(Initial) Reflecting Allowed

Maha Bali's blog has now moved to http://blog.mahabali.me

Chaos, safety, vulnerability, and community in massive online interaction

12 Comments

I just participated in the first #moocmooc live Twitter chat on #FutureEd. I wasn’t sure what the topic would be, but it strangely intersected with some things we had been discussing in #rhizo14 for various reasons.

I can’t capture it all – i couldn’t follow it all and not all of it stayed with me, but that’s no surprise and i am comfortable with it, i accept it. My fave quote (which i now can’t find though i’d favorited it i think!) was by Sean Michael Morris, something like “agency is like cookies, you can never have too much of it”, or something like that…

Anyway. So I am just sharing here parts that I remembered off the top of my head.

We tackled the issue of chaos (which reminds me how Jenny described last week as “messy”) and some of us thought chaos was a good thing, a “joy” to be embraced.

We discussed issues related to trolling and bullying in social media and discussion forums of MOOCs, and this is something #rhizo14 facebook had been discussing thanks to a story I think
Vanessa shared about this Coursera MOOC on a topic related to Islam where people were apparently really rude. Surprise surprise!

There was discussion as to whether these behaviors should be prevented, who would be responsible for doing so, if natural roles emerging would be problematic… And then my favorite ideas started to emerge

Someone flipped the story completely (or at least, that is how I saw it) and said something about building a supportive community… That the supportive community is what protects the participants, and then I think someone said something about preparing learners to embrace vulnerability.

Right. Because when you think about it, that’s the only sustainable and least controversial solution. Any rule-creation will involve impositions of power by those who set the rules. Any rules would need to be contextual (i am not a fan of universality, and you just need to be a person on the margins of some context or other to understand why).

I am sure it is not simple to create this supportive community, or to help someone embrace vulnerability. I wrote earlier this week about my experience of embracing vulnerability in academic blogging and many others responded by sharing their own stories in the comments. I think someone mentioned on facebook that independence brings with it vulnerability… And so it does.

Opening ourselves to it is one thing. Helping others open themselves to it? To the uncertainty of it? To unlearning the need for structure and an external other to protect them, especially when that external other is supposed to be us? That’s hard man. I don’t know how to do it.

Yet 🙂

P.S. i don’t know how to do a storify inside WordPress but if there is a really simple way to do it, I would love to know so I can quote tweets as images directly

P.P.S. thanks to ppl who suggested tools for following Twitter chats, i used both tweetdeck and twubs this time. Twubs was good for pausing and coz it automatically put in the hashtag (i always forget), but tweetdeck was better for replying properly to people. Neither was prefect.

P. P. S. the word “troll” is interesing. I understand the connotation in this context, but i remember also a time when there were these cute little playthings called trolls, plastic dolls for kids. Big fad at some point …(to avoid copyright infringement, see this link for image)

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Author: Maha Bali

Associate professor of practice, American University in Cairo

12 thoughts on “Chaos, safety, vulnerability, and community in massive online interaction

  1. I’ve had a post about trolls fermenting for a while now. Must write it up 🙂

  2. Looking forward to reading it, Sarah!

  3. “Opening ourselves to it is one thing. Helping others open themselves to it? To the uncertainty of it? To unlearning the need for structure and an external other to protect them, especially when that external other is supposed to be us? That’s hard man. I don’t know how to do it.”

    I can so relate, Maha. Teaching is hard enough without trying to embrace uncertainty and openness. But how can we call ourselves teachers if we aren’t willing to learn? I think all we can do is learn from our own story, share that story, and those of others that will help our students see the value of embracing uncertainty and openness for themselves.

    btw I love Storify and if you’d like to include a bit of a Twitter stream in your blog then you can create the Storify and then choose “distribute” where you’ll find embed codes (with or without heading) for tools like WordPress. Looks like there’s also a direct add but I’ve not tried that.

    Keep asking those hard questions!

  4. Great thoughts here. I agree that building a supportive community is critical, & wish I knew how to do it. Certainly reading and commenting on posts, referring to others’ ideas when posting your own, giving supportive messages about posts on twitter (tweeting about them generally so others read them too) are all things that could help — at least it seems so to me!

    I do know how to embed tweets from Storify, but it involves embedding an entire Storify story. And I don’t know if you can do it if you haven’t created the story yourself. If you want to know how to do that, let me know and I’ll get to my computer (on phone now!) and give you specif directions. If, on the other hand, you want to embed specific tweets only, not an entire Storify story, then that’s a different procedure that I could also explain if you want! I’ll just have to get to my computer first!

  5. Okay, at my computer now. Here’s how you embed an entire Storify story, which you CAN do even if you didn’t create it. Go to the top of the story and find the icon that looks like this: It’s actually a button that gives you an embed code. Then, when creating a post in WP, go to the “text” rather than the “visual” editor, which shows the html code, and paste the embed code where you want it in the blog post. It has to be in the “text” editor, because if you try it in the visual editor all you’ll get when you look at the post is the code itself, not the embedded story! Hope that makes sense. IF not, let me know!

    Now, to embed a particular tweet by itself on a WP blog, the procedure is similar, it’s just that you have to get the embed code from Twitter itself. I do this by going to the twitter.com page and looking at my favourites (if I’ve favourited it) or doing a hashtag search. Sometimes it can be hard to find. If it’s already in a Storify, you can click on the “retweets” or “favourites” link at the bottom left of the tweet on storify to see the tweet on the twitter.com page.

    Either way, you need to (I think) get to the twitter.com version of the tweet to get to the embed code. You may be able to do it on a Twitter client like Tweetdeck or something, but I haven’t tried that. Once you have the tweet on twitter.com (e.g., see this one here: https://twitter.com/Atlanta_Police/statuses/428499522092675072 just a random one I found!), go to the three dots icon next to the word “More” on the bottom of the tweet and click. You’ll get a dropdown menu that includes the choice to “embed tweet.” That’ll get you an embed code that you can use the same way as the embed code discussed above–you need to use the “text” editor to add it.

    Okay, that’s all I can think of, and I hope it’s clear!

    • Thanks Christina! RE: storify and embedding tweets, it looks like some of these options aren’t available on mobile devices (you seem to have needed to get to a PC 🙂 I am often tempted to just take screenshots from my iPad and embed as images!

  6. I’m glad you’re also attempting these two moocs at the same time too! I’m slow at getting started with #futureed, but will be cross-posting to both #rhizo14 and #FutureEd as well.

    • That’s great, Heather! looking forward to reading your reflections.
      As I was saying on facebook, I am enjoying commenting on #rhizo14 fb about #FutureEd. Folks on #rhizo14 already seem like “my group”already, and maybe it is because they are more experienced MOOCers, social media gurus, etc., that this happened so fast, whereas #FutureEd is diverse and Cathy and her team are themselves newish at it (someone in the twitter chat posted a link to a TA discouraging ppl from sharing twitter handles there!)

  7. Pingback: What My Toddler Teaches Me About Uncertainty | Reflecting Allowed

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