Playing with Playful ways of Knowing and Thinking

Preparing headdresses for a parade CC-BY-SA See Cantrill on Flicker
Preparing headdresses for a parade CC-BY-SA by See Cantrill on Flicker

Happy Monday!

Over the next three weeks, we will dive a bit more deeply into theories of knowledge, learning and community. In order to kick us off I’ve invited another colleague of mine, Chad Sansing, a middle school teacher associated with the Central Virginia Writing Project and a Mozilla Webmaker Fellow. He will join us on Wednesday night to support us in “unpacking the power of play.”

Chad has taught me a lot about the idea of “play as a pathway for transforming professional practice” and the power of this approach to learning through “hack jams” and the like that he describes in this post. Chad’s work as described many other “hacks” across the country, including one at University of Penn, Our Hackjam: Hacking the Story, and another here at Arcadia which has something to do with the start of this Connected Learning Certificate Program.

Thinking about the role of play in learning takes a variety of forms. Some additional reading/watchings you might consider this week include:

The week ahead:

Wednesday: We will gather via Google Hangout from 8-9pm ET with Chad and “unpack play” together. I will send the link by 7:45pm that same evening to your email.

Our make this week: Playfully remix/hack something … you can do this alone, with friends/family and/or in your classroom. Here are a few ideas (and we’ll get more ideas from Chad too):

  • Book hack: Find a picture book at home or at the thrift store that you would like to change .. and change it! Above is an example.
  • Game changing: There are rules to your game. What would happen if you tweaked a few? Or threw in a ice shark or two?
  • Toy remake: Grab a few unused toys from around the house and tools you can use to take them apart. Feel free to gather your favorite crafting supplies, as well. Disassemble the toys and reassemble them in a new way (<– this is just one example).
  • Web remix: Webmaker makes a range of tools to support remix and remaking content on the web.

Blogging prompt idea: What connections are you making between play and learning?

Find 5 Friday: Let’s find 5 things that we would like to continue to play with (ideas, materials, technologies) into the future!

Additional resources:

In addition to the links above, some useful resources on remix and “hacking” might include:

    • “Is it Appropriate to Appropriate” by Henry Jenkins from Reading in a Participatory Culture: Remixing Moby-Dick in the English Classroom.
    • On the topic of remixing and creating, check out this video on A Shared Culture by Creative Commons.
    • Here is a link to the new curriculum series mentioned by Kylie Peppler in the interview linked above: Interconnections: Understanding Systems Through Digital Design
    • And hot off the press GameKit for making games from Institute for Play (still in beta)

Tech tip:

Twitter: Now that you all have twitter accounts, you can do more with them then just chat (as we know, chatting is not necessarily for everyone). I would encourage you to continue experimenting with what you can do with twitter by following your classmates. I made this list of our twitter @handles … if I’m missing yours please tweet me at @seecantrill :)

In learning and connecting solidarity,

Noticing and Naming Equity and Inequities

Happy Monday!

In this infographic that Erin shared with us, equity is described as one of the core values of connected learning.

Connected Learning

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”? Last week we read about equity gaps identified by Jenkins and his team when looking at media and participatory culture. Some of us have also been tapping into the lessons of Dr. King and his legacy and the challenges that we continue to face today in terms of racial and economic inequality represented by online campaigns such as #blacklivesmatter and #fergusonsyllabus. What does this all mean in the context of thinking about connected learning and for teaching?

My colleague Joe Dillon, a teacher consultant with the Denver Area Writing Project and an instructional technologist in the Aurora School District, has been  facilitating a related set of discussions via a #techquity chat/hashtag that he started with a colleague Maha Bali based in Cairo.

Here are two related blog posts with embedded links and video to read/watch this week:

This Wednesday at 8pm ET, Joe will join us during our weekly gathering and lead us into a twitter chat at 8:15pm focused on #techquity. Between 8-8:15pm we will get some basic orientation from Joe about how to “chat” via Twitter. We will then kick off a chat from 8:15-9pm.

This week’s make:

Along with keeping up your blogging and sharing this week (for example, it would be lovely to hear your further reflections about #techquity after Wednesday’s chat), I’d like you to also make your twitter account plus continue to develop your online presence. Another fun way to do that is through avatar creation!

First, here are some tips on how to get started with Twitter:

Second, when you set up your Twitter account, you will have the chance to upload a picture and/or an avatar to your account. Since you are now using a range of social media tools, this is a good opportunity to create an avatar that you think fits your growing online identity — you can use this for just twitter or also across your social media platforms.

  • Here is some food for thought about avatars and online identity from my colleague Kevin Hodgson.
  • If you do a quick search for “avatar makers education”  you come up with many different avatar makers deemed “safe” curated together by different educators. You’ll have to assess the appropriateness of any of these for your context, of course, but here is one list I found on WikiClassroom that could get you started.
  • Another option is to set up a globally recognized avatar, otherwise known as a  “Gravatar.”
  • On the Youth Voices website, an open social blogging platform for youth that colleagues of mine create/manage, there is a Create an avatar or icon “mission” that might be of interest since it includes some good prompts for thinking about what you want your avatar to be and why.
  • Thinking further about identity online (which is a big topic that goes well beyond simple avatars, of course), here’s are some additional resources that might be of interest:

And while you are at it …

All of your blogs are lovely. And I noticed that almost all of them are lacking an “About” page on your blogs. Most blogs — WordPress, Blogger, Weebly — have an “About” page already built into the site and it is here where you can write something about yourself so that folks who are reading your blog know who you are when they get there. It’s also a place to put the avatar you make, potentially, as well as your new twitter handle, etc.

Note that for those of us using Tumblr may or may not have this page but I found this tutorial that, depending on the theme you are using, might be helpful (it’s also not a requirement).

A few additional tech tips:

  • ED677 Blog: As you know, every Monday I send an email to kick off the week. I am also posting these to our shared ED677 Blog. I am tagging them “Monday posts” and also made a link so you could quickly see all of the Monday posts together (you can also click the arrow under “Our Syllabus” to get to this link too).
  • Twitter: Once you have your Twitter account set up you are welcome to follow me and Joe via our “handles”:
  • G+: I’m really excited about all the great sharing via G+ and I wanted to share some tips that might help make sure we all the shares. Here is a short screencast I made to show some of the options.

In learning and connecting solidarity,


Democratic principles and participatory cultures

"IhaveadreamMarines" by "US Government Photo" - is the URL of the photo itself. is the description page.. Licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons
“IhaveadreamMarines” by “US Government Photo” – Licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons

Happy MLK Monday!

This week, Jan 19-25, we will keep working on “getting started” while we 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 that you have interests in and/or are passionate about!

Participation could happen on or offline. And it can be something you participate in already … or it can be something entirely new to  you. I just want you to focus on this idea of participation while you participate … and in doing so, reflect on what it means to you and in the context of equity and connected learning.

Not sure where to start? Start with something you are interested in or are passionate about … Among those things for me, I am passionate about learning, connected learning specifically, and how we share and create collective knowledge. Given that, here is a participatory thing I did yesterday: This week’s readings/watchings include an article/speech by John Dewey from 1907 that is in the public domain, I decided to “participate” in a new-to-me community online called Genius by posting this article there so that it is now an annotate-able version available for us all (and others) to use.

Check it out! Dewey, School and Society, “The School and Social Progress

I haven’t posted anything in this online forum before, so I had to figure out both how to post as well as what the community expectations are when I did. And I still have questions! These are the initial things about connected learning that doing this made me think about. … I’ll blog about those later and encourage you to do the same with your reflections.

And in case you feel stuck, here are a few other ideas just in case (please notice, this doesn’t have to be big!):

  • Today is MLK/Day of Service/Day of Action and there are probably a variety of things you could do in or for your own community.
  • I learned about Genius, among many other things, from participating in an online open event with other educators called Teachers Teaching Teachers that happens every Wednesday at 9pm ET.  I saw “Annotating the World” — I wasn’t on the webinar itself but I was participating by watching and chatting. You are welcome to similarly participate in Teachers Teaching Teachers, for example.
  • Or, if an interest/passion of yours is connected to this class right now, you can participate with me if you’d like. Go ahead and join Genius and annotate part of this article I posted: Dewey, School and Society, “The School and Social Progress.” You can also find something else in Genius you are more passionate about or add your own.
  • And again, since it is MLK Day and you might be thinking about teaching social justice in the classroom, I wanted to share this Lights, Camera, Social Action by Katie McKay posted at NWP Digital Is in 2010. You could participate here by joining Digital Is and then leaving a comment for Katie and/or sharing it with a new audience — I’m sure she would love to hear from you!
  • Remember that even posting a blog post, a video, an image, etc. is a way to participate in larger online communities. So you can do that too — create something about your passions/interests and share it on your blog. And then share that link to your blog with others outside this class (via G+, twitter, FB, Youtube, email, etc.). You might even look for a group online that is interested in what you are (Ralvery for those interested in knitting, for example).

Remember this week’s readings/watchings — they can be really help in thinking about participatory culture and participation:

And then, just 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 ;)

Feeling lost? You can always go back to our syllabus, see what others are doing via our ED677 class blog, ask for or share your ideas/thoughts via our Arcadia Connected Learning G+ Community. You are welcome to email me directly.

Details about the week ahead

  • On Wednesday — we will meet online at 8pm ET. I will set up the hangout and invite you via email again. If we have more than 10 connections this time, we will take turns. If you aren’t directly connected you can also watch and connect via chat here:
    • Dr. Kira Baker-Doyle and Latricia Whitfield will be joining us to talk about the connected learning research project you can chose to participate in.
  • On Friday — we will do another round of Find 5 … this time I’d like you to post about 5 things that you noticed this week.

And a few social tips:

  • When posting to your blog, remember that your audience includes our class but also it is public to the rest of the world. Therefore, remember to put links in your post to the things you are referring to in the text — otherwise anyone outside our class won’t know what you are talking about. (It is helpful for us too!)
  • There was a question about tagging and “twitter vocabulary.” Tags are a way that people often help to organize things online. When I write about this class on my blog, for example, I tag my post with words like “arcadia” “clequity” “connectedlearning” “ed677” that are related.
    • Hashtags are a particular form of tagging that emerged via Twitter (I think) … they start with the # sign. So if you are search on twitter for something like #fergusonsyllabus, for example, you’ll see a lot of people tweeting about ways to support teaching about events that happened in Ferguson, Missouri and Staten Island, most recently.
    • Note that tags, or hashtags, are created organically when a group decides that it’s important to share and discuss a certain issue. Keep an eye out for them and it might be something you start to “notice” this week.
    • Okay, more fun — #Hashtag with Jimmy Fallon and Justin Timberlake from the Tonight Show.

Looking forward to participating and sharing with you this week!


Getting Started with Connected Learning

Honoring our interests and creating an online presence of our own

cc-by-sa See Cantrill @ Flickr

Welcome to ED677 where we will be seeking equity in connected learning, and having fun connecting while we do it!

I am Christina Cantrill and I will be your instructor for this semester. I work for the National Writing Project as a Senior Program Associate and director the NWP Digital Is project, part of our larger Educator Innovator Initiative.

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. You can click on this document and add your words here if you’d like to do so. Don’t be shy … there are no wrong answers! :)

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.

Getting Started

The first three weeks are dedicated to getting started with connected learning. This week, Jan 12-18, we will be getting started with in the following ways:

  1. Please create an online presence of your own, starting with setting up a Google + account. This is important to do before Wednesday at 7pm ET. I created a guide to Connect via Google + that should help you do this via your Arcadia Gmail account.
  2. I’d also ask you to create your own blog and connect that blog to our ED677 class blog. I created a guide for that too: Connect via your Blog.
  3. We also have some suggested readings/watchings for this week as you get started …
  4. By the end of the week, please post something to your blog and something to the G+ community that introduce yourself to everyone else.
    • Want a prompt? Here’s one: Describe an interest that you had as a young person, whether or not that interest was recognized as learning in school. Write about it … What 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 those interested connected, or not. What were the implications?
  5. Read what others have shared this week.
    • Can you find five things by Friday that you appreciate that others have shared? If so, post links, on your blog or the G+ community, for “Find 5 Friday” also known as #f5f.

Details about Wednesday, Jan 14 2015

  • If you are interested and able to meet face to face, please meet in UCOM Commons Meeting Rooms 2-3 at 6pm ET. We will work on getting started stuff together. (Here’s the campus map if you need it.)
  • Connect online with us at 7pm ET via Google Hangout. We will learn how to hangout, review the syllabus, do some writing, and mostly just say “hello” to each other.
    • You can watch and chat on the Our Gatherings page:
    • You can join the hangout (I will send a link to join via email)
      • You must have your Google + account active in order to join (learn how here)
      • If you join the hangout, please stop watching/pause the broadcast because the sound will feedback.
      • Only 10 people can be on at one time; We will take turns if we run out of space.
      • It’s best if you use earbuds when joining a hangout.
      • This will not run perfectly (it never does the first time :))

If you have questions you can email me directly at cantrillc at

Really excited that you are participating in this course and I am looking forward to learning with all of you.