Twitter Chat Preview: Are You? Can You? Will You?

Join_the_CLMOOC_Twitter_ChatIs it Thursday already? Tonight, we will be hosting a Twitter Chat for the Making Learning Connected MOOC (#clmooc) and we invite you to come along for the ride … er, discussion … as we share out thinking about open spaces and public parks and other threads from the current Make Cycle that we are in.

CLMOOC Twitter Chat

  • When: Tonight (Thursday)
  • Time: 7-8 p.m. Eastern Time
  • Location: Twitter
  • Hashtag: #CLMOOC
  • What to bring: ideas, questions, insights and maybe an image or media to share
  • Suggestion: use the Tweetchat site as a way to manage the flow of discussion.

 

And I made this a few years ago: How_to_Survive_a_Twitter_Chat
Haven’t gotten outdoors yet? This handy flowchart might help you make that decision. Flowchart to get outside

And if you missed our Google Hangout/Make with Me the other night, it has now been archived and posted. We talked about youth outreach, the US National Park System, engaging teachers in the outdoors, and the Every Kid in the Park initiative. (The chat roll archive is here, too)

I hope to see your tweets tonight!

Peace (in the sharing),
Kevin

Don’t Give Up: Change the System From Within

Change the system

I’ve been up and down with systems thinking all this week in the Making Learning Connected MOOC. What I mean by that is that I’ve had days where I have been playing with a systems thinking approach and other days where thinking about systematic inequities has me struggling with how to address problems that seem larger than me.

The chart above is something I made the day after being a guest on Teachers Teaching Teachers, where our topic of discussion was systematic racism and disenfranchisement. The show had an article adapted in The Atlantic from Ta-Nehisi Coates’s new book — Letter to My Son — that we collaboratively annotated before getting on the air. This led to a discussion about race and the impact on students, and the role we have as teachers to try to make things better.

I was honored to be in the conversation but struggled with my role as a white teacher in a predominantly white school district in a suburban community where so many of students have no reality of the world of black or Hispanic students in urban centers affected by socio-economic issues and police brutality and a political system often set up through gerrymandering to keep their communities out of power.

Systems

It’s not that I don’t talk about race and slavery and the ways in which our country is both an amazing experiment in beliefs and one that was constructed on the most heinous of ideas — enslaving others to create a strong economy. But it often feels as if those discussions are not reality for my young white students, and I need to find more ways to bring the experiences of others into my classroom. I need to extend their world from beyond our classroom walls and the boundaries of their small community. I need to do that in a way that respects my students and respects the experiences of those we talk about.

Teachers for change

By the end of the TTT show, our collective message of compassion and understanding of those from different experiences than we have, and the need for real conversations about the real world with all of our students, continued to resonate with me. But I was also reminded by Chris Rogers that we need to move beyond talk, and shift into action to make change to the system.

Everything might be broken, but if it isn’t teachers who can help fix it, then who?

Peace (let it be),
Kevin

Poem ReMEDIAtion 2: Turning Words into Audio

Yesterday, I shared out the first steps in taking a poem through its paces, under the banner of “reMEDIAtion” of the Making Learning Connected MOOC. The idea is to see what happens to our work when we move into different platforms, and consider whether the heart of the idea changes or shifts or is transformed.

Is “remediation” just another term for “remix”? Maybe. Probably. Possibly. Maybe perusing those words will be my reflection point later on in the Make Cycle.

For now, I am using a single poem about liminality as my base point. Yesterday, I talked about moving from a handwritten draft to a typed version, and then using a text layout tool to impact the metaphorical presentation of the writing. That was not very dramatic, in terms of remediation of text. Some, but not much.

So, I have turned to audio to see what happens. I wanted to move beyond just podcasting — of just reading the words into a microphone — and dove into the Garageband App (one of the best 5 bucks you will ever spend on an app) to see if I could re-compose the poem.

Take a listen:

I decided to document my intentions in the composing with sound here with this comic reflection:

Remediating the poem as audio

The end result, I think, is an aural landscape effect. I hope my use of voice and of music draws the listener in, creating a wider effect of the poem’s meaning. I was intentional with everything.

More remediation tomorrow …

Peace (in the sounds),
Kevin

A #Rhizo15 Comic Book: Practical Advice and All That

rhizocomic1

In the final (maybe) week (spin cycle) of Rhizomatic Learning (roots take hold), Dave (the instigator) asks us to consider (please) adding elements to a crowd-sourced Practical Guide to Rhizomatic Learning that will become sort of a legacy project for the community/network/crowd/swarm.

I’m into that.

So I dove into Bitstrips for Schools (which my students use to make media) to create a comic book version of some advice, using characters of some friends who happen be in the Rhizo15 community already, including a Dave character from some past project that focused on Dave and his Daveness. I don’t quite remember now why I had made a Dave. (Anyone? It might have been a DS106 assignment)

I used a site called FlipHTML5 to create a flipbook version of the comic, which makes it easier to read. You can also see the full comic as a single page (it’s long) over at Flickr, too.

Check out the flipbook.

I guess Dave will be pulling together people’s posts and artifacts into one ginormous GUIDE. That should be interesting, right?

Peace (in the frames),
Kevin

 

 

On the Matter of Invasive Ideas

Invasion of species

Dave pulls out the metaphor of “invasive species” for the latest round of thinking in Rhizomatic Learning. This has a few dimensions to it, and I will be thinking about this a bit more as we move forward into week. My first impulse was that invasive species are bad. Then, I thought, but not always.

That led to this comic (which, I now realize, is very America-centered in its reference to invasive species … you may have your own where you live) this morning:

Invasive Ideas

The question, on this level, is: How does a rhizomatic concept of learning replicate a positive invasive component, squirreling its way into the core of what we consider learning to be?

Peace (in the invasion),
Kevin

Keeping the Positive (or Trying to)

Keep it Positive

This post is about me.

But it might be about you, too.

I’ve been noticing a tendency of mine in Rhizomatic Learning that makes me feel a little off-kilter. I’m noticing that as Dave Cormier introduces intriguing concepts to be considered (this past week, it was the idea of “content”; the previous week, it was about what “counts” in learning), I find myself settling in as a critic, picking apart the idea itself with a negative lens.

For example, with “content,” I wrote a bunch of tweets and posts about how pigeonholed schools are becoming with specific disciplines, about how teaching is in “boxes” of content-area learning. When the theme was “counting,” I gravitated towards criticism of the testing industry and data collection. When the concept to be considered was about “subjective learning,” I was thinking of the cultural baggage that people bring to their learning spaces or teaching spaces.

What’s up with that? Why all the negative, dude? (that was my inner voice)

This realization dawned on me as I was writing a comment this morning at a friend’s blog post and it occurred to me that I have been looking at all these issues from the “deficit model” of learning — looking for what was wrong — instead of being active with the idea of what might work and how to make it work even better. Perhaps this default into criticism of a structure like education is human nature, made larger by our voices in social media spaces.

One of the best practices of good teaching, however, is to avoid the deficit model in our students. Accentuate the positive, and help a student find a path forward. Support them. Scaffold. Remain optimistic. It doesn’t mean I am going to suddenly get on the bandwagon for publishing companies or policy makers. There’s a limit.

But, let me strive to “keep the positive” going forward, without losing the critical element of analysis. I think there is a fine line there, one not easily tread if you are trying to say something important. We don’t want to hold back in what we say just because we are in “cheerleader” mode. I’ll be striving for some more balance in considering topics with Rhizomatic Learning. I’ll try.

Peace (in the think),
Kevin

The Anatomy of a #Rhizo15 ‘Close Read’ Comic

wicked close reading

Allow me a brief detour here …. as some of you may know, I like to make comics as a way to zero in on blog posts and tweets in online learning adventures that I am part of. It began with the Making Learning Connected MOOC, then extended into Connected Courses, and now is part of my routine with Rhizomatic Learning. My aim is to find the anchor or kernel of idea that intrigues me, and extend it out in a visual way with a comic.

My hope is that the writers of the material don’t get offended, and I try very hard to make sure the satire or humor is not directed at the writers themselves. But humor and satire are definitely part of my intention, as is the hope that I might, in my own way, open up the doors to the power of comics as a medium of expression and to inject a little levity into some very serious pedagogical discussions.

Plus, I find it fun.

So, I thought I might walk through the process of how I found a typical post, what I discovered as I read, and how the comic itself eventually came together. I’ll use Will Richardson as my example, if only because I have followed Will for years, read and been inspired by his books, and suspect he won’t mind if I reference his blog post that led to a comic. (Thanks, Will, in advance).

Rhizo comics

Will entered the Rhizo15 stream a few weeks in, which is fine and “right on time” but that can be disorientating to the late-comer, I think, as you try to figure out, what the heck are they talking about? What can I contribute? Where is this thing going? Will’s post — entitled Learning with #Rhizo15 — was thoughtful, as usual, and centered on the difficulty of finding your footing in a “course” like Rhizomatic Learning, where there is no set curriculum map, no established center space, no direction on your learning other than what you bring to the table for yourself.

I was really intrigued by his list of things that can make an open learning experience “hard.”

Will writes:

  • It’s hard because no one’s telling me what to read or when to read it.
  • It’s hard because there’s no one text, no central collection place for ALL the associated thinking with the course.
  • It’s hard because I worry about what I’m missing.
  • It’s hard because there are no due dates.
  • It’s hard because I don’t know if I’m doing it “right.”
  • It’s hard because despite the fact that I’ve been learning online informally for almost 15 years, I still have a lot of “old school” baggage built in when I hear the “course.” (By the way, if you want a lesson in how long it takes to unlearn old habits, watch this.)

That line about “old school baggage” resonated with me and I decided that was the line that I would use to represent this idea of our expectations of a learning experience clashing with an open educational space, and how our brain seeks to make sense of something new even as the old framework creates a certain sort of tension.

So, this is the line I took from Will (and added a word — word — for context):

I still have a lot of “old school” baggage built in when I hear the (word) “course.”

I use different comic platforms at different times, but I was on my iPad and so turned to my favorite comic app called Comics Head, which gives a lot of flexibility for creating comics. I also use a site called Stripgenerator on the computer, or Bitstrips, sometimes, too. I’ve also been know to pull up Dave’s Rage Maker Comics from time to time. I guess I am all over the place, but each gives a different feel and different compositional possibilities.

With Will’s words in hand, I started to consider what the comic would look like and what I wanted to say. You see, my aim with comics is to add some of my own perspective — to riff off the original writer, where the comic is the comment.

I thought that a background of a traditional college would make sense, with someone (a stand-in for Will, but really a stand-in for all of us) at the front door, wondering where the classroom is and referencing Professor Dave. (Hint: there is no classroom, and Dave Cormier is the facilitator but he lets things go their own way). Will’s quote is plastered up on the wall, like graffiti or something. (Hide the paint can, Will). I actually struggled with where to put the text, from a design standpoint, because the background is a bit too busy. The wall seemed ripe for defacing, so to speak.

I struggled with how to represent the open quality of #Rhizo15 in contrast to the university. At first, I had student faces in the windows, heckling the visitor, like those old guys from the Muppets. I didn’t like that, though, as it felt a bit mean. I don’t want to be mean-spirited here.

Then, I thought: what if the gathering of the Rhizomatic Learning Swarm (ie, those working together in the community, with the “swarm” term coming from folks like Keith Hamon) is outside the frame of view itself, and the text boxes are calling the visitor to avoid the building altogether? We don’t ever “see” the #Rhizo15 learners .. which is mostly true, anyway. We are defined by our writing and our media in social media spaces.

I then realized that a cool juxtaposition would be the element of an elementary school — the playfulness of a playground, and the metaphor of a sandbox, and the open invitation to come join in the fun and exploration. I like that dichotomy of the friendly invitation to play and explore and the rather imposing image of the school building.  The final touch was the labeling of the building as “Typical University” to indicate how untypical the Rhizomatic Learning experience is (but should not be).

Here are a few more comics from the weekend:

Rhizo cimics

Rhizo cimics

Peace (under the hood),
Kevin

PS — This comic/close read anatomy exercise is inspired by the YouShow project a few months ago, when Alan Levine and others were pushing folks to make their process and thinking more visible.