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Olympics…the every 4 year MOOC

February 9, 2014

lisa hammershaimb

Winter Olympic season is officially in full swing. My Twitter feed is abuzz with everyone’s reactions to wins and jumps and falls, I’m suddenly the biggest fan of people who I never even knew existed last week, and I’m not positive but I think I can almost tell the difference between a spin and a swizzle in figure skating. I love Olympics for the narrative and for the drama and most definitely for the fashion and pageantry. For two weeks it seems the world shrinks not because there’s massive genocide or natural disaster but because people are competing and you see how hard they try and you see their families and in some crazy way you connect across the distance.

Before these Olympics started I heard on NPR that they were going to be the most covered games ever. Literally, if it was happening at an Olympic venue and you have access to the internet, there was a way you could see it regardless of time zone or geography. (Granted, here in the States there are some huge paywalls set up so it’s not as idealistic as it might seem but still…in theory if it’s happening in Sochi, it can also be happening on say your iPad mini.) Good news is I am one of the chosen who has both subscription cable and high speed internet, so when I heard the news that every last event was going to be broadcast, I made a mental pledge to slack off in the all other areas of my life and consume Olympics like it was my job. Forget mindlessly viewing whatever the networks deemed, and edited, as Primetime content…this year I was going to hold my own Olympic fate, make my own choices, and it was going to be amazing.

And in theory…I think it could be. In practice, I’ve spent the last several days completely snowed under (hahaa….) with the new details of my job and I’m ashamed to say that the small bits of Olympics I have watched have not only been completely filtered by the Primetime editors but often watched over the top edge of a computer screen or between anti-socially checking emails on my iPhone as I’m furtively trying to multi-task. It’s a world of abundance but unfortunately my own schedule is one of time poverty.

Because I’m beginning to be deeply entrenched in the online education world and my subconscious seems to be constantly trying to process ideas through an education-ish framework, it’s begun to start flipping through my brain that Olympics this year might be like a crazy world-wide-sport MOOC that happens every four years. Through the magic of technology and the internet, with this Olympics I have access to everything, at any time with or without commentary. Through Twitter I can actually contact the athletes on my screen and there’s even a tiny chance they’ll reply. Or, I can hashtag and jump into the conversation about whatever underdog just won gold or whatever favorite just choked under pressure. It’s amazing really the level of connection that is possible concurrent with the level of independence. And lest Olympics seem like they might tend more toward the xMOOC variety with the massive scale and professional athletes, there’s nothing more cMOOC than the viewing party schedule that my friends have put together, apartment-hopping each night as we learn and watch together. It seems if one has the means and interest, a fully personal Olympic experience can be realized from anywhere in the world. Amazing, right?

And now my own Olympic MOOC question (much like my own MOOC question) becomes not what can I access, but rather how can I filter and what can I actually make time for? It’s no longer what can I get but rather, how can I be someone who is reflexive enough to actually know what I want or need and then also become mature enough to say no to all those other shiny objects that are good for someone, just not for me? For so long I think we were programmed to hoard because resources were scarce and now…it’s about letting so so much of the abundance pass you by go so you can actually have open hands for what right for you to hold tightest.

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