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),
Kevin

 

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),
Kevin

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),
Kevin

 

CLMOOC Facilitator Reflection: Priming the Space

(Note: This is part of a series of reflective posts  by the facilitators of the Making Learning Connected MOOC. Eventually, all of our posts will be pulled together into a single resource as a way to share what we learned and to provide a map for others who want to Remix the MOOC. – Kevin)
CLMOOC Teasers

There’s old adage that has often been adapted by anyone brave enough to try their hand at building an online space: You can build it, but will they come? And then there is the ancillary adage: If they come, will they stay?

One of the early challenges we facilitators had with getting the Making Learning Connected Massive Open Online Collaboration up and running in grand style was finding ways to spark interest for participation by educators who might not only have little or no experience with the concepts of a MOOC but also might have very limited knowledge of the Connected Learning principles.

And we wanted to do this before the MOOC was even launched.

As we began planning and brainstorming about how the CLMOOC might begin to unfold, we were also cognizant of some helpful advice from one of the advisors to the project. Paul Allison, of the New York Writing Project and host of Teachers Teaching Teachers, suggested we keep in mind that the MOOC would be running in the heart of the summer, a time of much-needed respite for many educators.

Keep the mood light and keep it fun, he suggested. Come on too strong with Connected Learning principles, or populate the MOOC with too much serious work right off the bat, and we would likely have a small crowd. What we wanted was massive. What we wanted was engagement.

With this in mind, the facilitating team began early on with creating a series of “splash media teasers” for the MOOC that were designed to generate interest and discussions, plus word of mouth, and maybe offer an unusual form of invitation to what we were confident would be an enriching summer experience. In essence, we were engaged in a form of guerrilla marketing in educational social spaces, giving just enough information about the MOOC to intrigue folks so that when the launch became official, it would resonate with some familiarity.

Facilitators also leveraged their own social capital, seeding their own followers and friends in networks with the possibilities of a summer of playful learning.

The splash media teasers, which we began releasing about three weeks before the launch of the MOOC in spaces such as Twitter, Google Plus, and personal blogs, ranged from digital stories of students and teachers in the midst of making (Stephanie West-Puckett) to a video slideshow movie (Karen Fasimpauer) to a music playlist themed around connected ideas (Chad Sansing) to a glimpse of a paper airplane launched in flight (Joe Dillon) to a visually beautiful slideshow of connected images (Terry Elliott) to a remixable metaphorical stopmotion video (Christina Cantrill) to assorted comics and diagrams, and even a MOOC video game (Kevin Hodgson).

In a sense, we were branding the constructivist ethos of the MOOC on the market before the product was even on the shelves. The sense that fun, creativity and collaboration would be at the heart of the experience infected all of the teasers, and gave the MOOC a certain bit of momentum very early on. The first Make Cycle established that ethos in purposeful style as myriads of participants took the concept of “make an introduction” into all sorts of unexpected directions.

While it might be true that the playful nature of the MOOC would have been established in the first few Make Cycles, we believe the teaser campaign set the stage and raised the bar in a way that gave participants explicit and implicit permission to make their own fun, too, and to explore the Connected Learning principles and the Make Cycles on their own terms.

We also benefited greatly from the National Writing Project’s leadership within the Summer of Making and Learning, which was the theme of the newly-created Innovator Educator network. Word about the Making Learning Connected MOOC filtered through the Innovator Educator partners, and offered lines of connection from such previous projects such as the Mozilla Foundation’s Teach the Web MOOC, and the Learning Creative Learning program and the Connected Learning TV network.

Even so, we had our moments of anxiety when we “opened” the doors to the MOOC and crossed our fingers that folks would come see for themselves the possibilities. To our joy and relief, come they did, and in droves, and within the first few days, the range of projects being created and reflected upon validated the promise the teasers.

We were making something special … together. We still are.

Peace (upon reflection),
Kevin

Sometimes, We Just Need a Learning Walk

flowercollage

I spent much of my day yesterday trying to wrap my head around how to begin the collective work of not just reflecting on the wonderful Making Learning Connected MOOC experience but also how to work collaboratively with others on our facilitation team to make our learning visible. We want to leave a trail for others behind us while also looking ahead to where we go with the beautiful cacophony and spirit of the MOOC. We’re hoping to set things in motion so that others can come along and “Remix the MOOC,” as co-facilitator Stephanie West-Puckett put it so creatively yesterday.

We now have an evolving plan for how we will proceed but to be honest, my brain was overwhelmed by the task here at a NWP retreat in Seattle. I kept staring for a long time at this table/chart we had created together and for some reason, my mind refused to put the pieces into place in a way that would allow me to see the big picture and all the parts.

So, you know what I did? I took a cue from the MOOC itself, and went off on a Learning Walk around the hotel grounds where we are staying. Actually, I took two Learning Walks yesterday and both proved very fruitful. The first time I wandered, I tried to pay attention to the natural and unnatural surroundings of the place. I removed my head from the act of thinking about the MOOC and it was in one of those moments of forced forgetting when a flash of insight happened. I saw the whole MOOC reflection plan from a new angle  — not a table but as a diagram. That may not sound like much as I write here, but for me, it was one of those writing revelations where the cogs suddenly fall into place.

I went back and sketched out what had come to me on the walk, and then  I showed it to co-Facililator Joe Dillon, who (luckily for me), seemed to understand what I was drawing and what I was getting at. Our discussion then made visible some other ideas that might make it easier, once all of our pieces are in place, for someone else to navigate the reflections and advice that we are compiling around our experiences of facilitating the MOOC this summer. It will provide something less hierarchical and more spread out, just like the open nature of the MOOC itself. Or so I hope. But at least I can see it now.

Later, as I was trying to get started on one of my reflective writing pieces (I am writing about how we used pre-MOOC teasers to spark curiosity and set the ethos of play into the fabric of the MOOC), I had trouble getting started. The jumble of ideas danced in my head again. Staring at the screen of my computer, I realized it was time to go walking again. This time, I took my camera, and I began to notice the flowers on the grounds. Kneeling down, observing closely, I took pictures of as many of the flowers as I could on this Learning Walk. I was paying attention to the “micro” of the world, with faith that in doing so, my mind would allow me a way to start my piece and begin the flow. (See the collage above)

It worked, and I was soon back inside, writing away. Maybe these Learning Walks were more like Diversion Walks, but I really found the act of noticing the world brought me back to noticing my writing. I gave my mind permission to figure things out.

It also occurs to me as I write this post that I don’t often give my students the same opportunity. The best they can hope for is a walk to the water fountain or the bathroom, and not a walk on the grounds to observe a flower, or a falling leaf, or the slight shift in the wind before a storm. That’s a shame, but I am at a loss for how to change that right now. The MOOC has me thinking, though.

Might be time for another walk …

Peace (in the thinking),
Kevin

 

Hanging with the Cool CLMOOC Facilitator Crowd

CLMOOC_Facilitators_in_Seattle

I am fortunate to be hanging out with some wicked smart people, yo, as many of us facilitators in the Making Learning Connected MOOC begin thinking about all that has gone on in the various spaces that make up the MOOC, how we might help others learn from our experiences, and just plain ol’ making sense of what has been happening. (I know, good luck with that, right?)

We’re here at an online learning retreat with other National Writing Project groups also moving into developing online learning spaces, although I am confident in saying that the MOOC is a completely different collaborative animal than any other project represented here.

And we’re lucky to be in Seattle, which has a beautiful waterfront and fish market area with Mt. Rainier rising up above the horizon like some magical mountain. It’s a stunning view. Last night, we took a group shot before dinner, but since we were missing two important companions — Chad and Anna — I added them in as webcomic avatars. I suspect they won’t mind.

Peace (in the reflection),
Kevin

 

Heading to Seattle for NWP Retreat

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: being part of the Making Learning Connected Massive Open Online Collaboration this summer has been a thrilling and invigorating ride. But one component that I have missed is hanging out with other folks in person. Yes, using Google Hangouts is pretty nifty. Twitter chats are a mad ride. Blogs are fun to read. Shared images give us another perspective. And the Google Plus space has become a fantastic community network of sharing and collaborating.

But there’s still something to be said about being in the same room, or hanging out in the same bar, with people you know in online spaces, and this lack of more personal connections is one of the knocks against MOOCS. That lack of very personal connections that can forge something stronger than online partnerships.

In this, I am lucky.

I get to join a bunch of facilitators from our MOOC and others in various National Writing Project online projects this weekend in Seattle for a retreat where I suspect we will be sharing, writing, reflecting and playing around with online spaces in mind. (Our MOOC is just one part of a Summer of Making and Learning that is sponsored by NWP, and if you have not yet checked out that site, you should. Stay involved in the making.)

Just so you know, Seattle is a long way from where I am right now on the east coast, so much of my day will be spent on airplanes, reading books and listening to music and getting impatient. And sitting. Lots of sitting, and thinking. But I suspect it will be worth it, knowing the folks who will be at the retreat – most from online interactions but also NWP colleagues I’ve know for years. I’m pretty excited about the weekend in Seattle and I am sure we will be sharing out some of what we are doing as we go along (that’s what we do with the #clmooc, right? Share, reflect, connect, repeat).

Wish you were there, too. (Or maybe you will be. If so, see you tonight).

Peace (in the flight),
Kevin

 

In Praise of the CLOOC Make Bank

Make Bank meme
There are many things that I love about the Making Learning Connected MOOC, but one of the best ideas — which will become a sort of legacy of the MOOC, in my opinion — is the concept of the Make Bank. Here, folks have been sharing information about the projects they have been making in the MOOC, giving quick tutorials on how to replicate the projects. As we think about the school year ahead, what I wonder is: how could one replicate this in the classroom? It would surely connect to expository writing and publishing to the world. (By the way, I give credit to Karen F. for the concept of the Make Bank, and she would no doubt give a hat tip to the folks at ds 106 for the way they gather ideas from participants of that project and share. And Terry E. helped considerably with the technical aspects of setting up the Make Bank via WordPress.).

Here, so far, is the clmooc Make Bank:

Do you have a make to add to the bank? Please do.

Peace (in the make),
Kevin

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),
Kevin

 

Sparking A Conversation: You Have Permission to Make

We invite you into this conversation about this video by Adam Savage, about the state of “making” in our schools and why the reduction of those spaces is negatively impacting the lives of students. I found a lot in what Savage is saying that resonated with my thinking but Terry took some of the comments to task, asking that we enlarge the possibilities.
What do you think?

Or go directly to the Vialogues site.
Peace (in the dialogues on vialogues),
Kevin