Having already decided on my big question one of the other things that the ocTEL course is asking:
What characteristics do you think the participants in this course have in common?
I have partly answered this already in my post about handling e-mail.
What was interesting was how few people who responded to my post has actually read it.
The first part of the post talked about how to deal with an influx of e-mail from a mailing list. The last paragraph though was the important one.
One lesson that people should take from ocTEL is that never assume that people, even technically literate people, will be able to do stuff that you take for granted. This applies equally to practitioners and importantly learners.
My point really was not about handling e-mail, but about making assumptions that people will have the necessary skills and knowledge to deal with the technology of a MOOC such as this one. We can make similar assumptions about learners who use technology all the time, and assume they will be able to use the VLE, social media and mobile devices to support their learning.
To answer the queston about the common characteristics of people doing the ocTEL. From what I can see is that there is a proportion of people who are familiar with the technologies they are engaging with, can manage the processes and are now focusing on the learning. There is another group who have signed up, but are unfamiliar with the outputs that happen as a result of signing up to a MOOC and a (highly active) mailing list, as a result the technology is having a negative impact on their learning.
So is there a common characteristic across the whole of the group? Well there is, an interest in TEL. However there is a whole spectrum of interest and alongside that a whole spectrum of skills, knowledge and experience.
The challenge for this MOOC will be is how to engage those at either end without disengaging those at the other end.
The second question asked is:
In what ways might they be different or atypical of other groups of learners that might be important or relevant to you?
I would say that this group of learners is different to groups of learners in that in formal education we use initial advice and guidance, as well as prior learning and achievement, to ensure they get on the right course.
Here on ocTEL we have a range of levels, commitment and experience. I am not sure if the course can engage those practitioners who would directly benefit whilst simultaneously engaging those more advanced and experienced practitioners who could provide support and guidance to the less experienced practitioners.
It will be interesting to see what happens.