MRI 13

I’ve just finished attending the MOOC Research Initiative conference and workshop, which felt not so much a conference on MOOCs to me as the beginning of something else. We kick Courdacity-style MOOCs around a  lot, but if all MOOCs did was bring this level of intelligence and insight into problems of online learning, it would be worth it all. There’s a way that that black hole of a term is pulling different universes together, and if the culture of MRI ’13 is what results from that, the future looks very bright.

Conferences are always a bit of a disembodied experience for me; I never feel grounded away from home. But this time the whole experience had a warm dream-like quality, and I’ve been trying to parse out why that was. Certainly, part of it was the psychological overload of seeing so many people who I admire in one place. Part of it might be the ice storm that swept in the night of day two, pushing us all together into smaller spaces.

But I think it was actually the conversations that struck me the most. You know how in a dream characters suddenly pop up and have bizarre yet fluid conversations that pull your mind in all sorts of new directions?  The conversations here were not that bizarre, I suppose, but they had that rapid fluidity of dream logic, where a sort of conversational shorthand shuffles you quickly past the normal pro/con nonsense and into something much bigger, and much more exciting and mysterious.

Kudos to George, Amy, Tanya, and everyone else that put this thing together. I’ll be processing the experience for weeks to come, and there’s no greater compliment for a conference than that.

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