Even More Reasons for Remix

Reasons for Remix: A Remix

Remix Remix by Sheri

I want to thank Sheri for remixing my video about remix that I shared out this week. Her visual interpretation of the video is wonderful, and useful, capturing my points from another angle. Even more, her exploration of remix at her blog is a valuable insight into what we are talking about when we talk about remix as an act of appreciation of another’s work of art.

Peace (still remixable),
Kevin

 

An Experiment of Sorts: Some Reasons for Remix

I am trying out Powtoon for Education as a way to enrich a unit on expository/informational writing with my students … and I thought I might as well explore the reasons why one might remix as I explored the site …

Peace (nearly remixable),
Kevin

 

Thankful (Again) for Networked Friends

Charlene: PBL VisitI have been facilitating a PLC group of elementary teachers in my school district on an inquiry into Project-Based Learning, and during our session yesterday, we spent a lot of time reading about teachers’ experiences with PBL with our common text – A.J. Juliani’s PBL Playbook. None of us have tried a full PBL unit yet with students, so we are all figuring our way forward, together.

Along with reading vignettes from the classroom, via PBL Playbook, I also wanted us to be able to hear from a teacher with experience using PBL, so I reached out to my friend, Charlene, from my CLMOOC network (and beyond). Charlene has been working with PBL concepts for many years now, as a teacher and as a coach. Her blog has been one of my resources. Charlene readily agreed to video into our session, and for about 30 minutes, she gave us her insights and answered questions.

For that, I am very grateful. Grateful that Charlene took time out of her day to share her expertise and knowledge with teachers she doesn’t know. Grateful I have built a network of people I can turn to when I know I don’t know what I need to know. Grateful I can learn from my friend, and that my friend is willing to step up to help us learn. Grateful that I can help connect those connections (from my online friends to my teaching colleagues).

Thank you, Charlene. I am deeply appreciative.

Peace (learning it),
Kevin

 

Call Me Naive: We are Part

Part of the Whole

Sometimes, I ponder the possibility that I might just be naive in my digital spaces. (Does pondering about it, negate it?)

I spend a lot of time in digital platforms like blogs, Twitter, Mastodon, etc., in the hopes of forging new collaborations; entering new networks; and finding new, and strengthening existing, connections.

I really do see the power in the possible.

Then I read the news and follow stories, and I see how dark the Internet and social platforms can become, and I think: How is THAT (doxing, attacking, etc.) happening in the same places as THIS (learning, connecting, etc.) is happening?

But it is.

I guess our choices are to either leave those places or work to make them better, or passively hope for the best. I’m naive in this, I know, but I think small actions and people connections still count and can make a difference (this is the teacher in me, for sure, with the faith of seeds planted now blooming later on), so I keep on keeping on, hoping a positive energy and a way forward, step by step, might improve the whole.

The above animated quote — taken from a post by Sheri and created with an image by Sarah — captures a lot of this line of thinking that I cling to in my naivety, that we are indeed connected to the larger possibilities of learning. But this always requires positive action on our part to improve things.

Let’s do it together.

Peace (I hope),
Kevin

Searching for Curation: A Nearly-Lost Conversation about Digital Writing

 

DIGITAL the poem

About six years ago, in 2012, my friend, Anna Smith, and I had a conversation.  A chat about Digital Writing. Through digital writing. With meta-explanations of how we write digitally, pulling back the veils on our process notes. Others, like Terry, joined in. We wove this all together, somewhat through our blogs and through the National Writing Project’s Digital Is site, and curated the conversation through a site called Jog the Web.

Like many other tools, Jog the Web is now dead, and with it, our curation conversations. Digital Is is gone, too, morphed into The Current. Someone came along and ate most of our breadcrumbs.

Anna kick-started another call for conversation this week, referencing our previous collaboration, and that had me working to find things that had gone missing — our digital writing was now so dispersed, it was hard to find.

Maybe this observation is where we are at now, with digital writing tools. We write in many places, across many platforms. We make media over here and post it over there. We add comments and then forget where those comments were left, so any response is hardly seen. We’ve distributed ourselves with technology to the point where we can’t hardly find ourselves anymore.

Spurred on by Anna’s recent wondering and Terry’s reactions (and his deep-dive start into new explorations), I began to go through different places to find our old stuff. I wish I had done a better job of backing up our Jog the Web (which was really quite useful, as you could “walk” through our posts in a sort of timeline-like effect. Oh well.)

This effort will have to do. I won’t pretend these are in completely chronological order … maybe it doesn’t matter anymore.

Here we go:

  • Anna began with a Screencast Challenge of sorts. And she later posted a follow up.
  • I responded with my own screencast, but sought to go a bit further with using the tool for writing as much as for capturing writing, and supplemented the work with a comic showing what I did and how at my blog:
  • This led us to put out a public call for others to join in the conversation. We did this via Digital Is and the post now lives at The Current. We wrote: “One of the many potentials of the shifts in envisioning writing in multimodal spaces is the chance for new conversations — for stretching out thinking beyond your own physical space and joining in discussions about the changes now underfoot.
  • At some point, I made a vlog video about digital writing:

  • Not long after, Anna posted this video reflection:
  • Not content to let her video site, I moved her video into Vialogues, which allows for annotation. You can still annotate her video today. (Take that, Jog the Web!)
  • At some point, we shifted over to Voicethread as a platform for interaction, and Terry joined in the mix (he may have been in the mix earlier. I don’t recall). He is also in the mix now. Which is cool.
    And I added the obligatory comic reflection:
  • Anna responded with her own Voicethread, as well as a deeper reflection on the practice of audio and image, and then Terry followed up on that with a presentation riff, which I had forgotten about and was quite happy to rediscover.
  • Following another line of thought — one that has rumbled deep enough into the present for many of us to mostly abandon the “digital” of “digital writing” and just call it “writing” — Anna pondered the question of “Where Isn’t the Digital?” She played with an infographic, too.

    My infographic response, as a sort of argumentative push-back:
  • I had written about this topic, too, with a post about the “naysayers.” Complete with comic.

  • And then .. I’m not sure … Where did the conversation go? We always meant to bring it to an ending point but I don’t think we ever did. There may be loose parts that I have lost. Probably so. But Anna and I, and Terry, and others, have continued to explore writing digitally over the years with CLMOOC, and DS106 and others. I even once made a Modest Proposal about Digital Writing (as part of an online conference session). I wrote:  Digital Writing
    • is more than just words typed on a screen. A simple blog post is not really digital writing;
    • potentially crosses mediums, so that words might mix with sound might mix with video might mix with other media;
    • narrows the gap between writer and reader by giving more agency to the reader than traditional relationships, and so, the writer must plan for that changed relationship;
    • can have deeper associative properties, particularly when thinking of how hyperlinks embedded within the text might connect one text to another, providing options and trails that move away from the main text itself;
    • may or may not harness the possibilities of the underlying yet mostly hidden “writing” — the computer code of the page that we read that has been represented as text but is actually not text;
    • provides for possible collaborations beyond the writer, and sometimes without their permission or notice, such as the margin annotations on a website page or a remix of media.
  • Maybe we will keep going forward … maybe you will join us?

Peace (in the lost chatter),
Kevin

 

Community vs Network vs Affinity Space

Community vs Network vs Affinity SpaceWe are beginning to explore the concept of “community” in the E-Learning 3.0 course. That word has long been one of those rather nebulous ones, which we as open learners in various platforms and spaces use as a default to suggest a gathering of people. I’m not all that sure it is the right term to be using.

Wikipedia defines “community” as:

A community is a small or large social unit that has something in common, such as norms, religion, values, or identity. Communities often share a sense of place that is situated in a given geographical area or in virtual space through communication platforms.

So what is a network, then? (It’s a little trickier to find because there are many connotations for the word.)

A computer network, or data networkis a digital telecommunications network which allows nodes to share resources. In computer networks, computing devices exchange data with each other using connections ( data links ) between nodes.

And what about Affinity Space?

An affinity space is a place – virtual or physical – where informal learning takes place. According to James Paul Gee, affinity spaces are locations where groups of people are drawn together because of a shared, strong interest or engagement in a common activity.

I find myself using these terms rather interchangeably, even when I know I probably shouldn’t be doing so. Over the years, through my reading and learning, I feel like Gee’s concept of Affinity Space has best captured my ideas around connected learning practices across online platforms.

I bring this up because Stephen is challenging the folks in EL30 to create a “community” and then to become a member of that community. He has purposely made the whole assignment open-ended, with few details, and with little guidance from the “teacher.”

Stephen writes:

As a community, create an assignment the completion of which denotes being a member of the community. For the purposes of this task, there can only be one community. For each participant, your being a member of the community completes the task.

Huh. Ok. Let’s see where this might take us …

On Community

Roland has already started to bubble up an idea.

Peace (shared),
Kevin

 

 

 

The Gap Between Open and Closed: OER vs TPT

Free vs Profit

Despite the inference in the title of this post, I don’t imagine the movement towards Open Educational Resources battling it out on the stage with profit-driven spaces like Teachers Pay Teachers. I am not sure it even has to be one (profit-based) versus the other (free-based). I just want to put both models side by side, to see what I can see.

And given Stephen Downes’ exploration within E-Learning 3.0 around OER resources, and the Distributed Web networks that might emerge for greater sharing of open resources as well as my friend Laura’s post with the question of “who pays” for hosting open content, I find it intriguing to think about these two movements in the field of teachers: One, where open sharing of resources is the underpinning of possible education change and the other, where teachers pay other teachers for their lesson plans and resources to make up gaps where school systems have fallen woefully short.

(Watch and annotate in Vialogues)

Both have some validity, although I lean more strongly toward OER, for sure. Personally, I try my best to share out project ideas and lesson plans and other resources as freely as I can (see: Video Game Design for the classroom), in the optimistic hope that somewhere, a student might be engaged in something that will light that light (you know the one) or spark a discovery that unveils something new. Ever hopeful, ever the optimist — that’s me.

It’s why I engage in connected communities and why I learn from others while hoping others might learn a bit from what I am doing. I can’t think of a time when I paused and thought, Maybe this should be behind a paywall so I can get a little honey money from the idea.

The success of a site like Teachers Pay Teachers, however, shows another model. That, of turning teaching ideas into cash. What is TPT? The site’s About Us explains and makes perfectly clear: this is a business:

Teachers Pay Teachers is an online marketplace where teachers buy and sell original educational materials.

Now, look, I have paid to download resources from TpT and I found it mostly to be a seamless experience. I found and bought some good resources that helped me in the classroom. Sure, I wish I didn’t have to pay for what I needed, but I also understand the notion that teachers work hard and deserve to make a living (maybe if teachers were paid more fairly, and respected more in society, this would not even be a discussion). When I hit the virtual check-out line at TpT, I figure I am helping support a colleague somewhere and getting a quality resource.

And there are sometimes free resources at TpT. Sort of like nibbling on samples in Costco. They hope you will open your wallet for more.

I dug a little deeper as I was writing this post and boy, I quickly realized just what a huge business model this TPT really is and how it is growing profit maker — prob not so much for the teachers, but for the company overseeing it. The folks at TPT apparently host a periodic conference that appears to teach teachers how to sell themselves and their work (read this teacher’s post-conference reflections) There are a ton of videos on how to launch into the sales site. They have job openings for teachers as marketers, and more.

I was thinking of TpT in reference to an interview I once had with Howard Rheingold, for the Connected Learning Alliance, and he asked me about TpT because he had featured another teacher using TpT.  It struck me as odd, then. Howard was exploring ways teachers use social media and resources to connect with other teachers. I could not equate what she was doing — selling to other teachers — with connected learning principles of openness.

Elsewhere, recently, I found another teacher wrote of TpT:

Selling my teaching materials on this popular website has made me a better teacher and has changed my life! — via blog

Um. Yuck. Sorry, but my hackles got up just perusing it all, the way the business model is seeping into the education model, built on the noble concept of teachers helping other teachers. A conference to help teachers sell themselves and their lesson plans? Yeah, that goes against my philosophical and moral outlook of education as a special kind of societal job, with the greater good baked in there.

Maybe that’s just me.

I am not naive — I know there is an argument to be made for teachers leveraging experience to make a living for their families. And the teacher quoted above might be suggesting that getting plans and resources ready for sale might have forced her to think more deeply about her teaching practice.

Legal Aside: if you develop lessons in the school you teach, who owns the intellectual property? The school or you?  Can you sell it? Do you need permission? I don’t even know. Some lawyer somewhere has already figured it out, I am sure.

Meanwhile, the Open Educational Resource movement (OER Commons is one of many sites) that we are exploring in EL30 is like another planet altogether. Which is not to say that the Open Educational Resource movement is not about quality, too. It is. It’s also about learning together, of sharing together, of collaboration, of considering the greater good.

The question of how to access (if you are looking) and how to distribute (if you are sharing) is a topic of great interest in many circles, particularly at the University level where the costs of textbooks are opening doors to alternatives for professors and students alike. Difficulties around how to license materials, and how to ensure adequate citation of used work, or the act of remixing the content of others  … these are all questions to be considered and barriers yet to be overcome.

But in the battle between open and closed, free or profit … I am all about the open sharing of experiences to make the world a better place. We all will need to be helping each other over that “river” (another reference to Laura’s post)– from here to there.

Teachers helping teachers (from Laura post)

Peace (beyond the marketplace),
Kevin

Terry and Kevin’s Liminal Adventures: A Poem is a Map

Terry and Kevin liminal treasure map

Yesterday, my friend Terry shared a poem on Mastodon. His poem, enriched by the video he added, started a rich conversation that leaped across platforms through the day. He later wrote a blog post that tracks the flow over the day of wandering and wondering.

Read Terry’s post: Eight Thresholds But Who’s Counting

Later, I created the treasure map above as a sort of additional visual connection, and then I started to think about how else to think through this kind of platform adventure that began with a poem. I know he and I are sort of geeky like this, pushing our thinking back and forth and exploring the terrain.

As I read his post a few times, and thought about the unwinding of our words, I had this inspiration for a picture book story. So I made one in Storybird — using a keyword art search for “map” —  and entitled it A Poem is a Map.

What’s interesting about Storybird is that the art collection and choices come first in the making of stories, guiding the writing through the visuals. Except here, I had a story in mind – about how poems are maps, which forms one of my points in our discussion and which sparks a question from Terry — and I needed art. You can only access collections of art in Storybird (that is part of its interesting design), not keep searching its entire collection as you build a book. The keyword “map” brought up some interesting art but it was limited in scope.

In making this picture book, I had to dance between Terry’s ideas, our conversations, my story concept and the available artwork. The tension between the freewheeling concepts we were exploring and the limited nature of Storybird made for an interesting writing experience. I simultaneously wrote what I knew I would write and let the art push me in different directions.

In the picture book, you can notice me weaving in the conversation and some of Terry’s reflection points from his blog. It’s a story that could stand on its own, perhaps, but also be read as yet another threshold, as Terry called it, of the conversation.

A Poem is a Map book

Read the story

Maybe this isn’t the end. Maybe this is just the start.

Peace (everywhere on the map),
Kevin

To Friends in Many Spaces: Thankful, Appreciative, Optimistic

Book Turkey(My wife brought home this book turkey she made with an old textbook and I love the way a book was remixed into art.)

Dear friends in many spaces,

Thank you. Thank you for, first, for even being here at my blog at all. I know fewer and fewer people read blogs, preferring sound bite analysis and catchy headlines on social media. I do that, too, at times. As such, I am always appreciative when anyone takes the time to jump from a tweet or a shared link or maybe even RSS reader to come and spend a few minutes with my writing or my songs, and maybe even write a comment. Thank you for your conversations in the comment bin, when you have time and inclination to do so.

I am also deeply appreciative of the fact that while I read about and know about the thorny, messy elements of the Web — the way trolls play out on Twitter, the way algorithmic bots target us on Facebook (well, not me, but maybe you), the way we are the product for marketing, the way dark corners of the Net are home to anger and conspiracy and such — I have mostly avoided those elements.  I know others have not been so lucky, targeted because they speak out and have strong views.

I think my positive bubble — which is not the kind of bubble that walls me off from the world and not the kind that stops me from expressing my own strong opinions nor engaging in debates — has been mostly due to you.

You have helped me stay positive and engaged in thinking forward. I ask you questions, and you answer. I remix your resources, and honor your work. You do the same, with mine. I write in your margins, to better understand. I write my way forward. Sometimes, I read what you share and let it sink in, letting time follow me until I realize that what you shared with me is now the thing I need right now. You knew that all along.

This is not, alas, unbridled optimism without worry, of course, worries about the many obstacles still there when it comes to learning and teaching and writing and sharing and connecting, and the myriad of troubles that come with this digital world. For sure, there are unsettling problems, made worse by our digital connections with the world. I find myself agreeing with the analysis by many that the promise of the Web, as we know it today, is not what we thought it might be.

Still, it might yet still become something else altogether, something better.

We collectively push forward by pushing forward, we do by doing, we make by making, and we can do this together. No one person can be on this journey alone. We make this path, together.

Whenever I think, this is a perfect opportunity for a collaboration and let’s get an invite out into the networks, that impulse to work with others in technology and writing and making is based on hope in the possible. It’s why I remain part of CLMOOC, and why offshoots of connected communities intrigue me. It’s why others in the National Writing Project seem like friends, even when we only just meet. It’s why I found a new-ish home on Mastodon, settling into small stories and small poems and small sharing. This is why regular activities like Slice of Life remain a draw for me. It’s why I don’t worry too much about leaving one place to go to another, to meet new people, to learn from others. I dip my toes, for a reason. There are more people out there who want the same than we realize. It’s sometimes just a matter of finding us.

I am thankful there are such opportunities. Thank you.

Peace (a few words and such),
Kevin