Reflecting a Bit on the Making Learning Connected MOOC

Reflecting on CLMOOC Diagram

I’ve been struggling a bit with how best to reflect on the experience of being part of, and a facilitator of, the Making Learning Connected Massive Open Online Collaboration that is nearing the finish line. We’re in our last Make Cycle now, thinking about the question of “what’s next?” for how we bring our experiences in the MOOC to our educational spaces. I tinkered around with the above diagram, but I don’t like it all that much. What I was trying to get at it is how the MOOC has helped me think more about the ideas of connecting the writing experience to the making experience.

A question still out there for me is: Do I need to expand my definitions of writing and making in order to further incorporate each other in my teaching practice? Or do I need to bring more making activities into my classroom?

Maybe it is a little of both. Certainly, my students don’t just sit around and write all day. But lots of our making is done with technology, and here is where I would love to think through more about moving the concept of the Make offline, and more into the hands of students (instead of the keyboard of students).

Here are some ideas I am thinking, with the concept of the Connected Learning principles in mind ….

Last spring, I had mentioned to our art teacher — a wonderful colleague always open to ideas — about the idea of a Maker Faire for students. She had never heard of a Maker Faire, but she was intrigued. I never followed up with her after that but I wonder if there is some way to create a Maker Space in our school. I’d have to show the connections to the curriculum, and we have a new interim principal coming in, so that might influence a lot of what we do. I’ll have to do more research on school day-based Maker Faire experiences.

A colleague of mine, Gail P., has been in and out of the MOOC this summer, and she and I have talked about finding ways to connect her kindergarten students with my sixth graders, but we never got it done. This coming year, I’d like to try to make that happen on a collaborative project of some kind. In the past, I’ve tried to do some reaching across grade levels, but that dwindled away with schedule changes and curriculum shifts. It seems like it could still be done with a little creative adjustments.

Last summer, I used Edmodo with my students, but then never got back to it during the school year as a way to connect across the classes and beyond our school. I am thinking I would like do more of that this year, and I know there is a group of us sixth grade teachers in the MOOC who have been mulling over the possibility of connected our classes in some online space. I would like it to be a specific theme — the years my classes were part of the Voices on the Gulf and the many Voices for Darfur project were powerful learning experiences with global implications. Having an audience and collaborators from other parts of the world opens up the learning experience in new ways, for sure.

As for me, I don’t know how the MOOC will evolve past its end date. I found a lot of creative, generous and talented educators in the MOOC and I have looked forward to all the sharing. I am sure some of those connections will continue to be nurtured in other spaces and in other projects, but I am realistic, too. I know that when a collaborative venture like a MOOC — particularly one that is sprawled out across many different spaces — comes to a close, many connections get lost.

Going back to my diagram up above, what I was trying to capture is the eye-opening experience of how so much of the work and play and learning that we do is connected to each other, and how we make sense of those experiences through writing and collaboration and sharing. The MOOC has been a powerful pathway for learning this summer. I say that as a facilitator, but also as a participant. I hope others feel the same way, too. It’s been a chaotic, fun and energizing adventure, and I am grateful to have been here, watching the learning unfold along various trajectories and catching a ride along the way.

Peace (in the reflection),


  1. As a participant in the #clmooc, I have been challenged in a number of ways. Thoughtful questions and prompts have expanded my thinking and forced me to put it into words and images.
    New tools have expanded my understanding of how things work and thereby helped me learn in new directions.
    Making connections with a group of like minded and yet quite dissimilar people has helped me to communicate a bit better (I think.)
    Doing all of this in a community where many are much farther along the path in tech learning and writing has strengthened my ability to take risks. That is ALWAYS a good thing.
    Your post makes me reflect on other things too. I know that we change our curriculum in some important ways every year, at least we should. As we grow, we can see new opportunities for our own learning along with our students. I guess an important piece to our ever changing world as teachers is to remember to leave some tasks along the wayside. We can’t do everything we did last year and add in several more. Something will break and it puts too much pressure on us as teachers. We lose even more time for reflecting and that is sad.
    Is it a bad thing that we have to change or drop plans because we have needed to steal some extra time for reteaching? In a MOOC world, we move at a certain pace and students have to keep up. In the real world, we dislike leaving any students behind when we know there are important foundation pieces that need to be shored up.
    As you reflect on and between the two worlds you are teaching in, check out Ronnie Burt’s post today. He is reflecting as well.

    • Those are all great questions and a great reflection of your own, too (hint: post to MOOC). I think your point about losing reflective time is important and gets at the heart of why we need that time, but don’t often get it. Thanks for sharing Ronnie’s piece.

  2. Play with me here. I am trying to see the difference between these two questions or why they are set in opposition to each other with the “or”?

    Do I need to expand my definitions of writing and making in order to further incorporate each other in my teaching practice? Or do I need to bring more making activities into my classroom?

    • I am thinking through it, too, and maybe it is because the MOOC is opening up my eyes a bit about how define things. I’m not sure, though. It may be just one question about how we see learning in all of its facets.

  3. so many connections…WAC (Writing Across the Curriculum) but way more fun. Some WAC exercises are good (they keep developmental and GED writers interested and don’t put them to sleep) and could incorporate a making element. Cubing comes to mind. I’ll look for a better description than dredging up a 20+ year old memory and add it to the Make Bank.

    Involving people who spend time in the company of young minds make for a livelier bunch. I used to teach riding, all ages, mostly 6-12 but adults and teens too…6 to 60, sometimes in the same class. I’ve missed that.

    Involve the math teacher with your project too. Math and making go together too.

    • Thanks, Vanessa, and great point about math and making. I suspect we did not have a lot of math-centered folks in the MOOC but we would have benefitted from more of that.

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