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: ), 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!

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Why I teach--

This photo from 2002, my last year in a face to face classroom --
Juniors and seniors in high school aspiring to become teachers--
Presenting at the State of Ohio Technology Conference--

The seniors shared their 2 week summer experience for elementary students that they had designed, planned and taught the previous summer.

The juniors held a live video conference session as part of an ongoing collaboration with Josh Baron from Marist College who was supporting their own planning for their upcoming summer camp.

And I--  I was in the audience experiencing the joy that comes from observing learners spreading their wings and flying, being
in the “helping folks realize they can do things they didn't think they could” business. --Bud Hunt (Thanks so much Bud for helping me articulate why I teach)
In the same business in online spaces since that photo-- with educators and adult learners-- opening doors to possibilities.

Why I teach---

Monday, September 15, 2014

The "on ramp" --

Photo credit

An extraordinary "on ramp" --
already vast learning landscapes--
The pre-course week of Connected Courses

The "voice" of the course calls to me The tone is warm, light; that in itself so warm and inviting. Word choice implies trust in me as a learner, positive intent, integrity.  For example -- guidelines --

captured from 
The community guidelines  -- expectations for honest conversations with a commitment to collegial learning on a number of levels.
"Trust that people are always doing the best they can." 
i the biggest surprise to see and at the same time heartwarming as it aligns with the strength based coaching I facilitate currently.

The language in how to join the syndication flow  -- "We know you're excited but"-- had me smiling as I followed the expert instructions.

And guidelines again for blogging like a champion with the striking images especially the "now what" four legged friend at the end make it clear these were not rules but there for everyone to learn from.

In addition, those invitations are inclusive-- specific instructions for those more novice, additional resources for others more technically competent and assurances that this is not to be about mastery of all content but rather, as Howard Rheingold tweeted

And Mia declared "a guilt-free learning zone"
Informal and Creative--
Full evidence here as Embed, Click and Link lead the second Blog Talk with Howard Rheingold taking a "learning posture" in many instances. The laughter, Link's tools, the hats, the talk of playing, the thorough enjoyment and the potential for learning-- at the end of the session, I begin to consider for the first time the possibilities of my own tinkering; although I know some very very basic html, I'd not ever given a thought to creating such a learning hub believing I lacked the capacity. Thanks much to the "brothers" for opening my thinking.

The potential for options, choice in blogging platform, dipping into the flow make this learning journey feel very personalized.

The facilitators' comments on posts in the pre course establish a real sense that each co learner's voice is important to what will come.

I just have to say-- that Howard Rheingold comment on my first post three hours after it was published was really exciting (continues to be, smiling very very broadly) as I've long been fan of his writing, his ideas, his approach to learning. And just a few hours later, Kim Jaxon left a comment too; I'll learn much from her as learners in her course participate in Connected Courses too.

Instructive and thought provoking --
New learning landscapes and this is just the "on ramp"--

The principles of connected learning -- The interactive graphic, new to me, visually summarizes learning and design principles parallels my aspirations for the current facilitation and community work in which I'm engaged.

As I read Howard Rheingold's Under the hood, where technology pedagogy and power meet I make connections to the TPACK framework that informs my practice, realizing that my stepping out to "look under the hood" can engender more fully the true collaboration and co learning possibilities.
"The technologies of publishing and discourse that become available to those who are willing to look under the hood and try some tinkering can be used as powerful amplifiers of co-learning. The objective is not to teach mastery of web media, but to make it easier for students to take responsibility for their own learning and enough co-responsibility for their classmates’ learning that a real learning community can emerge."
And then in Reflection conversation co learning this!
"Reflecting on texts is a path to understanding by an individual learner, but when a group of learners reflect in public, they provide a rich field for conversations about the material. Debates. Conjectures. Contrapositives. Analysis. Conversations can lead to co-learning, when other elements — trust, shared purpose, fun, reciprocity, serendipity, lead learners, skilled facilitation — combine to influence groups of learners to be co-responsible for each other’s learning."
There it is, eloquently articulated, a description of our recent Connected Coaching Strategies 2 with one exception-- "in public". I now imagine the possibilities had that been the case.

Reading and rereading Maha Bali's Process for Connecting,  and wondering and thinking on her image and my experiences (a shared purpose/vision enabled connections)-- reflecting deeply on the essential component of trust in the process, the need for trust in self, and for reciprocity. Her post causing me to explore my own thoughts more deeply, still.

Why this matters to me --
On a personal quest to become more inviting, even more inclusive in facilitating connected learning in online spaces, I'm soaking up the modeling and demonstrating to adopt/adapt for the K12 environment in which I facilitate and co learn.

Wanting to stretch my thinking and doing, aspiring to better articulate my thinking, and yes, wanting to exercise this old brain in the best of ways--

Connected courses modeling, demonstrating the best of ramps onto learning - I'm more than pumped for the next leg of this connected learning journey.