CCK08: Week 10 Utopia Amplified

This post started its journey with Lani’s post. I read it early morning on Wednesday in Mongarlowe, the birds were singing and there was a beautiful blue sky. It was the start of another great day in paradise found.

Lani’s post was very brief and shared a link to Clarence Fisher‘s site (Stephen had linked to Clarence in OLDaily to a different post about classrooms). If I had been reading an earlier post by Lani more carefully I would have noticed her acknowledgement of Clarence and her link to Mark Ahlness‘ blog too. Clarence and Mark are teachers.

This is what Clarence wrote in his post:

David Weinberger Skyped into my classroom today. This alone is amazing enough, but the story of how this took place is another showing of the power of the web.

The students in my class not that long ago read the kids version of Small Pieces Loosely Joined called What the Web is For. From this, we discussed and worked through several things, ending up in an activity where the students had to make a representation of what they think the web looks like. You may have seen the flickr pictures. I put this together into a blog post tagged, among other things, David Weinberger. Mr. Weinberger found this and was good enough to respond with a kind comment about the work we do in our classroom. A flurry of email ensued, topics were tossed around a date was set.

Today was that day.

Promptly at 1 PM today Mr. Weinberger called and we spent 30 minutes with one of the finest thinkers in the world discussing how literacy is changing and how the web has changed ideas of success, making things possible which only a short time ago were simply not. Another interesting topic that came up was the idea of freedom of speech and if it is right that “bad stuff” is allowed on the internet. Shy at first, eventiually the students in my class warmed up enough and asked a number of questions.

So I hope the kids in my class have something to say today when their parents ask: “So, what did you do at school today?”

When I wrote my Stacks post I did mention my utopian commitment to CCK08. (John commented on the post and my post here is in part a response to his comments). Clarence’s post exemplifies how wonderful the education process is in the care of passionate teachers. I was wondering how Clarence’s students’ families dealt with the excitement of news of Mr Weinberger’s call. I wondered too if education messages are best received in times of hope exemplified in Mr Weinberger’s post here.

CCK08 is a marvellous example of “thinking locally and connecting globally”. Lani introduces me to Clarence and Mark. I follow Clarence’s post and meet David Weinberger and can do so with my left brain and right brain! So at three degrees of separation in thirty minutes I am wondering why I have missed so much of David Weinberger’s writing.

This morning is a teachable moment for me and it was not timetabled. Stephen Downes has been my guide on my journey into educational technology and much, much more. CCK08 is now offering me many guides to develop my understanding of the possibilities of education. Clarence is today’s guide and David has taken over the lead given to me by Lani.

In other posts I have indicated my epistemological roots. I am a child of the Ivan Illich and Paulo Freire times. I was inexorably attracted to Neil Postman and Charles Weingartner‘s work. In the early 1970’s I was introduced to the sociology of education and found the readings in Knowledge and Control intuitively attractive. A decade later I found myself in Dartington (UK) and was involved in the emergence of a co-operative school made possible by the community building legacy of the Elmhirsts of Dartington descrived so vividly by Michael Young. I read about Black Mountain College in the Library at Dartington.

Whilst at Dartington I met David Gribble and was fascinated by his vision for education. David wrote this in his conclusion to Considering Children (1985):

We need to help children to understand their own individual importance so that they face the world with the friendly confidence that makes progress possible.

We need to help children to understand that it is a natural human instinct to want to care for others and that we suffer if we ignore this instinct.

We need to help children to understand what they themselves are capable of, so that they can use their talents to the full.

And we need to help children to understand that learning is a pleasure … we want to learn simply because we want to know.

Children who leave school understanding all these things will be wise – wise enough to understand also that their education is only the beginning. All through their lives they will persist in the search for truth.

Lani, Charles, Mark and Mr Weinberger reinforced my view that education is not a one day thing, or a someday thing, it is a right now, every day thing. I believe education has an innocence that enriches our very being.

Sands School in Devon (UK) is founded on these principles. But we find them everywhere …

(Shortly before I posted this I noted Linda‘s link to Clarence too!)

CCK08: Week 9 Stacks

This has been another slow blogging week for me in CCK08. I have just returned from a visit to the Great Ocean Road in Victoria Australia.


The Great Ocean Road website notes that:

The mighty Twelve Apostles are world-recognised icons of the Great Ocean Road. These giant rock stacks soar from the swirling waters of the Southern Ocean…

The Twelve Apostles are sea stacks (geological landforms created by hydraulic action and erosion). I took a lot of pictures and posted six of them on Flickr. In the process of posting the pictures I discovered there were lots of pictures of the Twelve Apostles. (Flickr alerted me “We found 13,927 results matching Twelve Apostles.”)


I visited the Twelve Apostles on a very windy day. The wind was so strong that it was difficult to stay there very long. My photographs catured a particular kind of visit. Despite the brevity of my stay I was in awe of the scale of the sea stacks and realised very graphically how changes occur in lanscape in geographical time.

Strange that I should be thinking about CCK08 at such a moment! I was accessing my email whilst on the road and thought that the course had a tide running from a southern ocean.

There were a number of voices questioning the exercise of power and the after-effects of Stephen’s week 8 impact. Jenny wrote a thoughtful post about this after her week away (four CCK08 colleagues responded to her post directly and it was included as the first item in The Daily). Wendy provided some visualisations that in her post “It just seemed logical for me to differentiate between individual, group, and network power, as well as perceived and actual power.” A link to Wendy’s post appeared in The Daily. Grant shared his take on the week and linked to Lisa’s post to discuss ‘personality’. ‘Turning up the juice’  as a personal response to the exercise of power struck me as a great approach for confident learners. I wonder if it has a lot to do with hair?

John Mak discussed his take on power and argued strongly that “we learn through our senses, emotions and feelings, and that make us a better person, not a better ‘machine’, which could be switched on or off. And we have empathy in which no computer network or artefacts could ever learn.” Ariel wrote graphically about the Third Rail and shared his New York origins to explore ideas about the Fifth Estate. I was delighted to read’s Sia’s post and relieved to hear that “I am still here! I will read and listen further. I still do like it very much to be a participant in this course.”(Later in the week it was great to read Maru‘s post. She has been very supportive of many of the CCK08 participants.) (After the first post of this summary I found Michael‘s discussion of power to enforce involvement.)

Carmen’s post made me smile. The blog post title was great and the content thought-provoking. I should have commented on the post when I read it. I liked the follow up post on paradigms and power. Carmen‘s posts throughout this course have encouraged me to celebrate humour as a powerful (sic) device.

Pierfranco brought an interesting insight to readers of his post in the discussion of social class and power. His writing has encouraged me to think how a course in connectivism can be enriched by the granularity provided in languages other than English. (I wondered if I read and spoke Italian well enough my understanding of Gaetano Mosca, Robert Michels and Antonio Gramsci might have been very different.)   Andreas‘s post confirmed this for me. Jon did demonstrate what a forthright language English can be in his post. Viplav reviewed some of the Moodle discussions about ‘power’ and The Daily linked to Bradleyshoebottom‘s discussion of ‘authority’. In the same edition of The Daily, Ailsa’s post in the Moodle Forum was noted. I realised that I have not addressed the ANT issues in my own thinking and thanks to Ailsa’s post need to follow up on Foucault too.


Discussions about power and authority were interspersed with questions about the ‘failure’ of CCK08. Ken’s post has received 15 comments (to date) and led Ken to post this a few days after the Failing post. In between The Daily alerted readers to Ken’s post and Ken posted this aside. He posted this too. He argues strongly that “I am beginning to think that the vision of a network as value-free, autonomous etc. is nothing but a mirage.” Stephen posted this item on 4 November in The Daily. Ken and Stephen both demonstrate the possibilities of discourse in their posts but I take Stephen’s points to be axiomatic of engaged participation in web based discussion. I do have a utopian vision for connectivism. I feel that is is infinitely preferable to dystopia. By the time Lori posted about lurking, success and failure I was ready to comment. The same for Matthias‘s post too. Jason discussed failure issues in his post and offered a pragmatic way forward. He linked to Tom‘s post on wasted time. (This combination of Jason and Tom sent me off to look at John Perry’s Structured Procrastination website.

And then Mike‘s post appeared… I have an enormous admiration for Mike’s knowledge and skill. I was amazed by his Dylan rendition in the video in the post. However I was relieved … for some reason I had already pictured Mike as the Arlo Guthrie of the ICT world. I thought the content of his post was a delightful addition to this week’s discussion (the post has drawn five responses to date). It encouraged me to think about the conversive trauma potential of education (as discussed by David Hargreaves compared to the aversive trauma of schooling.

There was a flurry of writing on other topics too.  Irmeli shared her thoughts about writing and rediscovery. Pat wrote about Digital Identity. I tried to read Joost‘s post and hoped my German would help with the Dutch. Joost observes that “Niet alleen de inhoud van de cursus is voor mij interessant. Ik verwacht juist ook veel inspiratie op te doen over de wijze waarop George en Stephen de cursus hebben opgezet”. (Shortly after I posted this Joost commented on the post and helped me translate what he actually wrote “participating in the CCK08 course was not only for me to learn about networks and connectivism. I hoped to learn also from the way George and Stephen actually use technology in this course and to experience what that feels like as a learner.” Joost adds that “At this moment I can tell you that i’ve learned many thing from that and in that respect CCK08 has been a wonderful journey for me.”)

Joost’s post and his comment emphasised again for me the multilingual aspects of connectivism and that the Connectivism wiki is available in six languages. Michele‘s post discussed some of the convivial aspects of on-line behaviour and her thoughts reminded me of the Not an Island video I posted a few weeks ago. In my utopian world I do believe like Michele, that “if anything, social media brings out the best in people. There is an inherent sense of sharing,  transparency and community that these tools can build that I’ve seen over and over again.”

I got all my times wrong on Thursday and missed the Elluminate session. I thought it was with Nancy White but discovered that the first session was her time in the course. I like The Daily‘s follow up with notes shared by Christy, Diego‘s post and Bob‘s screen capture. (Jenny‘s post gave me more reason to rue my absence as did Michael.) Just when I was looking forward to listening to Nancy, The Daily posted this link (via Leigh Blackall) from Nancy. I thought I was managing my time reasonably well in CCK08 but I have eleven other tantalising options this week.

Lisa’s post later in the week sent me off thinking about metaphors and educational roles. She led me to revisit my PhD supervisor Maureen Pope‘s work on metaphor and personal construct psychology. I had a look again at As it is in Heaven, Conversations with my Gardener and To Be and To Have. (I have shared these films with my daughter Beth as an antidote to an assignment she had three years ago ‘Dystopia in the writings of Russian Feminist science fiction writers.)

My WordPress Tag Surfer has alerted me to Ken‘s second paper, a number of posts by John Mak, a paper on the Simnet blog, Bradleyshoebottom’s paper, Adrian‘s reflection paper and many others!

I did read Lani‘s post and her post like many others reaffirmed my utopian vision of CCK08 this week. Some of the posts this week were visually stunning. Irmeli‘s post in particular was rich in images and discussion. (I did try to visit every Google alert this week) … and this takes me back to the Twelve Apostles!

The day we visited it was very, very windy. Despite the low temperature and the driving wind, hundreds of people were making the most of their time there. Some of them are people who will take Flickr over the 14,000+ count for the Twelve Apostles. The wonderful feeling of being there will mean that many of them will return there either physically or virtually. It is an intuitively right place to be.

Sychophant or not I think that CCK08 is that kind of place and that we have been strengthened by the cumulative events of the course.


CCK08: Week 7 Affordance, Trialing, Improving…Mashing?

With all our wedding guests departed I have left the garden for a few days!

I have been looking forward to thinking about design and pedagogy.

I started Week 7 CCK08 readings and listenings with Gráinne Conole‘s

Social Networks and Learning Design and followed up with her New Schemas for Mapping Pedagogies and Technologies. The key messages for me in her papers are:

  • Affordance (Conjecture: I noticed in the New Schemas paper a reference to trial-and-error learning. I wondered if affordance was better supported by trial and improvement and dynamic evaluation pedagogy?)

(Diversion: Affordance, afford, James Gibson, Donald Norman, perceived affordance, neuro-esthetics)

  • Effective application of web 2.0 principles can provide a means of addressing the lack of uptake and sharing of learning and teaching ideas and design.
  • The fundamental gap between the rhetoric of the potential of technologies and actual practice is a central challenge in current learning design research.
  • Understand, visualise, guide, share are important verbs in the design process.

(Diversion: Jyri Engeström, social objects, sacred objects, Martin Weller, “The most important word on the internet is “Share””)

  • Cloudworks is designed to apply the best in web 2.0 principles to encouraging sharing and reuse of designs, so that the site can have critical mass and be sustainable through end-user engagement and contribution. The site is made up of a range of ‘social objects’ associated with learning design – which includes learning designs but also tools and resources associated with the design process and creating learning activities and profiles of individual users and communities.

(Diversion: Fred Stutzman, ego-centric networks, object-centric networks)

  • Find mechanisms to connect communities, so that the drive and momentum is around the communities and the technology is a seamless interface.

(Gráinne’s presentation from the Elluminate session this week is here on SlideShare.)

I followed up Gráinne’s papers by listening to George’s

Instructional Design and Connectivism presentation. His train analogy provided a journey for me that encouraged me to think about attributes of learners, interconnectedness, ecological validity and viability, context, effort and distributed approaches. I spent some time thinking about patterns, wayfinding and sense making whilst contemplating Slide 16.

(Diversion: Martin Weller’s PWLLE. Leigh Blackall’s Digital Network Literacy, Eliot Eisner, Artistry in Teaching)

My thinking about this week’s readings is focusing on time. George includes this in part in Domain 1 in Slide 16. I think Gráinne alludes to this throughout her papers but explicitly in the drive required to build learning communities. The diversions I refer to in this post have helped me ground my thoughts about time and the role designers have in distributed approaches.

My thinking is that affordance, trial and improvement are essential ingredients of dynamic learning environments. I realise that I am strangely attracted (in a chaos sense) to making time to mash social objects to create my own personal learning environment that might enrich the learning experiences of others. This week’s readings have encouraged me to think how I develop a wiki for a sporting community that embeds social objects for those who have teachable moments and are ready to learn.

I am looking forward to Thursday’s (Australian time) Elluminate session with Gráinne. Australian time is a good context for thinking about time. The collected readings in Gadi Mirrabooka point out that:

The Dreaming stories are not specifically related to time, as time was not important for the story to become part of the oral tradition. The important issue is the event, which occurred and affected the people, the land and the culture.