Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Lack of limits

Going through some of the many papers still saved from more than 35 years of learning and teaching--
And running across this--
From my cubicle in 2001--

Unfortunately now not able to locate the source-
Education in the 21st century will be defined by its lack of limits,
by the idea that we can virtually take our students around the world,
back in time, out among the stars,
and in between the atoms.

Pretty powerful--
Seeing pockets of that--
And wishing for so many more--

Monday, February 09, 2015

Discover, Dream, and Design

creative commons licensed (BY-NC-ND) flickr photo by ChimpLearnGood: http://flickr.com/photos/alphachimpstudio/3806097249
Sunday afternoon I saw the title of this post. The connected educator movement is failing and we're all to blame. That caught my attention-- alot. And I did something I rarely do, I jumped into the comments mainly because the judgment for failure is based on metrics from Twitter and I've strong feelings about....

Very honestly -- I don't know Daniel, the author, and I don't think I've ever been an "edtech" person (whatever that is). Even as a "resource teacher" in the instructional technology office of a very large urban district, I was the one with a Masters degree in curriculum; I was the least "tech" person in the office.  How did I get the job?-- I recognized the power and potential of technology for learning and connecting- opening new windows onto a world for so many. And in all the professional development I have designed and facilitated --learning, collaboration and connecting was the focus. So I guess that was the reason I jumped in, and perhaps not very cogently, as the contents of that post touched the core of my passion.

Here's my comment:

I guess I'm surprised that a focus on Twitter is the metric for determining the failure of educators connecting. What about educators connected through online communities of practice, those connected through the ongoing K12Online conference, and those connected through Connected Educator month, not to mention those connected in ongoing projects with colleagues and classrooms around the world? 
From one who sees connecting as all about connecting with people (see the intro quote in chapter one about human networks in The Connected Educator: Learning and Leading in the Digital Age), connecting with context made possible through the affordances of technology-- the possibilities for systemic change we'd like to see happens when we can engage in deep, meaningful and messy collegial conversations. In my humble opinion, a prerequisite for that to happen is a relationship built on trust. Although growing and nurturing trust occurs on Twitter, I think more than 140 characters are needed to immerse in the kinds of discussions that deepen relationships that in turn enable those conversations necessary for change. 
I'm likely one of those you've mentioned who you see as positive to a fault. The angst I feel about certain named "reform" efforts hurts my soul yet I know that our words create our reality and we grow towards that on which we focus and so I'll continue to maintain that positive focus. I'm old; I've been blessed to see and experience the power of connectedness made possible only by the affordances of technology. And I've a deep belief in the importance of relationships in teaching and learning (Barth). Without them (face to face and in online spaces) and without context, how can we even think of engaging in conversations with others?
I'm wondering if an "us" vs "we" mentality contributes to the creation of a wall of resistance? What if all our efforts were about "we". What if our "we" efforts focused on what's working, what's the best of learning in everyone's classroom? And then together, we ask how can "we" grow our collective practice to improve learning for all of our students? And as all voices contribute, we leverage what we've learned from others across the globe into the conversation?

I guess I was hoping that perhaps I was articulating an inclusive approach, an avenue to develop a more collective accomplished connected practice. And I guess I'm advocating for this from a lens not often taken in the "edtech" community, that of appreciative inquiry.

Daniel was generous to reply
Twitter is simply a metric, but I see it as helpful. Tom's insights also are helpful, but again are also just a signal. They obviously don't show the whole picture, but they're a helpful insight. The Twitter numbers are kind of shocking because of the promise that Twitter held for the rest of education in the past few years. Last year it made this Top 100 Tools for education. http://c4lpt.co.uk/top100tools... Clearly, the folks responding to that survey have their own bias. 
Others have reached out to me over the past 24 hours. I have questions like this: "What about all the connections that go on in Schoology and Edmodo: that's "connected education," correct?" 
Sure, there's also places like K12 Online Conference, which is probably a microcosm even compared to the Twitter numbers. We can't judge this by looking through our own glasses, or we get it wrong. Schoology certainly doesn't have a million teachers on it. Looking through Edmodo's communities, they're connecting going on there, but how does that compare to 6.9 million other educators? Microcosms.
We keep looking at things from our own experience, our own schools perspective. What is working for you, is most likely not working for the school down the street. In order to bring the other 6.9 million along, we need to start communicating in a way that empathizes with the non-connected educator.
If a tech tool can eventually bring a physical connection (or a virtual connection that goes beyond Skype or Hangouts)- that's more powerful. How do we make that happen?
Obviously I did a very poor job of sharing my perspective-- at least that's how it feels to me--

Perhaps I've tunnel vision--- yet there is an incredible amount of research around appreciative inquiry as an effective approach to systemic change.

I just so wish I was better able to articulate it's potential--

Monday, December 08, 2014

New lenses

Back from a visit to the optometrist--
Where an order was placed for new lenses--
Computer glasses -- "these will help you see more clearly at your computer"
Leaving the progressives for seeing at other times.

In front of my computer
Scanning #ccourses in Feedly,
Progressive Lenses -- wait-- what a coincidence

As Simon Ensor was optimistically and eloquently looking to the future through his progressive lenses
I am of the opinion that as new networked culture emerges we will inevitably need to reflect on the lenses which are appropriate. ...
I am optimistic that new emerging conditions will enable new lenses which will allow us to reconsider issues of dominance, of transactions between us.
My new lenses offer greater clarity on what's to come enabling, through #ccourses reading, a novice understanding of possibilities for growing a truly authentic digital identity. When Bill Benzon suggested
The message is quite clear: build your own. No, not necessarily from scratch – whatever that means. But at least install your own Word Press instance, and even have your students do it – much as participants in this workshop had to set up their own blogs.
And that has, in fact, been a running theme throughout the workshop. Whatever course you are teaching or will be teaching, it is important to engage with the technology in an active way. If we treat the web as a big media server and passively consume text, videos, and music, we will become slaves of the web. We have to actively engage with the web, and setting up a blog is a good way to begin.
and referenced
Simon Thomson’s vision of establishing an online identity in kindergarten, maintaining it into and through primary and secondary school, on into higher ed, and out through final graduation into life in general.
with a link and description of Known

I began to think of pieces of my identity sprinkled around the web, much not readily available today --
And the import of the potential for me even now and  especially today's learners --

These new lenses enabling an exciting perspective that compels more thinking and exploration--

Tuesday, December 02, 2014


source of quote
"Learning is always a risk. It means, quite literally, opening ourselves to new ideas, new ways of thinking."
Trust as a foundation for learning

I've attempted to create an environment based on that in the eCourse I facilitate around coaching in online spaces.  We wonder together, we co-create together, and we play together. And I've written about the importance of that trust and relationship building, especially in online spaces, for learning.

And my focus has been on relationships--

With Jesse Stommel's post, Trust, Agency, and Connected Learning, my thinking has been stretched with his thoughts on agency and honesty about the learning environment -- their contribution to trust and connected learning.

As I'm sitting here thinking on agency, I think I may have approached it through a different lens with a request for each co-learner to develop a learning pledge and with additional requests to reflect in online spaces of their own choosing. I am going to have to spend more time clarifying this for myself.

I do have to say that one of Jesse's statements about trust in the environment truly jumped out for me.

(And yes, I do love Painting with Words!)
That syllabus I had to create for the university in order for co-learners to earn graduate credit--  sigh---     As I rethink that "trajectory map", there will be a sticky with the quote always visible.

"Trust literacies"-- I want to latch onto that thought "trust literacies". I may be stretching the author's intent --
yet it seems to me that this may be an important trust literacy--
"none of us can teach or learn freely in an environment without first getting our bearings — without first looking around and thinking about where we are and why we’re there."
And others--
Honesty, agency, relationships--

Am I onto something here that will strengthen, enrich, and set a foundation for even deeper connected learning?   I'm feeling so--

Monday, December 01, 2014

From the periphery--

creative commons licensed ( BY-NC-SA ) flickr photo shared by potomo
As much as I encourage sharing and contributing in the online communities in which I coach and lead-- understanding the potential of connected learning

As many times as I've shared this video from the Co-Learning Unit -- Obvious to You Amazing to Others

You'd think I'd be walking my talk
Especially with the unit on co-learning which I find compelling
And yet--- I've been on periphery-- reading--
Curating great nuggets of insight from the posts of others.

Knowing at this point that I'll never compose the epic post that has played out in my mind daily--

I'm opting for and committing to a number of shorter posts on co-learning to clarify my thinking so I'll have them to come back to.

With Howard Rheingold's definition of co learning,
In my definition, co-learning involves a re-orientation of each learner from purely individual acquisition of knowledge toward a process of sharing learning and sense-making with each other learner — peer-learning and peer-teaching at the same time. Co-learning also means that the teachers learn along with and from other learners in the same course.  
my mind went back to 2001 when I had the privilege of a year's planning for a new career pathway program for high schoolers wanting to become teachers.  A piece from Thomas Carroll profoundly influenced my thinking and was key in my designing (Carroll, T. G. (2000). If we didn't have the schools we have today, would we create the schools we have today? Contemporary Issues in Technology and Teacher Education [Online serial], 1 (1). Available: http://www.citejournal.org/vol1/iss1/currentissues/general/article1.htm ), particularly the images and excerpts quoted below.
Once we move the teacher—as an expert learner—into the learning activity we begin modeling the learning process with the students. They are all learning together. And as I have said, once we reach this point, it’s not useful to distinguish between students and teachers, because they are all learning. Who is teaching and who is learning? They are all learning.     Figure 4 helps us start thinking about everyone in this dynamic field as a learner.   I represent each individual with an “L” to indicate that they are learners, and that the role of each individual in this activity is learning.  We need to get rid of the circle and enable them to be learners in an open learning environment (see Figure 5).  One of the large “L’s” in the diagram is the expert learner, the more senior, experienced learner, the person we pay to continue to structure these learning activities, but the person who is also constantly learning more and modeling the learning process, as opposed to the teaching process.Once we have defined these individuals as learners, and once we have taken those boundaries away, we can actually add more learners to the equation.
I'm wondering how Carroll may have influenced the vision of #ccourses  -- if indeed others sense the connection. 

It's been an important one for me as I dig more deeply into the thinking of  #ccourses co-learners in the posts to follow.

Monday, September 29, 2014

Spaghetti sauce and the Connected Coaching eCourse--a new perspective

Photo Credit
I thought it was the best -- it was delicious-- it worked-- it was good--
3 years ago
when I wrote
The homemade spaghetti sauce last week was rich, flavorful-- just downright extraordinary.
I attribute most of that to the quality of the ingredients-- something about organic farm fresh tomatoes, new onions, fresh organo, real garlic, and a touch of hot sauce to add a bit of a zing. Yet I've used those same ingredients before and the sauce never had the unique flavor of this batch. There must be something to the love, to the passion that becomes part of the process. No longer a strict recipe follower when I'm putting together a dish I've made before, there is the possibility of an extra large clove of garlic, maybe dried oregano-- always evolving, responding to conditions at hand.
And then recently
a neighbor shared some she had made
it was time to consider
how to take the best of what was and create the best of what could be
and this time it seems as it's the addition of 2 cloves and a bay leaf--

In that post of years ago,
the sauce and the Connected Coaching pilot were the focus of my thinking--

the sauce with its added spices --
And as it simmered, my thoughts focused on the Connected Coaching eCourse I facilitate, in its 3 or 4th iteration. Learners have been transparent with their excitement at the possibilities and I have been, I fear, a bit too satisfied, lulled into some sense of complacency. Should know better at this age.  Time and time again, each group developed meaningful relationships to their surprise. And my hope, that others might see the potential of the appreciative inquiry approach (that I view as a real game changer in education) in which they are immersed in the eCourse and adopt that stance in coaching, has come to fruition more than I could ever imagine.

And I attributed much of it to our purposeful collective building of trust through a variety of activities and to my continued thinking on adult learning and assessment , influenced significantly by Sheryl Nussbaum-Beach, Dean Shareski, Dave Cormier, Cathy Davidson and Anne Fox who introduced me to the research on heutagogy. I thought I had developed a Lani remix that enabled self directed learning.   I thought I was on to something.

As one who thought she put learners at the forefront-- In 2013, the co learners in one section of the course objected to the term "learning contract":
Although I hope that everyone in the course will always view the potential for change in our Connected Coaching model and see the possibilities throughout the process, I am never sure how our journey will play out for so many reasons. Since I've requested that each co learner create his/her own learning contract, since I've stressed our time together is about their following their personal interests under the umbrella of coaching in online spaces-- it has been my fervent hope that that request and some possible paths outlined mapped in the MentorMob playlists and weekly overviews set the stage for organic, messy, linked learning increasing the likelihood of trips characterized by detours, side trips and loop backs.  
For this trek, the discussion and angst around the learning contracts which are shared with the entire group and for which many request feedback went deep with serious questions around its purpose and value. Initially, this request (the learning contract and it is a request as are all the learning opportunities) is open with few parameters or introduction. When the questions arose  I added a resource on heutagogy that speaks to the importance of self governed learning, the contracts filled the discussion thread as did comments supporting each others efforts and various paths towards personal goals emerged. We were on our way-- together. And I had my first big aha moment! When I had adapted the learning contract for the eCourse, I had not given thought(and should have) to the connotations of "contract". When Doris  suggested she'd prefer to call her contract a learning pledge-- my brain stopped for a moment-- and then realized the implications remembering what a difference one word can make and how much more aligned pledge is to the community building of the eCourse and to the Connected Coaching model! Next trip-- learning pledge is it!

And has been since---

The "learning pledges" developed, we do a KWL and a collective wondering as the course begins and I'm feeling we're delving into each learner's purpose. (My feelings on the eCourse were much the same as the ones I had had for the spaghetti sauce.) And as we progress through each week, I suggest essential questions.

Let's stop there    ---enter Connected Courses
and Michael Wesch's and Gardner Campbell's videos --

my making connections to my context--
knowing I know "my why" of the course-- to provide the opportunity to experience the potential of a strength based inquiry to improve practice and the world of education--

and my questions. WAIT-- my questions
and realizing that my questions become the focus-- really
despite my intention that learners engage in their own "why", to follow their passions

It's time -- to take the best of what works and create the best of what could be--
Just as the goodness of the spaghetti sauce grew and benefited from additional perspectives and the added spices--
So should the eCourse with my intended focus on the next iteration with an additional, more sustained focus on the "why" of the co learners.

Can I share fully developed thoughts on what that will look like, sound like? Not yet-- a work in progress-- additional thoughts on this welcomed!