Angles of Possibilities: Nurturing Disruption and Breaking Assumptions

Over at the #ds106 Headless Course, there were a couple of videos shared to start the headless adventure. One of them is this wonderful look at creativity and how to begin to break free of assumptions we have about everyday things. In our Making Learning Connected MOOC, we called this “hacking.” Here, Kelli Anderson calls it “disruption.” You might call it “modding: the world. Whatever the term, the idea is to not take for granted the use and function of things around us. Instead, break free of those assumptions and make something new. Re-envision the world.

In my classroom, I try to do this by helping my sixth graders shift from passive users of media and technology into the role of active creators of content. We do hacking activity, make video games, and engage in the world. But even at that young age, they are starting to fall into familiar roles, with assumptions about how things should happen just because that is the way they have always happened. It can be difficult to help them see the world from another angle — the angle of possibilities.

I’ll also note that the students who naturally do this – who see everything from that angle of possibilities — are often labeled “quirky” and “strange” and are all too often undervalued. If recent history has taught us anything, it is that this group of students will be the ones who will change the world in ways we don’t yet know.

I invite you to join the Vialogues of this video. (Vialogues allows you to post comments on videos, with time markers, so that your comments gets linked with a specific time in the video. It’s a neat way to have a conversation about a video.) The more, the merrier, and I would love to know what you think about Kelli Anderson’s presentation and her examples (check out the newspaper one … pretty nifty hack.)

 

Peace (in the conversation),
Kevin

My CLMOOC Badge

 

As I noted the other day, I am a little mixed on badges, so I am exploring their use and creation where I can. Paul Oh has used the badge tool at P2PU to create a badge for Making Learning Connected MOOC. He and Sherri Edwards even posted a Google Hangout about how it works. I went through the process and added a mapping project to earn my badge. While the badge is at P2PU (an open source learning space, which ties in nicely to the MOOC), I found I could also put the badge there into my Mozilla Badge Backpack, which is another place I need to fool around with a bit more.

What I like, and what Paul articulated somewhere, is that the CLMOOC Badge is more than just a stamp of experience; It represents yet another space where people are sharing out and reflecting on some project that exemplifies their exploration in the CLMOOC summer. It’s a way for us to honor what we did and celebrate our own efforts.

Did you make something this summer? Come get your CLMOOC badge.

Peace (in the backpack),
Kevin
PS — Here is the hangout with Paul and Sherri

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:

Connected:
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),
Kevin

 

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