How to Get Caught in the Web

I am excited about the next phase of the Connected Courses, as the topic is Web Literacies and Web Design and all things Webby (but not Spiderman, as far as I know). This comic idea was kicking around in my head. It’s a bit more negative, from the time-suck stance, than I feel about the work and learning we do when we are on the Web.

Ways to get caught in the Web #ccourses

But, hopefully, it gives a chuckle.

Peace (in getting unstuck),
Kevin

Bad Comic/Lost Idea/Good Duck

Bad comic
I’m not beating myself up on this, but an attempt at a comic inspired by a tweet the other day by one of my Simon friends had even me scratching my head when I was done. It was one of those times when I went into a comic with an idea and completely lost the thread by the end, and even now, I am not sure what I was thinking.

That said, the comic still works on one level — of what different people bring to the table. But I was aiming for something different, and I am not sure now that the comic meshes with the quote’s original meaning. Perhaps it doesn’t matter all that much.

And the Google/Duck Duck Go gag sort of fell apart on me. I was thinking of the accidental visitor, and had privacy on my mind. Maha wondered if I were referencing the duck mascot from the upcoming Digital Writing Month, but no … unless I was doing it without thinking about it (which is possible).

In the end, I like the Meta-Comic better than the original comic.

Peace (in frames),
Kevin

Comics Recap (A Weekend Update)

I made a few comics over the weekend as part of the Connected Courses. It’s my way of “reading” the posts and material, searching for interesting tidbits. If you want to see real artistic interpretation in action, check out what Amy Burvall has been doing with all the Google Hangouts, etc.  She has been sharing her artistic quotes in our Google Plus space and on Twitter (you might need to scroll down a bit).

Anyway …. first up is a comic to note that the Connected Courses folks are slowly but methodically expanding its facilitator ranks as the course goes on, inviting more folks into the mix to take on roles. I am one of those, although I guess I am sort of doing what I am doing (and now helping with the Daily Connect adventure that was the brainchild of others).

Newbies on the #ccourses Team

Second, my friend, Susan, had a hectic week and wrote about findings her way back into the Connected Courses mix. Her hook to her post was that ‘dinner was burning’ as she caught up.

Dinner is Burning (as I write)

Finally, Greg wrote about his participation in MOOCs and online courses, and often he drops out. One of the lines he wrote grabbed my attention because it made me laugh.

Bye bye mooc

Peace (in the frame),
Kevin

 

Social Networks are People (not Technology)

Social Networks are People (not technology)

I was in a meeting with our writing project the other day, as various small leadership groups began planning out activities for the school year. One group, which is charged with outreach, intends to move deeper into some of our existing social network accounts to connect our educators together and get word out about activities. We’re working to leverage more social media.

“If we use our MySpace site …” began one of the leaders, and we all just gaped at him. It took him a minute to realize what he was saying, and then we all had a laugh. What he meant to say was our Facebook space. But it might as well have been Friendster, right?

Give yourself enough time, and the technology will change. Maybe even by the time you wake up tomorrow. But the goal of connecting with people across those networks is what is most important, and if the digital platform changes or expires or becomes untenable (or if you are a teenager, if it loses its cool factor), then search for another. Keep the focus on the “people” aspect of why we connect, not the technology, and you’ll notice a change in the way you interact with that technology.

Peace (in some musings),
Kevin

How We Write (pen vs screen)

How we write (a comic)
I made this comic a few weeks after reading a piece about the physical writing process — of handwriting with pen on paper and of tapping out words on a keyboard. I am so much of a keyboard person these days, as my handwriting can’t keep up with what I want to say. But I recognize there are conflicting thoughts on this, and it had me thinking of both sides. (And in a recent Reading Teacher PLC that I am part, the advantages of learning cursive writing for dyslexic students was new to me.)

This comic, taken from conversations in the past with students and with my own ideas on the nature of writing as a physical act. Despite what the comic says, this was not a research study or anything. It’s just a comic.

How do you like to write?

Peace (in the frame),
Kevin

Making Your Own Jam Is What It Is

I had a good friend in an one of my very first bands (The Roadbowlers!), and when I would bring in original songs for the three of us to play, she would always be so appreciative and receptive, even if the song sucked and fell apart (more often, than not, it turns out). Susanna was just learning to play guitar but her philosophy around music making was informed by an artist she listened to a lot and admired as an artist making her way mostly independent of the record industry, Michelle Shocked (although a controversy over some of Shocked comments that were deemed homophobic would no doubt upset my friend terribly).

My friend, Susanna, would quote this line from the song, Strawberry Jam:

Yeah, if you want the best jam
You gotta make your own
– Michelle Shocked

The line resonated for her, and later for me, because it reminds the musician that you don’t need a recording contract to make music. You don’t need a manager. It’s not about the money or the fame. What you need is something that you can play on, something to sing about, maybe a porch to sit on, and then, you make your sounds wherever you are. You make your own jam because that’s the best jam there is.

I was thinking of Susanna and her musical mantra the other day as I was reading a reply to a comment I wrote at Howard Rheingold’s post, asking us to check in as part of the Connected Courses.
Test

I had written in my comment to him that things were going relatively smooth, even from my angle of a K-12 teacher in the midst of University folks, but expressed the wish that more of the facilitators would be more involved in social media interactions. This was not a criticism, knowing how busy folks are. It was more of an observation, and worry that the online component was seeming to replicate the classroom experience of the knowledgeable one imparting lessons (via video) as the students (us) listened.

One thing we agreed on early in our own Making Learning Connected MOOC is the concept of “no one gets left behind” — ie, no blog post or project ever sits there with no comment, and no interaction. Facilitators were active in sharing, commenting, etc. It made a huge difference to people, to know that other folks are in the mix, reading and interacting. This is not to say this is not happening. Howard, and a few others on the Connected Courses team, are doing what they can, given the feed of information flowing. I was just hoping for more. (ie, selfish me)

Howard’s response was logical: he is encouraging facilitators, who may or may not be used to social media on this scale, to dive in, and he noted, rightly, that this is the start of the fall semester for many of them, and we all know how swamped we get when things get rolling.

Then he made the comment, which has stuck with me for days. He said:

What it is, is up to us.”
— Howard Rheingold

In true Connected Learning fashion, we make the connections that matter to us and we build our networks and communities that are meaningful to who we are and where we are going. We sustain us. His small sentence reminded me again that waiting around for validation by the “teacher in the room” goes against the very grain of Connected Learning.

Thank you, Howard, for reminding me of where the learning starts. If you want the best jam, you need to make your own.

What it is

Peace (in the think),
Kevin

The #CCourses Caption Contest (of sorts)

You know now the New Yorker has its caption contest each week? How about one for the Connected Courses? I’ve taken a screenshot of a Blackboard LMS I am going to be forced to use as a student for a state certification program, and added a few, eh, bugs.

CCourses Caption Contest

Your task? What’s the ladybug saying? You can either leave it as a comment to this post, or add it on Twitter with the #ccourses hashtag, or share it elsewhere. If you are adventurous, you can even layer in your caption/dialogue into the original but that’s not required. Just have fun with it. That’s what’s required.

Peace (in the funny),
Kevin

 

PS — already got a few to share …

From Jim:

Embedded image permalinkFrom Todd:

Embedded image permalink

Three Comics for #CCourses

I found myself in a webcomic mood yesterday ….

Right to the Quiet #ccourses

Board the Starship #ccourses

At your service #ccourses
I appreciate those who are sharing ideas out, which become kernals of ideas for comics as I explore the Connected Courses thinking.

Peace (in the funny pages),
Kevin

Making Fun of Flipping Out

There was no real reason for this comic — no one in Connected Courses is talking about Flipping the Classroom, as far as I can tell — but I had this thought as I was reading through the tweets and blog posts of some eager young professor somewhere going overboard with the idea of transforming their classroom experience, and how the graduate student helper might complain about being flipped.

So …

Flip This #ccourses

Peace (in the frame),
Kevin

What Human Teachers Bring to the Table

As has been my mode lately, I was watching the most recent video from the Connected Courses project in Vialogues (Thanks, Terry) with Michael Wesch, Randy Bass and Cathy Davidson with my ear towards ideas that I might use in a comic. Of course, when you have smart people like that, interesting ideas float around like butterflies.

But something Cathy articulated resonated with me. She was talking about the growth of online learning spaces, and the tension between technology opening up new platforms for learning and the value (or not) of the “teacher in the room” as opposed to a screen at your desk.

Her comment about whether teachers can be replaced had me thinking. I know she was being provocative.

#ccourses Screen TeacherI could not resist poking fun at Pearson and its far reach into so many educational circles.

Later, after I tweeted the comic out, Cathy graciously replied that she liked the comic and then forwarded me her blog post in which she unpacks this very comment in a very thorough and thoughtful way. Go read it. (not being bossy; I think it is worth your time)

I made the comment back to her that I took her point to mean that we teachers (humans form) have to take advantage of what we bring to the table, live and in person. If we don’t and if we are just replicating the droning Q/A of a computer program or the distant teacher with no personal connections to their students, then why not just automate learning? I don’t believe this, although I see the value of online collaborative learning initiatives, but I do believe that we teachers – at whatever level you teach — have to take advantage of those learners in your space and work your butt off to make it worthwhile for them to be there with you.

Otherwise, the robot overlords will arrive …
Robot Overlords and Education

 

Peace (in connections),
Kevin