Making #The4thBox @ #educon #ED677

For a few years now I’ve been teaching ED677, an online course at Arcadia University called Seeking Equity in Connected Learning and Teaching. My intention in the course is to support educators in exploring connected practices in their own learning and teaching, and in doing so, think together about the core issues of equity in our work and build toward it with/for our learners.

While we continue to seek equity, after 4 years I really do have to stand back and wonder, are we actually getting anywhere? It’s a hard question because really, it’s a much bigger job than any single course could impact. And it’s a hard question, because as the instructor, I’m not even sure what I am expecting to see. And this is also why we keep seeking it, year after year. And try to figure this out together.

I see a lot of interesting work in their final projects (will post a link in a bit to a curated set of these) but I wanted to first write about something we did along the way this year which was new. And I think significant.

During the 3rd week of ED677 we focus specifically on imagining what we mean by equity as a means of starting that conversation which then threads throughout the semester. This year we had a range of readings/watchings to frame what we were thinking about (several of them new, including a conversation from @educon​ which I thought was impactful). And then, because we always include the opportunity to make something each week, this time around I recommended #The4thBox project by the Center For Story-based Strategy and Interaction Institute for Social Change.

The week’s make was meant to support us in imagining how we might get into this fight for equity. We used an alternative image/remix of a popular equality/equity graphic and meme and then followed the questions and prompts created  by the Center, ie:

Use it to discuss the importance of not just telling a different version of the same story, but of actually changing the story (by challenging assumptions). Questions from this project include:

What other story could be revealed in this setting?

What other “psychic break” could you make up?

What other underlying assumption here could you challenge?

Who built that wall in the first place and/or who took it away?

Before I did this online with ED677, however, I also facilitated a “conversation” that incorporated this at Educon 2018 alongside some previous participants of ED677. Here are the slides we used – at the workshop we prompted the discussion in much the same way as I did online; however we followed up that activity with small group work and discussion.

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A few pictures from the face to face work at EduCon 2018.


Doing this activity both in person as well as online, I found it to be remarkably effective in supporting the kind of conversation I was hoping would emerge – and helped me get clear on what I was even looking for. First, I found it supported us in engaging physically as well as intellectually with the idea of equity – the the face to face setting, it was the first thing we did together as a group of mostly strangers, and it supported spontaneous conversations at the table as well as a sort of shared nervousness and anticipation about what we were creating and what the 4th box should be. Online, it was less initially collaborative as each individual made their own 4th box on their own (I had set up a specific discussion for them to share about this work as they did it, but no one used it) – however, the discussions about what we made and why continued throughout the semester, showing up in their shared blogs, collaborative work, and in their final projects. I also attribute this staying power to the physical and creative nature of the activity – I could see how it resonated in a way that our general readings, discussions, and blog posts don’t (well, except when we use Hypothes.is to annotate … which is an interesting parallel but maybe also a slightly different blog post.)

Second, I found that this activity supported a range of 4th boxes to be created and that was exciting to me. There wasn’t just one approach to equity, not just one reason that things are inequitable, and no one external person or entity to blame. The first group we did it with was dominated by educators who, for the most part, I believe are used to talking about equity more frequently – the second group, in ED677, seemed to me to be more dominated by educators who are maybe less frequently engaged in such conversations. And yet, in both situations, the complexities of supporting equity were evident, as were its approaches and solutions. I also saw, and continue to see in ED677, educators putting themselves firmly into the equation.

Below are a few examples of what we came up with, individually, in ED677. And in this collaborative presentation we made, you’ll see the theme’s continuation through to the end of the semester.

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Equity with a Twist


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#The4thBox … Collaboration


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Participation


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My Fourth Box


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Equality vs. Equity


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How Can We Hit it Out Of the Park?


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The 4th Box


I want to thank the Center For Story-based Strategy and Interaction Institute for Social Change for the creation of this activity set and for creating this opportunity to begin essential conversations in support of creating equity together. 

Day #6, Data Detox

Getting back to this after a weekend break and did a quick #datadetox today; good resources to return back to do more. First question was how may Apps do I have on my phone … so I counted. 

141! Yikes.

According to the Data Detox Tactical Collective, I have very high exposure to data collection, ie. “The more apps you have, the more your data builds up, and the more companies have access to it.”

So my first challenge was to delete the ones that I don’t use anymore. I now have about 1/3 of what I did and I need to do a bit more. But it’s a good start and the phone feels so much lighter!

The second challenge is to adjust my privacy settings on my phone which I’d already kind of done. Finally I was introduced to the Alternative App Centre where I can find many apps that do what my apps may do but these don’t collect information. Very cool.

I already have and semi-use one of these; Signal. It encrypts text messages. I downloaded it after the last election. Find me at seecantrill there.

Day #6, Data Detox

Getting back to this after a weekend break and did a quick #datadetox today; good resources to return back to do more. First question was how may Apps do I have on my phone … so I counted. 

141! Yikes.

According to the Data Detox Tactical Collective, I have very high exposure to data collection, ie. “The more apps you have, the more your data builds up, and the more companies have access to it.”

So my first challenge was to delete the ones that I don’t use anymore. I now have about 1/3 of what I did and I need to do a bit more. But it’s a good start and the phone feels so much lighter!

The second challenge is to adjust my privacy settings on my phone which I’d already kind of done. Finally I was introduced to the Alternative App Centre where I can find many apps that do what my apps may do but these don’t collect information. Very cool.

I already have and semi-use one of these; Signal. It encrypts text messages. I downloaded it after the last election. Find me at seecantrill there.

Day #5, Data Detox

Day #5 is pretty rad and all about your phone and the #infosphere around us. I downloaded The Architecture of Radio which shows me these photos of what is around me in terms of a info systems, etc. In these screenshots you can see that there are a lot of cell towers, wifi (oops, less captured here, but I could see them too), GPS, other satellites (US, Russia, Direct TV). I am also sharing my direct location at this time so I erased that part out … don’t want to toxify things while I detox!

I can’t help but wonder what all this does to our brains and to the larger ecosystem/biosphere; not to mention all the space things/space junk floating around this planet. 

My other favorite part was the simple act of renaming my phone. It’s now named “Marcy the Cat has beautiful green eyes” just because that makes me happy to might make others happy too.

Here is Marcy the Cat btw:

Day #5, Data Detox

Day #5 is pretty rad and all about your phone and the #infosphere around us. I downloaded The Architecture of Radio which shows me these photos of what is around me in terms of a info systems, etc. In these screenshots you can see that there are a lot of cell towers, wifi (oops, less captured here, but I could see them too), GPS, other satellites (US, Russia, Direct TV). I am also sharing my direct location at this time so I erased that part out … don’t want to toxify things while I detox!

I can’t help but wonder what all this does to our brains and to the larger ecosystem/biosphere; not to mention all the space things/space junk floating around this planet. 

My other favorite part was the simple act of renaming my phone. It’s now named “Marcy the Cat has beautiful green eyes” just because that makes me happy to might make others happy too.

Here is Marcy the Cat btw:

Day #4, Data Detox

Today my #datadetox was a walk through data trackers and a set of #trackerbusters. I appreciate this Data Detox process because it allows me to try some new tools that would take me forever to find, figure out and assess on my own. 

First I started with a set of EFF tools and tested my data privacy/web tracking protection on Chrome. Well, not so good:

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I looked at this “fingerprint” thing too and truthfully, I don’t understand it. Will need to come back to learn more.

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Then I installed Privacy Badger as EFF suggested, on both Chrome and FF. Then ran another test. Whoo hoo! (Again, still don’t get fingerprints, but anyway, it’s better).

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The challenge for the day is to try a tool called AdNauseum which apparently clicks on Ads invisibly, therefore rendering my data results random and useless I anyone. I decided to install that on FF where I am doing my personal browsing now. And that will also let me see how it compares to browsing on Chrome without it.

Anyway it’s apparently not working on Chrome right now – see:

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Fascinating the things you learn about doing #datadetox!

Makes me go back to thinking about the alternative business models out there or that could be developed online that move us beyond this sole focus on advertising and behavior modification techniques; a focus which makes tools like this necessary. Also reminds me of the publication/movement called Adbusters.

Day #3, Data Detox

Today was Facebook #datadetox day. I started with what Facebook knows, or thinks it knows about me, and how that influences the ads it serves me, etc. You can start by using an extension called “What Facebook Thinks You Like in the (ironic, I know) Chrome Web Store.

Some of this surprised me or seems just totally random. Here are my interests reflected in business and industry – you can hover over and find out why these interests have been connected to you. It ranges from things that I liked, to apps that I downloaded (on my iphone, not fb), to really seemingly useless interests like “Student” or “House” that simply say that I clicked on something that indicated that I am interested in those things. 

You can then click on “Student” and get some example ads that people with this category will also see. Not sure what to make of this set really.

What’s nice is with this extension I’m now using I have the choice to remove this (and I did).

Here is my “About you” screenshot and related summary: According to FB, I am a “very liberal” frequent traveler born in September who has an African American multicultural affinity as well as uses a number of Apple devices.

DD then moves you through looking at FB Settings and making some edits there – for example, I did decide to turn off my open setting to search engines, so now it’s less likely my FB content will come up in an open web search. I didn’t change what my friends see and how public the content is that I share at FB. I’m pretty conscious, I think, of what I share. I just decided I don’t need it to be crawled all the time by search engines.

You also get a chance to look at your FB activity and I did that but again, I really didn’t change anything. I did download another extension, Data Selfie, to both Chrome and Firefox at DD recommendation; I will come back to that in a week an see what it tells me.

ps. An update on day #2 – In a conversation with colleagues about the challenge of shifting to an entirely new browser and the related workflow dependencies, I’m going for an in-between, ie. that I will use Firefox for my personal gmail and activities and then Chrome at work and for my teaching. So just fyi and in case that idea is helpful to you too.

Day #2 (almost), Data Detox

Spent the ½ hour this morning doing my #datadetox which is really about finding out how much Google knows about you and getting a handle on your privacy settings within your browser (which recently has been Chrome for me). After doing my one Gmail account/persona in Chrome though, I realize I still need to do my other accounts! I use four different emails (2 gmail, 2 not but gmail-linked) across three different Chrome personas, and each needs to be be detoxed separately.

Is Google my BFF? That’s their question. Still not sure how I’d answer that (since my BFF is more than someone I share things with, but anyway) … Chrome clearly knows A LOT about me. And my activity is all very clearly tracked here in Chrome (see activity.google.com to see your own).

Interesting that when you go to manage your activity, the way that Google frames it’s relationship to the data it has on you, ie. 


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Okay, now the plan is to:

  • finish the detox
  • switch to Firefox

Day #1, Data Detox

Searching for my name/image via different search engines, I find images on Google that I mostly recognize or that I posted.


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Via duckduckgo I find others I recognize although a few here I have no idea about.

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Via startpage I mostly am not familiar with these although the documents are associated.

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Reverse image searching, I find this image is no longer attached to anything (I think I used it as an informal image for a conference or something).


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Searching for myself on the Internet Wayback Machine, I end up back in 2003 (and wondering why I thought this was a good picture at the time; creepy!).


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By 2005 at least I’d changed to an avatar.


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My Connected Learning Journey, Spring 2018

As the instructor and designer of ED677 at Arcadia University, I put together a Wordpress blog (through the awesome Reclaim Domain) that aggregates all the blogs that the teachers participating in the class create and use throughout the semester. Every year I post photos that I took as part of that blog’s design. So when I started to think about my journey, and the role of peers and equity in it, I started to think more about what they represent to me and why.

Starting with 3 Tomatoes in the Sun …

… for me these represent organic growth and nature. Both have been essential elements of my journey as I have had to grow as an educator to open myself up to what learning looks like on its natural path and how we as humans grow and learn everyday. However what these tomatoes remind me of too is that this “natural” path doesn’t come without work and fostering – here I see very healthy tomatoes and to me that indicates that they were well cared for and tended at key points along the way. The work of the gardener and the context is essential, as is the growth patterns and needs of the tomato itself, and that all has to work in unison. It makes me wonder, what can we learn from growing tomatoes that helps us think about the ways we support connected learning for ourselves and others?

Moving to An Immigrant Alphabet … 


… connects me with this section of artwork created by youth and artists at Northeast High School as part of the Al-Bustan Immigrant Alphabet project. Everyday on my way to work I walk by this project, so it’s directly connected to my life in that way. But it also speaks to me of a approach to learning that is deeply connected – connected to the experiences of youth, connecting their ways of representing their experiences, and connecting people in the way that it is displayed in the public space of the municipal building in downtown Philadelphia. This for me is my vision of what connected learning could look like if we engaged all youth and Philadelphia resources and organizations in these opportunities. I am also impressed by the fact that Al-Bustan, a musical ensemble, believe it is it’s mission to support like this created for and alongside youth; I find that inspiring.

And then to multiple colored windows … 


… that remind me of the many experiences, approaches, needs, desires, that we all bring to learning. Every year when I teach ED677 I learn new things and am reminded by the course participants of the rich variety of ways we all see and understand the world. I am also energized by the social reading/annotation we’ve been doing recently in ED677 via #marginalsyllabus; and again struck by the different ways that we all literally read the world. And I love the chance that new technologies give us to do that work together and learn from each other in that way.

And finally, this image from the Octavius Catto sculpture, recently unveiled at Philadelphia City Hall … 


… reminds me of a the power we all have to be agents and activists of change at the same time I am reminded of both the past and present of inequity and of oppression. That is because this relief is from the larger sculpture at City Hall and it shows Catto sitting on a street car in 1865 in protest of the fact that African-Americans were not allowed to ride. This era is often considered the first civil rights era in this country and Catto’s act here bears resemblance to the activism of Rosa Parks and others in the following century.

From Wikipedia:

Catto fought fearlessly for the desegregation of Philadelphia’s trolley car system. The May 18, 1865 issue of the New York Times ran a story discussing the civil disobedience tactics employed by Catto as he fought for civil rights:

Philadelphia, Wednesday, May 17—2 P. M.

Last evening a colored man got into a Pine-street passenger car, and refused all entreaties to leave the car, where his presence appeared to be not desired.

The conductor of the car, fearful of being fined for ejecting him, as was done by the Judges of one of our courts in a similar case, ran the car off the track, detached the horses, and left the colored man to occupy the car all by himself. 

The colored man still firmly maintains his position in the car, having spent the whole of the night there.

The conductor looks upon the part he enacted in the affair as a splendid piece of strategy.

The matter creates quite a sensation in the neighborhood where the car is standing, and crowds of sympathizers flock around the colored man.

This for me then is a remind of the active, hard and often physically demanding complex work we must all do to make sure we do not simple replicate inequity and oppression but instead design for more equitable learning opportunities for all.

Thank you for joining me on my journey!

Christina