We are midway through the Ontario Extend mOOC two week series of activities for module 1, Teacher for Learning (being true to one of the ‘O’s, its free to join any time at http://bit.ly/ExtendMOOC).

Because the shelf life for this edX course has a “will be archived in April” stamp on it, our design approach includes offering in the middle week of each module, optional activities for doing things Outside the mOOC.

Besides the two connective tools below, we are also subtly encouraging participants to share their mOOC work in their own blog, and then share via link in the mOOC forums. This is the route we hope to convince others to take, what we call the DIY Route.

Just like we will share these as will on this blog, because… we can do things Outside the mOOC.


While the exit doors we offered this week might be better tied to the upcoming Collaborator module, it’s timely to offer them now as places to connect communicate outside of the edX platform. We first look at connecting in Twitter and then in Slack.

Connecting Outside the mOOC in Twitter

The first iteration of Ontario Extend did not require participants to use twitter, but it was encouraged as a means of connection. It’s been in the plans all along, but one of you already suggested it during our first week.

So here is our first exit door. If you are not using twitter, it’s pretty easy to signup (it is not at all required by us). We have a friendly Extend guide to help you.

If you have a twitter account, first follow us at @ontarioextend and then mention our account in a new tweet expressing your interest in being on a Twitter List.

What’s a twitter list? It’s a great way to connect participants in a class or a project. We created one for the Extend mOOC- one thing you can do is review the members list and find other participants to add to our followers. But the link for the list itself is a great way to winnow out the “noise” of the public twitter stream; you see only the tweets from people on the list.

The other way to connect in twitter is to use out #hashtags for things extend related. Include a general #oxtend one (that was the tag we used last year and/or if it is mOOC related, try adding #ExtendMOOC to your tweet. What does a hashtag do? One link (or searching on it in twitter) lets you see latest #oextend tagged tweets or #ExtendMOOC tagged ones.

What do you see in there?

But wait, there is more that happens with hashtags! We can use a fabulous open tool created by Martin Hawksey called Twitter TAGS which lets anyone archive and analyze twitter data in a Google spreadsheet. If you are doing any teaching projects using hashtags or keyword search, you really want to learn how to use this tool.

We have set up one of these for the #ExtendMOOC activity. What can you see? A summary of activity, showing most active participants. Or a different dashboard view of activity. But the most impressive thing is a visualization of it as a Conversation Explorer, where the size of all nodes is proportional to activity, and lines represent connectivity by mentions or replies.

As of this moment (February 1, 2019), it’s pretty small and not well connected – can you change the shape of this? Just start tweeting with #ExtendMOOC and/or reply to others using it.


And if that is not enough, what if we told you there is a way to visualize your own or someone else’s activity in the mix? Start with the URL https://hawksey.info/tagsexplorer/?key=1eHtZT_vu2eTjt1iQNzRDw3OVebkrkhVGAjwtn_yUaUM&gid=400689247 and add to the end of it (no @) ?name=twittername Try seeing how it finds in the network the activity of @SarahWendorf or @greeneterry.

Woah. Did you notice what the Replay Tweets button does?

Again, if you want to, start sharing your Extend mOOC work in twitter via the #ExtendMooc tag, connect and respond to others. It will be here after the mOOC is over.

Next, we look at going Slack…

Connecting Outside the mOOC in Slack

Before we set up the edX mOOC we offered people interested in it to join us in a Slack workspace. Slack is like a group messaging space but more, it is a “hub for collaboration.” Access to a Slack is by invitation only, so it’s a way to gain some of the affordances of connecting in social media without all the other distractions.

Rather than talking about online spaces as simply open vs closed, Slack is used by many educators as an example of what Catherine Cronin describes as “bounded online spaces.”

Is it in place of the discussion forums? No. But it might be less convoluted to follow. And again. it’s a place we can use after the mOOC is over. If you never joined the Slack, forgot, or never saw the invitation, you can request again an invite via http://bit.ly/ExtendMOOC or contact Terry Greene.

We started with one General discussion stream, but Slack is more useful when you funnel conversations into different “channels”. We recently added new Channels for each module, as well as new spaces for people to ask or share more techy tool stuff or to have generat conversations about teaching.

Note that any member of our Slack can create new channels. We see many requests in the forums for people wanting to connect by discipline; Slack might be the place for a group of instructional designers or vocational education faculty to connect by interest.

If you are in the ExtendMOOC Slack now, click the Channels button on the left to find Channels you can join or to create a new one

Slack is also a place you might want to use for your Small Informal Support Teams (aka Power Bars). Terry can also create for those groups in Slack a “private channel” for your teams to message each other.

Again, this exit door is optional. Please continue to share your mOOC work in the forums for each activity. But maybe consider trying out how discussions work in “Slack Space.”

For more how some educators are using Slack, see also:

Note that educators are also looking at similar tools that are open source based, such as Mattermost and RocketChat. Why? We could discuss it outside the mOOC.

And to repeat ourselves, Slack will be here after the mOOC is over.

Featured Image: Pixabay image by Tama66 shared under a Pixabay license.

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An early 90s builder of the web and blogging, Alan Levine barks at CogDogBlog.com on web storytelling, photography, bending WordPress, and serendipity in the infinite internet river.

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