The MOOC Meme Collaboration

For the past few weeks (more in past weeks than in recent weeks), fellow explorers in the Making Learning Connected MOOC have been making memes about what we are doing. Here is the full collection (so far), created in Google Drive as an example of collaboration:

Peace (in the meme),
Kevin

Game Design: the Good and the Bad

In the digital literacies workshop I am co-leading for English Language Learner high school students this summer, one of the focus areas and an overall thread will be game design. Yesterday, in our first real meeting with students, we led a discussion around what makes a game fun to play and what makes a game boring to play. As I have done with other groups in the past, I took their ideas and put them into a word cloud.

The good:
Goodgames

The bad:
badgames

It might be interesting to dig up the other word clouds from other groups of kids, and compare some of the themes of ideas.

Peace (in the thoughts),
Kevin

 

Hacking Tic Tac Toe into Tic Tac KaBoom

Today, in a workshop that I am leading for high school students, I am going to walk through some basic elements of game design, which will lead to an activity around hacking the game of chess. First, though, we’re going to simpify things by reworking the classic game of Tic Tac Toe as a way to demonstrate how adding elements to the system of the game add to the complexity of the playing of the game. I’m going to share the hacked version of the game that I developed, with advice from my 8 year old son, called Tic Tac KaBoom.

Here is what it looks like:

Tic Tac KaBoom by KevinHodgson

Peace (in the hack),
Kevin

 

NEA Policy Statement on Digital Learning

The National Education Association (NEA) has put out a policy statement related to digital learning. (Thanks to Troy Hicks for forwarding the link) You should read it yourself but here are some sentences that jumped out at me as I read through it:

All students—pre-k through graduate students—need to develop advanced critical thinking and information literacy skills and master new digital tools. At the same time, they need to develop the initiative to become self-directed learners while adapting to the ever-changing digital information landscape.

 

The appropriate use of technology in education—as defined by educators rather than entities driven by for-profit motives—will improve student learning, quality of instruction, and education employee effectiveness, and will provide opportunities to eradicate educational inequities.

 

We as a nation must address the issues of equity and access in a comprehensive manner in order to see the promise and realize the opportunities that digital learning can provide.

 

Teachers need access to relevant training on how to use technology and incorporate its use into their instruction, ESPs need access to training on how best to support the use of technology in classrooms, and administrators need training to make informed decisions about purchasing equipment, technology use, course assignments, and personnel assignments.

 

As different digital tools are created and used, the impact of technology on traditional socialization roles must be considered. The face-to-face relationship between student and educator is critical to increasing student learning, and students’ interactions with each other are an important part of their socialization into society.

 

What do you think of the statement? I think it covers a lot of ground, but mostly through the eyes of a labor group (I know, that’s what NEA is, and I am a member). I see this document in partnership to others emerging from other groups, such as NCTE, around the learning of and the teaching of digital literacy.

Peace (in the sharing),
Kevin

 

My Credo: I Believe in Change and Collaboration

 
MOOC Credo WordCloud

For this Make Cycle in the Making Learning Connected Massive Open Online Collaboration (MOOC), Terry Elliott and I are asking folks to explore their beliefs and credos around the principles of Connected Learning. These include the values inherent in the principles, the issues of equity and access, and participation in the networks. That’s a lot of ideas to grapple with, but Terry’s blog post — which you can read here — gives a nice “map” of how one might go about doing that.

For me, I turned to the “This I Believe” podcasting idea, writing a short essay as I thought about how what I believe in coincides with the principles of Connected Learning. I then decided to create a VoiceThread, opening up my beliefs to others to add to, comment on, or share their own beliefs and credos. I recorded the audio in Audacity, first, and then imported the file into my Voicethread (in case you are wondering). The image is a word cloud of my text. I used Word It Out to create the cloud.

I invite you, too, to add to the thread (you need an account, and then you can click on “comment” to add your voice, text and more).

And tonight (Monday), we are hosting a live “Make with Me” session on Google Hangout with Chris Lawrence, of the Mozilla Foundation, and co-MOOC facilitator Chad Sansing to talk about credos, beliefs and more. (Hangout happens from 8-9 p.m Eastern (5-6 p.m. Pacific/ 6-7 p.m. Mountain/ 7-8 p.m. Central and it will be embedded at the MOOC, along with a chat program that is open to anyone.)

Peace (in the credo),
Kevin

 

First Day Jitters: Digital Literacies Workshop for HS Students

workshop teaser

I haven’t written much about this, since I have been knee-deep in the Making Learning Connected MOOC, but today is the first day of a five-week workshop program I am leading for high school students around digital literacies, remixing the web and game design. I’m a little jittery. You know that feeling? My workshop is part of a partnership between the Western Massachusetts Writing Project and a local urban school district, which got a big grant to offer up a comprehensive program to support English Language Learners this summer. There are tutorial sessions, group activities, work programs and workshops in this Summer of Power program.

I am one of the workshop leaders. Along with a WMWP colleague, who has expertise in ELL, I am going to have these high school students explore the digital worlds from a couple of angles — first, through creating avatars to represent themselves in a webcomic space and beyond; then into remixing websites with the Mozilla Webmaker tools; and then into video game design with Gamestar Mechanic. Meanwhile, I am weaving in game design from the very first week (tomorrow, we hack the game of Chess, for example). Writing will be at the heart of what we are doing — from writing in and out of the day, to storyboarding projects, to reflecting on the experience and possibilities. I am working to line up some outside visitors, too, from the field of computer programming and video game design, and I am reaching out to the Mozilla folks, too.

I don’t know the students, and I have not worked much with high school students, and the language barriers are somewhat of an unknown. Yet today, I have to give an elevator speech (15 minute presentation) six times, to six different groups of students, as they will be deciding which enrichment workshop they want to attend. I am using Prezi to present my overview, but I decided to start with a non-threatening quiz — showing icons from the gaming world and I’ll ask if they recognize them (we’ll be using a lot of visual clues this summer). There is one outlier in the mix (Mr. Monopoly) who does not originate from a video game. We’ll see if they can pick him out of the lineup.

What has me on nerves, though, is not the students, so much. Since this is not my school, I worry about the infrastructure of technology and whether things will work as I need them to work, and what kind of support I will get when they don’t. I did visit the lab last week, checked out the computers, and found  a few upgrades that needed doing. The teacher there is fantastic, and she got to work on the upgrades even as I was leaving the lab. She wants it to run smooth. That’s a great sign.

I’ll let you know how it goes …

Peace (in the pitch),
Kevin

 

Reflecting on the Importance of Maps

My Twitter Map Collage

We’ve had maps on our minds at the Making Learning Connected MOOC this week. You’d be surprised (or not, if you are in the MOOC) by the range of mapping that went on — from typical geographical maps, to metaphorical maps, to maps that were flowcharts mapping out an idea. And lots more in-between.

Maps are interesting things, aren’t they? They help us shape our world. We make maps to put ideas and people and places into some semblance of order and connections. Maps are heuristics, a way to make sense of things that at first seem beyond making sense. Maps are also place markers. They document where we’ve been, and where we are going, and how we are going to get there.

In terms of the principles of Connected Learning, what makes maps so important is that they can show connections forged between ideas and between people. In the collage above, which I created early on in the week and then never posted, notice the bottom right image map. This comes from a service that will map out connections from Twitter (Mentionmap), and I’m struck by how important those people have become to my professional growth as a teacher. I turn to folks in my network a lot for help, for advice, for sounding board ears. You can’t quite see all of the smaller connections, but there are tons of folks that I orbit around on a regular basis. That’s something I know without having this map, but the map helps me see those connections from a new angle, and it documents where I am right now. (And the site allows you to click deeper into connections, moving through the nodes of people and hashtags — that’s something the static image does not show.)

The top map (via Tweetsmap) in the collage shows followers from around the world. That map is not nearly as useful and as interesting to me as the other one because I don’t “see” connections in the top one. I just see data points, and data points without context are not all that useful. In the bottom map, in the live version, you can follow the linking lines, and watch as other connections unfold, and the web that comes into play makes you realize that we are immersed in the connected educator movement. The map makes that more visible than ever.

The other day, I was thinking about maps in connection to literature because my youngest son and I were immersed in “reading” a map that is part of a book we are reading aloud (The Familiars). He was running his finger along the river crossing the world, and asking about the names of these imaginary places, and I realized how important this map was to him, the listener of this story, as we situate ourselves as readers to a magical place beyond our view. This map was a document we come back to regularly as we read, following the heroes on their journey. The same thing happens with maps in other books we read. When we start a read-aloud, we often turn to the first and last page, searching for a map to orientate us to the story.

The question of whether making maps is “writing” and interpreting maps is “reading” — and thus, part of literacy came up in a few discussions this week — and I would argue, yes. What about you?

Peace (along the terrain),
Kevin

 

Using Video to Capture Classroom Practice in Action

Here’s an interesting look at how one teacher — Sarah Brown Wessling, from The Teaching Channel — uses a video camera to capture what she is doing in her classroom, as part of her reflective practice.

Anyone else do this on a regular basis?

Peace (in the lens),
Kevin

 

Graphic Novel Review: Delilah Dirk and the Turkish Lieutenant

http://talkingcomicbooks.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/05/DelilahDirk_Cover.jpg

Now here is a pleasant surprise: a female protagonist in an adventure/action graphic novel story, whose wit and expertise carry the day. In Delilah Dirk and the Turkish Lieutenant, by Tony Cliff, the heroine — Delilah Dirk — meets up with Erdemoglu Selim (the lieutenant), strikes up a friendship in the midst of escaping one trap or another, and moves on to even more danger in her life as a freewheeling spirit whose never known to pass up the possibility of treasure, no matter how dangerous it might be.

This book by the  publishing company of First Second evolved from a webcomic series that Cliff has been developing and publishing online, but I enjoyed the adventure book without knowing a single thing of the backstory of Delilah Dirk.  Her swashbuckling energy drew me right into the story. In fact, I found it fascinating to catch a glimpse of her character through her actions, although Cliff focuses more on Selim as the psuedo-narrator of the story here, which begins when Selim is kicked out of his job because of Delilah, is almost executed because of it and then has his life saved by the story’s heroine.

There’s a breathless rush of action here, sort of like Indiana Jones, and the artwork is beautiful. We never quite resolve how a woman of Delilah’s talents conflicts with the mores of the Turkish society (male-dominated) but I appreciated Cliff’s restraint from developing a love interest between the two main characters. In fact, Delilah is not sexualized at all, although she is beautiful in mind, spirit and intelligence. Plus, she’s the most skilled sword fighter in the book.

And did I mention her flying ship?

There’s a lot to appreciate in Delilah Dirk and the Turkish Lieutenant and I look forward to more adventures.

Peace (in the book),
Kevin

 

Blogwalking at the Making Learning Connected MOOC

(with apologies to my good friend, Gail Desler, who uses the moniker Blogwalker for her blog.)
clmooc blogwalk
Yesterday, one of the questions I wondered about is whether folks in the Making Learning Connected MOOC are writing and sharing in spaces beyond the typical field of vision. The answer is “yes” and one of those spaces are on their blogs. There is a Blog Hub at the main MOOC website, but I was also curious about how to collect all of those blogs together. I decided to use Jog the Web and encourage you to take a blogwalk through the field of blogs, where folks are doing sharing and reflecting.

Go to the CLMOOC Blogwalk Jog the Web site

Another view on Jog the Web is the Index view.

Go to the Index View of the CLMOOC Blogwalk

If you are in the MOOC and blogging, be sure to add yours to the Blog Hub and drop me a note here, so that I can add you into the Blogwalk, too.

Peace (in the tour),
Kevin