From the Community
(cross-posted from K12 Open Ed)
Over the last year, I’ve learned a lot about MOOCs, both as a participant and as a facilitator, in all cases as a learner. Much like my learning curve with Twitter, I dove deep and went from “meh” to “wow.”
One of my biggest leaps in understanding came when I realized that “all MOOCs are NOT created equal,” and in fact, there are huge differences between xMOOCs and cMOOCs.
The Making Learning Connected MOOC (CLMOOC) was especially influential in my thinking. It came at a time when I was solidifying my relationship with the National Writing Project and finding a home there. If every MOOC were like CLMOOC, I’d spend all my time there (and in fact, parts of CLMOOC, especially the relationships we formed, have lived on, which is a real testament to its power).
(Originally published by CUE in OnCUE, Winter, 2013, Vol. 35, No. 4. Republished with permission.)
MOOCs—massive open online courses—are undeniably popular in educational circles, and predictions are that they might just revolutionize how learning takes place. Gathering considerable media attention and investor interest, new MOOCs from groups like Udacity and Coursera seem to be taking the world by storm with hundreds of thousands of students enrolling and big name universities signing on.
But are MOOCs just a passing trend or are they truly something that could change the face of education? Do these new MOOCs—called xMOOCs by some—represent the best MOOCs can offer? And how might MOOCs affect K-12 learning?
As part of Digital Learning Day (tomorrow), we have moved into our unit with sixth graders around Digital Lives. One thing we do is put together a letter/email for parents about Facebook and other social media sites, so that the conversations that start in school about privacy, identity and more can continue at home. Feel free to use this letter, or remix it, if it fits your needs.
As 2014’s Digital Learning Day approaches, I write this post to take stock—maybe do a little dead reckoning. Like many of you reading this, I’m constantly trying to locate myself on the seas of digital literacies, pedagogies, and technologies. As a Connected Learning Ambassador for the National Writing Project, I’m empowered by a framework that acknowledges many pathways of interconnection when learning for students is networked, social, and, ideally, equitable.
Redwood Writing Project mentor TC Rosie Slentz gives a TEDx Youth talk about fostering a sense of wonder for students. Hikes to the forest and stream inspire lessons for her 5th grade writer's workshop and prompt journal entries.
In our earliest planning conversations, our facilitation team wondered if anyone would show for the Making Learning Connected Massive Open Online Collaboration (#clmooc). In the month leading up to the June 15th start date, before we made any substantive decisions about organization or facilitation, our team expressed a collective desire to invite and support learners who were unsure about the technology involved. While we joked about potentially leading a MOOC that was in no way massive, we openly worried and wondered how best to support would-be participants who might be new to MOOCs, social networks, and digital tools in general. More than we wanted a massive-in-size MOOC, we wanted a novice-friendly MOOC.
One of our initiatives at the National Writing Project this past summer was planning, building, and implementing our first-ever MOOC (though instead of Massive Open Online Course, we changed the “C” to mean Collaboration). It was part of the Summer of Making and Connecting, and as intriguing and exciting as this concept may sound to you, I am not here to actually talk about the “what,” but mostly my part in the how. (Not wanting to leave you hanging though, this post by Terry Elliot, one of the facilitators, will give a good idea of some of the theory behind the #clmooc endeavor.)
In the planning of #clmooc, our facilitation team shared a desire to create a MOOC that didn’t only cater to technophile, veteran MOOCers. The question of how we would help newcomers to online learning orient themselves and engage circled in every early planning discussion.
I am writing this letter to you after a summer of #clmooc. What does that have to do with showing you how to create your own Google+ Community? I am hoping that this will become obvious in what follows in text and screencast, but to answer that question now I would have to say that like most projects you need to have some 'why.' The answer to 'why' engenders the 'how' and we are off and running. In this case our 'why' was to help others learn "connected learning principles and values." The Google+ community was our 'how.' What follows is a very quick start guide for using Google+ communities, an outline of tools and affordances and adjacent possibilities. In other words this shows you how to support any 'why' with this particular 'how.'
We are inviting teachers, afterschool leaders and educators everywhere to celebrate Digital Learning Day by accepting the #make4DLDay challenge, a set of digital storytelling activities that allow youth and adults to be makers for Digital Learning Day.
When the teacher asked me to conference with her first-grade writers I was afraid – I was very afraid. I had years of experience working with high school, college, and adult writers. I knew the questions to ask and when to let silence hang between us. I knew when to take possession of the writing in question and when to hand it back. But first graders? They were so new to literacy, so young, so fragile. What if I broke them? The teacher smiled at the panic in my eyes in the reassuring way only an experienced primary educator possesses – a mixture of comfort and steely will. “You can do this.” Meaning, of course, you will do this.
I am participating in the 20 Day Blogging Challenge created by Kelly Hines and this is my first post. The Day One challenge is to share a favorite book and my favorite book to share with other teachers and use for my education classes is Writing Alone and With Others by Pat Schneider because this book reinforces my message about how writing should be taught and why so many people struggle with the transformation to writer. The book is wonderful for teachers as it supports our National Writing Project focus of making teachers writers “The Writer Alone” section but also offers lots of practical advice about writing workshop that is wonderful for creating a community of writers in your school (with other teachers) or in your classroom. In addition, the book has a number of great writing exercises that you can use or adapt for any group of writers.
I’m in an emotional turmoil today. This morning I waved good-bye to my 12-year-old son as he departed on his first mission trip, yesterday I bid farewell to the participants in my online Summer Institute, and Friday wrapped up our traditional Summer Institute with a Showcase. All three events have filled me with pride at the growth and accomplishments of two sets of amazing teachers – as well as marking another milestone in my son’s life. Is it any wonder I have to keep a box of tissues on hand today?
The summer is here and the pace can slow. But summers go too quickly and before you know it, you are back in the classroom. I like to take the summer to rejuvenate, rethink, and reflect on what has happened and what I would like to see happen. And to date, this summer, the one thing that does not seem to go away if the fear of complacency. There is so much we have to do as teachers. We are handed so many tasks, so many standards, so many measurements that it seems that the students get lost. Where are they? Who are they? What do they need? What can we offer? I do not want complacency to win. Each and every student is a unique individual that needs to be reconized as such. We have too many different souls to teach and need to approach each day with the goal of maintaining our focus and committment to teaching each individual as an individual despite the full court press to fit all the square pegs in round holes and reduce everyone into the same standardized mode.
I’m not sure if he is still alive and if he is, how happy he would be, but yesterday, in my workshop for high school students, we ripped, cut, hacked , shredded and remixed one of Richard Scarry’s picture books. To be frank, I even cringed a little bit, as I watched students go at the pages with scissors, glue, and ideas. Books are still sacred texts in my head. I don’t regret it though.
First of all, the book had seen some solid reading days with my three boys, and the binding was coming apart. And I bought the book, so I figure I own it. We could hack it.
During the month of July, the National Writing Project is hosting a four-webinar series on Connectedlearning.tv.
The series, Writers at Work: Making and Connected Learning, continued with our third webinar yesterday, with some great sharing and insight from our guests and a lively conversation in the chat.
Above is the archived video from the webinar. You can see this video, as well as an archive with resources here.
A survey of teachers who instruct American middle and high school students finds that digital technologies are impacting student writing in myriad ways and there are significant advantages from tech-based learning.
Some 78% of the 2,462 advanced placement (AP) and National Writing Project (NWP) teachers surveyed by the Pew Research Center's Internet & American Life Project say digital tools such as the internet, social media, and cell phones "encourage student creativity and personal expression." In addition:
Make Cycle Four of the #clmooc equals:
120 minutes of Google Hangouts on Air
60 minutes of live twitter chat
50 discrete G+ community posts
2 newsletters with attendant links and images
1 introductory blog post
2 reflective blog posts
2 #literacies chats
4 Make Bank makes
19 blog entries on #clmooc aggregator
The simple equation above begs a qualitatively deeper question: are all of the bits and bytes more "signal" than "noise"? Or in the words of a quieter, less electric time, "Is the game worth the candle?"
The Connecticut Writing Project at Fairfield University just completed its first week of the Invitational Summer Institute where we began to make summer, to connect our learning, and to question what digital writing actually is. There were a few changes made with this summer's programs, however, for very specific reasons.
This blog post is not about making my students create videos, but rather the videos that I create for my students. The video assignment is my solution to one problem (maybe two) faced by many online teachers. I teach online a lot – almost exclusively for the past several years. There are many things I love about teaching online, but one aspect that has always troubled me is the assignment sheet. I quickly learned that the one-page assignment sheet that worked very well for face-to-face classes just couldn’t cut it for online classes.
The month of June has been the roller coaster ride from hell – filled with extremes – that have left me off balance and out of sorts. It began on a high note with my first-ever THATCamp (every techno-teacher-geek dream) and rolled directly into a blizzard of non-stop National Writing Project action including our traditional Summer Institute and our second Online Summer Institute peppered with some Google+ NWP Community activity.
This is reposted from my blog:
Have you RSVP'd to the 2013 Maker Party? Come celebrate with thousands of people around the world who are meeting up, making cool stuff and teaching others. While only being a few weeks into the 3-month celebration, thousands of people have already gotten together at events to help make the web together. Join people, like me, who are participating in events, creating events and making things online that I share with the #makerparty community.
Need directions to the party?
View the Get Involved page that will show you how to take part in the party. You can get to the party by following one of the steps below.
1) Attend an event in your area
The last time I joined a learning community, it was the Connected Learning MOOC and I felt welcomed and guided. In fact, one of the organizers pointed me to Digital Is and here I am.
In the past several months, I've discovered how important acceptance and encouragement are in fostering participation. For someone new, the key is trust.
I'm learning how my students will feel when I send them to Youth Voices and start our class blog in September.
"What do I do?" they'll ask.
"Just write something." I'll say.
When I started my graduate program a few years ago, I was ready to learn how to change the world. To clarify–I don’t expect to change the world on my own (that’s selfish, I think), but I do want to be a part of fostering that change. I study and research literacy, a fascinating subject because it essentially encompasses, well, every cognitive process of humans–the way people learn, think, create, write, read, communicate, play, explore, cope, research, engage, collaborate. Within this I focus on what’s known as “digital literacy”–how technology transforms community and identity. I had my own ideas of what digital literacy meant when I started my Master’s degree, ideas supported by the best of the best technology researchers from the past 50 or so years. A digitally literate world is one in which everyone knows how their technology works, from the hardware to the software to the programming languages and all of the nuances.
During the month of July, the National Writing Project is hosting a four-webinar series on Connectedlearning.tv.
The series, Writers at Work: Making and Connected Learning, continued with our second webinar yesterday, with a great discussion among our guests and a lively conversation in the chat.
Above is the archived video from the webinar. You can see this video, as well as an archive with resources and key questions/comments here.
Good teachers already know that we learn from our students every day. They teach us things about our world, technology, and sometimes even our own area of expertise, but perhaps the most important lessons our students can teach us are about ourselves. Teachers are humans and that means we come pre-installed with our own ideas and beliefs and every year we teach those ideas and beliefs become more ingrained. Sometimes that is a good thing – when it comes to rules of punctuation, grammar, and human kindness we don’t need to reinvent the wheel every year. However, we should regularly examine our practices, lessons, assignments, and general beliefs about teaching and our students, or we will become those very teachers we swore would be our guides for what-not-to-do.
Published in the fall 2005 edition of the online scholarly journal, Kairos, "Why Teach Digital Writing?", provides a primer on thinking about the pedagogy of teaching and the practice of doing writing using the multiplicity of new media and social media available to students.
The Center for Social Media supports educators in navigating a convergence of digital landscapes that find their way into the classroom, specifically around the use of and rearticulation of copyrighted materials by students in the production of media.
After my first year at Williamston High School, I was labeled as one of the writing teachers within the English department. I was given some degree of freedom with how I wanted to explore and develop new ways of teaching writing. There were two significant struggles I constantly faced with what seemed to be little reward: motivation and voice. All too often, my students shot strange looks my way as I grew increasingly excited about assignments and they grew more and more disengaged with what was going on in class.
The Center for Media Literacy (CML) is an educational organization that provides leadership, public education, professional development and educational resources nationally.
During the 2008-2009 school year, my class was involved in a service learning project. The project utilized various technologies and digital media to complete the task. These tools proved to be invaluable for the English language learners who comprised the majority of my classroom.
Project New Media Literacies (NML) is a research initiative that explores how we might best equip young people with the social skills and cultural competencies required to become full participants in an emergent media landscape and raise public understanding about what it means to be literate in a globally interconnected, multicultural world.
The Digital Youth Project brought together 28 researchers over the course of 22 research studies and three years, in an effort to better understand the ways in which youth integrate new media into contemporary youth culture.
The Stanford Study of Writing tracked the development of writing practices of Stanford students during their undergraduate and early post-graduate years in a longitudinal study that took place over the course of a five-year period.
Creative Commons understands that your students are all authors and wants them to be credited and respected when they put their work on the Internet for others to view, remix, and appreciate. That is why, they have made it possible to choose your own license based on your needs and hopes for your work
K-12 classroom teachers, librarians, technology support specialists, etc., gather every year at the K-12 Online Conference to join each other as they present and participate in discussions and activities virtually and, in many cases, not in real time.
Profiles in Practice: Digital Storytelling with Teacher Consultants of the National Writing Project is a collection presented by the Pearson Foundation and the National Writing Project that presents the work of five teachers, who have all practiced doing digital storytelling in their classrooms in the hopes of delivering instruction of core skills like collaboration, creativity, presentation, problem-solving, and critical thinking.
Making Stop Motion Movies is a detailed, how-to guide created by middle school teacher and Western Massachusetts Writing Project Technology Liaison, Kevin Hodgson, that showcases the reading and writing elements of film literacy and utilizes a popular medium in a way that is entertaining and educational. This guide creates activities and resources and highlights student work that reinforces how to use this technology successfully and efficiently.
It started with a quandary. As a veteran writing teacher, I was struggling, feeling caught in the middle between my responsibility to prepare my high school students for the traditional academic demands of college and the prevalence of compelling technology in their lives. Although, I recognized the need for computer literacy, I was not willing to trade rigorous academic work time for frivolous computer projects. So, my quandary led to my inquiry: Is it possible to teach academic writing as digital composition? What happens to writing instruction and student learning when we go digital?
This video documents my work supporting students to use digital voice recorders for "book talks" that allowed them to be active participants in their own processes of inquiry and learning. Sharing their "smart thinking" with each other, and hearing their own voices in the recordings made such a difference in the kind of inquiry and learning process we went through together.
While the term "digital storytelling" has been used to describe a wide variety of new media practices, what best describes the Center's approach is its emphasis on first-person narrative, meaningful workshop processes, and participatory production methods.