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.
I 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 …
Peace (in connections),
Over at Connected Courses, the push this phase/cycle/week is into the “why” of connected learning and the why of teaching itself. A lot of people are sharing out this video by Michael Wesch, who has been pushing his university students into interesting terrain around digital humanities and culture and information flow. His use of the questions of “why” and “what” and others had me thinking of the classic Abbott and Costello skit.
Of course, Professor Wesch’s talk is not a comedy routine. And it is worth viewing.
Peace (in the why),
An inquiry question that is emerging during this cycle of the Connected Courses is “Why I teach” and a bunch of people are writing and sharing media on this particular question. It’s always a good question to ask.
I went the comic route, although I felt a bit constrained by the format of the comic. I had to limit my explanations, I found. Still, I hope I communicated the complexities of teaching young people. It will be interesting to see how my own ideas of teaching intersect with other #Ccourse folks, who are mostly university professors/teachers.
Why do you teach?
Peace (in the inquiry),
I have a challenge activity going for my sixth graders: create a six word memoir on our comic site. I shared mine with them yesterday, showing how narrowing the focus can give power to the idea of the six words. A fair number of kids were working on theirs yesterday, as they were finishing up another project.
Peace (in the words),
I love gathering our “comic” versions of ourselves for the first days of the school year. As my sixth grade students make avatars (and as we talk about digital representations) in our webcomic space (Bitstrips for Schools), it creates a classroom picture, with all of our comic avatars together.
Check it out:
Peace (in the strangeness of ourselves),
Peace (in the connections),
I’ve been looking for some time for a Comic creator app that has enough art to be flexible enough and yet, leave enough room for me to maneuver as a writer. It’s tricky. I found this one, Comics Head, and although I paid four bucks for it (there is a free lite version), I find I really like it for its fair amount of art and templates and variations. Plus, the homepage is nicely arranged, making it easy to find things. The use of touchscreen for writing and creating can be tricky, though.
Here are a few comics that I have made in the past few weeks using the app. If you have iPads in the classroom ( I don’t), the free version of this app might worth checking out.
I played around with one of the templates in the app, which is a “recipe” comic, and was thinking a bit of CLMOOC and other spaces.
This comic was for my friend — Greg — who is raising awareness for his nephew, who has been diagnosed with a rare illness I had never heard of before, and he asked fellow social media folks to create content for the #BurpeeforBobby campaign so they could raise awareness and funds. I also donated some money to the campaign.
And I made a comic for my students, as summer came to an end.
I had fun with the app.
Peace (in the frame),
This comic is just an extension of thinking about how some universities require faculty to use a certain Learning Management System and how that requirement hems in both the teacher and the learners in many ways. When we talk about open learning systems in space like Connected Courses, this may a roadblock for many faculty.
I like how Howard Rheingold responded to my post yesterday, noting that he often pushed and pushed against these institutional restraints and then did covert online learning systems outside of the university purview. Sort of a ‘Don’t Ask Don’t Tell’ approach to open learning. I don’t know if many faculty, with lesser name recognition and clout, are willing to take those chances, particularly if they are not tenured and need to be sure to follow rules, stay in line, keep the upper folks happy (or at least, not get them angry). We need more pirate instructors. Arrr.
And that may mean using the university system (Blackboard, Moodle, whatever) but thinking through the many ways to “hack the system” to make it work for you and your learners, even as you still technically fall within the sphere of your educational institution.
Maybe change is underway, where there is more freedom for faculty to set up their own online spaces beyond the university sphere. Maybe this comic is already obsolete. I hope so. I suspect it still might be a mixed bag, depending on where you teach and the ethos of the university itself. There may be folks in the Connected Courses who follow along and think … if only. Facilitators need to be aware of them, too. (I am sure they are)
Peace (in the frame),
After listening to Jim and Howard and Alan talk about the infastructure for open learning as part of Connected Courses, I could not help putting together a few comics to poke fun.
First, the three called themselves “brudders” with the names of Embed, Click and Link (a play on Car Talk). I added a fourth brudder.
Second, I support the idea of folks setting up their own domains when running a college/university course. I do wonder if universities allow that. I know, with our writing project, we’ve run into walls on this issue, of the universities requiring us to use their learning management system. Maybe that’s a question for another time (or one I might bomb into Twitter).
Anyway, I had this vision of all these URLs being created along lines of Jim’s point that our spaces are our digital identities (I agree) and how the naming of a URL and a blog space/community network is an important first step. Thus, the domain rainstorm idea.
Peace (in the frames),
I made this a few weeks ago but last night, I lived it.
Peace (in the day),