and for many of the same reasons. But instead of thinking of myself as a drop out, I think of myself as a drop in - when I have the chance I drop in to see what's going on. I feel like I'm getting a lot of value for my level of participation.

    I like your analogy of the river - I wrote something similar to that back in February ( I think the feeling of being overwhelmed is a common one. It helps a lot if you are willing to go with the flow of things as they naturally occur.

  12. @Rob, thanks for the link to your 'Guide for the Overwhelmed'. It's a good read and the comments section introduced me to some more great bloggers!

  13. Guide to the overwhelmed is a brilliant concept, and a perpetual state here at Shaping Youth...sigh.

    Claire, I'm pummeled with the 'Sept. slam' as well on the student front, trying to figure out how to filter the 'tmi' issue into my befuddled brain to keep 'on point' when so many things funnel into the same arena.

    Even though we handle 'media and marketing's impact on kids' it bridges into everything from politics to financial literacy to branding of consumption philosophies and the impact on the climate/eco-systems...

    My picks for posting are like a moving target, so I pramatically, I had little hope of 'follow through' on the CCK08 notion, tho I'm inspired to take these tips for a 'jump in when things settle' approach...meanwhile, I hope all will keep us informed?!

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  16. I'm a dropout too! My one and only assignment was a bit of a confession that I just can't do it all! Finding balance and doing what I want to do with my digital network is a constant challenge.

    Your river of information metaphor speaks to me.

  17. @David, I remember reading your post and liking that you were graphically showing the overlap between Personal, Work, and Network and how it is challenging to find a good balance.

    It is interesting that after I posted this, I ended up dipping my toe back into the CCK08 waters as I checked out the posts of the commentors. I half thought that I would drop back in. The reality is that I want to do all of my jobs as well as I can (teacher, parent, spouse, individual...) and so something had to give.


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