Call Me Disappointed: A Connected Course and A Camp Go Kaput

flickr photo shared by corydalus under a Creative Commons ( BY-NC-SA ) license

I’m having a hard time writing this post. Seriously. I had such high hopes for a summer in which I would bring the elements of Connected Learning in full swing to my Western Massachusetts Writing Project site with a graduate level course offering connected to two summer youth digital camps.

Summer Connected Course Description

In the graduate course through UMass, educators would learn about technology and digital literacy, with the pedagogical anchor of Connected Learning. I was really jazzed up about bringing the Making Learning Connected MOOC into the course itself (the timing would have worked) and then having teachers plan/co-facilitate two youth digital summer camps at our vocational high school that would center around student interests, with highlighted sectors of video game design, webcomics, paper circuitry, digital storytelling and more.

A WMWP educator and friend who is in a grad program around digital studies and education was going to help me facilitate the summer. He helped run a MOOC in this grad program, so his experience would have been valuable. Plus, he is doing all sorts of good work with youth programming.

It was all good …

… until reality kicked in.

Here’s how many kids signed up for the camp: Zero.
Here’s how many teachers signed up for the course: Two (and one was only “iffy”).

This week, we pulled the plug on both offerings, and I am sad about having to make that decision. That’s why it’s hard to write this post. It feels like a failed attempt to push us forward. I feel as if I failed to push us forward.

There are all sorts of factors that might be at play here — time of the year, maybe teachers didn’t want to teach kids this summer after teaching all year, advertising issues with the school that would host the summer camp — but I can’t help feel as if …

  1. I did a poor job writing up what Connected Learning is all about, and therefore, took the attractiveness out of a technology course, which WMWP teachers have been asking for, or …
  2. Teachers are just not really ready to dive into the core principles of Connected Learning because it remains an unknown idea. I have been working with the concepts for three years or so, and in the CLMOOC, lots of folks are exploring the pedagogy, but maybe I am stuck inside my own little bubble, or
  3. Something else that I don’t quite see right now.

The youth summer camp turnout (zero? really?) surprises me, to be honest, since in the past, we have had a waiting list of students for our digital camps on similar themes. We’ve engaged middle school students in moviemaking, game design, comics, and more. It’s been very popular, albeit we took a few years off from sponsoring the digital camps.

So, we will go back and mull over what we could have done differently, and think about either next summer or offering a course during the school year. I am not personally interested in running a grad course built around “how to use” technology. I am more interested in facilitating a course in which digital learning and literacies are at the forefront, with the technology being tools we may, or may not, have our disposal to use, as the backdrop.

Peace (and solace),


  1. Bummer. Have you thought about gamifying the whole thing? I have been looking at this dude for a couple of weeks: Yu-kai Chou and his neateola web presence–Octanalysis. He has a free newsletter-based course that I am working my way through: Maybe we could gamify your course? It would be fun to dream on it with you if you felt it might be useful.

    anti-vegespamichosis: shiny fir The fir tree shimmered with morning dew drops. A shiny fir drinking in the morning sun, wet and messy and new.

    • Hmmm … maybe …. or maybe that would just make it less accessible in the end (although fun in the making) .. I just don’t know … Thanks for showing up and writing here, and in the side of the post

  2. Packages get lost.

    Love, passion, curiosity st(r)ays.

    Your rays are bright.

    A broken guitar…don’t break the music in your soul.

  3. I feel for you! What everyone said, as Sarah commented. I hope you get a chance to weave the ideas behind the course into something soon. As you said, maybe timing, educators not quite there to take the risk. Comic it out.

  4. Kevin, We can only offer; they must accept, but can only do so when ready. We know the teachers should be ready. I have felt the way you feel since 2009 when we started Google Apps at my school. It’s 2016 and still, from the veterans, push back.

    As for the kids, I think — I know– my kids want to be the planners. And they often haven’t enough knowledge to choose their plans wisely.

    It’s a transition time for education. Luckily, you’re past it. It’s not you!

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