Learning together: Catching up on the adventures of connected learners and teachers via ED677

Over three years now, during the spring, I have taught ED677 at Arcadia University’s School of Education, a “connected course” focused on seeking equity in connected learning and teaching. Final projects for ED677, or what we call our final “makes,” are something we design that emerges from our inquiry and supports our work beyond the 15 weeks of the course. The goal is that each project explicitly focus on building towards equity and connected learning, building off the framework of Connected Learning, and contributes to making interest-driven, production centered and connected opportunities for all a reality in the world (in big and small ways).

These projects have been great and there is much to learn from what folks end up designing to support connected learning in their context. And I was curious to learn what happened since! Therefore this past semester, I invited several folks who participated in the past to come and share with my current class about their work and reflections on Connected Learning and teaching. I also had a chance recently to hear from several of past ED677ers in a panel discussion at Arcadia University in relation to a meeting on Connected Learning in Teacher Education. Below then is a set of compiled thoughts, notes and quotes from this work and those discussions.

Robert Sidelinker, a teacher at Warwick Elementary, participated in ED677 in 2016 and now teaches his students in a 1-6 STEM class called QUEST (Questioning and Understanding through Engineering, Science, and Technology). Throughout his time in ED677 he blogged about an inquiry project he was working on throughout the semester, a making and game design/play unit he co-designed with his students and colleagues. What I like the best about his posts are the ways power shifts to the students as he describes the unfolding of this project:

It’s funny.  Weeks ago, as my team and I created the inquiry questions that would help lead us into this unit of study, the questions seemed to be directed at us, the teachers.  Now that our students have begun their work, it seems that the questions apply to them, not the “educators.” …

… Throughout the experience, students have been blogging about the game and blogging about ways to persuade teachers to allow their students to play.  

In a reflection on this work he writes “As a teacher, I don’t think I’ve ever attempted a learning activity that is so social.  Students are now making original creations that were born from commonly shared ideas!”  

Now a couple years later, and while participating in this recent panel discussion, Robert continues to think about this work and how best to support his colleagues from his position as a QUEST teacher and educational technology coach at his school. In a reflection on his own journey in becoming a more connected teacher, he says that moving from a deliverer of content to a facilitator/manager has had one of the biggest impacts on him. And so in his role as a coach, he works to support his colleagues from where they are in this process. He reflects that “a lot of teachers are really uncomfortable with not knowing the answer … but in today’s society the answer [to not knowing] should be “let’s look it up” .. you’re not forfeiting their authority; you are preparing [students] for the future.”

Shayla Amenra has served as an educator and artist in schools and afterschool programs and now operates HAPPISPACE; an education services company specializing in out-of-school time (OST), mobile makerspaces, and curriculum development. During her participation in ED677 Shayla was also participating in an inquiry group with TAG (Teacher Action Group) Philly. Her work with other iTag educators focused on developing an African-American history curriculum. Since the focus on ED677 is to connect our work in class with work we are doing in the world, she submitted the website that she made as part of her final make that semester.

As an educator and an artist, Shayla actively integrates her making work (she is a jeweler; see HAPPIMADE) into the way she thinks about learning and education, always working to connect her networks, her interests, and available resources. During the recent panel discussion, she talked about how this supports her connecting her students to those things that they are interested in – a focus that she puts front and center to all of her teaching.

… when you are student focused, student centered, and you are connecting them to what they are interested in, they show up! They are interested, they are engaged  … they ask those questions [that] even you [as an educator] are taken back – Wow, I didn’t even think of that! … For me it’s always amazing. There hasn’t been a project that I haven’t done where allowing students to talk and explain where their interest is within their project where I’m not surprised by the end … I map out every single thing, I’m a super planner; I’ll have every scenario for every scenario, and then the student will still find that one thing that I hadn’t even thought of. And it’s amazing. It’s always about the students for me.

Helga Porter was also a participant in this same panel discussion. She is a math teacher and since her participation in ED677 in spring 2015, has become the S.T.E.M. liaison for her building, “encouraging teaching and learning with a social conscience for all” she writes. As an advocate for increasing S.T.E.M. in the classroom, she is an active member of the district’s Strategic Planning Committee with a specific focus on their transformative curriculum pathways work.

During the panel discussion, Helga talked about the ways that the schools she works with are using the framework of Connected Learning to describe and talk about the work they are doing. She describes the framework as helpful language that helps modernize what they were already striving for in the district. She also shared how projects they have started, such as a mobile makerspace cart for each school building, are becoming sustainable as they use them. After upfront costs, she explains, … students bring things in to add to it. “They’re realizing they don’t need money - they can do something with the materials they already have.”

Helga reflected on her experience in the program at Arcadia and described how its loose parameters really challenged her:

I tried to figure out what [the instructors] wanted. Then we realized [the looseness] was all by design - they’re evil people. We were supposed to learn this is what our students and colleagues are experiencing. We need to take risks, too. We’re not just facilitators. That was the aha moment for me. Learning about ourselves, learning to take risks, fall, fall forward, and recover.

“They were evil in how they did it, but we forgive you.” she added, looking with a smile at me and Meenoo Rami, the two instructors of the main connected learning courses at Arcadia. Several others concurred! (Oy.)

Kathy Walsh was another participant in this panel and also came to visit my class during the spring of 2017. She took ED677 with Helga that first “evil” spring semester, and during that time she set up this blog space and related maker-activities. Although she didn’t continue the blog itself past that one semester, she does continue to support her students in blogging and connecting to others in ways that allow them to create their own pathways forward. For example, this past semester she describes working working on a unit of study about chemical reactions where students blogged about their interests and research while Kathy worked to connect them to experts in the field.

Kathy is currently a teacher at Building 21 in Philadelphia and the founder of Youth Engineering and Science where she organizes summer youth STEM programming for youth. During a visit to ED677 this past semester she declared “Connected Learning, to me, is all about social justice.”

I work in a public high school in North Philadelphia and we do project-based learning and so one of the most important things is trying to find a way to make the work relevant for students and the best way to do it is to connect them to what really is going on in their community, in their future employment and future college and career pathways. So this is what I try to do in all my projects. … Becoming a connected learning [myself] has been essential because I can do it now. I have the tools.

While Lana Iskandarani, an Arabic language instructor at a local university, was in ED677 during the spring 2016 when she shared what she described as a small move in her classroom that had big consequences on a class she was teaching at the time:

When I assigned projects to my students last semester and the years prior, they were  individual pieces of work. I gave them some freedom to choose what they want to learn about, but not completely. There were some rules and constraints to follow in completing their work. Every student worked privately on their project and they had their own presentation in the classroom. The only audience for those pieces of work were my students and I. The students reflections were done orally after every presentation.

This semester, by implementing the connected learning principles and making small changes every week, I prepared my students to be more flexible with collaboration inside and outside the classroom. It became evident they were responsible and curious about the subjects at hands, more able to do their research, and more open to share their work with peers and other interested people out of the classroom. The final projects were examples of their improvement, and the  results came out phenomenal.

This idea of small changes, or “small moves” as we also referred to them and as per our core text Teaching in the Connected Learning Classroom, was very influential on Lana. And ultimately Lana’s experience and description of the ways she thought about these moves, was very influential on me. Lana has since described her work making Connected Learning framework a key piece of her curriculum project as she finishes her graduate work as well as a core part of her classroom and still references the ways that small changes can make a significant impact in her classroom, even with a fairly structured language learning context.

Tracey Dean is a high school Art teacher in the Radnor Township School District and also created a website as part of her final make in ED667 during this past spring 2017. This site focuses on the work created by students she works with and underscores Tracey’s frequent moniker “Art Matters.” In the recent panel discussion, she continued to emphasis this direction:  

Connected Learning needs to involve everyone. Our students did art in the halls so everyone could see. It initiated conversations. Bringing art out of the classroom. Art students shared their digital portfolios with teachers of other subjects, because sometimes teachers only know what their students are like in their single class.

I am really excited to see Tracey’s work unfold in the coming year. During this same panel discussion, she described a discovery over the last semester that has made her rethink how she wants to organize her classroom in the coming fall. Whereas previously she felt she was giving her students choice in their work, a value she expressed as critical to connected learning, the students shared that they didn’t feel that they had real choice in her class. After puzzling the disconnect for a bit in ED677, she then talked about the way she is moving towards setting up makerspace and stations in her classroom instead of doing whole class instruction followed by choice, which is how she had things previously organized.

The questions and tensions exist in this however, and Tracey talked about the ways that it can be really scary:

I guess my biggest fear with this whole thing and where it could go wrong, I am expected to present this work at District Art Month in in March. .. What’s the work going to look like? .. That’s where it’s terrifying to me about it. Also those conversations at home: ‘What are you learning? Oh, whatever we want – Ms. Dean is letting us chose this year.’ I don’t want them saying that at the dinner table! So those are the two things I’m going to have to figure out.

After a third semester of ED677, and the chance to have follow-up discussions with the educators above, my attention now turns to the ways that they can continue to take leadership in the Arcadia Connected Learning program as well as ways we can continue to network ourselves together to support this challenging but ultimately critical work. We are in this together.

Thank you to Robert, Shayla, Helga, Kathy, Lana and Tracey for sharing their work and learning. Wishing you all the best in your endeavors forward … and looking forward to learning more with you along the way.

Annotation and Connecting Our Learning


This is my third year of teaching ED677 at Arcadia University, a course titled “Seeking Equity in Connected Learning and Teaching.” There always so much to record, document and share along the way. Always true in the dynamics of teaching; always challenging to accurately capture.

Let me start with some thoughts about the power of annotation so far this semester.

Over the years, I have been learning from educators I work with about the power of annotation and new tools that support online annotation/social reading. These tools have included Google, Vialogues, Now Comment, Soundcloud, Genius and Hypothes.is. I have dabbled here and there, jumping into conversations that have been organized or creating a new thread in one of the various tools or forums myself. I’ve also been fascinated by the power of annotation historically and across disciplines, worked with Hypothes.is on projects like Letters to the Next President 2.0, and am interested in the power of projects like Climate Feedback to support scientific accuracy and reporting.

It wasn’t until this semester though that I focused on the ways that participants in ED677 were encouraged to annotate – and the results, so far, have been noticeable and encouraging.

I started this process really during the first week when I asked the participants in my course, who are both inservice and pre-service teachers, to use the commenting feature of Google docs to highlight things they noticed and that raised questions for them on the ED677 Spring 2017 syllabus. Publicly visible, the comments show me where the group’s interests and questions are within the framework that I have created for the semester. I have also found that reviewing the syllabus carefully like this created a shared understanding of ED677 that, previously, has required many individual conversations to support as the semester got started. The structure of ED677 is fairly different than other courses and requires the individual participants to set their own timing and priorities and therefore it is important that everyone reads and understands the goals and resources of the course right at the beginning.

The next step we took with annotation came during our second week together. After we get oriented to the course and introduce ourselves to each other, I encourage us in week 2 to move into thinking about the larger context of this course, ie. the rapidly changing technological landscape in which we are thinking about learning together. In the past I asked everyone to engage in recent work by John Seely Brown and the authors of the Connected Learning Design and Research Agenda while also reading the first chapter of School and Society by John Dewey, a publication of lectures he gave at the turn of the 20th century.

In the past, the Dewey piece has got short shrift from participants in my class and I kept wondering about it – maybe it was less interesting or relevant than I think it is when I read it. So I read it again. No, I decided – this article, despite a few archaic words and gendered descriptions, is still interesting and relevant today, 100+ years later. And JSB, in his 2012 keynote, directly challenges us to tackle Dewey’s ideas in the context of flowing on the tides of change today. So I decided to try something new this time around, and I turned to my colleagues Joe Dillon and Remi Kalir who were working on a fascinating project called Marginal Syllabus and asked them if we, as ED677, could join in.

Why “marginal”? The creators explain:

  • our conversations will engage authors and their texts, topics, and perspectives that may be considered marginal to dominant conventions of schooling and education.
  • conversations associated with The Marginal Syllabus will occur in the margins of online texts through practices of open web annotation.

They then write that “The Marginal Syllabus is collaborative and emergent attempt to create a new sociotechnical genre of educator professional development in which authors and readers, the practices of amplified marginalia, and learning technologies begin (re)marking on equity and education.”

Perfect, I thought. Here at ED677, we are all about new sociotechnical genres to support equity in learning and teaching, so I decided to barge my way in. And not only were Joe and Remi welcoming, they seemed excited and promptly made a space for Dewey’s 1907 text and created an annotation “flash mob” event to support us during that week. Amazing. Going back to ED677 then, my only job then was to invite the class. I did so by introducing them to the project, adding related scaffolding between the texts and supportive approaches (for those who might be new to this or nervous about doing the work publicly), and an opening annotation of my own, which read:

In 2012 I heard John Seely Brown give a keynote at the DML Conference where he said that “perhaps John Dewey (and Marie Montessori) were 75 years ahead of their time” when driving models of education that brought the learner into the flow of what they were learning. Maybe, he posits, “their intuition was right but their toolset was wrong." See: http://dmlcentral.net/the-global-one-room-schoolhouse-john-seely-brown/

I was so excited by this thought and have been wondering it ever since. So how might we do what JSB does in his speech and recast some of John Dewey’s work here from 1907 in today’s networked age?

The results of this experiences, and the differences in the ways we engaged with this older text, were significant. Not only did almost all of ED677 participate and contribute their significant knowledge as teachers and learners into the mix, but their reflections that week posted to their own blogs were filled with connections they made between Dewey’s work, John Seely Brown’s, and the research report/agenda for Connected Learning. They also quickly made important connections between to their own work and with their classmates through their shared blog posts. Eric, a graduate student in education aspiring to teach math, wrote “I feel like a conspiracy theorist… I’m finding connections everywhere!”

I should mention that ED677 is an entirely online course taught in the open, meaning that all of the activities and readings we engage in, and our writing and reflections about this work, are posted to our own blogs which are then aggregated together at our shared blog (Domain of One’s Own inspired). While we meet via video every other week, I have found that it always takes time to develop a sense of ourselves as a community and that this sense develops as our comfort with being a community of educational bloggers begins to grow. What I think I am noticing this time around, however, is that this kind of online social reading activity seems to have been a significant jump-start to that sense of belonging to a community, both within the course and beyond it. And since the goal of this course is to be connected learners ourselves, as educators, in order to support equitable access to connected learning and teaching with the youth we work with, this jump-start could have significant implications.

This week we are diving back into annotation as a way to explore the idea of “wobble” as in Pose/Wobble/Flow, and thinking about that idea within communities of other connected educators. I look forward to seeing where this all brings us.

NEPI 2015

I am here in Williamstown MA at the New England Puppetry Intensive. Tonight we sat in a circle outside the house where we are all staying and introduced ourselves, sharing a bit about what brought us here and what were some of our intentions over these next two weeks. There are 14 of us here as participants, 3 instructor/facilitators and a few connected young children. 

I talked about the embodied learning I have experience at the NWP and CLMOOC and how that has connected back to an early love of puppetry and pageantry fostered at Spiral Q and how I am now following that circle to see where it leads.

Excited to be here. 

Readings re: Science and Social Justice Teaching

Excerpted compilation by Kathy Walsh, April 6 2015

I am reading a book called The Art of Critical Pedagogy:   Possibilities for Moving from theory to practice in urban schools,  which is filled with very empowering ways to engage students who have been marginalized in schools.  Other books I have read in the past month that have a lot of Student-driven action projects and ideas for engagement:  Deep Knowledge: learning to teach science for understanding and equity by Douglas B. Larkin; Urban Science Education for the Hip-Hop Generation by Christopher Emdin; Teaching Science for Social Justice by Angela Calabrese Barton, and Democratic Science Teaching: building expertise to empower low income minority youth in science by Basu, Calabrese, and Tan. and Empowering Science and Mathematics in Urban Schools by Tan, Calabrese, & Barton.   For science teachers there seems not to be a lot on the subject of teaching for social justice compared to teachers of other subjects so I thought this list could prove helpful if this is something you are interested in. 

Just seven things (yet there are many more!)

The seven things I notice this Sunday? Connected learning (ie “It doesn’t need to be Earth-shattering to be meaningful”) … Connected learning (ie. “Every student has their own unique strengths and interests”) .. Connected learning (ie. “I have had several experiences in working in various communities just in the past week!”) …. Connected learning (ie. a Modge Podge How-to) … Connected learning (ie. high school math teachers sharing) … Connected learning (ie. coaching, learning, teaching and leading) … Connected learning (creation of new blog that works better for its author).

Thoughts about the front channel … plus #S7S

While the backchannel is important to me, right now I’m thinking a lot about the front channel.

I’m teaching a course at Arcadia University this semester called Seeking Equity in Connected Learning (ED677). It’s the fifth week and we are making “how-tos” (inspired by CLMOOC this past summer), spent Wednesday night learning how-to look at student work together with my colleague Christina Puntel, and thinking about all of this in the context of this week’s theme “learning in community.”

The front channel I’m thinking about specifically right now is the graduate classroom. Specifically the graduate education classroom. I have things to say about this not only because I’m teaching this semester but because I also just recently went back to school to get my own Masters of Education (I know, I’ve worked in education for a very long time without one … hence my affinity for the backchannel you see :).

The “front” versus the “back” is language influenced in today’s world via networked technologies. The “front” refers to the way that things are done more traditionally and in our current structures and systems. The “backchannel” then is what might be happening via networks, most popularly via social media. For example there are many stories of presentations, lectures or some other sort of one-way communication – take President Obama’s State of the Union speech just recently – and a parallel conversation happening in a networked way in the “backchannel” via #SOTU on twitter (which the WH itself was actively involved in this year just to say). Conversation about the implications of a range of back channels and their relationships to the front – what Ethan Zuckerman refers to as the cute cat theory – on global events such as the Arab Spring’s have been the topic of much debate and conversation over the last few years. The development of the #fergusonsyllabus hashtag is another more recent example of a social media backchannel that was created out of need of educators to have resources to talk to students about tomorrow, much of which is missing from any textbooks more traditionally available today. And then there are much more silly examples like Left Shark which, well, I leave the implications of that to your own opinion!

So the backchannel can be a powerful place … and although it’s not always subverting, it can be a space of agency and participation bringing multiple voices into the mix (used for both good as well as evil along with everything in-between).

The front channel however is often still the locus of power and, in education, the structures we have created around teaching and learning are still the most accessible ones (despite rocketing tuition and the systematic breakdown of public schooling in this country etc etc). Ultimately, still, the front channel is still where sites of accreditation are located and therefore the power and the authority. So that’s why, for example, I went back to get a Masters in Education. And why also I am now trying to really focus on the front for a bit … as well as relationships between the front and the back as Zuckerman suggests … in order to explore true equity in connected learning.

The class that I am teaching is designed in a non-traditional way. It is entirely online (although that to me wasn’t essential; this same design can be used for face to face work too); we don’t use a LMS or any traditional learning management system that are fairly common now at Universities and colleges – instead we use all social tools that the participants in the class sign themselves up for and control their own accounts within; we have a shared ED677 blog where what we blog about is pulled into a aggregate feed; and we use a semi-public Google + community to share things with each other and the larger growing Connected Learning “Network” at Arcadia (the University gives gmail accounts so i asked everyone to enable their G+ and try out those tools too). We also kinda use twitter (still working on that!) The course is designed explicitly to be a “connected course” which you can read more about on our our syllabus.

Besides its design though, my ultimate goal in the class is really to create a peer-based inquiry driven learning environment within a graduate program. This feels essential to me for a few reasons – I really believe that at the core of the shift we are experiencing now in terms of networked communications technologies is a shift in how we think about and organize knowledge. (Many people have said this before such as John Seely Brown if you want to hear more.) And therefore I want my classroom to represent this shift – no one person holds knowledge, we all do. And therefore how much and what we can really learn is dependent on each other. And this is a key fundamental in a connected learning framework too.

Now a couple things are awkward about this. First, we aren’t all that used to being peers in graduate classes. Maybe working together in groups but not being peers alongside a professor and also being peers with wider communities thinking about something together, in this case, connected learning and equity. I realize I was asked to teach the class because I do bring specific knowledge about specific things yet I also don’t know what those participating in the class know. And in an education class – which often will contain a really exciting mix of those who are actively teaching, those who have taught for many many years, and who are just starting to think about teaching – this can be a valuable thing and I, for one, don’t want to miss out.

More awkward than that though are the grades. I am in control of grades. So that puts me in charge and in a different power relationship no matter what I try to create in terms of flatness of power in the room. Now, just to say that at Arcadia I  had the power to make this class pass/fail, but I also know that most of the folks in this class are not in environments where they can just decided to make their classes pass/fail for their students – so I wanted to make our situations parallel. And within this parallel I am asking myself, how can we practice peer-based learning in a traditional classroom environment and what does this support us in thinking about when it comes to connected learning and the equity? That’s still an active question we, and specifically I, am exploring.

The reason these exercises of mine, these inquiries, feel important to me are because I believe that if we don’t shift the ways that we think about knowledge in a classroom – that is in the front channel idea of teacher as all-knower and/or the school or the scripted curriculum as container of knowledge – then we can’t shift how we teach. Until we approach teaching as an act of learning – whether from those we consider peers or from those we consider our students – we can’t actually shift the way that we design our schools. And until we shift the way we design education we can’t actually manifest the ideals of democracy that education has the power to promise. Instead we create systems by which individuals are told to learn what others believe they should learn, never given a chance to actively practice participation and democracy at all. And when we have no practice we have nothing to build upon. And when we do this to each other as adults too – act as if one of us knows more than the rest of us – and specifically as adults learning how to teach in education graduate classes, we never will actually shift any of what we are doing! 

We have to be what we want to see in the world, ultimately. I’m not sure there is another way.

Geez … I realize this is really a long-winded way of saying why learning in community and taking an inquiry stance are so important to me. I have learned this as a member of an inquiry-based peer driven learning network of educators called the National Writing Project, which sometimes in its own backchannel ways has been referred to as a “third space.” And I have learned this from the backchannel of the Internet. So equity, for me, lies in bringing what we know from these backchannels forward into the front. There are many heros to learn from this in this work – Ai Wei Wei being an particularly inspiring one for me right now. And I greatly appreciate all of my amazing networked colleagues and all you all in ED677 for thinking about this and working on these inquiries with me.

The seven things I notice this Sunday? Connected learning (ie “It doesn’t need to be Earth-shattering to be meaningful”) … Connected learning (ie. “Every student has their own unique strengths and interests”) .. Connected learning (ie. “I have had several experiences in working in various communities just in the past week!”) …. Connected learning (ie. a Modge Podge How-to) … Connected learning (ie. high school math teachers sharing) … Connected learning (ie. coaching, learning, teaching and leading) … Connected learning (creation of new blog that works better for its author).

Yay! :)

Save Mr. Frog & Ms. Cat: A Mini-Figs remix

While I have a great deal of respect for Scratch as a forum and a platform for visual programming and creation, I haven’t done that much myself in it as a creator. So I figured I would start with a remix during this week of remix and play in ED677 … Here it is: “Save Mr. Frog & Ms. Cat: A Mini-Figs Remix”

Can you save Ms. Cat from going in the water while allowing the Mr. Frog to make it to the pond? It’s kind of tricky! :)

#ilostTheGame … ED677 has been hacked!

It’s true … I lost The Game. (To find out more about The Game watch the beginning of our gathering last night with @chadsansing.)

Here’s the hack: we have been doing Find 5 Fridays (#f5f) but a proposal was put forward to instead do a #Seek6Saturday (or #Search7Sunday even to up the ante) giving us all a bit more time and space for our explorations.

Happy #S6S/#S7S all!



If you ever thought that twitter was just for sharing what you had for breakfast, then you probably never had a twitter chat with Joe Dillon regarding #techquity.

This past Wednesday evening, Joe Dillon – a colleague of mine from the Denver Area Writing Project and instructional technologist for the Aurora Public Schools – visited my ED677 class at Arcadia via Google hangout. I had invited him to come because we are starting to naming equities/inequities in connected learning and teaching and I was interested in the #techquity conversation he had been leading recently via social media:

This was also the first twitter chat that we had done in ED677. And for several of those participating, the first use of twitter at all. But bravely the group dove in … both as readers as well as tweeters. And it was not about breakfast at all. In fact, Joe took us right into a set of deep and important topics regarding the use of new technologies for learning and unpacking equity/inequity.

The design of this chat was based on work by Peter Below re: doubting/believing which has been iterated many times and in many ways by educators over the years. Joe Dillon iterated it once again, posting images of statements drawn from a set of five curated-by-Joe blog posts we had read beforehand, and then asked us to respond with I believe … #techquity or I doubt … #techquity.

For example:

1. Believe and doubt….#techquity pic.twitter.com/9ReEJI210T
2. Believe and doubt. #techquity pic.twitter.com/4qkH10LAM6
3. Believe and doubt. #techquity pic.twitter.com/g7HS1XLD14
4. Believe and doubt. #techquity pic.twitter.com/XzHAUDNomA
5. Believe and doubt. #techquity pic.twitter.com/ZgU9xccPkq
6. Believe and doubt. #techquity (4 minute warning.) pic.twitter.com/5SRbnoAzY4

You can see the full transcript of our chat.

I have reflections on this to share since then that cover a range of topics related to this chat …

First, I have been thinking about the topic of #techquity and the form/facilitation of this chat to get underneath these complex systemic issues. I am struck by the power of it actually, not to finish a conversation but to start some …. I noticed this week (and yes, this is the first of my 5 things this week) that the quality of the blog posts by those participating in ED677 have just rocketed forward … I see a lot less abstract ideas and many more personal reflections about self and practice (note added: I actually love abstract - and think it’s important - but also need to get down to it too. So both/and :). And in getting to equity, I think that kind of personal and visceral response and shared reflection is necessary and promising.

I do, however, also feel like I threw everyone in this week … unintentionally? I’m not sure and I’ve been thinking/reflecting about that all week since the chat. I know these topics are big topics and in some ways I know that I do feel like we just have to go at them, together and in community, to make any progress at all. But/and I realize that we are all still new to each other, most of the participants in this class are new to using social tools in this way, and that we haven’t really had much conversation about equity yet. On the other hand, how do you get to underneath these difficult topics unless you just go there – and I mean that content wise as well as technology wise. And as adult learners I think we have to go there with our full selves and as learners and peers. If we don’t how will we ever support youth in grappling with what is hard and challenging about all of this?

I’m reminded of the Buddhist concept of approaching each thing with a beginner’s mind. And if we can do this together, what are the implications? That’s the question I am left with and in the weeks ahead I hope we can reflect on this even more as we move into a focus on our syllabus on inquiry communities, practitioner research and communities of practice (both on and offline).

(That all said … I also probably could have/should have provided a bit more support for jumping in because, as you know if you’ve ever been on a twitter chat, these things are a bit frenetic. Everyone did great though and while I am comfortable with everyone choosing for themselves whether to be a reader or a tweeter or somewhere in-between, whenever the technology and/or the content is new. And I probably also could have made that clear from the get-go … as the authorized teacher of this class, even though I am interested in prompting a peer-based way of working together, I realize I have a certain authority that I need to also accept and address in these kinds of situations. So note to self … and happy to get feedback from those in ED677 about this too.)

That’s my second find this week – both my own learning and checking in as well as how impressed I am by how everyone in the class is making their own decisions and and working through their own questions while also working with each other in these new environments. Kudos all around.

My third find this week has to go to Joe himself. I am impressed by his attention and commitment to this conversation and to his vision of continuing to support it by connecting it to other activities and conversations happening both on and offline. For example, colleagues of his joined us from the Aurora Public Schools and this is clearly an important thread of conversations happening there right now … we were also joined by Kim Douillard, a colleague from the San Diego Area Writing Project who earlier that day we had noticed online working with local colleagues to #createquity. Joe and Kim have in many ways had important impact on my own thinking over time, I always appreciate their shared leadership and insight into these discussions, and I appreciate Joe creating opportunities to bring the pieces together.

My fourth find this week is related to ongoing questions I have about how to continue this discussion about equity in connected learning (ie. #clequity). I saw Selma last night, for example, which just reminds me again how important it is to share powerful stories of change and justice … and before that I spent last weekend at Educon where thought leaders such as Melinda Anderson, Jose Vilson and Rafranz Davis encouraged conversations about privileged voices in education. Melinda Anderson, in particular, struck cords within me related to the value of ethnic studies for all students as well as a demand, as a parent, that the education community do something about the lack of educators of color in the profession in a “Connections” panel on Sunday (note to self: will try to find the livestream or transcript of this).

Then my fifth find has to go to the authors Joe evoked in this “five entries” blog post … as well as all those who continue to write/share and surface the essential questions, tensions and systemic implications of inequality and injustice whether in education or society more generally. A few things I noticed online and bookmarked just this week that relate include:

I am filled with gratitude.