Naming Equity and Inequities

A key question for this class then is what do we mean by equity and how do we get there in a “highly stratified and unequal society”? This week I’d like you to start to consider inequities in connected learning through the lens of those working towards and thinking about equity in different ways.

Read through (a selection of) the links below. Start to identify aspects of inequities that you are particularly interested in focusing on this semester. Below are a few topics to get you started along with some related readings (note that these categories are very temporal and all overlap; key issues are also missing. You are welcome to suggest your own focus and share additional resources).


On its own, access to connectivity and devices does not guarantee access to engaging educational experiences or a quality education. Without thoughtful intervention and attention to the way technology is used for learning, the digital use divide could grow even as access to technology in schools increases. – National Educational Technology Plan, U.S. Department of Education


Access to this participatory culture functions as a new form of the hidden curriculum, shaping which youths will succeed and which will be left behind as they enter school and the workplace. – Jenkins, Confronting the Challenges of Participatory Culture


The hashtag went viral and sparked a broader dialogue about diversity in children’s literature. I found this hashtag valuable not only because it alerted me to an egregious example of a culturally insensitive text that helps sustain systemic racism, but also because it provided me with a wealth of reading to help me go beyond a single text and think about the larger civic issue of the lack of diverse authors/perspectives in this genre. – Nicole Mirra, #SlaveryWithASmile: How Twitter Can Raise Social Consciousness


HeForShe wants every voice to be heard in classrooms and corner offices around the world. Everyone has a say. Everyone has a role. Every unique contribution is essential to achieving gender equality. #HeForShe, – UN Women


Many DREAMers tell of becoming politicized after facing barriers to getting their education or through fighting to stop the deportation of a local community member. After finding a handful of other young people in the same boat as them, they organize a support group at first, just to share their stories in a safe space. Soon, support groups initiate an organizing arm starting with a local action, which leads to more organizing and, eventually, connection with the national movement. – How Undocumented Youth Nearly Made Their DREAMs Real in 2010, Colorlines


… [The Philadelphia Public School Notebook] serves as an information source for educators, parents and students, and a voice for those working for quality and equity in Philadelphia’s public education system. …

The week ahead …

Blogging: Follow the links above to help you craft your main blog post this week. What inequities do you most deeply connect with and find yourself most passionate about thinking about this semester. In what ways does this connect to our previous readings so far, posts that others have shared, and/or your experiences as a learner as well as an educator?

Follow Others Online: While you are reading the links above, do you notice the different ways that media is being used throughout? If you didn’t notice take a look again: What hashtags are you noticing? What educators names can you click on to learn more about the? Who can you google to find them blogging or tweeting online about similar issues? What new blogs or learning forums do these resources connect you to?

This week I’d like you to start to follow others online. You can follow some educators on twitter … others mostly blog.You can often also follow organizations, or coalitions, as well as subscribe to newsletters and to stay updated … and if you use Facebook, you can follow some of them there too.

Give yourself a goal to follow at least 5 new people/places/things this week. To help each other out, add to this collective list of the URLs, @handles, and #hashtags we find.

Find 5 Friday: Remember that “Find 5” is like a game. A game with a purpose, of course, but a game none-the-less. The goal of the game is, by Friday, to compile a list of 5 things you found online that you thought were exciting, provoking, important, interesting, or funny, etc. Each week we can pick a theme:

This week find 5 things that make you think about equity (or inequity) in learning.

If you miss Friday, then post 6 things on Saturday (Seek 6 Saturday) or 7 things on Sunday (Search 7 Sunday). This game, btw, was designed by the students in ED677 Spring 2015, so just fyi in case you want to redesign or design your own – you can propose it.

Social Media Tips …

Here are the same links I previously sent about Twitter … they might be helpful in understanding how follow in that forum:

Here’s a little video I made showing how I follow online (I used a free program called Jing for this btw).

Image: Gloria Casarez mural, 12th Street Gym, Philadelphia taken by Christina Cantrill CC BY

Democratic Principles and Participatory Cultures

Wordle image created from our ED677 collection of "What does connected learning mean to you" writing.
Wordle image created from our ED677 collection of “What does connected learning mean to you” writing.

Happy Monday!

Thank you all for working so hard to get your blogs up and running and posting your interest stories and #f5f. Really nice to connect with you all! If you look now at our ED677 class blog you should notice your own blog listed along the left side as a “contributor” as well as your posts aggregating into all the others in the reading section here.

Cool, huh? 🙂

Additionally, if you check out the hastag #ED677 you will also find the twitter handles of your classmates. I also made this list of those that I knew of so far. If you made a twitter account, please tweet a message like “Hello #ED677” so that we can see what your handle and I will add it to this list.

Finally I have accepted many of you into the Arcadia Connected Learning Network on G+.  This is meant to be a social space for us to share with others in the larger connected learning community at Arcadia. You are welcome to use it as you might use something like Facebook or any other social platform. In the case of this class, I might suggest you post a link to your #f5f blog posts to start since that’s a nice way to curate a set of resources and share with others.

Nice work on getting started. A next step would be to stay connected to each other as colleagues/fellow students in this class. Read each others blogs, share links and notes via Twitter and G+, and encourage each other along the way. Note: I posted a few tips for using social media to support connecting and learning below.

This week … 

This week we will keep working on “getting started” while we also dive into some of the key values of connected learning such as participation and participatory cultures.

“Connected learning takes root when young people find peers who share interests, when academic institutions recognize and make interest-driven learning relevant to school, and when community institutions provide resources and safe spaces for more peer-driven forms of learning. … These connected learning environments ideally embody values of equity, social belonging, and participation.” Connected Learning: An Agenda for Research and Design

As we explore participation this week I’d like to ask us all to actually participate in something. Participation could happen on or offline. And it can be something you participate in already (a group conversation at school, a class at the gym, etc.) … or it can be something entirely new to you (a fundraising campaign, a group hike, an online annotation). It doesn’t so much matter because mostly I would like you to focus on this idea of participation while you participate … and in doing so, reflect on what it means to you in the context of equity and connected learning.

Share this reflection on your blog this week.

Here’s one way to participate online if you are stuck for an idea — annotate something!

The New York Times Learning Network has a great Skills and Strategies piece recently about Annotation and the way that it can support learning and connections: Annotating to Engage, Analyze, Connect and Create

Then, in preparation for this week’s work, please read/watch and consider the following:

Jenkins, Henry (2006) Confronting the Challenges of Participatory Culture

Related to this, these two pieces might be of interest:

Case study re: participatory politics and civics: The Harry Potter Alliance: Connecting Fan Interests and Civic Action

More recent Washington Post article: How ‘Harry Potter’ fans won a four-year fight against child slavery

Chapter 1 of School and Society by John Dewey (1907)
(Note that this is posted in an annotation forum called Genius.  Please read; annotation is optional.)

And don’t forget, Find 5 Friday (#f5f):

This week go back to each others blog posts and find five things that excite you about what others are doing and/or thinking about.

Connecting …

The Doodle poll proved that there is no one evening this week that works for all of us at the same time. Therefore having a regular online gatherings is not realistic.

However, this week, Dr. Kira Baker-Doyle from Arcadia, will be joining our class via a hangout to share a research project she is leading about the connected learning certificate program at Arcadia and how we can participate, if interested. She will join us this Wednesday January 27 at 7pm ET — please join us at this hangout link if you are available.

Note that throughout the semester I’d like to invite guests to join us via Google hangout. I will work with those guests based on their schedules — and then announce which evening a hangout will happen. Those of you who can make it, please join. And for those of you who can’t, we will record the hangout and you can watch later and respond via your blogs, etc. I will do my best to schedule these ahead of time.

Few tech tips …

  1. When reading blog posts via our ED677 class blog, you can click on the title of any post to get to the original blog where it was posted. This will allow you to see the post in it original environment as well as (usually) allow you to leave a comment (note however that not all blogs allow for commenting).
  2. Another way to “comment” on each other’s blog is to refer to it in a new blog post of your own and make a link back to the post you are referencing. This is a common practice among bloggers and something you might want to try if you haven’t ever done this (#f5f s a nice excuse to do this too). Note that some blogs, like WordPress, will send you “pingbacks” if someone links to your post in this way.
  3. G+ can be a way to encourage a larger audience for your blog posts. If you post a specific post you want to share here, you’ll be inviting others in the Connected Learning work at Arcadia to come and read it. You can also tag specific people by adding their name with a + sign in front of it (ie. +Christina Cantrill)
  4. Twitter is another way to encourage an even larger, public, audience to read your blog. Anyone who follows you or reads your profile can see it, and if you add hashtags others may see it too. You could post something and tag it with someone’s handle, like the Arcadia School of Education (@ArcadiaSOE) and/or a hashtag like #ED677, #connectedlearning, #phled, etc.
  5. I started a crowdsourced list of @handles and #hashtags that you should check our or add to if you have suggestions.

For additional fun …

… here is one of my favorite examples of a participatory activity that Ze Frank created online several years ago: If the Earth Were a Sandwich. (You can try this too … if you dare 😉

Looking forward to participating and sharing with you this week!


Getting Started: Honoring our Interests and Connecting Online

Welcome to ED677 where we will be seeking equity in connected learning and teaching … and we will start that process by first connecting some of our own!

I am Christina Cantrill and I work for the National Writing Project as an Associate Director of National Programs. I am excited to work with you this semester. My background and experience is based on working alongside writing project educators exploring the implications of digital media on learning and literacy. A few key places to connect to some of that work are NWP Digital Is and Educator Innovator.

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 — and then use this Google Doc to share it with the rest of us.

And no worries … There are no wrong answers because whatever it means to you is probably exactly right — there are many ways to connect (both on and offline) and to learn through those connections. This course will be about exploring ways that we can connect and reflecting on the implications for learning and teaching.

Read more about the course via our syllabus. Please also comment on anything you have questions about, or email me those questions directly at

An Overview …

This week we will focus on getting started by getting connected and introducing ourselves to each other. A key piece of connected learning is about being networked to and learning alongside others, whether on or offline. Therefore connecting to each other as  fellow students/colleagues is an important first step; we will also connect with others thinking about Connected Learning here at Arcadia and in the wider world.

As the instructor, I will work to support your learning and connecting by establishing some patterns that you can count on and create from as the semester unfolds. And we will be using a range of online spaces to work in which will allow us to experiment with the affordances of different kinds of spaces, play with different technologies, and connect with a range of different people for different purposes.

Here’s an overview of what you can start to expect:

  1. Each Monday I will post a blog post to kick off the week. This blog will be posted at our ED677 class blog and then I will also cross-post it to our G+ Community and also to our “learning hub” at Arcadia’s Blackboard.
  2. The ED677 class blog will be a shared public space where we can connect to each others’ blogs, find a link to the syllabus and course archives, as well as always find Monday’s post. Please visit this site now and bookmark this link for easy access.
  3. Each week you will responsible to read/watch/consider a set of content that I will post that is related to the themes of the week and with a focus on equity. You are welcome to share new things for us to read/watch/consider too — we want to grow our knowledge together. See this week’s readings/watchings below.
  4. Each week I will prompt you to make something and share it on your blog related also to the theme of the week. You can choose to respond to the prompt I send but you can also decided to respond to something more interesting/relevant to you. See this week’s prompt below.
  5. At the end of every week we all will do a “Find 5 Friday” activity (or “Seek 6 Saturday” or “Seek 7 Sunday”) where we will find 5-6-7 things to share about each others’ work and/or the larger field of Connected Learning related to the themes of the week.
  6. All the while we will be working in and across several online spaces. I ask you to use all of these different spaces and encourage you to think about the different affordances of each one as you go. We will stop every 3rd week to specifically reflect on and discuss this aspect of what we are doing.

That’s the overview of this course, which might, I realize seem somewhat unfamiliar if you haven’t been part of a connected course/experience before. I’m happy to discuss any questions you might have and you can refer to the syllabus to see how this course is assessed and what the expectations are for participation.

This Week …

Honoring our Interests

Connected Learning is an approach that sees learning as interest-driven, peer supported, production-centered and oriented toward powerful outcomes for youth. What then is the role of interests in learning? What does it mean to be interest-driven? And what are the implications for equity in learning? Let’s begin our work together by honoring our own interests this week as we start to get connected.

In preparation for this week’s work, please read/watch and consider the following:

Ito, et al. (2012) Connected Learning Research Report and Agenda

Personal Stories @ Connectedlearning.TV
(watch the ones that seem interesting to you)

Blogs and bloggers to check out
(this is an open and public list … please add any of your own suggestions)

Here is a prompt to respond to on your blog (you may write or use another form of media):

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?

And don’t forget, Find 5 Friday (#f5f):

By the end of the week/weekend, find 5 things that you appreciate that others have shared. Post links to these things, with a sentence or two about them, so that we can see them too. Note: If you wait until Saturday, find 6 things (#s6s) — If Sunday, find 7 (#s7s). Here is an example from last year.

Get Connected

This course will use a range of online tools for connecting. Here are a few steps to make sure you are connected this week.

G+ Community

We will use a G+ Arcadia Connected Learning Community that is hosted by Arcadia and includes other students/educators who are part of the Connected Learning Certificate Program. This semi-public social space is meant for us to share beyond our class but still within the University.

I created a guide to Connect Via Google + that should help you do this via your Arcadia Gmail account.

Your Blog

We will each also maintain our own blog to share writing and media with the wider public. This week you should create that blog, if you don’t have one already, and connect that blog to our ED677 class blog.

I created a guide for that too: Connect Via Your Blog.


We will also all use Twitter and the shared hashtag #ED677. This week you should create a Twitter handle, if you don’t already have one, and share your new handle with us so that we can find each other.

Here’s are a couple handy guides about getting started with Twitter:

Twitter’s Getting Started with Twitter guide

Hashtags, Twitter Chats and TweetDeck for Education by Sue Waters

Question: Meeting Live Next Week?

Next week, I would like to meet online via Google Hangout, if possible. Please respond to this Doodle Poll and let me know what might be a good day/time for you.


Really excited that you are participating in this course and I am looking forward to learning with all of you. If you have questions you can email me directly at


Featured image attribution: Mural on Chestnut and 7th streets in Philadelphia taken by Jason Murphy via FLICKR cc by 2.0.