#METC: Reflections on Week One

As we wrap up our first week of the military ethics twitter course, I wanted to take a minute to conduct a quick in-progress review. Hopefully you’ll be willing to think about what’s working and how you think things could work better and let me know. I’m having a ton of fun, but this course is for you, so what’s ultimately important is that you think it’s adding value.

What’s Working:

  • Your level of energy and involvement is outstanding: Overall, I’ve been really impressed by how consistently thoughtful and thorough you’ve been. I’ll come back to my computer after work and find a fully developed thread on cultural relativism or Walzer’s view of moral dilemmas. That’s perfection. When we gather in the evening to talk you all bring your A game. I hope the people who argued twitter was inappropriate or insufficient for a conversation on ethics are paying attention.
  • The hashtag seems to have caught on: The first couple of days people would respond to me without the #METC hashtag and that kept everyone else out of the conversation. That seems to have corrected itself by this point. Keep it up!
  • Your varied backgrounds add a lot: We have folks with varying degrees of military experience from around the world participating in the conversation. That plurality of perspectives – and the respect with which ya’ll are engaging each other – makes the discussion much more robust than if we were nothing more than a U.S. military echo chamber.

What Could We Improve:

  • Five weeks is a long time for this pace: When I initially thought of 3-day blocks for each topic, I imagined we would have a more leisurely exchange with people coming and going as they could. People do come and go, but it felt like a pretty heavy pace that ground to a halt on Friday. I’m considering shortening each session to 2 nights (Mon-Tues and Wed-Thurs) so we can take Friday off and have the weekends for more open exchange or final wrap up. Let me know what you think.
  • A lot of this goodness gets lost in the twitter wind: On the one hand, this is true of any normal conversation or seminar; people don’t document every single exchange or thought that’s shared in real life. At the same time, there are so many ideas going back and forth among so many people, it’s easy to lose the conversation thread and not get it back. I had intended to storify conversations to help remedy this problem, I just don’t have the time (and probably won’t for another week). Are folks okay with just accepting this or does the inability to capture conversations really erode your ability to absorb the concepts and issues we’re discussing? Lemme know.
  • I’m struggling to figure out how to evaluate learning in this medium: I won’t lie; I’m doing this because it’s fun. What makes it fun is feeling like I’m helping folks think about important issues in ways that will add value to their lives (professionally for the service members and in terms of civic engagement for the civilians). I’m trying to think of how we find out whether you’re actually getting anything out of #METC. My students write papers and do group projects. We can’t do that here. I see the quality of your tweets, but I can’t tell whether that’s you learning or expressing knowledge you already had. Maybe success for this #METC will just be sustaining the conversation for 5 weeks. I know there are people following who aren’t tweeting, so maybe we just have faith that they’re gaining from the knowledge and experience of the folks who are engaging. Not sure. I’d love your thoughts on this.
  • What am I missing? What would make #METC more useful for you? You can post your responses to any of these issues in the comments section or tweet them with the hashtag.

Our next topic is Setting the Command Climate, where we’ll look at the connection between command climate and ethical behavior. This isn’t an exclusively military issue – it speaks to any organization. I’ll have the post up tomorrow morning.

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