Colin's Sandbox


Diffimooc Disequilibrium

by on Feb.01, 2013, under #diffimooc, ramblings

Since having two wonderful kids I haven’t done as much exercise as I used to, which wasn’t really a huge amount to begin with.  To get my exercise in the past I typically played a lot of hockey, ran every once in a while, did some hiking.  In the past couple of years I’ve been hampered a bit by a shoulder injury and subsequent surgery.

Doing more hockey right now is hard; although I jump in on some pickup games now and then the adult leagues around here play late at night and with all I’ve got going on these days I need to get my Zs.

At the advice of a friend, a couple weeks ago I started practicing Judo, which I knew next to nothing about.  I now know a only a tad more than next to nothing.  It seems like a good fit: it’s a good workout, the people I’m working out with are helpful, no it’s not Fight Club, I like the philosophy behind it, and it fits my schedule.

There’s a lot going on with Judo – it isn’t really front and center in people’s conscience like a more traditional sport would be, so if you’re at all interested I’d say go do some reading; enough has been written about it already so I’d suggest digging into Google.  As the main focus of this blog is my experiences in the educational realm, I’ll dive more into connections I see between my Ed Tech coursework and Judo.

When I first started doing the #diffimooc course I caught on to the new technologies pretty easily since I work in that realm day in and day out.  My difficulty was more about feeling comfortable presenting yourself to the outside world.  During the first week I observed and at times helped other participants get on board with all the tools and lent a “me2” to folks who were not that comfortable putting themselves “out there”.  The confused guy in the corner wondering where they were and why they were was me at my first Judo session for sure.  Here’s some random connections that I draw between my (extremely limited) experience in Judo and others in #diffimooc, and I suspect connectivist MOOCs in general:

  • You get what you put into it.  One of the first things we had done was to do some  exercises on the mat, and even though I looked completely silly I worked hard at it I was able to transfer that learning in a follow up practice session.  Immediately rewarding!
  • Get comfortable failing.  The first class I just listened for the most part – I did participate but mostly I was separate from the rest of the group learning how to fall and feeling comfortable with it.  As a result of learning how to fall, during the next week’s session I felt I was comfortable making mistakes – the big lesson: when sensing you’re about to fail, just dive right in, roll through it, and get back up.
  • Respect and Help Others.  One of the basic tenets of Judo is “Mutual Benefit” – apparently this is translated in about 1000 different ways but I interpret this as “helping others helps you”.  There’s a lot of pairing up with partners of different skill levels and therefore a lot of peer-to-peer teaching that goes on while the instructors go around and check on progress, make corrections, etc.  I found that switching partners often kept us from slacking too much.
  • Differentiation.  This really ties into the last point I made about helping others.  Everyone has heard of the “belt system” that is prevalent in martial arts, and I just assumed that the class would be broken up into the constituent levels and that would be it, but at least in the sessions I’ve attended everyone is mixed up.  At one point there was some instruction that had a group of people of equal rank split off, but having the class as one body enabled you to take turns learning helping others learn.  Even as a complete n00b.  Since peer instruction was the norm after demonstration, the teachers were free to float and offer advice that was individual as they observed.  Mixing with people who have obviously been at it for a while provides a long term motivation, while having instructors that are able to provide positive, individual feedback has kept me so far from being discouraged.
  • Efficiency.  Another core concept in Judo is “Maximum Efficiency with Minimum Effort”.  Getting good at all this combination of tools involved with the #diffimooc (Twitter, RSS, Blogging, LiveText, Email, Smoke Signals, Semaphores, OH MY) isn’t going to get easier if you throw all your muscle at it and do everything in this class.  Come at it with some goal in mind.  Work with is presented to you, make sense of the chaos, carve out a way to meet that goal.  Try to get better at tools as time permits to provide for increased efficiency that works for your learning type.

Now to get back to the coursework at hand…

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