Continued Reverberations of Online Connections


flickr photo shared by priyaswtc under a Creative Commons ( BY-NC-ND ) license

Three posts recently had me thinking again about the reverberations of online networks or communities or whatever term it is you wish to use to indicate projects that never quite end.

First, there was this tweet from my Making Learning Connected MOOC friend, Allie:

My answer to Allie was: Truthfully, I don’t know.

It may be that the CLMOOC has run its official course and that some variations of it may continue into the summer. I’ve been a facilitator in the past, and enjoyed it immensely, but I am not in charge of the official decision of whether another six week CLMOOC will happen this summer. I don’t think National Writing Project, which has hosted CLMOOC, envisioned supporting CLMOOC forever, and I know a focus right now by NWP is on Educator Innovator projects such as Letters to the President.

So, I don’t know.

I think I can safely say this. The #CLMOOC Twitter hashtag isn’t going anywhere, and until Google pulls the plug on Google Plus Communities, there is still a home there, too, and people are still sharing links, resources, ideas and a weekly #SilentSunday image share. And we have had some “pop up” Make Cycles this spring, thanks to Joe Dillon and Terry Elliott and others. I know I am planning to use the CLMOOC Make Cycles for a graduate class I am teaching through the University of Massachusetts and our Western Mass Writing Project this summer.

Second, I saw a blog post by Alan Levine, reflecting on the Western version of DS106 earlier this year, which he explains better than I can, but I want to note in that in his reflection he reacts to a comment about a sense of “fading” in DS106. I suspect that any online adventure has its time of high activity that slows down after time, even as it continues to persist in some fashion.

DS106 is an intriguing example because some university classes use it as a framework of classwork, connecting the physical classroom to online exploration. At times, there are “headless” DS106 courses that are not connected to a university — with only nominal direction. Come and go, as you please. Other times, a theme starts and ends, and echoes in the Daily Create. People keep making stuff. Cool stuff. Every day.

Alan writes:

I was talking to someone who’s been around the DS106 corral and it was this person’s contention that DS106 had “faded” suggesting in so many words it was past the top of a curve, and maybe it was missing a “charismatic leader”. Many people who got crazy bit with ds106 in 2011, 2012 are not much less or non-active. That’s not a problem, that’s a natural curve of evolution.

And DS106 does persist and it continues encourage continuous creativity, even if you never dipped a toe into any of its online course mutations. Just look at the DS106 Daily Create. It rolls on and on. People don’t just come and go; People come and go long after their first connection to DS106 ever took place.

And then the third post that caught my attention was by Dave Cormier, who has spearheaded Rhizomatic Learning communities since 2014, wrote a fascinating post that references an article he wrote two years ago, in which he responds to a question his young son asks as he is watching Rhizo14 unfold. (The question: Are you in charge? The answer: Not really.)

Dave begins:

… we are potentially radically redefining what it means to be an educator. We are very much at the beginning stages of our learning how to create the space required for community to develop and grow in an open course. These field notes speak to the my own journey in the design of ‘Rhizomatic Learning – the community is the curriculum’. They are, in effect, a journey towards planned obsolescence.

Interestingly, the Rhizomatic Learning connections seem sort of shackled by the hashtag. We began with #rhizo14 and then #rhizo15 and now #rhizo16, but adding a number hampers the ability of the community to last beyond the year, it seems to me. This sort of calls attention to the importance of early course design — how to design for something to never end in social media circles? (This is not a critique of Dave or any of us in Rhizo, by the way, but merely an interesting observation of how a time element stamp can lead to unexpected narrowing of community reverberations.)

How do these three strands/posts come together for me?

Well, I’m intrigued by Dave’s notion — made years ago but seemingly more and more relevant — about “planned obsolescence” of the architect of online experiences. Dave’s notion of “the community is the curriculum” is intriguing, as is Alan’s notion of the “natural curve of evolution” of an online experience.

We may not yet be there. Dave is launching a third iteration of Rhizo under the banner of Learning Resilience.  Maybe we still need someone behind the wheel. While the Rhizo community remains active and vibrant, I think we were waiting for Dave to kick off something for 2016. (I know I was but I didn’t realize it until I was writing this post.) I wonder if the person who wondered about DS106 “fading” was waiting, too, for someone like Alan to step up and lead the way. Did Allie think I was in charge of CLMOOC?

How do we encourage folks to take over and be the learning itself? Dave and Alan have certainly encouraged that every step of the way. Yet we still gravitate towards someone to get us started. (Maybe that’s not a bad thing. We all need a spark.) How does that decentralizing of learning translate into our classrooms? That’s the question of the longer journey many teachers are on in the Connected World, I suspect. I know I am. Maybe you are, too.

If someone comes looking for CLMOOC activities and exploration, perhaps the best answer is to encourage them to create and share Pop Up Make Cycles and invite others to join in. Do we need someone in charge to tell us that CLMOOC is taking place or not? Probably not.

We can make learning happen just by making it happen. The fact that Allie had a “serious remix moment” that reminded her of CLMOOC is incredibly exciting. I wonder what that moment was? Can I join in? Don’t you wonder, too?

Peace (in the make),
Kevin

Grids and Gestures: A Comic Make

Gridsgestures1

Nick Sousanis, whose work as a graphic story/artist is always intriguing (see Unflattening) and interesting, is hosting an informal week of Grids and Gestures, his activity that invites you to make a conceptual comic built around time and design. Nick did a Make with Me hangout with CLMOOC this past summer, and we all did the activity. He also wrote a great piece for Digital Writing Month about the art of comics.

The image — done in the Paper app on my iPad — above is my first Grid and Gesture attempt for the week .. tracking my weekend day over time.

Here, Nick explains how Grids and Gestures works:

Give it a try this week. I’ll be doing mine, too, as I think about my days in terms of conceptual design. You don’t need to be an artist or a writer or a comic creator. That’s the beauty of Nick’s activity. Anyone can enter, at any level, and still come out with an understanding of the world.

Comics space time

Peace (inside and beyond the grids),
Kevin

Daily Create: Five Image Story

Today’s Daily Create at DS106 was a multi-step affair — generate a story starter and then construct a visual story with five images. So, StorySpark gave me this odd story starter:

An anxious storyteller spies on a quick-witted quantum chemist in a diabolical toy store

So I went into Flickr Creative Commons to make this visual of that story:


flickr photo shared by amenclinics_photos under a Creative Commons ( BY-SA ) license


flickr photo shared by Elvert Barnes under a Creative Commons ( BY-SA ) license


flickr photo shared by Simon Greig Photo under a Creative Commons ( BY-NC-SA ) license


flickr photo shared by benchilada under a Creative Commons ( BY-NC-SA ) license


flickr photo shared by Foomandoonian under a Creative Commons ( BY-NC-SA ) license

Phew.

I used the Flickr CC Search Engine, and then Alan Levine’s wonderfully helpful CC citation tool.

Peace (in the story as image),
Kevin

Ambient Audio Reverberations in Story and Poem

Keystrokes: APoem

Yesterday, thanks to a wintry late start at my school but not at my sons’ schools, I had time before school to work on two sound stories. One of the stories was the third Learning Event for the HearMyHome project, and the other was an assignment for the DS106 Daily Create.

The Learning Event for HearMyHome (which is exploring the ambient audio of our lives as literacy moments) asked participants to find some rhythmic audio that represents their day, in some way. I had already done my morning coffee maker (!) but wondered how I might capture the sounds of my writing morning routine.

Simple. I turned on Audacity, opened up Google Doc, and began writing a poem about capturing the keystrokes of writing a poem. I then posted the sound with the poem, called Keystrokes. It is strange to hear my fingers cranking on the keys as the meta-poem unfolds (some slight editing happened after the recording ended, just to be honest) …. but there it is: a fair aural landscape of my writing mornings.

Second, the Daily Create at DS106 asked us to be inspired by a SoundTransit audio file. At the SoundTransit site, you can pick geographic points and create an “itinerary” and the site will piece together ambient sounds from those places into a single file. Cool. Then, the prompt asks us to write a story, inspired by those sounds. I wrote a story about traveling from Beijing to Boston, with a stop in Kyoto, but then folded it into the soundscape itself, sharing it out as an audio file.

Peace (is what we hear),
Kevin

So Long, Internet Kid — It’s Been Great Writing You (and You, Too, Horse)

InternetKid23

This post wraps up The Wild West Adventures of the Internet Kid, a daily webcomic that I started in January as part of the #Ds106 offshoot known as #Western106 and 40-plus comics later, I am bringing the adventures to an end (for now). I decided to make this FlipBook of all of the comics in the series, and you can find the collection at The Kid’s tumblr site, too.

Thanks for reading. I hope it made you smile here and there, and maybe got you to think about genres and stereotypes (of Westerns and of Technology), now and then. I had a blast writing them. See you on the open trails!

Read the Collection

Peace (in the flip),
Kevin

PS — Wondering how I made the Internet Kid flipbook? I created a Keynote slideshow (powerpoint or slides would work), imported all of the comic images, and then saved the whole thing as a PDF. That allowed me to use the Fliphtml5 site (which requires PDF uploads) to convert it into the flippable book. Easy. But I like how all of the comics look like they are in a book format.

 

Play the Kid out of the Video Game Vortex

InternetKid26

I wanted to add an element in which you can join The Internet Kid on his adventures against the Video Vortex. So, come play the game The Kid is stuck inside of.

Peace (in getting out),
Kevin

(More) Lost Women of the West: Queen Anne Bassett

Women of the West: Queen Anne Bassett

This is the final poem that I wrote to remember the “lost women of the west” whose stories often get forgotten alongside male notables like Jesse James, Wyatt Earp, and others. I have been aiming to celebrate the women, but not necessarily the lifestyles they led. Some robbed and hurt others, just like some of the men did. The difference is that the men often were celebrated in stories and in history books, while the women were forgotten.

Today’s poem is about Queen Anne Bassett, who was a cattle rancher and who was associated with the Butch Cassidy gang. Bassett, and her sister, resisted the push by larger cattlemen associations to sell off her family land and she became a de facto leader of resistance to small ranch farmers as more and more consolidation happened. (There is also a strong suggestion that Bassett and Etta Place, another woman I wrote about, may have been the same person, with different identities. It is not clear if this is true or not.)

Here are the other poems in my collection:

Women of the West: Belle Star

Women of the West: Cathay Williams

Women of the West: Etta Place

Women of the West: Stagecoach Mary Fields

Peace (dug deep in history books),
Kevin

The Last Pony Ride of the Internet Kid (for now)

InternetKid23

I am nearing the end of this two-month run of making comics for The Wild West Adventures of the Internet Kid. This has been an ancillary project for the Course with No Course — a Western-themed offshoot of DS106. It has been a ton of fun to make these comics, but I don’t know how daily cartoonist do it, to be frank. The stress of new ideas … ack …. good thing I don’t do my own art or I would have gone mad weeks ago.

Today’s comic begins the last storyline, which will stretch out over a few days and invite you to take part in the story, too. It features The Kid and a Video Game Vortex coming to town.

You can view the Internet Kid Tumblr site, where I have been posting the comics every day (as well as on Twitter, with the #Western106 hashtag). You can also use the “random” option with Tumblr, so that when you click the link below, it will take you to a random comic at the site.

Get a Random Kid

While this is the last storyline, I suspect that this pause in making daily comics is only for now, and not forever. It’s hard to give up a character like The Internet Kid and The Horse with No Name and Anarchist Annie and Question Mark and others after living with them for seven weeks or so. They’re in my head, and in my heart.

Peace (in the frame of story and humor),
Kevin

 

(More) Women of the West: Belle Starr (Bandit Queen)

Women of the West: Belle Star

This is another in my series of small poems honoring some of the forgotten women of the Wild West. You can see poems about Stagecoach Annie, Etta Place and Cathay Williams, too. The poems are my attempt to capture the voice and story of these women. This one is about Belle Starr, known as the Bandit Queen. She was associated with Jesse James and his gang.

Peace (in remembering the past),
Kevin

 

(More) Lost Women of the West: Cathay Williams

Women of the West: Cathay Williams

This is my third poetic “discovery” from the historical archives of a famous woman of the “Wild West.” I have been writing a digital poem for each, trying to capture their voice and their story, with the writing superimposed on an image of the woman (I can’t 100 percent vouch for the historical accuracy of each photo).

I have explored the lives of Etta Place and Stagecoach Mary.

Today, I look at Cathay Williams, a former slave who pretended to be man so that she could fight in the Civil War, and then was discovered to be a man, so she went West to continue to make a life for herself in the White Man’s World (my emphasis).

Peace (in the forgotten),
Kevin