Category Archives: Openly Networked

Connected Learning Principle

Teaching a Connected Course

I’m teaching again – a f2f graduate course, Design Challenges in e-Learning for Adults. The students are doing an amazing job of writing about their learning in their syndicated blogs. Their projects are for VCU people wanting insights into ways to create connections for their students using online solutions. I’m finding the shortened 6 weeks makes me pressed to comment, give feedback, write about design, and find good resources to support their work — but thoroughly enjoying the discussions.

Stay tuned for some great design ideas…

An Invitation to Twitter

Use Twitter

We’ve had a great beginning to the VCU Interdisciplinary Social Research Methods course. Everyone is now established in a research proposal group and has an idea of a focused research topic to pursue. Everyone is blogging about the topics at hand. Now it’s time for everyone to connect to the networked world of people thinking about and doing research — using Twitter.

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Create a Twitter account if you don’t have one. If Twitter is a foreign concept here’s some additional help:

Please post a tweet to me @JoyceKincannon when you’ve setup your account. I’ve created a twitter list for those people interested in the VCU Interdisciplinary Social Research Methods course that would like to use twitter as a tool to do engaged research.

The Power of Many to Many

I recently traveled to Dallas for the OLC Emerging Technologies Conference. Dr. Bonnie Stewart, @bonstewart talked about her research within twitter, a network of people who connect using unique usernames and #hashtags for topics. I’ve been using twitter sporadically for a couple of years, but her presentation about “many to many”, helped me to finally understand the real value of this social media as more than a broadcast technology.

Twitter forms many-to-many communication webs of visible connections, a social network with a different currency of reputation. Anyone can join the conversation, no matter degree or status. What counts as influence online in these formats? — the number of tweets one person posts to the network creates influence and audience, and the number of followers indicates their current audience, but often the information included in the individual’s profile is more important than numbers when determining if you will follow that person’s comments in twitter, follow their links, and read their blog.

   To become openly networked means to connect classroom learning with other aspects of living, working, or “doing” across space, time, and multiple spheres of influence or community. It also means to actively participate. People in a networked world receive, relay, and create information, acting on and reacting to people and situations in their chosen “participatory culture.” Henry Jenkins

How might we help colleagues and students develop productive participatory identities? First, create your own practice. Start here.

Why Online? “Access Trumps Knowledge”

I’m writing in response to Harold Jarche’s post, moving to social learning, where he describes a decentralized social learning approach to change in our organizations. Since we are now so technologically connected with communication networks worldwide, access to a trusted network of people to guide our change in work practices makes sense. By engaging with our networks to cooperate, share knowledge and collaborate, learning online gives us the ability to do complex work more readily. We must create the structures necessary to support it.

Research shows that an effective knowledge network is open, transparent, and diverse. Social networks are by nature open; they can enable knowledge-sharing; which in turn fosters a diversity of ideas and opinions necessary for innovation.

If this adaptive social learning is happening in our workplace, helping students learn “how to search, find and make the connections”  is essential. We’ve labeled these principles connected learning in a networked world – access to information and a trusted network of people in order to collaborate and learn.

Knowledge workers – that’s us – also need to develop emergent practices through social relationships outside the workplace – and classroom. This keeps learning connected to the changing external environment, through human relationships and social networks. As educators, we help our students and colleagues connect the ideas worth exploring.

Learning to Participate in Open and Connected “Gatherings”

ALT Lab invited forty+ faculty to join our Online Learning Experience last week. It is an Open Connected Gathering, described so well by Maureen Crawford,@jmc3ualberta. Thanks to twitter, I found her How-to blog that described succinctly what I know faculty new to open connected learning experience.

I am amazed at the willingness of these faculty to jump into “the buffet or the fire hose/stream” of syndicated blogs and course activity descriptions at our site. I imagine they will experience the same feeling of being overwhelmed, with too much to read and follow, to “ever fully absorb” all that’s available. I hope they learn quickly to sample and “focus on the connections” they are making in this particular learning network, finding the value of collaboration.

We’ve asked that they also use Twitter #vcuole to help them build new network connections among those also teaching open connected courses. And they are!! I hope you find their requests for feedback on their newly developed course activities and blogs. Invite them to your network of educators! They’ll soon be sharing how they’ve included connected learning principles in the design of their courses and teaching practice.

Do you know about Feedly?

When asked by a colleague, “How do I keep up with the blogs I hope to read?” I showed her Feedly,  a Web-based aggregator, used to help manage your personal list of blogs and websites. It’s certainly not the only RSS reader. You can find other examples:

But what IS? an aggregator? an RSS reader?

The purpose of the Feedly reader is to create one place to collect your favorite sites for reading when you have time. It’s easy way to get started and you can add more sites at any time.

I’ll show you an example, my feedly site and how I use it

Habit Formation

January brings to mind goal setting and, with the new semester, new beginnings and approaches.  What might make creating a healthy, ahabitt least more playful lifestyle an easier journey with a bit less guilt? As I wandered in the shelves of the Richmond Airport shops, waiting for my flight to Tucson for my family New Year’s celebration, I found an intriguing book. The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business by Charles Duhigg. Being optimistic, I thought it would be at least a good read about psychology, and perhaps it could set me up for establishing those “January” goals. It became my travel book.

On my return, I was reminded by feedly to read a Medium article, Could this be the secret to long-term habit formation? which reiterated what I’d been reading. I’d been to the gym once since reading the book, so reading about habit formation is not the same as implementation – obviously disappointing.

The third sign was an email for presenting 117 apps to help you create good habits. How can I not be successful??habitsApps

“To commit to the habits that will help us achieve our goals this year, we need to introduce variable rewards for doing them.”

An especially important goal for my 2015 is to become more “of the web.” This is about aligning my personal perspective about making connections with an extended network of learners using blogging. I have just spent a week with an extraordinary set of faculty who have agreed to take this journey, this change in perspective, with me.

I don’t see it as much as establishing a habit than beginning an adventure, one of those risks we’re always invited to try. What are the best rewards for narrating for others my own work? The connection and the learning.



Being Vulnerable to Open

I found myself engaged in a live recorded hangout with Connected Courses today… I had expected to do my usual lurking but instead became a co-learner. I was surprised as the leaders of the conversation discussed their own vulnerability when putting their work “out there” for public consumption and critique. The connected experience of circulating your ideas can be unnerving.

Why do this? Why convince the faculty I work with that this connected experience is that valuable? What is the gain for students? The people who have been teaching in an openly networked vulnerable learning space tell me it’s fascinating, amazing, rewarding and certainly worth the possibility of failing in public. Their message is that our students deserve having professors willing to be co-learners in this open conversation. They convinced me.

Lean into the discomfort… Connection is why we’re here…  Allow yourself to be seen.” Brene’ Brown


Network a Shared Experience of Creating Together

…the importance of doing things together, the lip-dub project. It’s one thing to have all the tweeting and commenting, but quite another to have this shared experience of creating together.
It’s pretty simple. And yet so rarely done.  Reply to a post by Alan Levine (@cogdog)


Waag Society Do it together bio. Home grown bio paper and ink.

Waag Society Do it together bio. Home grown bio paper and ink.

And not a new concept. We know shared creating establishes learning more deeply.

Community-centered: Community-centered environments foster norms for people learning from one another, and continually attempting to improve. In such a community, students are encouraged to be active, constructive participants. Further, they are encouraged to make—and then learn from—mistakes. Intellectual camaraderie fosters support, challenge and collaboration. How People Learn: Brain, Mind, Experience and School  John D. Bransford, Ann L. Brown and Rodney R. Cocking, editors. National Academies Press; 1st edition (September 15, 2000)

So what’s different with the Connected Learning Principles we’ve been sharing, learning, discussing? How can they make community building in our (online and f2f) classrooms a reality? Shared Purpose. Interest Powered. Production Centered. Peer supported. = DO TOGETHER.

Openly Networked Community of learners connected to Open Educational Resources is the new possibility communication technologies and multimedia brings us. Students reflecting about their intriguing questions with those researchers who are developing the related knowledge, facilitated by teachers who make the connections. How do we “make together” in an online connected network of people not in the same physical place?

Pretty simple. ??

Certainly worth doing… We have some examples of students writing magazines together in a syndicated site; diagramming blood paths within biological systems on a digital whiteboard; researchers building shared databases of data; …

What can you imagine being openly networked will do for your students?

Setting Climate Matters

Lately I’ve been thinking about how Connected Learning principles and the Community of Inquiry framework intersect when designing a connected course.

cc-header1This morning I spent time listening to the group of people discussing connected courses , describing their experience in the #etmooc.  What struck me about the conversation was that they were describing how important it was that they had “set climate” first. They understood that tools can mediate the connections but people using the tools are the most important. They talked about their personal connection with the real humans also in the course around playfulness, but more important, kindness, openness and the knowledge that mistakes will be helped but not judged. The relationships among co-learners endure because there were one-to-one connections made that became part of their personal learning network.

They recognized that playfulness is often difficult in a serious academic course, but orienting students first to being learners together makes the difference for becoming co-learners. Let them adjust to the open, connected communication. “It’s different. Self-directed is new.” Howard Rheingold admits “This model takes more time” for faculty but makes a difference for learners developing trust… “Checking each other out…”  Allow personal pace. Let them watch for a time, becoming comfortable in the connections. It can be “a transformative experience.” How do we make our courses more inclusive, engaging, accessible to all levels of learning and skill? Pre-course orientation to being connected in this way might be helpful…”more of an onramp.” Allow students to decide the way in which they communicate and interact.

I’m taking the liberty of naming their description of what made a difference to them personally in the etmooc as “teaching presence and setting climate,” defined in Community of Inquiry. Teaching presence becomes a way to develop trust among learners. The panel suggested: Model ways to present yourself to your co-learners. Call people by name. Recognize when someone joins the conversation. Be kind to the people in your learning community. Welcome engagement and comment thoughtfully on posts. When people are generous, so much can happen. A community can build in this emerging medium.

Another way to “Set climate.” is to begin with a learning project, as described by Professor Alec Couros in The Connected Teacher. Have students begin by seeking the answer to a real question they are intrigued by. First, they find and consume lots of media with information about the topic. “At some point, they make a connection with a person. The internet can mediate that connection.” They learn something and then share what they’ve learned, how they learned, and what mattered. They answer “How are you making learning visible? How are you contributing to the learning of others?” It begins the development of a community of learners. They begin to commit to teaching others what they know.

Teaching presence takes a leadership role in setting the climate and appears to precede both social and cognitive presence in the community of inquiry.