Cross-Pollination Reciprocation: Mixing SOL with CLMOOC


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

This week’s theme of Reciprocate with Generosity in the Making Learning Connected MOOC reminds me of Tuesdays. You see, most Tuesdays, I try to take part in the Slice of Life, a weekly writing challenge hosted by Two Writing Teachers. Every Tuesday, many educators write a bit about their day — a slice of time, put into reflection.

cropped-clmooc-letters-sq-trans-1.gifSOLSC Button

As a writer, I like that open invitation to write, and so I often do. But what really interests me is the interaction at the blogs (sometimes, like during the Slice of Life Challenge each March, there are more than 100 writers involved, sometimes nearly 200) as people leave comments, and spark conversations — asking questions, wondering about the world, making connections.

It’s unlike any other year-long writing project that I have been involved in. Readers are engaged. Writers react. Conversations happen. Ideas, shared.

As folks in the CLMOOC this week engage in different activities that honor each other — and there have been many cool media projects already going — I’d like to use this Tuesday’s Slice of Life post to introduce my CLMOOC friends (we use #clmooc hashtag) to my SOL friends (we use #sol16 hashtag), and vice versa. While much of SOL is located on individual blogs (you can find links when you go to each week’s call for Slice of Life posts at Two Writing Teachers), much of CLMOOC takes place on Twitter and in a Google Community, and on Facebook.

If some of my CLMOOC friends now begin writing for Slice of Life (a few already do, I am pretty sure) and if some of my Slice of Life friends peek into the creative collaborative projects going on this summer (a few already do, I am pretty sure), then I would be very happy indeed. Cross-pollination of writing groups is always a good thing.

I am now off to read Slice of Life posts …

Peace (out there),
Kevin

From Poem to Song: A Journey of Collaboration

poem to song1

As we enter into the second Make Cycle of CLMOOC, with the theme of “reciprocating connections with gratitude and generosity,” an impromptu collaboration that began last week with Make Cycle 1 is sort of wrapping up. (I say “sort of” because others might still add into the mix). It began with a poetic introduction by Jennifer N. and led to the conversion of text into a musical manuscript by Karon B. and then that inspired a collaborative recording by Karon, Ron L. and myself in Soundtrap.

Over the course of a few days, we read and re-read Jennifer’s poem, shaped it as a piece of a music, struggled to find the right way to honor her words while still creating something new. We zigged and zagged a bit, working around our own limitations as musicians and of Soundtrap. We communicated and planned via messaging, trying to articulate a vision of what we were hearing as we were reading.

For me, this process of closely reading Jennifer’s poem, and then finding ways to honor her writing with music (her introduction poem is musically themed) was a perfect example of how CLMOOC dives into the mix of both the individual writer (Jennifer) and the group collaboration (Karon, Ron and myself).

I made the flowchart above to try to track the process — to make visible the steps along the way. This visual is helpful to me as a reflection point, and is one way to recognize and celebrate the process of collaboration. Just listening to the final track, even if you know Jennifer’s poem, would mean only a glance at what really went on begin the scenes.

Here is the music track of Jennifer’s Tone Poem:

Peace (and thanks),
Kevin

A Moment of Repose

clmooc newsletter

We’re ending the first Make Cycle of the CLMOOC (well, ‘ending’ is the wrong word entirely, since anyone can jump in whenever they want and that is the start of the CLMOOC) and before we shift into the second Make Cycle, I want to catch my breath.

You probably do, too. That’s OK. It’s been a flurry of activity, with introductions coming in from all over the world and in all sorts of media forms. The opening days of places like CLMOOC are like that. Flurries. Waves. Tides. Firehose. You name the metaphor. It probably fits, in some way.

The question is: Will folks hang around beyond the initial excitement?

I hope so, because Make Cycle 2 (which will kick off with a newsletter later today from facilitators Susan Watson and Helen DeWaard) is all about circling back to the first Make Cycle and finding other people to connect with .. to reciprocate with generosity. This can take many forms, as Susan and Helen will explain, but the idea is to try to go deeper with our networks, and not just fall back on the +1 button, or the thumbs up, or the like.

Clmooc

How we make our connections go deeper, and nurture sustainability of connections, is the underlying current in the CLMOOC in the coming days. Engaging in conversations, honoring someone else’s work through remix, listening to perspectives, tapping into collaborative projects … it’s all about understanding the World through the collective experiences of others. Listen, the CLMOOC is not necessarily a true reflection of the World — we’re mostly a narrow a splinter of humanity with common values —  but it’s a start.

Want to see the kind of connections going on already in CLMOOC? Check out this TAGS Explorer.

CLMOOC Tags Explorer

You can read all the CLMOOC newsletters here.

I hope to collaborate with you in the coming week, one way or another. One easy entry point: Leave a comment. Ask a question. Write a poem.

Peace (for you),
Kevin

Book Review: Inventology

My wife picked up an advanced copy of Inventology: How We Dream Up Things That Change the World by Pagan Kennedy at a conference for librarians (you should see the bags of books she brought home), and I was intrigued. I was quickly sucked into Kennedy’s interesting exploration of how inventions come to invent, and how their creative visions of the world, particularly imagining the future, help pave the way for progress through tinkering.

Kennedy explores through stories many inventions, but she also takes a step back to provide the larger picture of how ideas come to be, from the synergy of crowds feeding off shared ideas, to solving problems that aren’t even problems yet, to random discoveries by inventors with attentive vision, to the ways that education and political systems can encourage or discourage the fertile minds of inventors.

My big take-away is that we need to do more to give people — I am thinking of students — the possibilities for exploration on their own terms, and anticipate that there just might not be immediate results or maybe they will never get results. Most invention ideas go nowhere in the short run, but sometimes, those nowhere ideas lead to something else, and then …. who knows. It might lead to an idea that can change the world.

Inventology is worth a look for anyone interested in the mindset of inventors, and also, for anyone wondering how to set the stage for the next generation of inventors. The question of how we, as teachers, give that kind of creative space to students in this era of standardized learning and testing is a critical one, but I see gains in Maker Spaces in libraries and engineering programs in elementary schools and more.

The next leap forward is probably already underway …

Peace (in the think),
Kevin

Process Notes: Turning Text into Music

FindFiveFridays Music Composition

My friend, Wendy, reminded me in our Google Plus community of a site that allows you to input text and it will convert the text into a musical composition with a companion music file. This is how I did it this morning with a short bit I wrote.

First, I wrote up a Find Five Friday for #CLMOOC — I found five people that I wanted to recognize or honor this morning. It’s another way that connections get made in CLMOOC.

F5F

Next, I copied the text of my F5F and popped it into the engine of P22 Music Text Composition Generator. You can choose an instrument, and time signature, and give your file a name. When you click “generate,” it creates a musical composition. It also creates a companion MIDI music file. NOTE: Chrome did not play nice and I had to jump over to Firefox and allow Flash to be used.

Since MIDI music files are very specific about where they can be played, I wanted to convert it into an MP3 file for sharing. I used Zamzar, an online media converter. It worked like a charm.

I then uploaded the MP3 file (I had chosen the Vibraphone as the instrument but there are other variations … all sound sort of electronic-y but what can you do?) into Soundcloud, and used a screenshot of the composition as my image.

The result was this track

How about you? What text can you make into music? Can you honor someone else’s text by turning it into music?

Peace (in all time signatures),
Kevin

Curating a Connected Conversation


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

The first CLMOOC Twitter Chat took place last night, but I had a family conflict that kept me away from the computer (not a bad thing). So this morning, I spent time going through the questions and answers from the chat, via the #CLMOOC hashtag, and, more importantly, dove into the conversations during the hour-long discussion on Twitter. With topics ranging from discoveries to connections to remix, and with important offshoot wonderings about how CLMOOC experiences might impact the world beyond the summer, I felt as if I a water bug traversing along on the expanding notion of ideas and experiences.

Being removed from the chat itself gave me a little distance — well, not all that much — and I hope I honored the participants by pulling out what I hope were the most pertinent tweets for this curated archive on Storify. I refrained from adding my own comments here and there in an effort to focus on the conversation as it happened.

Peace (it’s all good),
Kevin

Imagine the Possibilities: Beyond Pokemon Go

Pokemon in kitchen

NOTE: I am writing this to try to understand this ….

Like many of you, I have been intrigued and bewildered by the sudden explosion of Augmented Reality with the release and wild popularity of the Pokemon Go app game. For me, my awareness of the game began when Joe Dillon (noted CLMOOC Pokemon Scholar) wrote a fascinating blog post in which he tried to examine the use of Pokemon Go through the lens of Connected Learning.

I’ll echo what I saw in a headline from Rolling Stone magazine later that same day: WTF is Pokemon Go?

Within hours of reading Joe’s post, I was bombarded in my news feeds about the game. I dropped my youngest son off at his camp, and his teenage counselors were playing it. I helped with summer baseball that night, and groups of kids were playing it. The game was featured in a front page story in our local newspaper (written by college intern journalists .. it takes young people to notice a pop culture phenomenon at times).  It was everywhere.

gazette

So, I downloaded the game, to check it out. I am pretty darn confident that most of my upcoming sixth grade students are either playing it or know about it this summer.  It doesn’t make sense to ignore a cultural moment. I wanted to know more.

You probably know as much as I do about the playing of the game itself (if not, and are interested, just Google Search it.) For starters, I found a Pokemon floating around in my kitchen. I tossed the red balls and captured it. I tried the game again when I was in a nearby city, visiting some writing project teachers, but felt strange in the parking garage, staring at my screen and walking in circles. In the meeting, a bunch of teachers were talking and joking about … Pokemon Go.

Pokemon in Springfield

The next day, the negative sides of the app began filtering out, with news reports about robberies and accidents, and all the usual stuff that sparks the adult anxiety that new technology always leaves in its wake when young people (and in this case, older ones, too) are consumed with something new. None of that changed my impression that, as a father of three boys who were somewhat into Pokemon when they were younger, the game probably was connecting people in an interesting way with technology and game play.

What concerned me more than all of that (as it should you) was the privacy issues, and the collecting of reams of data by the company from its users, and the way the game seemed to want access to my entire Google account. (I believe the app update fixed that with an update, but I had uninstalled it).

Here’s what interests me more about this particular moment than Pokemon Go itself — which may or may not turn out to be little more than a technology fad in the summer of 2016.

What if this sudden interest in Pokemon Go spurs young people to suddenly realize how the layering of visuals and information on the physical world could be another way into digital composition, and they begin to find ways to do this on their own? I shudder to think of a class with iPads doing Pokemon Go as a learning experience (that might be hard to justify on all sorts of levels), but I could celebrate a class with iPads making their own Augmented Reality apps or stories or scavenger hunts.

Some apps, such as Aurasma and others, do this on a smaller scale. The use of QR codes replicates the experience, somewhat. I don’t pretend to know the technical aspects to pull off what I am thinking. Combining GPS with media, accessible via mobile devices, in different places … sounds complicated to me. But intriguing, nonetheless. It’s that flip from media consumer to media creator that we should all be looking for.

Joe Dillon mentioned in a response on Twitter that National Parks and community open spaces would be a perfect fit for this kind of Augmented Reality creation, as people explore the natural surroundings in their own communities on another level — either as hunt for information, or maybe just an augmented way to view the space. Imagine if you could pull up the historical story (ideally, of all perspectives of the story) of a place or object. Imagine if you could redraw the park in new ways. Imagine the planning process, the tinkering, the trial/error, the beta-testing …

Imagine the possibilities … or it just might be another technology pipe-dream that always seems like there is something transformative coming (see Audrey Watters for her extended examinations of the Ed Tech World always promising revolutions in learning). Or, alas, it might just get co-opted by private ventures who make money off our data by tracking our GPS coordinates to target us with AR advertisements.

Peace (now … go),
Kevin

 

Hanging Out, Messing Around, Geeking Out

Last night was the first Make with Me live Hangout session for this year’s Making Learning Connected MOOC (Massive Open Online Collaboration), and it was such fun to talk about the CLMOOC and various Make projects, and to focus in the huge wealth of introductions and engagement that folks are involved in already.

The title to my post is a reference to the concepts of Hanging Out, Messing Around, Geeking Out that forms the underlying nature of Connected Learning, where research indicated young people’s interactions with technology seemed to fall within some general ways of thinking. HOMAGO is often how it is referred to in some Connected Learning circles. It comes from this book by Mimi Ito and others.

Hanging Out, Messing Around, and Geeking Out

Mimi Ito explains …

Come join us. You’re always right on time. Come geek out with us.

Peace (in the mooc),
Kevin

CLMOOC 2016: It’s All About Connections

Clmooc 2016

Yesterday was the first official day of the 2016 edition of Making Learning Connected MOOC (or, CLMOOC) and the call for introductions (you can dip in, swim in or dive in) has already led to many people reaching out to connect. The themes of this short MOOC — just three Make Cycles and one Rest Cycle — are Cultivating Connections, Reciprocating Connections and Celebrating Connections.

Please come join us. The entry points are designed to meet your comfort levels, and you are welcome to observe from afar, if that works for you. Whatever your level of participation … is the perfect level of participation. You can get more information at the CLMOOC website, which includes a place to sign up for news.

I’m going to step up to the soapbox here …

Look at the headlines of the newspaper. Watch the news. If ever there was a need for more deeper connections and better understanding of each other, and our different worlds, now is the time. No, the CLMOOC can’t solve race or religion issues, or change socio-economic divisions, or end war and famine and all of the terrible things that seem to consume our energies on the world stage.

But maybe CLMOOC, and other spaces like it, that are built on the ideas of CONNECT can help some of us feel a bit less isolated, a little less alone … maybe we become more part of the World in a meaningful way. Maybe it opens up a path to conversation. Maybe cultivating connections with those outside your normal circles, and reciprocating ideas beyond the easy yet fairly surface instincts of the +1 and the “thumbs up” or the “heart,” and celebrating what makes us diverse while also acknowledging common ground … maybe that is where we start. And if you are an educator, maybe connecting with others in the world is where we remember to value each other, including our students and their families, a little bit more … and bring those ideals back to our classrooms in a new light.

Maybe. There are so many ‘maybes’ in what I wrote. One can be hopeful. One has to be hopeful. I’m trying. You?

… stepping down from the soapbox now.

Clmooc 2016

The first Make Cycle started yesterday and moves throughout the week ahead (with a few live events). There are sharing spaces on Twitter, and on Google Plus, and on Facebook. And probably other spaces, too. Who knows? That’s the beauty of an open networked learning adventure.

And this summer, with the National Writing Project and Educator Innovator working on its Letters to the President 2.0 project (which is definitely worth your time, too), the CLMOOC is being planned and facilitated by a crowd of participants.

I’ve been doing introductions of various flavors over the years with CLMOOC and the act of taking a step back reminds me of how complex our lives are. I tried to capture that idea in this comic that I shared out yesterday.

Clmooc 2016

How will you introduce yourself?

Peace (connect),
Kevin