#clmooc Reflections and Connections 2 #digilit

#clmooc Reflections and Connections 2




What am I learning? More than I thought!

Digital Literacies and Connected Learning

Today I attended Doug Belshaw’s The Essential Elements of Digital Literacies (@dajbelshaw) session to introduce his new book of the same name. I listened because, as he said, I want “to have a different attitude and lens on the world.” He has presented an umbrella of concepts to guide our focus, to find a lens that may vary with context. He admits his is not “one definition to rule them all,” but rather another lens from which to view the changing landscape of digital literacy.

In the presentation, he asked us to 1) use  #digilit, 2) find definitions of digital literacy, 3) take a selfie of ourselves not the usual [see slide 4 #contextselfie cartoon], and 4) create a meme. Of course, as a “connected learner,” I participated. These tasks reflect our work in #clmooc, because that work is Digital Literacy.  Therefore, I shared my  definitions of digital literacy with a link to a search on National Writing Project’s Digital.Is. In CLMOOC, we had created avatars, selfies of sorts, as introductions. And this week we created memes, which Doug used to illustrate contextual literacies, a topic much discussed in our Connected Learning CLMOOC Google Plus community. Context Matters, and Doug Belshaw’s  Eight Elements of Digital Literacies [slide 16] provide a context to discuss digital literacy– in any of its contexts.

So could the Connected Learning  Principles be discussed as The Essential Elements of Digital Literacies ? I briefly reflected on that in this ThingLink [note: there’s a big white space after this  and before the next section –for which I have no idea how to eliminate; can’t see it in the code]
Context Matters

As I thought about this lens, I realized that in our Connected Learning CLMOOC Google Plus community, our discussions reflect our contexts, our perspectives, or lens with which to view our world. We learned that we must expand our local and personal ideas to include an openness to ideas and perspectives new to us. Shyam Sharma and Maha Bali wrote about such ideas in their joint reflection of week with memes in CLMOOC:

“In this context, the concept of memes reminded us how local popular culture practices, educational contexts/systems, and linguistic/cultural frames of reference can complicate the opportunity for making learning connected.” “But context-awareness is an important training that we all need to have, not only if we want to engage in educational activities across contexts but also for teaching context-awareness in our physical classrooms.”

But it’s not just across borders that context matters; sometimes it is just across the street, or the bridge in my town. As the blog reminds us, “we need to open our ears and eyes and hearts” because we cannot be stuck in our own world if we are to grow to understand others, which is the dream we have. Even as cultures vary, so do our needs to understand why and how we teach what we do. Rebecca Powell‘s post started a diverse discussion, including the concept of viral memes, and how do we discuss their value [or popularity], good or bad with students? You see, context matters. Because there is interest, what is the critical consideration of them? What fuels these ideas and that power?


What’s the fuel?   idea_power_clmooc_konruff   All of this is literacy, each within a different context as Doug Belshaw presents and CLMOOC participants discover. Connected educators are aware of these issues, and strive to find strategies to continue building connected communities, doing so with both Connected Learning Principles and Elements of Digital Literacies. We will continue to fuel our CLMOOC activities that help us uncover more strategies to be better connected and more digitally literate. But there’s one more  thing about which I tweeted during the presenation:   My Tweet

Education Memes

We need a different attitude about learning, and digital literacies. There is no “A” or “4” or “400 point cut off” for digital literacy. There is no threshold. We are learners. Period. We are all at a different point with different interests and talents. And when we are in the ‘zone,’ we’re maximizing our learning. Whatever we are doing, we are learning, and even if we think we’re teaching “inference,” the student may be learning “verifying sources.” Today’s students demand personalized learning because that is what they do outside of school. Our lens should be on the students, no matter what the politicians say. That’s why Kevin Hodgson and Scott Glass started a politically-charged gathering of attitudes that promote 1) what education should not be and 2) what education should be. The messages of educators need to be heard because context matters. As someone said, “We need education memes.”  Our classrooms are not props for political maneuvering; they are inspirations for future innovators, but only if we change our focus, our lens, to see and encourage each student’s passions and interests which will guide them to their future opportunities. Our context is not what politicians and corporations understand; they need a real context. Would you add yours? As Peter Kittle said,

And Joe Dillon and others:

  So, help spread the word for what is true about education: Would you add yours?   Community in the Classroom Finally, fuel in the classroom, what would it look like? Jennifer Denslow suggests:

Building community is what Connected Learning is all about. Look what has been learned through our sharing and connections in our shared purpose of #clmooc ! We are learning through interest and passion with peer support at our own paces. And we want to replicate this personalized, connected learning in our classrooms.


Memes for good, a fuel for ideas and solutions and community.


So, I have dug deeper into Connected Learning Principles by continuing my journey to understand what I need to do, discovering yet another way to consider my classroom practice. If not for the Connected Learning CLMOOC Google Plus community discussions, my mind might be wearing a single lens, but now I’m wearing  a transformable set complete with questions and connections. And, as Verena Roberts tweeted after the presentation, together is better for the long haul:


So, here we go into Week 3 as connected learners. I’ve thanked my #f5f with a reflection here, and I’m ready for more fuel… How about you?


Connected Learning Infographic

Connected Learning Principles

Connected Learning CLMOOC Google Plus community

Connected Learning CLMOOC

Doug Belshaw Slideshare

Doug Belshaw The Essential Elements of Digital Literacies

My ThingLink

Digital Literacy: Ownership #etmooc

Who owns our data?

Our School

Our school encourages in our daily work and curricula a continuous emphasis on digital citizenship and digital safety; we practice citizenship in our classrooms, virtual and in reality. This discussion and practice we hope will carry over into our students’ personal choices, online and and off. In addition, our school board believes and is adopting a school policy that explains that students own the copyright to all their work. Our Google Apps for Education allows for transfer of their data to them should they choose to continue their work with their personal accounts after their graduation. Student accounts in online networks do not refer to students’ real names; students choose pseudonyms. We balance digital literacy, privacy, and transparency.

We are still dealing with the ownership of educator’s work, since many of our staff work well beyond the time to which our contract employs us. For innovation and creativity to develop to implement the many requirements related to teaching and learning (learning and teaching standards), the intellectual work of the staff must be acknowledged and respected. We must balance the work asked of the district during district time, and the work created by staff on their own time for the benefit of student learning and professional development.

Apps for Networking and Sharing

After the amazing presentation by Audrey Watters (Hack Education and  @audreywatters ), I now will add these ideas to our curricula:

  • Terms of Service Understanding: Read your TOS — who owns your data — you or the application?
  • Ownership and Portability: Who owns your data — Can you delete it? Can you transfer it? Can you download it into a human readable format?
  • Curation: How do you track your own footprints? How do you manage your digital data — your footprints back to you? How do you create value in what you create?

I have always skimmed the Terms of Service in the online applications I use, looking for who owns the data. We need to share this with our students. Audrey provides links to various sites that clarify and support ideas on ownership, transparency, anonymity, and privacy. How do we guide students to curate and own the information generated by them? How do we do this for ourselves as teachers? And how do we encourage the concept that we should control our own data? What data are we talking about?

We need to think about JackieGerstein‘s  statement in this tweet: “Education decision makers use data to do things to students rather than empowering students with the data to do for themselves.” What data do the students want? What data will help them? What conversation will we have in our classrooms about this?

Data Collection

Why do we collect data? Why do we share? We are social beings and we communicate and create together. We “collect to recollect,” as Audrey puts it. We collect to revalue what we value. And that is key: adding, sharing, creating value for the communities, the neighborhoods of our real or virtual relationships and associations. Our challenge is to curate what we create and share, and maintain the value we create without giving it to those agencies that exploit what we have chosen to create and share.

Data Ownership

Whether a student or teacher, you create data — your work, your tests, your words, your numbers, your ideas. It’s yours. Or is it? What do you think?

In my mind, I am reminded of Abraham Lincoln’s words: I believe each individual is naturally entitled to do as he pleases with himself and the fruit of his labor, so far as it in no wise interferes with any other mans rights.   The inference of that quote is that who we are and what we do belongs to us. Now we have a responsibility to maintain that right, as we have always had the responsibility to manage who we are and what we do in ways that promote the common good.

How do we do so? How do I do so?

  1. Document that which is ours (mine).
  2. Create more value than we (I) take.
  3. Curate, declare, and manage our (my) data.
  4. Model for others.
  5. Accept and encourage Terms of Service that acknowledge our (my) ownership of our (my) data,  its use, and its portability.
  6. Expect that the products we (I) use also creates value rather than simply takes value from us (me).
  7. If an adult, be transparent in who we are (I am). [Students may maintain anonymity with pseudonyms]
  8. Educate others on their own (my) rights.
  9. Educate politicians.

Audrey gave us some places to help us help:

Ghostery: https://www.ghostery.com/
FERPA: http://www2.ed.gov/policy/gen/guid/fpco/ferpa/index.html
Quantified Self Movement:  http://quantifiedself.com/
Locker Project:  http://lockerproject.org/
Electronic Frontier:  https://www.eff.org/https-everywhere

Flickr CC by giulia.forsythe

 What do you think? How will you monitor and keep ownership of your data?

Digital Literacies Education #etmooc


If you are connected to and participating in a personal learning network, then you understand the culture of today’s connected and public world. Perhaps you have created lessons and projects using Google Docs, a Wiki, or Twitter to collaborate with peers you have never met ( here and here and here ). Perhaps your students have collaborated with other students they will never meet, but have developed a common project together, creating a shared space. ( here and here  and here).

What does that mean?

It means you understand the potential of the participatory culture, as explained in Henry Jenkins White Paper: Digital LearningConfronting the Challenges of Participatory Culture Media Education for the 21stCentury.

It means you understand that our youth today are already joining together in communities online, creating and communicating to solve the problems within those communities. And because they are young, these engaged youth of today may need guidance in analyzing the validity of their discoveries (transparency), in knowing protocols that enhance their social endeavors (ethics), and in providing spaces so all youth can learn and participate (equity and participation).

And it means you have moved well beyond the teaching of discrete skills. As an umbrella of digital literacies includes your skills curriculum, yet students have choice in research and question-creating– and have opportunities to expand their work to collaborate with students in other communities. Your umbrella of literacies encourages and models for them how to strengthen their own personal learning networks.

You see the need to move to this, from Henry Jenkins’s Paper:

“If it were possible to define generally the mission of education, it could be said that its fundamental purpose is to ensure that all students benefit from learning in ways that allow them to participate fully in public, community, [Creative] and economic life.”
— New London Group (2000, p. 9)

Page 5

All students actively engage in ways that produce, share, collaborate, and curate relevant content that enhances the communites, real and virtual, in which they participate.

Consider also, these excerpts:

“Fostering such social skills and cultural competencies requires a more systemic approach to media education in the United States. Everyone involved in preparing young people to go out into the world has contributions to make in helping students acquire the skills they need to become full participants in our society. Schools, afterschool programs, and parents have distinctive roles to play as they do what they can in their own spaces to encourage and nurture these skills.”

Page 4

“Participatory culture is emerging as the culture absorbs and responds to the explosion of new media technologies that make it possible for average consumers to archive, annotate, appropriate, and recirculate media content in powerful new ways.A focus on expanding access to new technologies carries us only so far if we do not also foster the skills and cultural knowledge necessary to deploy those tools toward our own ends.”

Page 8

“Blau’s report celebrates a world in which everyone has access to the means of creative expression and the networks supporting artistic distribution.The Pew study (Lenhardt & Madden, 2005) suggests something more: young people who create and circulate their own media are more likely to respect the intellectual property rights of others because they feel a greater stake in the cultural economy. Both reports suggest we are moving away from a world in which some produce and many consume media, toward one in which everyone has a more active stake in the culture that is produced.”

Page 10

“We must integrate these new knowledge cultures into our schools, not only through group  work but also through long-distance collaborations across different learning communities.  Students should discover what it is like to contribute their own expertise to a process that  involves many intelligences, a process they encounter readily in their participation in fan discussion lists or blogging. Indeed, this disparate collaboration may be the most radical element of  new literacies: they enable collaboration and knowledge-sharing with large-scale communities  that may never personally interact. Schools are currently still training autonomous problemsolvers, whereas as students enter the workplace, they are increasingly being asked to work in  teams, drawing on different sets of expertise, and collaborating to solve problems.”

Page 21

Keeping these in mind while listening to Howard Rheingold‘s #etmooc presentation, I pulled out these ideas:

  1. Keep up with the literacies, not the technology
  2. Develop an understanding of social capital – in the community: “it’s more important that people learn through me.”
  3. Focus attention — be aware of and focus one’s own attention.
  4. Apply skills to empower and enhance them  — once students learn to read (by grade three), why continue teaching “reading?” — but rather use and develop the skill while learning.

And in a related webinar from Classroom Live 2.0, I linked from Alex Dunn’s iPad information to this excellent “Inclusioneers” imperative:

…we need to acknowledge that no two students are alike and that changes need to be made to existing learning environments to reach and teach every student; “barriers to learning are not, in fact, inherent in the capacities of learners, but instead arise in learners’ interactions with inflexible educational materials and methods.  (CAST Teaching Every Student in the Digital Age: Universal Design for Learning, Preface p. iv).  http://inclusioneers.com/


Equity in Access and Participation

Since students are already collaborating and creating online, those students are learning the ways through the web’s processes, using whatever technology supports their endeavors. So the technology is not the point, but rather the tool or the process. The point is the social collaboration and community, a chance to participate and be heard in that community and in a democracy. Since I teach in a school with a high poverty rate, it is imperative that my students have access to the opportunities to participate as online citizens; we must develop equity in access and participation so their future opportunities are as open and available as those who have all the resources available to them.

Transparency in Perspectives

Because youth are forming ideas, absorbing information, and may not consider perspectives and motives, curricular considerations must include development of skills in analyzing validity and relevance in the discoveries students find online. If we help them to see through the motives and biases, to search through to relevant and valid information, and to develop their own strategies for doing so, we create a transparency envelope that will enhance their and our future discourse and problem-solving. As we develop curriculum, we allow student choice and provide guidance in detection of validity and relevance.

Ethics as Digital Citizens

As students move to more collaboration and creation together, we have the opportunity to teach, and they have the chance to practice in their projects with each other and with others in their online network, the very essence of civil discourse. I love how my students are learning to suggest alternative ideas to their collaborators with a simple phrase, “I wonder if…” It’s not easy to truly collaborate in person, let alone online, and yet these are the skills needed for today’s workforce and for community solutions. Teams and global connections occur often, and even in small businesses, connections to other communities and agencies demand teamwork and collaboration. Our curriculum must not only work with differentiating for the individual, but also for encouraging the group collaborative skills needed to create team projects; this requires of us the social capacity of cooperation and considerate dialogue.

Literacies as a Continuum; Skills as Foundations

Have you ever wondered how we became so skills-based? I’m wondering if , in reading for example, we began to study more deeply how good readers read. Through experts, in developing dissertations, we learned the complex processes and strategies that good readers employ. Somehow that knowledge, which helps us guide readers, became required skills to teach and test. And yet, to become good readers, a learner must read: read for a purpose (entertainment, research, opinions) and read to learn. Now, we teach reading skills through eighth grade and what do we have? Low Test Scores. What if, once students learned the essence of decoding, we let them read for their own reasons and suggested strategies when they needed them? What if the test were the ability to use reading — not do the skill — but to use reading as one of the strategies to learn and solve problems?

The usable skills needed are more universal– communicate, collaborate, solve, create, revise. The extend from simple dialogue and expression through listening and receptive comprehension. They are the literacies of mentioned by many, including Howard Rheingold’s list: attention, participation, collaboration, network awareness, critical consumption. It is these that need our curricular focus. The foundation skills, the reading, writing, research skills,  develop in the doing of research and problem-solving. As teachers, we differentiate — personalize — as students need the foundation skill while applying the needed skills of thinking, communicating, collaborating, solving, creating, revising during their choice of projects. The test is the process and product of their project solution, not the discrete skills.

An example of a school that does not test, but does expect demonstration of the literacies is the Science Leadership Academy. I had the honor of listening to students explain their day, their work, their goals, and their successes and struggles. The students articulated these clearly with grace and through examples from their portfolios. They certainly could focus their attention, set and evaluate their personal goals, participate as a team and an individual, and collaborate to solve the tasks. They could evaluate the successes and state the needed improvements. They did more than “explain with evidence the main idea of the topic;” they developed solutions and evaluated the results.

Four years ago I wrote this:

“The word “education” derives from the Latin “educere — lead out.” Education should lead students to find themselves, to strengthen what they do well, to discover hidden talents, and to learn from others who use their talents well so that students, too, become productive, creative citizens. Students don’t need to know everything, and they will learn what they need to know — when it’s needed to learn about themselves or to learn how things work as they create and interact in learning quests of which they have chosen the focus and in which the standards provide background, guidance, and focus.”

And suggested this:

How would educators do that? The standards provide the harbor, a reference point in content and process; the educators and students decide the direction of their journey into the river, planning the places and prospects that contain the current and forge the flow of learning, creating their own ports of explorations and expertise to which others connect. These ports are personal docks displaying each student’s possibilities and proficiencies — a lifelong legacy of learning. Moor to the dock to discover the scope of the scholarship and the compass of the course; a test isn’t required. I think classrooms would be more joyful, inclusive, and active places if we help and connect people in their process of developing their possibilities; classrooms would be places where students WANT to go — to augment and evince their odyssey. Wouldn’t that be something?

Do you think we have finally reached the point where this is possible? That the digital literacies of creation and fluency, participation and collaboration, provide the personal ports of entry and in the doing, they recieve guidance to become expert in process, content, and social diplomacy? Are we willing to be the constellations from which students learn to guide their own education?

Cross-posted at Pause2Play