For Making Connected Learning: A Poem


I guess I am not yet done with the Making Learning Connected MOOC. I wrote a poem and then used an app called Tellegami to record it. What I found interesting is that the time limit forced me to do a lot of editing on the original poem. I had to keep narrowing, focusing, removing and reshaping to meet the time requirement, and I think the result is a better poem. Sometimes, forced revision is the best, even if it can be painful.

Here is the poem:

We run along rhizomatic strands of learning,
playing in the semi-darkness
inside this digital moment

We watch to learn;
We make sense of this unfolding narrative
inside spaces that don’t exist, yet do.

Always, there is the sense of someone else there:
An echo of light reverberating like
a compass
a computer
a lighthouse;
data points as pulses of experience.

We make to learn;
write to reflect;
share to understand;
We connect.

Peace (along the strands),


Book Review: The Keeper of Lost Causes

I still remember the summer I discovered The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, and how I devoured the books, one after another. Maybe you remember, too. The problem, of course, is that the series ended, and the novelist is long dead, and so that was that. Done.  But the series certainly opened my eyes to Scandinavian mystery writers, and I have been on the prowl for other series. In this way, I am a marketing dream for book publishers, right? I know. I know. I admit it.

I recently came across The Keeper of Lost Causes mainly because a piece in a magazine was making connections back to The Girl series. (See? Marketing gimmick works. Actually, my wife commented on the book cover design, noting the similarities to The Girl covers) And while this first book in a series called Department Q (a police department whose task is to clear out old cases) by writer Jussi Adler-Olsen is not nearly as engaging as I remember The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, it worked for me.

I liked the main character — Carl Mørck, a detective with some demons, and gruff nature — and the twin storylines (that I won’t give away) that slowly connected together. It’s not really a mystery of unknowns, per se, but the story unfolds at a nice pace, with interesting characters, and the use of humor and the Dutch setting gives it an interesting feel. It’s not deeply political, but there are some politics at the edges of the story.  The Keeper of Lost Causes kept me hooked this summer, and I went out to get the second in the series — The Absent One — so that I could keep going. (A third book — A Conspiracy of Faith — was just published here in the US, too.)

Peace (in the pages),


Making Jim Dance for DS106

A series of activities over at DS106 centers on the use of animated GIFs, and this particular activity has folks taking a dancing Jim Groom, from DS106, and putting him into new places. I decided to use Popcorn Maker, so that I could add a soundtrack (he’s dancing, after all). I don’t know Jim but he sure seems happy to be dancing.


Peace (busts a move),

Experimenting with Badges for Learning

This week, the heart of a Twitter Chat discussion with the Making Learning Connected MOOC folks centered on the use of badges in education. I am still mixed and I freely admit that I feel a bit confused on the topic. On one hand, I see the value of validating and recognizing student expertise and growth. On the other hand, it seems like the awarding of badges could be arbitrary or just meaningless bling. I liked how Paul Oh talked about the possibility of badges being part of portable learning documents that follow the student, though, and Karen Fasimpaur noted that employers might find it useful to see the kinds of learning that potential employees might have done.

So, I keep going back and forth. Karen noted that her view of badges began to change when she worked with Paul Allison and others in the Youth Voices camp this summer, where high school students made their own badges for their community. That’s what I want to know more about — how to create the environment where that kind of inquiry work is nurtured and where badges are just one part of the learning equation.

Since I have never used badges before, I decided to start small, creating a few for our ELL Digital Literacies Workshop. Our students are now beginning to create digital portfolios of their learning this summer (we are using Wikispaces), and while there is some criteria for what must be included, we also have made a list of suggested optional content. These four badges are in the “optional” category, but they align to the inquiry work we have been doing the past four weeks around digital literacies.

(By the way, these were all created with the Big Huge Labs tool shared out by Terry Elliott. It’s easy to use.)
badge remixer
badge gamedesign
badge comic creator
badge word master

I’ll need to talk more about why they would award themselves a particular badge. Maybe that will be one of our “writing into the day” prompts. That will be an ideal time to ask them, what badges are missing? What else can we make together?

Peace (in the badges),


Duke Rushmore Video Mix Tape

I’m playing around with another video/music mixing tool called Dragontape. Here is my band, Duke Rushmore, in various YouTube videos:

We play at a Pig Roast today, in fact. So if you are in Western Massachusetts, come up to Liston’s Bar in Worthington. We’ll be rocking the roast from 1 about 3:30 p.m.

Peace (in the muse),
PS — That’s me singing background vocals and playing the saxophone.

Just Another (Some)Body in the DS106

You can ignore this post. Or not. I am signing up for the Fall 2013 Headless Course for the DS106, and I want to test my blog category for the blog hub there. OK, so why am I joining DS106? (I’m writing so I might as well write something). I’ve started to participate a bit in the Daily Create, and have heard so much about DS106 through various channels in the past weeks (mostly through connections in the Making Learning Connected MOOC project).

It felt like the right move to sign on up and keep creating into the fall.

How about you? Come join in the fun. We’ll learn together.

Peace (in the ds),


ELL Students and Video Game Design Storyboarding

Summer Power Vid Game Storyboard
In our digital literacies workshop for high school English Language Learners, we are deep into our science-based video game design project. The past few days, we talked a lot about how to think through what a game will look like, tying in the “design” elements to the planning stages. The kids then worked on a storyboarding activity as a way to get their thoughts down before launching into Gamestar Mechanic to build their games. (See a post that I had done for Gamestar Mechanic about storyboarding process and lesson.)

There’s always some resistance to this stage of game design. Kids just want to jump in. But I insist on the storyboarding element, and liken it to the rough draft stage of writing. Sure, the game might move in other directions when it is finally underway, but the storyboard is a road map of ideas. In the end, even those who fought me on this activity were grateful that they were able to articulate some ideas, and the storyboard itself becomes a place to have more focused discussions with students about their games.

In addition, for ELL students, the storyboard is a non-threatening way to write, as it combines art and short narrative text, and symbolic thought. The students in this summer are all struggling writers, but I suspect we have gotten more writing out of them in their daily journals and in projects like the video game storyboarding than their regular teachers do. I can’t say that for sure. It’s anecdotal. But it seems like even the most struggling writers have been deeply involved in what we have been doing.

Now, with four days left in the program, it’s on to developing and publishing their video games and completing online portfolios. Plenty of time …

Peace (in the writing about writing),

PS — if you have interest in video game design, you can check out the resource site that we created at my school, and feel free to use any of the resources there.


Making Learning Connected Reflection Flowchart

Before the start of the Making Learning Connected Massive Open Online Collaboration (MOOC), I created a flowchart as a teaser (shared farther below in this post). Making a flowchart is more difficult than it seems, as you have to really think through all of the questions and possibilities and then fit all of those elements onto one screen. But I like that kind of thinking, and reading, and writing, too. Creating a flowchart really forces you to be deliberate in the construction of your writing, and as I work on a few flowcharts this summer, I am also thinking of how I might be able to teach this kind of writing in the classroom. Certainly, it connects to informational text, reading and writing.

Anyway, here is a flowchart that I created this weekend for the MOOC as we enter the final stages of the six week adventure. Since we are asking a lot of folks to reflect, I thought this flowchart might help lead a path forward. It’s not perfect, and it seems to me there are still a lot of gaps — places where people might answer more than yes or no. And I wonder if that limited choice casts a negative light on folks who were not part of the MOOC but still followed along from time to time, or maybe left a comment here and there. We valued people on whatever participation level they chose to do, and I am not sure this flowchart recognizes that.

CLMOOC Reflection Flowchart
And here is the flowchart I created as a teaser way back in June (as referenced above). I seemed to have more room for humor in that one, for some reason:

Making Learning Connected flowchart

Peace (in the chart),

PS — I should explain that I used the “drawing” tool in Google Docs to make both of these. While very basic, it provided most of what I needed to create a simple flowchart.


Personal Infographic: Quantifying the CLMOOC Experience

CLMOOC Infographic Activity Overview

One of the suggestions for the last cycling of the Making Learning Connected MOOC is to create an infographic of some element of the experience in the online learning community. I blog. A lot. So I spent some time, going back in time on my blog, looking at what it was that I was writing about. The numbers tell the story. I began blogging early, as I am one of the facilitators, and I kept blogging often, once the MOOC got up and running.

The breakdown of themes of post is something I find interesting, as I had a fair balance of cheerleading for the MOOC in my role as facilitator and sharing out activities as a member of the MOOC in my role of maker/creator. I can’t help but notice the lower percentage of reflective posts, but I suppose that is given when you are in the midst of an event like the CLMOOC. (This post should give it a little bump, right?) Even I was a struck by the number of blog posts I have published (57) and I do wonder if I would have served the MOOC better just to be quiet a bit more.

Looking at the chart of types of projects, it is clear that I did a lot of work around video, and I suppose that is true. Whether Vine or stopmotion or documentating the world, I turned the lens of the camera on the make activities. Perhaps it is the visual element and ease of sharing that attracts me to video. I’m not sure. There’s also the “wow” factor when it comes to video.

The top right is a chart pulled from Vizify, and I had wondered if I might be able to find out how many #clmooc-tagged tweets I had done. 550? That’s a lot of tweeting. I can’t confirm that number, though, but I don’t dispute it, either. Again, my impulse is to wonder why I didn’t just be quiet and it spurs a fear that my voice dominated too much. I hope others felt like they had space to write and share. (I wrote about this in Google Plus, too, a few weeks ago).

Speaking of Google Plus, I have no idea how many posts and conversations I was part of. I can’t figure out a way to track that, which is odd, given the Google Analytics tool. Let’s just say … a lot. On Flickr, I posted 30 photos (including some tutorial comics that we used at the CLMOOC website). On Youtube, I posted 10 videos (I think).

In other spaces …. no idea.

And let’s face it — being part of the MOOC was beyond numbers and data. It was about connections, and if I could quantify the value of that sense of community and the strengthening of ties across networks, it would blow away all of these numbers. In the end, that kind of “soft data” and personal connections is what the MOOC was all about anyway.

Peace (in the crunch),