Creating Opportunities

“Learners flourish and realize their potential when they can connect their interests and social engagement to academic studies, civic engagement, and career opportunity” (Ito et al. 2013:8)

“It is important to consider the context of academic learning being framed: educators must push to integrate the socially and culturally meaningful contexts of youths’ lives with the academic expectations of today’s classrooms.” (Garcia, 2014)

“Knowing how to read, write, and participate in the digital world has become the 4th basic foundational skill next to the three Rs—reading, writing, and arithmetic—in a rapidly evolving, networked world.” Mozilla Foundation

“Both youth and adults have a lot to learn.” danah boyd, Data and Society

This past week’s hangout was attended by a small group — Alexis, Grace, Jennifer and myself — along with Kathy Walsh, a science educator and makerspace creator from Building 21 in Philadelphia. We had a good conversation and talked about different aspects of our interests and teaching given the range of expertise (from pre-k to college to STEAM/STEM).

Take some time this week to hangout a bit with us and listen.

In the week ahead we will continue explore what it means to be connected with a focus on creating opportunities related to interests and relationships. We will dive back into Teaching in the Connected Learning Classroom for the final time and explore what it means to be “openly networked” as well as academically and community connected.

Start with your own experience with networking — what does being networked mean to you? How does the idea of “open” networking change or shift that? … Write down a list of all the ways you hear or experience openness in networking and in learning. Next to that list, write out what questions you have about it.


Since our shared purpose in this class is to explore connected learning and equity, let’s make a collaborative presentation about our work that we can ultimately share with others online.

Here’s the prompt: “Equity in Connected Learning and Teaching. We’ve been seeking it. Here’s what we’ve been finding …”

Here’s the slide show; the how-to begins on slide #2.

After you work on this, share reflections about this process on your blog and reflect on the implications of us having this shared purpose in this class. How does it make you think about your inquiry questions as well as what are the implications for teaching and learning more generally?


Focus this week’s readings from Teaching in the Connected Learning Classroom with Antero Garcia’s Chapter 3 focused on the principal of being Academically-Oriented and then move to Chapter 5 by Bud Hunt on being Openly-Networked. Finish it by by reading the Conclusion and Afterword.

I’d like us all to spend a bit more time focusing in on a set of ideas about today’s connected and networked environments considering both the possibilities, but also the complications, therein. There is a lot to say about networks, in general, and as more and more of what we do everyday goes online, a lot of the same problems and inequalities that exist off-line move their way into our online environments, unless “actively combated” (h/t to Juliet Shor).

“New institutions and new practices, as they arise in a highly unequal and stratified society … will take on those inequalities unless they are actively combated.” Juliet Shor, Connected Learning Research Network

What does it mean then to work and learn in networked public spheres? The Mozilla foundation has put forward a framework for being literate on the web that describes the 21st century skills necessary to read, write and participate online: Web Literacy Framework.

Click on the different pieces of the pie chart and explore different aspects of web literacy. What does it mean to read in a webbed context? To write? To participate? What’ skills are necessary and how do you foster those in your own work? And in work with your students?

For an analysis of the relationship of these skills to current K-12 standards, read What Web Literacy Skills are Missing from Learning Standards? by An-Me Chung and Iris Bond Gill.

Let’s get some perspective on what youth know, and maybe don’t know, about these digital networked public spheres. Let’s check in with danah boyd and her influential book It’s Complicated: The Social Lives of Networked Teens. For this class, start with the  introduction for context (pgs 1-28) and Chapter 7 titled “literacy: are today’s youth digital natives?”

Another direction to take this exploration is to notice the role of algorithms and how they impact our lives through search engines, social media and the like. Here are two videos from important scholars/data scientists whose work you might want to keep track of — they are presenting here at the 2016 Personal Democracy Forum: Safiya Umoja Noble and Cathy O’Neil.

(Note: NSFW language used in this video, just fyi while you are listening.)

Let’s bring it back to our classrooms specifically. What are the questions we as educators need to be asking about this work? Browse through Monica Bulger’s 2016 article on Personalized Learning: The Conversations We are Not Having. What resonates with you here? What questions are raised related to your thinking regarding connected learning and equity?

And this important article, The Stories They Tell: Mainstream Media, Pedagogies of Healing, and Critical Media Literacy was part of last year’s Marginal Syllabus. Not just for english educators, the focus on being critical consumer and creator of digital media media has great impact on our lives and the lives of our community. (Note that it is annotatable so feel free to jump in or leave notes in our group comments.)

Focus in on a couple things from this week’s read/watch to reflect on and share on your blog with others. What do you notice? What questions are raised? What do you want to know more about as you design for Connected Learning and equity?


Spend your “find time” this week exploring connected opportunities that support your own classroom and your context.

What does this look like then when we connect a philosophy of working in open ways to academic and community outcomes? How do we create opportunities for our students that tap into their interests, connect them with others, and then extend beyond the walls of our classrooms and connect to powerful opportunities? What might these connections look like off-line as well as online? What needs to be considered in the mix?

Given the mix of educators in this course, here are some that I found that I thought might be might be helpful starters:

Hear very briefly from Melissa about this work:

  • What possible when introducing computational thinking to the youngest learners? Robin, a Virginia kindergarten teacher where it is mandated, writes from her experience.
  • Joan Ganz Cooney, the founder of Sesame Street has an inspiring story all her own as a woman and leader. And as early as 1966 she was asking a question we still are asking today — how can emerging media help children learn? Learn more at the Joan Ganz Cooney Center.


Just a reminder that we will be gathering on Tuesday April 2 and Tuesday April 16 at 7pm ET. At one of these meetings we will be have more visitors (exactly date still to be determined). They both work at the same Elementary school where they teacher as well as provide coaching for their QUEST program. They both also graduated from ED677.

Please add these dates on the calendar; I’ll send an update when dates are confirmed with our guests.

Have a wonderful week ahead. In connected solidarity,


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