#engageMOOC – The Twitter Chats

So. #engageMOOC is officially underway, officially lively, and very much still officially open to people joining in, even if just to listen for a part of the conversation or dip a toe in the waters.

Or write a whole opus or three. Whatever works.

There’s a lot going on so far.  We had a first live hangout (that lead Designer Sundi Richard saved from confusion and delay) and that a whole crew of participants waited through 20 minutes of dead air to start. Huge thanks, patient people.

We migrated #engageMOOC over to Future Trends Forum with Bryan Alexander today, for a rollicking conversation that included an admission that I do not like to count, in research. ;0


But the best parts of the course are emerging where the conversations are beginning to take hold.

In our discussion forums, there are conversations about whether John Perry Barlow was wrong, and questions about online engagement and community and anonymity, and musings about social consequences of bad online behaviour and what we should do when the shouting starts.

These conversations are what the course is FOR. People have been responding to each other, connecting, being generous.

But. The container of EdX in which #engageMOOC mostly lives is a constrained space for a lively open conversation. All platforms have limitations. A platform designed primarily to deliver content rather to foster discussion has significant limitations for a course that aims to convene a conversation.

Enter Twitter.

TWITTER for conversation, you say? 

I READ THE NEWS, you say. TWITTER IS WHERE PEOPLE LOSE THEIR JOBS & GET DRAGGED IN SHAME FOR FLOSSING INCORRECTLY.

Okay well not entirely. But Twitter, for all its *very* real issues – the pile-ons, the tactical decontextualization of people’s statements, the sea lions and the “well actually” folks – is designed for open, public conversation AND is still viewable even for participants who don’t have accounts.

The #engageMOOC hashtag is chock full of comments, requests, connections, distributed blog posts expanding on ideas…it’s happening.

We’re going for more.

One of the things we want to do in this course – even within its tiny pop up time frame and the limitations of our course space and our Google hangout provocations – is open up the questions and ideas people have brought to the table.

So tomorrow and the Friday after – the 16th and 23rd of February, starting at noon EST – we’ll have a Twitter chat, using the #engageMOOC hashtag. It’ll start at noon, and we’ll ask a question – based on participants’ intro questions for the course – every ten minutes or so for an hour. Participants can reply…or start whole new conversations and questions of their own, all on the hashtag.

If you want to just read the chat, click the hashtag. If you want to contribute, simply post or reply…and use the hashtag. If you can’t show up in the hour but have ideas to share to the conversation, the hashtag is *always* open.

Twitter chats are usually fast and furious. Do NOT feel you have to take it all in. You can’t. I can’t. Nobody will. It’s okay.

This in itself – this letting go and just focusing on the parts of the stream that you’re engaged with for the moment and letting the rest float on past – is a key web literacy, and (I think) key to getting any actual enjoyment from the web in an era of constant information abundance. THERE IS NO TEST AT THE END. Be wherever you are.

Join us, if you can. #engageMOOC. Try to remember the hashtag, if you’re tweeting. Answer the hell outta whatever question or branch or rabbit hole in the conversation interests you. Try to talk to some new people on the hashtag. Twitter, for all its faults, still has broad networks of engaged thinkers and learners and professionals of all stripes interested in sharing ideas…and a lot of them are in our course! The chats may be an easy way to build recognition and fledgling relationships – via follows – that you can take with you when our two weeks are over.

Thread your ideas (ie reply to yourself) if it takes more than one tweet to say what you want. That way people can read the whole train of thought.

And maybe try – if you think someone’s wrong – to offer an alternate perspective in a non-polarizing way. We’re aiming to practice what we preach, here: stumbling together towards a less polarized information ecosystem.

See you Friday at noon EST. Bring questions. 🙂