Having Fun with Flowcharts

January_2014_A_Busy_World
I’m relatively new to the idea of Open Learning, where technology has opened up new and expanded spaces for people to engage in their passions without the traditional four-wall structure. (And, some critics would say, without the same rigor, too, although that would be a source of intense debate, I suspect.) To me, open learning is a way to dip into topics and communities and go as deep as you want or need or desire, with personal goals guiding you forward. This is not for everyone, obviously, and I toggle back and forth between how engaged I want to be.

The thing is, I keep meeting incredibly interesting people in Open Learning environments who stretch my thinking and push me in new directions. We need that in our lives — folks inside our learning trajectory who show us new paths to pursue and new ideas to consider and new schematics from which to observe the world.

All that is to explain that this is suddenly, for me, the reason of a bunch of projects that I am participating in. As a way to navigate my own thinking, I created this flowchart the other day. It is meant to be fun, and was as a much a scaffold for my own thinking as it is for anyone else. Seriously, if you need to use my flowchart to figure out Open Learning, you might be looking in the wrong direction. <ha>

I shared out the flowchart (which I created in Google Drive) on Twitter (my real hub of online spaces) but then, I realized if I used ThingLink, I could put in links to the communities being references. Plus, as I worked on the links, I realized I could add a bit of humor, too. (ie, the moo and the door and more).

Peace (in the chart),
Kevin

Book Review: Nick and Tesla’s High Voltage Danger Lab

http://d202m5krfqbpi5.cloudfront.net/books/1376508502l/17345277.jpg

Check out the cover, right? It’s pretty cool. This book — Nick and Tesla’s High Voltage Danger Lab — is co-written by a science teacher (‘Science Bob’ Pflugfelder) who brings the ethos of Making, Learning and Exploring right into an unfolding mystery story with the two siblings — 11 year-olds Nick and Tesla — tinkering in their role of childhood detective. The story involves the two kids coming to live with a nutty uncle for the summer, only to discover something odd going on in a nearby house.

Curiosity, and a desire to recover a failed rocket, drive the story forward. And while the plot is fairly predictable for this kind of novel, there’s plenty of humor and action to keep the reader engaged. What makes this book particularly cool is not just the way that science and experimentation and engineering are brought into the story (the kids build things to help them solve the mystery) but that the step-by-step schematic plans and drawings for all of the experiments and devices are written right into the book itself. (Note to self: my son wants to build his own electromagnet now).

I think this book would fit in nicely with a shift towards Maker Spaces in our schools, connecting stories to engineering, and back again. There’s even a good site for teachers and parents, with some downloads and videos (and I see another book is being  published, too.)

 

Peace (in the tinkering plotline),
Kevin

My Day as Infographic: #Walkmyworld

My Day as Infographic

As I wrote the other day, I am curious about how to use visual infographics to tell a story. Here, as part of the #walkmyworld project, I decided to map out a typical day of mine (time spent where) and create an infographic of my day. I used an app on my iPad for the creation of it and rounded up and down a bit on the times to make them whole numbers.

I also tried to use artistic design to create the face (although I now realize the mouth is frowny because of the way the arrow points. My days are not normally frowny). The sleep element I put off to the side because it felt like that state of mind is different than the waking state of mind (and the focus was on the day). If I had more space, I might have broken down the “other” a little more in specifics.

But overall, I like how it came out, though, and the reflection points to just how much time I spend in school on a typical week day. Obviously, weekend would be different. (Maybe a different infographic).

What would your day look like?

Peace (in the data),
Kevin

#Rhizo14: Steal This Poem

As I work my way into the first week of a P2PU course around open learning and Rhizomatic Learning, I’ve been thinking again about who owns what in the digital landscape. This connects to the theme of “cheating as learning” in the first week and about the ways in which Terry Elliott and I have been remixing our words this week. I have another idea related to my classroom to write about another day.

Yesterday, during a writing time with students, I started this poem, trying to get at the heart of what it means to be a writer releasing a work into the wilds of the Internet. It became a nod towards Abbie Hoffman’s Steal This Book and the open culture of remixing and making meaning on your own terms. I tried to “perform” it in a the rhythm of a slam poem, with short rhymes and lines, and a quick pace.

I’d love to think of some cool way to represent the poem digitally beyond the podcast but my brain is empty right now. How about you? Wanna take my words and remix them? Wanna steal my poem? The invitation is there to do what you want with my words, including ignoring me.

Take a listen (you can download the file from Soundcloud, too):

 

Steal This Poem

Take these words
Steal this poem
NO — go on now –
make it your own
Break it / Fix it
Rip it apart / Remix it

Defy my intent
until all meaning is spent
and then use your tools and tricks
to rebuild it

Cheat my meaning in ways
that make sense to YOU -

Tinker against type
don’t believe my hype
I’m a painter not a poet
using words as ink as I write

I refuse to shackle this work
to paper or screen
or that nebulous world in-between
in hopes that maybe later YOU’LL appear;
watching my words tumble down the spine of my lies –
made up only to be broken / spoken / a token of truth

No, you’re no cheater
you’re a seeker
a keeper of stories in this literary landscape
just like me

So, go on:
Steal this poem
Give it a home
I’m already off writing something else
and I’ve left these words all alone
waiting here for YOU

Peace (in the poem),
Kevin

Book Review: Best American Infographics 2013

Wow. I was completely absorbed and blown away by this new collection of infographics from the “Best American” series. With an insightful foreword by editor Gareth Cook (whose name I recognize from the Boston Globe) and an introduction by David Byrne (he, of Talking Heads fame and beyond), the collection of visual stories told with data as infographic is a deep dive into new ways to think not just about reading, but also about writing and expressing ideas.

“We now find ourselves in a golden age for information graphics,” Cook writes, but then he also explains the long history of using graphics to relay information, pulling out a census map from the Civil War that documenting populations of slavery in each state of the United States — a map that Lincoln kept handy and referred to often.

The Best American Infographics 2013 is chock full of amazing information (including the glimpse at that map), and yet both Cook and Byrne remind us that data gets tilted when brought to view in the visual. What the artist leaves out, and how they portray the data, and which lens is deemed most important, all work in the mix of telling the stories. I’m connecting those ideas in my head to work we do in our classrooms around argument and persuasion, and the need to pull more visual information into our stories and essays and writing.

Here, with infographics ranging from “Feelings that Cannot be Expressed in English” to “A Better Food Label” to “Who Reads Erotica” to “Where Twisters Touch Down” to “American Education Gets a Grade,” this collection touches on a wide range of topics, grouped around the concept of You, Us, the Material World and Interactive Infographics. I encourage you to check out the online links to the interactive infographics. You’ll be blown away by the real-time carbon animation, Bear 71 (you can even put yourself in that one), and the wind chart …. it’s all just stunning.

I also enjoyed, as I always do, the vignettes of the artists and number crunchers explaining where the data came from, what the intentions were, and the artistic choices they made when creating each infographic. Those kinds of reflections are valuable not just in understanding what someone else has made (and it is), but also to begin the shift towards the idea of: How do I best build my own infographics of value?

This is a book I am going to return to, and hope that the series continues next year.

Peace (in the data),
Kevin

 

Enter the Rhizome: Roots Take Hold

I’m checking out a new P2PU offering by Dave Cormier (whose work around open learning has inspired many) around Rhizomatic Learning. It’s a term I heard folks using during our Making Learning Connected MOOC but I have not yet come to fully understand it. I had the sense that it means a circular learning pattern — where ideas spark ideas spark ideas — and there is a keen unfettered world of discovery to be had, if we can only be open to anything.

Or, you know, something like that.

So, in I go.

First, Dave’s great introduction is here but I popped it into Vialogues to add some comments. I invited others in, too, but we’ll see if anyone takes me up on it.

Earlier in the week, I read some posts by Dave and looked up the word (online, of course) and then began to consider Rhizomes in terms of a poem. Here you go. (The poem looks more polished here).

Rhizomatic Journeys: Roots Take Hold
By Kevin Hodgson

buried here
beneath the ground …
… roots take hold …

fingers like fibers
reaching out ….
… roots take hold …

interests collide
paths, align …
… roots take hold …

we move in starlight, together,
here in this undiscovered country
navigating without maps or stars
or compass points north

we close our eyes
sensing if not seeing …
… roots take hold …

move into the unknown
community as nodes …
… roots take hold …

discovery as learning
learning, discovery …
… roots will take hold …

we learn our way, together,
here in these distant connections
nurtured with passion and interest
our compass points north

And I did a podcast, of course.

You come, too.

Peace (in poetic understanding),
Kevin

PS — Terry Elliott took my poem and did something cool with it. I’ll share that out tomorrow. But I am starting to envision rhizomatic thinking in terms of my own views around remix culture and collaborative learning, and how the threads — though disparate and global — can begin to come together to make meaning out of the parts.

Digital Learning Day: A Twitter Chat on Sunday Night

Check it out: Troy Hicks and I are heading up a Twitter Chat sponsored by NCTE in preparation for Digital Learning Day coming in February.

January 19, 2014: Celebrate Digital Learning!

ncte chat logoAs you prepare for Digital Learning Day (#DLDay) — February 5, 2014 — join two NCTE members and edubloggers for a conversation about classroom technology’s past, present, and future.

Kevin Hodgson (@dogtrax) and Troy Hicks (@hickstro) will host #nctechat on Sunday, January 19th, 8 PM EST, and will invite you to consider three big questions while sharing tech tips and teaching tools:

  • To begin, what was your first brush with technology and how did it change the way you wrote, read, and interacted with others?
  • As you think about your classroom right now, what are your plans for Digital Learning Day this year? With critics concerned that technology has become more and more of a distraction, how can we help our students stay focused on smart, intentional work?
  • Finally, what are you looking forward to learning, trying, or making in 2014?

Join us for a conversation about the history of Digital Learning Day and great ideas for teaching digital reading and writing in your English classes!

Peace (in the chat),
Kevin

Slice of Life: A Bright Wire

(This is part of the Slice of Life weekly writing activity with Two Writing Teachers)

The other day, I was watching this child just move through the space we were in, all in a world of their own. It was as if no one else were there. And I remembered that feeling, too, suddenly and out of the blue. I had this phrase “live wire” in my head from the last sentence of some New Yorker article, and out of that, I began to write this poem of childhood and adulthood, and the act of observing through the lens of memory.

I used Storybird to use the text of the poem as a picture book (although, I am not sure if work as I wanted it to work. The images don’t quite match up to what I had in my head.)

I also podcasted out the poem, as I often do.

Thanks for reading and listening and observing my poem. I hope you, too, are a live wire.

Peace (in the poem),
Kevin

#Walkmyworld Morning Commute Photo Collage

WalkMyWorld Morning Drive
As part of the #WalkmyWorld social media experiment, I decided to visually capture my commute into school on a typical morning. I had my camera on the passenger seat and when I thought I saw something interesting out my window, I’d pull over and take a shot. Luckily, there is not much traffic on the side roads I travel. I wasn’t sure what would come of this but when I pulled the photos into this collage, I was pleasantly surprised. I see the beauty every morning — the rolling hills and tree-lined streets — but the sunlight at that time of day, during this time of year, is particularly beautiful.

Peace (during the drive),
Kevin

Shaken, Stirred and Remixed: A Poem on Tap

This is the poem that I remixed the other day, with Terry. I turned to Tapestry for merging our poems together because I think it allows for interesting movement of text on the page. Plus, I love the clean design and feel to Tapestry. For the most part, the left side of the screen is Terry and the right side is me, and the middle is where lines merge, converge and become one. I hope you enjoy it.

Peace (in the tap),
Kevin