Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

The Pitfalls of Data Used for High Stakes

Friday, August 30th, 2013

I’m very wary of Obama’s recent suggestion to tie federal student aid to a rating system for universities. I think we’ve seen what unintended bad results can result from this kind of thing in K-12.

Read more of my thoughts here at Information Week. Chime in with your thoughts.

A MOOC? What? Me?

Saturday, June 1st, 2013

You’ve heard of MOOCS. But have you participated in one? There’s no better way to learn about MOOCs that to take part, and here’s a fun, low-stress way to do it.


Making Learning Connected (#clmooc) is a MOOC, but in the best sense of cMOOCs — in fact, we’re considering it a massive open online collaboration.

Here are some details:

  • It will run from June 14-Aug. 4 (6 weeks).
  • It’s free and open, and anyone is encouraged to participate.
  • It will focus on connected learning and making stuff.
  • It’s being put together and sponsored by the National Writing Project and the Educator Innovator initiative.
  • Participation is very flexible and will accommodate a variety of learning styles and inclinations. We hope everyone will make this collaboration theirs.
  • You can sign up here.

We are also looking for a few groups around the country who might want to put together face-to-face cohorts to meet weekly while the MOOC is going on. We hope to learn something about how this affects participation in online spaces. If you are interested in this, drop me an email for more info.

We hope you’ll join us for the summer of making MOOC and help make it massive, in every sense of the word!

4T Virtual Conference

Tuesday, May 14th, 2013


Next week is the Virtual 4T Conference put on by the University of Michigan School of Education. This is a free, virtual conference (but registration is required).

On Monday, May 20 at 7pm Eastern, I’ll be a part of a panel talking about “The Potential of Open Resources for Your Classroom.” Hope you can join this and other V4T sessions and expand your professional learning!

Free, online school leadership conference

Friday, March 22nd, 2013

On Thurs., March 28, TICAL is hosting a free, online School Leadership Summit. Here is the schedule. Join us for this great day of learning.

MOOCs: the big…err, massive…new thing

Monday, March 18th, 2013

(cross-posted from K12 Open Ed)

ISTE’s Learning and Leading with Technology (L&L) just published an article I wrote about MOOCs.

This article was a step in the progression of some thinking I’ve been doing about deeper professional learning. (Stay tuned for more on that.)

As is often the case with print publications, there were several months between the writing of this article and its publication, and a lot has happened since then! In particular, there are two new MOOCs that are particularly well suited to K-12 professional learning.

The first is #ETMOOC from Alec Couros and a host of others. This course covers a wide array of topics in educational technology and media.

The second is Learning Creative Learning (#medialabcourse) from MIT Media Lab and P2PU. This is a course for designers, technologists, and educators interested in creative learning. It includes a fairly traditional program of webinars and readings, along with experiments via the mechanical mooc and G+ communities. (We also have a P2PU group for this going here.)

Best of all, these two MOOCs are both OPEN (in a variety of senses, including open licensed) and CONNECTIVIST.

It’s not too late to jump in and start learning with either of these MOOCs.

Stay tuned for more interesting MOOCs for K-12 professional learning!


Image credits:

Massive and open image: Image reprinted from Learning and Leading with Technology (L&L) vol. 40, no. 6, copyright 2013, ISTE (International Society for Technology in Education), 1.800.336.5191 (US and Canada) or 1.541.302.3777 (Intl.),, All rights reserved.

ETMOOC image: Courtesy of #ETMOOC community

LCL image: Courtesy of Learning Creative Learning, MIT Media Lab, and P2PU

A unique opportunity

Wednesday, March 13th, 2013

I believe that we have a unique opportunity at this moment when districts all over the country are looking at new curriculum and assessments.

We can either see this as an opportunity to innovate and improve learning…or we can just go on with business as usual.

I recently gave a short talk about this at SXSWedu. Here it is. I’d be interested to hear your thoughts.

Open Education Week

Monday, March 11th, 2013

(cross-posted from K12 Open Ed)

The second annual Open Education Week is this week, March 11-15, 2013. Open Education Week is a five-day celebration of the global Open Education Movement, featuring online and local events around the world, video showcases of open education projects, and information. Its purpose is to raise awareness of both the movement and its impact on teaching and learning worldwide.

Here is a calendar of all the events, and here are a few to make special note of:

This is a great opportunity to learn more about open and also to share this info with others in your organization. Throughout next week, I’ll be posting daily nuggets of open goodness.

And in case you missed it, here is a hangout a group of us did for the #etmooc about open learning. There are some thought-provoking discussions here.

Using a G+ Hangout as a Part of a Panel Presentation

Sunday, March 3rd, 2013

I recently helped put together a conference session about the law and filtering that involved a G+ hangout with a panel of remote guests. It took us a while to find the combination of things that worked the best with the room audio so I thought I’d jot some notes down on what worked while it’s still fresh in my mind.

First, we had two computers running, one that “owned” the G+ hangout and was projected for the group (computer A) and one that was for a panel participant/moderator (computer B).

The hangout was started on G+ on computer A. Everyone who was on the panel (including one person who was actually in the room) was invited to hangout.

Computer A was connected to large room speakers. The mic was kept muted.

The person on Computer B used headphones and a mic. When she wasn’t talking, she muted her mic. When she was talking, we muted the big room speakers connected to computer A. (This mostly eliminated the annoyance of her hearing herself echo back through the big speakers a second or so after she spoke.)

We initially had some feedback issues, but doing the above and turning down the speaker volume seemed to resolve it.

We also had another session in a different room watching the hangout and that worked fine as well. (In fact, when we got knocked off the wireless and couldn’t get back on, they were able to continue on without us.)

Below is the end result. (One thing I learned was that when a hangout ends on the initiator’s computer, it will go on with others, but the broadcast cuts off.) Thanks to everyone on our panel and in the audience that made this possible.

An Un-session: Try This at Home

Saturday, March 2nd, 2013

An Un-session: Don’t Try This at Home

I did a session with Mike Agostinelli at NCCE 2013 this week about peer learning. I thought I’d try to model peer learning in the session, and the results were quite unexpected and very powerful.

The initial plan for the hour-long session was to ask people to start by sharing their experiences with peer learning, to share a bit of my thoughts about it, to show a few online tools that can facilitate peer learning (Twitter, P2PU), and then to spend the last 30 minutes on a live #connectedpd tweet chat about peer learning.

Here is the slide deck I planned to use.

As a fairly non-traditional topic and not a “high interest” one (e.g. not “300 apps in 60 minutes”), I thought the audience would be small. We had about 20 people.

I decided to sit out in the room instead of standing behind the presenter’s table, again to try to model a peer driven approach.

I started with my plan for the session and then asked everyone to share why they’d come and what they hoped to get out of it. (I also invited people to leave if the session wasn’t what they were expecting or if they didn’t think it would be useful to them. A couple did.)

When people shared their expectations and previous experiences with peer learning, they were predictably diverse. We talked a bit about PLCs and experiences with district-provided PD, and then a woman in the group said that she was starting a “teacher-led school” soon and wondered if we might talk about that.

My reactions were (a) how fascinating and (b) what a great way launching into this would be to model peer learning. There followed a spirited discussion of what a teacher-led school might look like, administrator roles, what systemic challenges schools have that may limit well-intended administrators, etc.

At some point, the woman expressed a concern that maybe we didn’t want to spend the whole session on this. There were indeed other things I’d planned to cover, but thought it was well worth diverging to experience this kind of peer learning firsthand.

As the scheduled time for the #connectedpd tweet chat approached, I suggested that we continue the conversation but move it to Twitter. I asked who had experience with Twitter and who didn’t and asked people to form small clusters to teach each other the basics of Twitter.

We jumped into the tweet chat with an unstructured format of small groups helping each other and me periodically giving some overall suggestions about how Twitter and tweet chats work.

It was a bit chaotic, but many meaningful conversations were going on. Much of that conversation continued to be verbal in the room, and we were trying to learn Twitter at the same time. At one point I said, “If we say these things on the tweet chat, we’ll also get the benefit of a whole lot more people talking with us.”

Did I mention that the wireless at this conference was a little shaky? And in the middle of the tweet chat, Howard Rheingold joined it? And that it was chaotic? (Here’s the Storify version.)

And man, was it fun! Afterward, I asked the participants – particularly those who had no previous experience with Twitter – if the format had worked for them. Most everyone said it was a valuable experience. Many of us connected on Twitter and agreed to stay in touch. Learning Twitter in the context of talking about peer learning seemed to bring a new level of meaning and authenticity. I suspect that more people than usual will come back to it after the conference.

At the end, I thought “this was kind of like an un-session!” And I would definitely do this again. I think that every time would be completely different.

I greatly appreciate everyone who took part and took the risk to participate in this experiment, including Claudia at #connectedpd. I hope you enjoyed it was much as I did.

Scratching the surface

Saturday, February 23rd, 2013

For a long while, I’ve been planning to dive into Scratch, a programming environment where you can make your own stories, games, programs, etc.

Now that I’m in the Learning Creative Learning MOOC from MIT, it’s time!

Here’s an intro video to Scratch. I’ll be writing more about my learning ad making process here as I progress. Maybe some of you will want to play along with me. If so, here are some resources to get started.