Tag Archives: clmooc

Thinking about MOOCs

MOOCs (Massively Open Online Courses) are becoming more prevalent.  They seem to be the new “thing” in learning.  Zac over at Autodizactic is asking folks to help him think about MOOCs.

I’m not sure I even know what I think about MOOCs.  Like Zac, I have signed up for MOOCs that I have then abandoned.  It seems easy to both sign up for something that sounds interesting and that you can “attend” asynchronously.  And then when it actually begins, it seems easy to let it go when life gets too busy or the tasks seem too arduous or mundane.

I’m currently signed up for a MOOC, led by people whose work I admire, focused on academic language development for English language learners…and I’m very interested in the subject matter.  But already I’m having trouble finding time to do the readings and complete the tasks assigned.  I’m pretty certain I won’t be completing this MOOC.

This summer I had a completely different experience with the Connected Learning MOOC, clmooc, through the National Writing Project.  And maybe the most important difference was in the way the acronym “mooc” was defined.  Instead of being a “Massive Open Online Course”, the clmooc was defined as a Massive Open Online Collaboration.

There were still facilitators.  And instead of assignments, there were make cycles.  And participants were invited to add to make cycles, interpret them in their own ways, create totally new makes…generally make the experience work for them.

I found the experience exhilarating!  I expected to “lurk” around the edges of this experience.  I knew when I signed up that this would be an extremely busy time for me.  I was coordinating the SDAWP Summer Institute, starting a new grant-funded project, and supporting resource development for another project.  But, because I found it relevant and because of the interaction with facilitators and participants, I was compelled to continue and experiment and learn and grow.

Drawing on Connected Learning principles, my learning was interest-driven, peer supported, and openly networked.  It was also production-centered, academically oriented, and had a shared purpose.  And best of all, it was fun.  Each effort made me interested in trying something else.

I was both connected and learning…and I have a badge to show for it!

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I have many reservations about MOOCs, especially those that are trying to be courses.  I am all for open learning opportunities–I’m just not so sure that we need “courses,” in the formal sense of the word, to achieve the goal of opening access to learning.  And for me, the “course-ness” is the very quality that causes me to “drop out” of MOOCs.

So, Zac (and anyone else who is thinking about MOOCs), I’m not so sure my musing are helpful here…but this thinking is helping me understand why the CLMOOC worked for me and these other MOOCs haven’t.

And now about those badges…I’m not so sure I’m sure what I think about them either. And I have two of them…

Here’s my other one.  It was awarded me by a peer for being a connected educator.

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What are you thinking about MOOCs…and about badges?

Poster Poems, Found Poetry: Remixed

One of my fellow #clmooc-ers, Vanessa Vaile, posted this invitation in the G+ community to remix, hack, create found poetry…and it’s been sitting in the back of my mind, waiting for the opportunity to find its place on my blog.

This morning the twittersphere handed my this poem and it has stayed with me all day, begging me to think about ways to remix and recreate and combine it with my photography.

The World Is in Pencil

BY TODD BOSS

—not pen. It’s got
that same silken
dust about it, doesn’t it,
that same sense of
having been roughed
onto paper even
as it was planned.
It had to be a labor
of love. It must’ve
taken its author some
time, some shove.
I’ll bet it felt good
in the hand—the o

of the ocean, and

the and and the and

of the land.

Source: Poetry (November 2011).

And so, here is my remixed version:
The World Is in Pencil: Remixed
Pencil in the ocean
and the land
Authored with labor
roughed by silken dust.
Love it
shove it
take time
to feel, to handle
Until you can see
as if it was planned
the world 
inked on paper.
A map of your life.
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This photo was also remixed.  Taking a photo I took earlier this week,
I wanted to create a sense of pencil and sketch, roughed and labored.
I used the app Sketch on my iPhone to create this effect.
Here is the original:
photo-1
Try your hand at found poetry…I invite you to remix mine or find
something that speaks to you.  How might you remix a photo or
other image to go with it?  Be sure to share!

One Shot, Two Ways…Revision, Photo Style

One of the benefits of blogging is that other people like and follow my blog…and when they do that I often take a glimpse at what they are blogging about–it’s a lot like my experience with the CLMOOC.  Yesterday shotwithmyphone.com liked my blog post and I spent some time perusing the photos he posts…all shot with his iPhone (like me!).  One of his posts was titled One Shot, Two Ways and is part of a challenge posted here.  The challenge invites photographers to take two photos of the same shot–one with a vertical orientation and one with a horizontal orientation and to post them side by side.

Inspired by those ideas (and looking at a few photos) I decided to try a variation on that theme and show two views of the same photo–one original and one with some editing and filters applied.  In some ways the editing process I apply to my photos feels a lot like revision in the writing process.  It’s the part of the process where I zoom in (or out), crop out distracting details, brighten up the setting, or change the mood.  In many cases, revision in writing and editing in photography transforms the end product and helps the reader/viewer see it differently.

Here’s are a couple from my beach walk on Sunday:

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photo-10turtle

And here’s a couple from yesterday’s excursion to the Living Coast Discovery Center:

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There are times when I post my photos without editing, but I like experimenting with how to take a photo and work with it to convey the message I have in mind–or one that emerges as I play with it.

What do you think?  How does the editing change the way you see the photo?  How does it change the message of the image?  How does this relate to writing and writing instruction?  I’d love to know your thoughts!

A Summer of Making: Reflections on CLMOOC

If you’ve been reading my blog at all you know that I participated in something called the CLMOOC this summer.  The Connected Learning Massive Open Online Collaboration was an opportunity to experiment with the principles that underlie Connected Learning.  This short video gives some more information or check the link above.

When I originally signed up to participate in the MOOC I thought I would stay on the fringes, read what others posted, and think about how the participants interacted.  I knew I would be time challenged, after all I would be facilitating the SDAWP Summer Institute during the bulk of the MOOC.  But somehow, I was quickly drawn into action.  I used my photo-a-day work as my introduction and posted a couple of photos.  Immediately I began to get feedback, comments, and links to others’ work with a similar focus…I was hooked!  Then came the #vineoffmonday. I was already playing with Vine and with Instagram video, so it was fun to see what others were doing.  I loved Kevin’s invitation to make a seven second story and even though I wasn’t particularly successful, the challenge was valuable–and it’s something I can see having my students try (even if they don’t use a social media platform like Vine to do it).

I’d been thinking about starting a blog for a couple of years…and have had a couple of false starts where I posted once or twice and then never returned.  With the CLMOOC community around me, I decided to create a new blog AND to challenge myself to posting 30 days in a row. Remember, this was not a “summer’s off” undertaking–with this community around me, I made my decision to blog right in the middle of the SI I talked about earlier.  (And if you know writing projects at all, you know that it is an intense and focused time of meaningful, challenging work–even as a facilitator.)

My blog became my space for “makes.”  I explored my photography in a variety of ways, thought about learning and spaces for learning, considered my own classroom and how I might approach my teaching differently, and wrote and wrote and posted and posted…today is my 34th consecutive post!

And…I earned my first badge!

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To earn the badge I had to submit one of my makes, reflecting on its significance.  I chose my Spaces for Learning post that I wrote in response to an invitation from Terry to respond to a Washington Post article about teachers and teaching.

I am strangely proud of my badge.  It represents a summer of exploration and of putting myself “out there.”  It has been about writing every day even when I am busy and tired and would rather just hang out or watch some mindless TV.  It has been about being public with my learning process and trying things beyond my comfort zone.  And I still see lots of spaces for my learning to grow.  I definitely have a better understanding of the Connected Learning principles and how they support my own learning and risk taking.  I plan to create more spaces for this kind of learning for my students…and for the teachers I come in contact with.  It has definitely been a summer of making and connected learning for me…and I don’t want it to stop!

Find Five Friday! Digital Tools

Today’s post comes from Anna’s invitation at #clmooc to participate in Find Five Friday! (or maybe find five futures).  I’ve had a week filled with digital tools…and thinking and conversation related to them.  Here’s my curation of five (in no particular order):

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iBooks Author

This tool came to light as I worked with a group to find an appropriate platform to serve the resource being developed at the NWP Resource Development Retreat.  We wanted something skimmable, flexible enough to hold a variety of digital artifacts (video, pdf files, images, links,…), shareable, editable, and something that looks good.  My colleague Beth was able to experiment with iBooks Author and create an early draft of the resource envisioned.  Previewing it on the iPad showed it to have many of the features we were looking for.  Were there glitches?  Of course…and there is a learning curve (which I have not yet mastered!).  My biggest disappointment is that you have to use a MAC computer to create with iBooks Author–it isn’t available for creation on the iPad–you can only read (be a consumer) there!  I wanted to have my students use this tool.  Anyone have other suggestions for a similar tool for use on an iPad?

Thinglink

If you’ve been on my blog before you know that I love iphoneography and love to use photos to convey information.  Thinglink is a tool where photos can be tagged with other media including text, video, links…  It includes an embed code so thinglinks can be included in other platforms…think Google Earth or your own blog!  I learned about this at a CUE Rockstar training this week and then found this great resource from Richard Byrnes at Free Technology 4 Teachers.  I’d love to know what you’ve done with this or similar tools!

iPhoneography editing tools guide by Nicole

This is another resource that I learned about at CUE Rockstar.  (The presenters developed wonderful pages of linked resources associated with their sessions.)  Nicole (who was not the presenter) has put together this amazing pinterest slideshow that highlights not only the tool she uses for editing her photos, but some of her thinking about why she wants to use the tool…and includes samples of her amazing photos.  Thanks Vicky for pointing me to this!

Tagging and custom searches for student bloggers by Kevin and Bart

My work with Connected Learning and the clmooc this summer has pushed my thinking about my students’ blogs and how to help them connect with other students for meaningful comments not just from the adults in their lives, but from students all over the world.  Bart had some ideas about tagging and embedding the classroom lessons that inspire the blog posts to help students from other places have some context for their responses and interactions.  Kevin then suggested the idea of a custom search for student bloggers to connect with other student bloggers with similar interests.  Brilliant!  (Now to put this into action!)

Bee Bot and Tynker

I’ve been thinking about coding and how I might help my students think about the work behind the digital tools they use.  I’d heard about lots of tools/games out there for students–Scratch from MIT and Gamestar Mechanic, for example.  And I’d messed around a little…  My students have iPads as their classroom device, so I really want to have something they can do with coding on the iPad.  Today I learned about a few possibilities to try out.  The first one surprised me–it is a little robot-like toy called Bee Bot (not for the iPad–just a little battery powered toy).  This little bug can be programmed with up to 40 moves (like the arrow keys on the computer) and can make 90 degree turns.  I can think of so many ways this little robot can introduce my students to the fundamentals of coding (and they can create their own games to review other concepts too!).

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I also learned about Tynker.  It’s not an iPad app–but since it doesn’t rely on flash it will play on the iPad.  Tynker is very similar to Scratch with the linking blocks that students arrange to make their actors move on the screen.  It’s set up for teachers–you create an account and can follow up on what students accomplish.  I’ve only begun to experiment–but I’m excited about the possibilities.  I love the way you can see sample projects–and look at the code (in interlocking blocks) behind it!  I’d love to know if you have tried any of these tools–how did they work for you and/or your students?

I think that is already 6 (or 7) and I really want to include one more–Touchcast–an iPad app for making video with embedded real time apps (check out the little video link above).  More on that to come!

What are your favorite digital tools?  What are you currently exploring?  How will you use them in the classroom?  Teach with them?

Spaces for Learning

Over at the Connected Learning MOOC on Google+, Terry posted this article by Valerie Strauss from the Washington Post about the struggles dedicated teachers face in our current climate.  He also invited us to respond…in a crowdsourced way.  Here’s my contribution:

I’ve just spent the past month with twenty educators passionate about improving their teaching and the learning experience of their students.  During this time they’ve read extensively, discussed and debated ideas and practices, demonstrated a practice from their own teaching setting in front of these peers, written and responded to writing—personal and professional pieces, all creative—and laughed and cried, dealt with worry and nerves, and invested countless hours because THEY want to be the best educators they can be.  Their districts and schools didn’t send them or pay for them—they came because they chose this experience.

Many #si13 discussions take place on these #orange chairs and cubes.

Many #si13 discussions take place on these #orange chairs and cubes.

These “third spaces” like writing projects, the CLMOOC, and Twitter have become more and more necessary for educators to thrive in our challenging profession.  These are the spaces where teachers experiment, innovate, and most importantly, find support when they feel that our educational system isn’t working for them or for their students.  In the face of daunting constraints, teachers like the ones participating in the SDAWP Summer Institute and those making like crazy in the CLMOOC continue to seek out practices that support learners and celebrate the joy and purposes of learning.  In these spaces we make sense of our world, we build relationships, we blaze trails for learning for those that feel pinched by constant test prep and narrowing curricula and in doing so we stay the course.  Because like Valerie said,

But some teachers are fighting these trends. Teachers believe that education is not just teaching students to pass tests. They believe that education is not just about how to make a living, but also about how to make a life. They believe that school should be a place of joy in learning, not learning in fear. They believe that play, imagination, and creativity have a place in school, just as much as mastering difficult material. In fact, play and mastery go hand in hand. And these teachers are fighting to work harder than ever so they can continue to find ways to be creative in the classroom despite the pressure not to be. These teachers have classrooms you’d love to have your child in.

What kind of classroom or learning spaces do you want for your child, for your students, for yourself?  I’d love to hear about your “third spaces” or alternative ways of dealing with the constraints that are strangling the love of learning and passion for teaching.

SDAWP Photo Voices: Red

At SDAWP Photo Voices this month we are doing something different: a single prompt (they happen to be colors) for an entire week.  This week was red.  Rather than picking a single picture to highlight (although there is one that is the header for this blog!), I decided to create a collage (using collageit) or map of my week (a nod to my experience with the Connected Learning MOOC).  I did throw in a couple of extra red photos that I didn’t post as part of our photo-a-day challenge.

Red

I was surprised just how easy it was to find red…everywhere.  Because of the 4th of the July holiday, I was at the beach several days this week–and I found red without a challenge!  My favorite is the red shoes picture (edited with the app colorsplash), but I also love the unexpected red apple in my own backyard and the odd assortment of three red chairs.  I’m looking forward to seeing others’ red favorites today and tomorrow as they get them posted on our SDAWP Voices “red” page!

Up next…yellow.  Hmmm…