Wow, what a week: I just turned in grades for my classes (yes, it's #edsuccess :, and I've also had a crash-course learning experience because of the Bonk course at Blackboard Course Sites, #bonkopen a.k.a #bonkland . Note that I did not have this learning experience IN the course… in fact, I would have to say it has taken place despite the "course" - but it's been a great experience. I've learned a lot (most of all: Blackboard Course Sites is a profound disappointment; more on that below) - but best of all, I have met some fabulous new people, person to person. In some cases, these were people whom I did not know at all before, like +Jim Julius and +Nancy White , and in other cases they were people whom I had read and admired from afar as the saying goes, like +Lisa M Lane and +Phil Hill … but you know, in virtual space, no one has to be that far away from anyone else… IF you have the time, opportunity and openness to connect. So now I have gotten a chance to interact with them person-to-person, and it has been delightful.

But here's the thing: those connections did NOT happen in Blackboard Course Sites, and they could not happen. Here's the five-word summary: In Blackboard, you are nobody. (Even more cynically: In Blackboard, no one can hear you scream.) More on that below. The way I hooked up with these other people was: here at Google+ (in parts thanks to the use of hashtags), via Twitter (again, thanks to a hashtag - I was already subscribed to Lisa's blog but had not read her latest post until I saw it linked at Twitter), and then in the amazing (AMAZING) discussion that then emerged at Lisa's blog - definitely worth checking out: … and then more adventures, thanks to the way that the participants in Lisa's blog are linked out to their own blogs and websites… and so on - in that beautiful LINKING of person to person that is the INTERNET.

Meanwhile, what's going on in Blackboard Course Sites is just so depressing and enervating for me. I've detailed my complaints both at Lisa's blog, which I linked to already, and here in my Google+ posts, so I won't repeat the detail of the complaints here. Instead, let me just explain what I mean by saying "In Blackboard, you are nobody." After spending my time online at truly social, truly networking sites like Google+ and various Nings, I was staggered at how unsocial Blackboard is. There is no "place" for a person to be herself there. I do not have a profile page that other people can quickly access when they run into me at a Blackboard discussion or blog post. I am just a name, that's all. They can click on my name and send me an email… but I don't want more emails! And I don't want to send emails to anybody! Instead, I want to know about people - who they are, what they do, what they are passionate about. How can I find that out at Blackboard? I cannot. So, for me, with that context stripped away, it is hard … impossible … for me to get to know anybody.

The one thread I can hang on to here is the #bonkopen and #bonkland hashtags. So, I was all ready to resign from the course when I realized "OH, wait… I can blog at Google+ where I can be myself" … then I can post the link at Twitter … and Twitter, thank goodness, connects me back to the course because there is a nifty Twitter widget in the course updates page INSIDE Blackboard. It's a tiny bridge, a slender and tenuous bridge… but it's a bridge. I'm "in" as it were…

So, I will be participating in the course after all! No, I won't be attending the live sessions and watching the videos (just not my style), but I will do the readings, and I will interact with anybody here out in the open - at Google+ or at blogs, spaces where we can be ourselves. Since I'm not watching the live sessions or doing the required postings in the discussion board or "approved" blogs, no badge for me. But that's okay: I was not interested in the course for badge purposes. I had two interests, really, in joining the course: to learn about Blackboard Course Sites (verdict: nightmare! yep, no way around that - it was way worse than anything I could have imagined) … and to meet new people! So far, based on the first week, the meeting new people part is AWESOME. Except that it isn't happening in Blackboard, ha ha. So I'm in (well, sort of in, from the outside), best of all: I'm here at Google+ and I'll post something this weekend about the readings for Week 1.

Thank you Google+ (and, person to person, thank you, +Yonatan Zunger ), and thank you Twitter for helping me find a way to do that (so thanks to the Twitter faithful like +George Station for that). In fact, I guess this means I am FINALLY reviving my dormant OnlineCrsLady Twitter presence. :-)

Now we'll see what new kind of trouble I can get into...
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