Welcome to ED677!
I am Christina Cantrill and I work for the National Writing Project as Associate Director of National Programs. I am excited to work and learn with you this semester.
My background and experience is based on working alongside writing project educators exploring the implications of connected learning and literacy. You can connect to this work at Educator Innovator (feel free to sign up for our monthly newsletter).
I am looking forward to this chance to work with you and all and am keenly interested learning more about you. This first week we will take the time to introduce ourselves to each other, get familiar with the goal of this class, and get ourselves ready for the weeks ahead.
As we get started …
What does “connected learning” mean to you? Take a few moments to yourself and jot down some words that you think of when you read that phrase.
Note that there are no wrong answers to the question because whatever it means to you is probably exactly right — there are many ways to connect (both on and offline) and to learn through these connections.
Now take a moment and think about this — what does “equity” mean to you? Take another few moments to jot down these thoughts too.
Keep these notes for yourself somewhere and return to them throughout the semester. When you do you can ask yourself questions like this: What do you notice about your ideas about connected learning? About equity? What is changing? Staying the same? Why?
Although we will be using Arcadia’s Canvas LMS system, to a certain extent, I am primarily interested in us exploring and using a variety of tools that are on the Web (and the Open Web, whenever possible). I have set up this class blog for ED677 Spring 2018 (using WordPress) and encourage you to bookmark this and start there.
Please begin by pulling up the ED677 Syllabus for Spring 2019 and doing a close reading of it. I’d also like you to respond to it by making comments/annotations in the margins. Here are some questions to get you started: What excites you about this course? What raises questions?
(Note that the syllabus linked above is a Google Document. You can use the “commenting” tool to make comments and ask questions that the rest of us can see and respond to. You can also use the color highlighter to highlight parts you think are particularly interesting or exciting … or maybe even a little odd. And you can respond to each other. Please mark up this document with comments — I’d like to know what makes sense and what doesn’t before we get started.)
Our readings this week will give us some basic background information to some ideas and frameworks we will be using together through this semester.
- I’d like you to familiarize yourselves with a framework or “an approach to learning” that we will reference called Connected Learning that emerged out of work of the MacArthur Foundation Digital Media and Learning Initiative in 2012. Review the Connected Learning Research Report and Agenda by Mimi Ito, et al, which will provide some background and context.
- Next, read through this more recent collection by a colleague Nicole Mirra called Transitioning from Conventional to Connected Teaching: Small Moves and Radical Acts. In this collection she uses the frame of Connected Learning to think about the implications for connected teaching, drawing together examples by a range of educators (links in the right column) as well as designing her own shareable infographic that we will continue to use and reference.
- Also take a look at a 2017 report by Mimi Ito and Justin Reich that brings a focus on technology, in particular: From Good Intentions to Real Outcomes: Equity by Design in Learning Technologies
Want to learn more about this framework of Connected Learning? Check out the What is Connected Learning? by Connected Learning Alliance. Then jump over to Educator Innovator and meet my colleague Kevin Hodgson in Practicing the Principles of Connected Learning.
Inspired by educators like Kevin, this course will encourage you to use a range of online tools and resources to support connecting to each other and to the wider world. As a key idea in this course is to explore the idea of social learning, we will be using the capacity of networked technologies to support us connecting with each other even at a distance. This will allow us to explore these practices together and develop our collective knowledge.
We will also explore what it means for each of us to maintain our own online space, even if only temporarily, so that we can practice doing this and reflect on the implications for teaching and learning. Establishing a blog is a simple way to get started and what I would recommend if you don’t have already. We will also be experimenting with using social media as well as social annotation tools like Hypothes.is and Now Comment.
Finally, we will connect all our links and spaces via the shared ED677 blog space. Once you create your blog and send me the URL, I can connect it to this shared blog. This will make our shared blog the “one-stop” shop for the weeks’ activities as well as finding the blogs of your classmates. (Note that if you already have a blog and would like to continue to use that one, that is fine — I just ask that you tag your relevant posts with #ED677).
Kevin makes some interesting points about why he blogs as an educator. Here is another interesting post by a math teacher about why to blog in the first place called Enrich and Enhance Your Professionalism through Blogging; and an “epilogue” post by a former librarian, now literacy teacher, who reflects on her experience blogging as she shifts professions (and yes, goes on to start a new blog).
The best way to familiarize yourself with blogging, as a genre and social tool — is to read and follow bloggers.
- Check out this list of teachers who blog from KQED. Check out a few of these blogs and notice how these teachers use their blogs. What are they writing about? How have they designed it? What is the title they use and where does it come from? How do they identify themselves? What medium do they use in their posts?
- To think more about your own sharing/writing, here is a blog post by blogger/educator Alan Levine about how to “blog like a champion.”
- And look for other ways that teachers are sharing and learning together via social networks: 10 Teachers of Color to Follow on Instagram & Social Media: Making Connections through Twitter
Setting up your blog for ED677
I would like us each to maintain our own blog to share writing and media with each other and the wider public throughout this semester. This week you should create that blog (or set up a blog you already have to work for this course). Once created, I would like you to connect all of our blogs to our ED677 Spring 2018 shared class blog.
I created a guide to help you with this process. Once you get it set up, post something to say hello and test that it is working. Then post your blog URL in our Canvas discussion so that we can all connect and follow you.
You made (or set up your already existing) blog for ED677! Nicely done.
Now, let’s do some posting together. Here is a prompt to respond to by making something — you might want to write a blog post or you may respond using a another form of communication (drawing, video, etc.) that you post to your blog. This prompt will be shared with the rest of the class and, ideally, publicly on your blog. It is meant to introduce yourself as part of our ED677 Community.
Describe an interest that you had as a young person, whether or not that interest was recognized as learning in school. Write or make something about it that you can share with others … Tell us about what might have piqued this interest. How did you pursue that interest or what did it make you think about? What and who supported you as you dove deeper? In what ways were your interests connected to school, or not? What were the implications?
Post this to your personal blog if you are comfortable doing so; once you post, add a link to the discussion in Canvas that I started for this week so we know where to find your posting.
If you don’t want to post this to your personal blog, post it in the discussion forum directly. Note that although I’d like to support you all in doing more public writing (ie. posting to your blog) than class writing (ie. posting to our class Canvas). However, at the beginning, it’s important to decide what you want to be public and what is more private/only for the class.
Feel free to tinker with where you post things and why. Challenge yourself to be clear about the choices you are making and why you are making them. Jot some notes to yourself about your thinking; we will chat more about this when we meet online.
Speaking of meeting online, it would be lovely if we could do a come-if-you-can meeting once every two weeks by video chat just to support each other and check in. I am proposing we start Tuesday evening January 22 at 7pm.
All meetings will be recorded and recordings made available if you can’t come. However if you cannot make this meeting, but would like to, please email me right away and let me know. And if Tuesday evenings at 7pm *never* work for you throughout the semester, please let me know what evenings might so adjustments can be made. Email me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Have a great week ahead!