Two major points about why connectivism is awesome as a learning opportunity….

I am still working on my Lit Review…and yesterday I took the opportunity to check out an online “hangout” with “Connected Learning” The “discussion” was being hosted by Howard Rheingold and it was about Ethan Zuckerman’s work on creating cultural change through social media – I was there to learn about applying social media to my miniMOOC course (which I prefer to call a TOOF Tiny Open Online Forum)…

Anyway – I’m in the goolge hangout, for only the second time in my life, and Howard asks everyone “listening” to write in the chat box and tell them a bit about ourselves and why we are there….So  I did….and Howard writes back to me…tell me about the dates of your miniMOOC and I will help advertise it (crowdsource would be the correct word)….

Howard’s  book, Net Smart” is perhaps the most influential book in my Lit Review…and I just “connected” with him….in person! But it gets better…

In Howard’s book he suggests that “educators” interested in really learning about “what” kids are learning using social media for and what skills they are developing and what “leanring” is taking place should read Mimi Ito’s (Editor) book -Hanging Out, Messing Around and Geeking Out

So I just finished reading parts of that book….and Mimi was in the room as well!!!!

In fact, I said something nice about one of her comments!

The proof:

The point is….connectivist learning brings “plebians” together with “scholars” and creates environments in which we can engage in peer discourse…and it is motivating and encouraging and quite frankly one of the most amazing experiences. When learners connect with other experts in their field, there is a certain “God” complex syndrome. We act all silly because we are in awe….then we might risk making a comment, which is sometimes commented upon by others and then risk being part of a conversation which is pure….acceptance….Acceptance for who we are as a person, acceptance for being ok with our “odd” passion for Educational Technology and acceptance for humanity as a whole- in that we can learn together…

So, not only have I been researching connectivism, my research “is” also connectivist and the foundations of the learning are connectivist to me as I experience learning in a new way. I created an individual project on MOOC’s, but it’s a mini open online adventure…. I am learning by doing, but also “finding” the learning that is already there by connecting the dots (or networks as George Siemens would say)….

Oh – I also chatted to Alec Couros today. Can I say enough about his help? He gave me some outstanding ideas on course design for a k-12 audience…we are in total agreement that some “tweeks” need to be made to my inital course deisgn….He also rocked my world by suggesting a wide variety of alternatives to “track” tweets and offer the RSS feeds and twitter tweets to groups. I can’t thank him enough…

And he also commented on the idea that – does this really need to be called a MOOC? Is it a MOOC? Not so much- so I am seriously considering the TOOF instead….or why name it at all? Just look for an audience (it’s all about the audience) looking for what I am offering – a free open online forum that creates a fun and engaging way to learn about digital footprints in social media today….

Randy LaBonte – another amazing mentor- also commented on the “name” – is it really a course? What’s wrong with calling it some kinhd of discussion or forum…? I have to make the course objectives clear- thta’s very important. As usual, lots to think about…





As I finish up my Lit Review readings…understanding that I will neevr truly be finished as one reading stems to another…I have discovered more commonality among the readings: ecology for learning. I keep finding this expression, used in a variety of ways, in my readings. The “connected” piece is obvious because the word ecology reminds me of “webs” within our environment. If I take this “Web” metaphor one step further it reminds me of Peter Senge and “Systems Thinking”. The idea that everything within a system is connected. Systemic learning was a huge part of my previous MA in Leadership and Training from RRU and I often wonder if its not ingrained in everything I see as a result

But that’s where my visual stops- because part of this process for me, is to create an online option for anyone within the k-12 audience outside of the system….The “system” scares me….that’s what I need to dig into, why I have issues with “systems”…My first response is because they don’t support me….I wonder what I mean by that?

I think that I have been pushing too hard to break free of the “system” and “walls” and “restrictions” that I have defined for myself, and instead I ened to focus on the “web” from an “ecological” point of view…and that brings me back to audience.

I have had no problems finding people to present on the topic of Digital Citizenship, but I wonder if they can hear my “big picture”. I wonder if I have created a visual that can engage learners and create an opportunity for a bunch of people to learn together? I have had no one want to collaborate with me…and when I think about leadership, you need followers to lead, otherwise you are just standing by yourself.

So, as I finish up my time on my Lit Review I am going to begin to transition towards my audience (again) and what I am really trying to get out of this experience – and share with others….

I’m wondering how to make the miniMOOC experience a priority for others as well as myself….

My research suggests that the idea of the MOOC and the pedagogy behind it is truly an emerging educational “trend” that has merit and potential. But does K-12 need a MOO Course, or perhaps steps towards open and online collaboration…or both? Maybe the MOOC isn’t what the k-12 market needs….?

I’m rambling…off to reflect…





The ConnectED Canada Conference in Calgary was beyond my wildest epectations. I felt so accepted and wanted and I was able to talk about my wild and crazy miniMOOC idea with people who knew what it was. While there wasn’t a huge group of participnats with an eLearning background…..I certainly easily infused the topic that “Blended Learning” is the way of the future…which obviously includes online options….

I even met and chatted with #change11 MOOC participants and some of the speakers which gave me a better idea of what a MOOC really is – AND created connections for further discussion…:)

I have now got my group of “weekly facilitators” including grade 9 students from the Calgary Science School.

The best thing about the conference was that all this “stuff” in my head had an opportunity to get out so that other “stuff” could get in. A great time for new ideas and renewal – greatly appreciated!

My newest INternet search has discovered a “Facilitator’s Guide” on How to Facilitate a MOOC….Lots to learn from here….

BUT…still have to get back to my Lit Review and the world of Connectivism….

Here’s the slideshare show from Stephen Downes

Where am I?

Posted: May 24, 2012 in Uncategorized

What I am up to……

I am in the middle of my Literature Review. #change11 MOOC has officially finished and Dr.Bonk’s MOOC is still on for another week with Blackboard Coursesites. I have made some contacts within coursesites so I will be able to learn more about the “creation” of a MOOClike course from a scaffolded LMS point of view. I still need to learn how to create one common blog (home) for the RSS blog feeds, Twitter posts, other networking discussion options (diiego, themeefy)and how to send out daily e-mail updates. I am hoping to work on the “practical” part of the “I don’t know how’s” after I finish the Lit Review. I am going to the “first”anadian ConnectedCA Conference this weekend in Calgary. The conference should give me an opportunity to chat about the miniMOOC ideas as well as turn to other possible guest lecturers. I have had no real problems finiding people to guest lecture. However, all but one are from BC, and are from my “inner network”. Reingold supports branching outside of your “inner” network” in order to create even better ideas.

Lit. Review Musings:

Howard Rheingold’s “Net Smart” has completely intrigued me.

I took forever to get through it – not because it was boring, but because it was FULL of ideas and links to great resources. The first chapter wa slow and difficult for me as it focused on how our brains “learn” in a digital environment. However, from chapter 2 onwards I was bookmarking every page and underlining key points that really pushed my “social media” awareness. I especially enjoyed his comparisons of the “social media” revolution to the Literacy Revolution after the invention of the Gutenburg Press. He also went back in time to compare Socrate’s criticism of “writing” as a form of learning (as opposed to oral expression).  (Through Wolf’s analysis of the History of Literacy) As a social studies teacher, who has covered these major events in my classroom during different courses, I was amazed at teh correlations – and pleansantly surprised. The comparisons certainly gave me a better insight into undertsanding of the “fear” of technology.

Some of Rheingold’s outstanding resources include danah boyd (a fromer graduate student of Howard’s, I had no idea) the Ito siblings who have researched the positive learning experiences of teenagers through various types of scial media (gaming, facebook etc). In fact, now I am wondering if our job as teachers is not so much about “teaching” students using “their tools” (facebook, twitter, gaming) (because the evidence seems to support that they are learning a lot about “learning” all by themselves). Instead, our role as teachers is to help facilitate critical thinking techniques and encourage reflection to make their learning more meaningful? I will add to this thought at the end of this post….

Comparing Rheingold to others…..

Comparisons to other Connectivist research in my Lit Review could be based on Rheingold’s explanation of how we can take “Collective Action” – Networking, Coordination, Cooperation and Collaboration. This analysis of how we can learn together is an example of “Connectivist” principles. Kop and Hill (2008) research focuses on if connectivism is a new learning theory or if it is a combination or extension of previous theories. While I am not debating if connectivism is a new learning theory, I am intersted in the theories they presented because I am able to compare what we are already doing online – to what I would be planning on doing differently in a miniMOOC course. The combination of Kop and Hill’s research combined with Rheingold’s examples of “how” we can act collectively offer me new insights into what we are missing and what direction to follow in emerging online teaching options. This will help me choose my chapters from G. Veletsianos book about Emerging Online Technologies and focus on key parts of Garrison’s E-Learning in the 21st Century.

I am in the middle of McCauley, Stewart,  Siemens,  and Cormier’s article. Their explanation of a MOOC adds to my “insight” on the possible direction of networked learning as well. An interesting comparison may be made between Rheingold’s explanations on social media as an influence on the economy and MOOC’s influence on the economy. He cites examples through playbor and crowd sourcing. The recent debates among the MOOC community on the differences between the MOOC courses offered may be able to help differentiate MOOC “crowd sourcing education” and MOOC’s as an alternative form of online learning. There is an emphasis  in McCauley, Stewart, Siemen’s and Cormier’s article on MOOC’s and the digital economy (based on thier research questions). While I am interested in this topic, this is an example of an area I cannot delve too deeply into if I am to ever finish my Lit Review. The “fear” that MOOC’s and various forms of FREE open online courses have a huge influence on the future of the “look” of Higher Education is not lost on me…..I just have to focus on how to integrate connectivist ideas into a k-12 course.

So…..upon reflection……my two major research questoins have now become:

1) What does connectivism or “Networked” learning look like? What are the different forms of  connectivist learning in our world today?

2) How can connectivist ideas be integrated into a k-12 course?

  • What is the role of educators inconnectivist learning? If there is research and evidence to support learning in social media and gaming by teenagers (Ito and boyd) then maybe we as “educators” should foscus on what the kids are doing well, and hepl them do it better (while learning for ourselves at the same time?)
  •  focus on Rheingold’s “Five literacies” – Attention, Crap Detection, Participation, Collaboration and Network Smarts would be an ideal “curriculum focus” for all k-12 students?
  • What would a continuum of Five Literacies look like if we started in Kindergarten?

I also think that I need to compare Rheingold to Anya Kamenetz

And a look at Alec Couros’s MOOC

Alan Levine’s course also looks icredible….

So much learning, so little time!!!

I will not be able to add to my Lit Review, if anything I will cut articles/blog reviews and post “my summaries” on this blog…if I get to them before August!


There is hope…..

Posted: May 11, 2012 in Uncategorized

I am so excited! My first confirmed facilitator is: Scott Manahan


I also received confimration that the Digital Family Summit is willing to advertise to their conference participants.

I have also started a schedule so I know who is “speaking” when… it’s own page, “Course Schedule”

Lots of good news today!

I am wondering if I am my own audience?

There is obviously an established need for a course on digital identity, because we are in the midst of a digital revolution and change in educational focus. However, I am wondering if I am the only one who would want to come to my course?

I was speaking with one of the most educated and involved parents I know today about my plan to create a miniMOOC based on digital identity and she asked me, well what would my son learn? He wouldn’t want to take your course because he doesn’t blog- he researches online.

I wonder how I am presenting myself an my ideas. My enthusiasm for educational change may be getting in the way of the one goal – creating a course and seeing how it works.

I have started campaigning (it feels like campaigning) for collaboration through e-mails, comments and forums:

I am wondering if I am creating my own parade. We ‘ll see if I get any collaborators….