Make the Web Visible, Literally

I’ve been too swamped to go deep into the recent push into the Web by the Connected Courses folks, but that doesn’t mean I’m not thinking about it. Ever since I took part in the Teach the Web MOOC, the idea of how to use the Web and its possibilities for my own reasons, and how to teach that agency to my students, has lingered in the back of my mind. I get frustrated when I hear of students in classrooms, playing games on websites developed by others (and no doubt getting bombarded by adds and tracked by cookies and who knows what else.)

We need to do a better job of helping young people move from consumers to creators, and there is a push in that direction coming from many angles. Webmaker, from Mozilla, is fantastic. More and more game and code sites, that invite people to make, are opening up new possibilities for understanding the technology in a way that moves beyond the surface.

I am a fan of visuals, and if you use Firefox browser, there is a real nifty tool built into the browser that let’s you see the web from an entirely different angle, showing the architecture of a site from all angles. The architecture is constructed around hyperlinks, and layered pages, and more.

Here is what one view of the Connected Courses site looks like, with the Firefox 3D tool:

ccourses 3d web

It’s a book, right?

Here is another view, from the blog hub page:
ccourses blog 3d

Links are lifted up while plain text stays flat. And look at the layers behind it. Interesting, right?

Want to know how to do it for your own blog? First, of all, you will need to using Firefox. On any page, right click and choose “page element.” If you are lucky, there will be a little source icon for the 3D that looks like a box or a Rubic’s Cube or something. Click on the box and then use your mouse to zoom around the site, changing the viewpoint perspectives. If the 3D box does not appear, you need to activate it.

Here is how:

how to do 3d view

Share out. What does this view say about the website? Does this change your view of the web?

Peace (in the element),

Infographic: Screen Time

Hmm. I like this graphic in that it forces us to consider the consumer vs. creator concept when we put technology and digital media into the hands of our kids. This ran in the Boston Globe recently. While I like the visual, I am not sure I like the title on it so much. I don’t see it as a defense of screen time so much as the possibilities of digital media creation.

Peace (in the sectors),





One Nugget: Naming Things

The facilitators at Connected Course ask us to find a “nugget” or idea from one of the many fine resources they are sharing for this push into thinking about the World Wide Web. I read through Jon Udall’s piece, Seven Ways to Think Like The Web, and I found this snipped about naming things pretty interesting.



When we think of the “tagging” and “categorizing” of information on the Web, we often think of the Wild West metaphor. But it doesn’t always have to be that way. There is an architecture of ideas, or content, that can be collected and gathered and shared through hashtags and category containers and how we name things to make them meaningful.

I noticed this the other day when I was searching within my own blog for an old post. Using a keyword that was a tag, I quickly and rather effortlessly found what I needed to find, and it reminded me of the importance of those few minutes when I add those elements to a post. I have this visual of my blog as an entire mapping system that lies hidden from my eyes, in the underlying code, but it still requires me to name it each time.

And beyond that, as Udall notes, my own personal invisible blogging map is connected the larger invisible blogging map of the Internet, so that my tags and my categories and my keywords become part of the larger dictionary of infrastructure. Sure, we might worry about that from time to time (what is that Webcrawler doing to me? Do I want my words to be part of this larger system?) But the architectural frame of the Internet, and the systems that are in place through some choice labeling, is a pretty amazing thing to think about.

Peace (in the thinking),

How to Get Caught in the Web

I am excited about the next phase of the Connected Courses, as the topic is Web Literacies and Web Design and all things Webby (but not Spiderman, as far as I know). This comic idea was kicking around in my head. It’s a bit more negative, from the time-suck stance, than I feel about the work and learning we do when we are on the Web.

Ways to get caught in the Web #ccourses

But, hopefully, it gives a chuckle.

Peace (in getting unstuck),

I am Mia (am not)

(This post is part of the Connected Courses Daily Connect in which we are asked to blog in the “voice” of another blogger. I have chosen my National Writing Project friend, Mia Zamora, to emulate for her energetic optimism that she exudes in her writing across many spaces. Forgive me, Mia, if I mangle your voice here.)

(This is Mia, my friend)

I am realizing very quickly just how much possibility there is in everything that is unfolding in the Connected Course networks as well as other Connected Learning networks. Nothing compares to the ideals of so many of us educators coming together for such a deep exploration of Connected Learning! It’s fantastic!

“When I am learning I FEEL ALIVE.” – Mia

I was thinking about this message of teaching the other day. I returned to the concept of “Why I Teach” and isn’t that such a central question to all that we do in our lives? The responses that people posted to that query were intriguing. I do believe we can change the world for the better. We can always be learning, too, even as we teach. We CAN stay in tune with the world.

“Connected Learning is about re-imaging the experience of education in the information age. It draws on the power of today’s technologies and embraces hands on production and open networks.” — Mia

We all have our own learning pathways to follow, and each path will take us on a slightly different journey. The wonder of it is that our journeys often coincide with others along the way. And it is at those intersections where we meet that we can help each other along the way.

“We all feel we are part of a movement that will ultimately be world changing.  We want to invite everyone along with us.” — Mia

Being in the midst of a project like Connected Courses, or even Making Learning Connected, is really being part of hubs of the giant wheel that is Connected Learning. Notice how all the pieces can fit together. If you take a step back, you can begin to see it all in motion. It’s that kind of viewpoint that makes being part of any venture all the more worthwhile.

“Magical things happen when we let ourselves unlearn the criterion of institutionalized conventions.” — Mia.

Peace (to Mia),

PS — Process Notes: This “writing in the voice of another blogger” is hard to do! I read Mia on a regular basis, but I had to examine her syntax style and the underlying mood of her writing. I then was struck with the dilemma of, Am I writing as Me (Kevin) in the voice of Mia? Or writing as Mia on my blog, as if she were visiting here? I never quite resolved that question, I realize, and somehow settled into a precarious balance of her positive writing style with some of my own thinking. A blend, then, of sorts. I worried that she might be offended that I zeroed in on her positive message, leaving out how deep she gets with her thinking about learning. I decided to pull in some of her own writing in quotes, to further give Mia a real voice here. I’m not sure it worked.  Go to her blog to get the real Mia Zamora. The one I have borrowed here is only a replica.

Make Your Way to the Make Bank

My friend, Karen, has been tweeting out “Make Bank” opportunities all month for Connected Educator Month. What’s the Make Bank? It’s a legacy resource created by the Making Learning Connected MOOC over the past two summers, with rich ideas around making, learning, creating and writing.

The Make Bank never closes down, but as Karen wrote in her post for Digital Is, sometimes, it helps to be reminded. I decided to whip up a short flowchart about using the Make Bank. I might make it more interactive, using ThingLink, in the next iteration.

Make Your Way to the Make Bank

I “made” the flowchart with an app called Lucidchart, which I think is free for the basics. I like making flowcharts but I realize that I am still learning the lexicon of symbols. That’s another post for another day.

What will you make today?

Peace (in the make),

Oh, The Irony of It

If you have some time, watch this video about language immersion. It’s well-done, if bent to a certain political view.

This “Immersion” video is a required part of a state-sponsored Sheltered English Immersion course that I am taking part in right now. All teachers will eventually need to get a certification around teaching students whose primary language is not English. This course will fulfill my requirement, but I have to say that, even with the boatload of work, it is valuable information and discussions for all of my students.

Back to the video … we are required to watch it and then write about it in our online community space.

I find it very ironic that the very same state Department of \Education that is ramping up state testing into the PARCC while ramming data of student growth models down our throats for how it will judge how we are doing — as schools, as educators (the state wants student test scores as part of our evaluation/accountability process) — wants us educators to watch this video in which the systematic push towards standardized testing — and no accommodations for students learning English — hurts and hinders a child who wants to do well.

I mean, that is the message of this video, loud and clear. What am I to make of that tension between the video and the reality of our state’s educational system? (Note: we banned bilingual educational services a few years ago after some California right-wing moneybag came into our state and funded/pushed a referendum on us. Then, he left us with the mess to figure out. Later, the Department of Justice stepped in, which is where the push for Sheltered Immersion is coming from)

Do the state folks feel for the young child in this short movie? If so, why do we have the same restrictions here in our schools that are featured there in that video?

I suspect there is tension in any administrative system, so then I wondered: Is the sharing of this video some subversive act by a technocrat in the state Department of Education?

I’m down with that.

Peace (in the vid),

Bad Comic/Lost Idea/Good Duck

Bad comic
I’m not beating myself up on this, but an attempt at a comic inspired by a tweet the other day by one of my Simon friends had even me scratching my head when I was done. It was one of those times when I went into a comic with an idea and completely lost the thread by the end, and even now, I am not sure what I was thinking.

That said, the comic still works on one level — of what different people bring to the table. But I was aiming for something different, and I am not sure now that the comic meshes with the quote’s original meaning. Perhaps it doesn’t matter all that much.

And the Google/Duck Duck Go gag sort of fell apart on me. I was thinking of the accidental visitor, and had privacy on my mind. Maha wondered if I were referencing the duck mascot from the upcoming Digital Writing Month, but no … unless I was doing it without thinking about it (which is possible).

In the end, I like the Meta-Comic better than the original comic.

Peace (in frames),