My #etMOOC experience – limits and benefits!

Alright well etMOOC has been over for a couple of weeks already – this fact already expressing the limit-benefit duality of my experience: I feel behind, yet it doesn’t matter!!!

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etMOOC has been an overwhelming experience for me as I’ve felt like I were miles behind since the very beginning – I joined the course late and required more orientation than most.

Now for the benefits – etMOOC has changed the way I see the internet. Yearning to be more than passive consumer of digital content, the course has taught some simple ways in what I can contribute to the web, which is way more exciting! It has shown me there’s SO MUCH to learn out there and so many people interested in sharing and developing new ideas. I’ve created new contacts, learned to use new tools, and found inspiration in a refreshingly different approach to “teaching and learning”.

In fact, I think the ways in which etMOOC encourages us to interact with the web (and by extension, with content) represents one of the best models for lifelong learning.

And that’s why it doesn’t matter. The course was about raising interest on educational technologies and fostering lifelong learning habits in each one of us.

I’ve barely participated in etMOOC, yet I feel it has revealed a new world to me. A vibrant world buzzing with creativity. A world that seeks to understand how the emerging forms of communication are changing the way meaning is constructed. A world that comes with equal doses of abundance and responsibility.

Need I say more?

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Being cyber-literate

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What does it mean to be cyber-literate?

Cyber-literacy or digital literacy is so broad that experts (such as Doug Belshaw) prefer the expression digital “literacies”, reflecting the fact that numerous types of abilities are required to be qualified as cyber-literate, not to mention that these same abilities are constantly evolving.

Being literate can be simply defined as being able to read. However, a proficient reader not only knows how to read, but might also able to criticize a play, to compare different authors’ styles, and even to compose a creative text. It’s kind of the same with cyber-literacy. Users of the web can simply be consumers of different types of media, for example. As they learn to interact with media, create their own media, and integrate their critical point of view to an interactive message, they become more cyber-savvy.

Among other things, Doug discusses the role of memes in the digital age. Memes are simply humorous associations of text with an image, such as the one of the cats shown above. And although memes communicate basic ideas at what seems to be a very basic level of communication, they represent a NEW form of exchanging ideas. To create a meme, one must be creative and must communicate the meme with the right audience for it to then be accepted and eventually shared to a larger public. If you want to find out more about Doug, you can watch his TED talk here.

Being cyber-literate is obviously much more than creating memes, but it has to do with understanding how the flow of ideas and information works and being able to interact with it.  It’s about confidently participating in the digital era, knowing that sharing ideas can be a strong tool to build a better tomorrow.

The Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) format is a great example of the emergence of a new type of literacy. The digital age provides new spaces for learners to meet, read, write, share, watch videos, but, most importantly, to integrate all of these processes to their reflective processes. Doug calls REMIX the capacity to use different digital objects for a given purpose.

By participating in the etMOOC project, I’m giving myself the opportunity to be part of a community of learners who are interested in the digital “literacies” by being open to the idea of trying out new things and sharing their experiences with the rest of the group.

A motivating (new) way to learn!

Finally, being cyber-literate is not a given for me! Posting my second article on WordPress has been harder than I expected, and I still haven’t personalized my blog at all. Well, a lot of work ahead, let’s see how it goes..!

Being literate

Being literate means many things for me.

On a basic level, it means being able to read, write, and talk in English and/or any other given language. On a greater level, being literate means expressing ideas and feelings. It means using the language to access new realities and to transform them; it means to play an active role in society and to seek to develop a better dialogue between its members. It means to persuade. To create. It means to share our ideas with others because they have value. It means believing that the language itself-any language- has value, and it does.

Allow me to stress this last point. Being a non-native English speaker, I initially felt as though the language mostly had a practical value as I was first learning it. By speaking English, I knew I had gained access to the rest of Canada and even to the major cities of the world. I found it incredibly handy for traveling and for getting by. Today, however, I consider myself fully literate in English and I feel part of the English-speaking community. The language gained value as occupied a higher status in my life.

I’ve decided to open a Blog simply because I enjoy writing and would like to do something about it. I’ve noticed that I also enjoy other people’s publications.  I want to use this space to publish both in French and English, since both languages are part of me. Spanish expressions will probably appear every now and again since this language is also beginning to be part of my life. So let’s see how it goes…

Becoming literate in both French and English meant that people had to invest their time and energy in my education. By education I mean an aunty asking me to recall the days of the week, a parent using a clay shoe model to show me how to tie my shoe laces, and a biology teacher answering my interview questions about her job description to see if it corresponds with my aspirations. My mother played a rather important role in my education, providing with extra French classes at home during the period when we were living overseas. That way, she made sure we wouldn’t fall behind while attending English-speaking schools. And it is these particular schools, or rather this particular period in my life, which brings me to the symbol I have chosen to use for this text: the dictionary.

The dictionary represents my hard efforts to learn a new language, English. I was eight years old when my family and I had just moved to Australia for a project related to my father’s profession. Hardly speaking a word of the language when I first arrived, I spoke it fluently within two years. A lot of work was required to get there and I seem to particularly remember having to endlessly flip through the pages of my dictionary to complete my homework. I would use it to translate my vocabulary into this strange new language and to look up the meaning of new words. Yes, the dictionary is an appropriate object to illustrate the big challenge I faced at that moment.

What’s so special about my object? Well, it worked for me, that’s all. Today, the traditional dictionary has been integrated into our technology: online dictionaries, Microsoft Word spelling corrector and thesaurus… These resources are useful when learning languages, they are also a great ally when language becomes more than just a necessity and plays an important role in our lives.