Celebrating Laura Gibbs & t/ #DailyConnect with Weavly


I pulled a quote from this delicious post by Laura Gibbs about her best tech friend forever, Inoreader. I got the quote from the end of the post and the more I dwelled on it with Weavly as my “close reading” tool, the deeper it got. I share this with gratitude for Laura’s work now and into the future.

I made the typography by using Pirate Pad and the timeline tool–>recording the finished quote on Snag-It–>grabbing the mp4 from there and creating a gif with VideoGif,–>putting that gif onto my Tumblr site–> pulling that onto Weavly.

Like most of these multimodal tools there is always ‘hand work’ to be done to make sure you can access your palette. In this case, Weavly is Soundcloud, Tumblr and YouTube friendly. Very like Zeega.

On the Way to Canterbury: If They Build It, They Will Come


#MOOCHostel, #MOOC_hostel, #mooc_hostel, #MOOC_oasis, #mooc_oasis, et al

I made hashtag soup this morning. It’s nothing like the hashag soup that Jimmy Fallon and Justin Timberlake concocted

yet it had its own charms. It really helped me see how adhoc and intentional might dovetail in my MOOC halfway house idea.


I did some thinking out louds as my tweetpeeps (@MiaZamoraPhD @Bali_Maha @sensor63 @cogdog @hrheingold @laura_ritchie) played in the sandbox awhile thinking out louds, too.


That graph above really clarified the idea of intentional and adhoc for me: both are spaces like I envision for the MOOC oasis in mind. What was most interesting was that I realized again that the adhoc spaces that are very minimally defined and with permeable boundaries are what I have been doing both in and out of MOOCs these past years. I want those spaces, but I realize that they cannot be constrained or managed. So I am like the zen story of the missing ox, I can point to a way to find it,  but it cannot be the way.


Or perhaps you prefer an American master of zen, Nancy Drew:


Ms Drew points to the truth that the map is not the territory, the digital space is not the space. Wax on wax off.

I still want to make this space for pilgrims to gather. And like the Canterbury Tales I hope it is a storytelling space about MOOCs that has a reflective koi pond for gathering about to share and celebrate our learning’s past and our emergent futures. I wonder who will be the Nun and who the Priest and who the Wife of Bath and who the Pardoner. I hope everyone gets to tell more than one story coming and going.

Whoever stops by I think it needs to be an open space with adjacent rooms for gathering and lots of nooks and crannies for just sitting by oneself. I see the whole edifice as permeable, a sieve not a silo. We can leak out and leak in all we want. We can add annexes both inside and outside. We can mount insurrections and then lick our wounds. But there will be a space. Maybe several loosely joined. Maybe some private rooms, definitely some mead halls (yes, there will be drinking) and some cafes. Sufficiently vague and metaphoric? Exactement. Kept as simple as it can be kept, we will make this house by living in it.

I suspect that we will discover structure that works and chaos that doesn’t. Opsickle as well. I will keep posting progress/regress reports here, but your job is to keep casting about for that sweet spot in the Venn diagram above where adhoc and intentional cross. Report back. I suspect we have a moving target here and we will have to move from “ready–>aim–>fire” mode toward “ready–>fire–>aim”.


Playing with “Wireframes” (& QR Code Hobo Marks & Thinglink & Github)

idntknow what yoursaying

I have been playing with P2PU’s Course in a Box, feeling like a trained monkey, and trying to visualize what a MOOC “hostel” might look like.  I have run across a common plaint among serial cMOOC folks:  where do I go next?  I think that the emotional and intellectual high of cMOOCs is addictive in the same way that learning can be addictive.  It would feel good to play around with creating a space along the way for hobos and trekkers and amblers and hikers to stop a bit.

What I want to do is create a place where folks can take a rest, talk to fellow travelers, find out new places to explore, etc.  I want a place for reflection on what has happened.  I want folks to lay down hobo marks for ‘good places to spend some time’.

Gilbert, Taylor. “Hobo Codes for Digital Nomads « Ponoko – Blog.” N.p., n.d. Web. 12 Dec. 2014.

I want to help folks find a way to share with others and have fun before, during and after they have been to a MOOC.

I don’t necessarily think of this as a MOOC clearinghouse or search engine.  God knows there are plenty of those.  No, what I want is  to help found a place where folks can stop and rest and reflect on their learning journeys.  Below is a thinglink visualization, a rapid prototype of my first thoughts on this.  I suppose I have an ” if you build it, they will come” attitude.  I have no idea if folks even want or need something like this.  It is enough for now that I want it and that I can name half a dozen other souls who might want to stop by on occasion.

I really am in early days.  I want to use “Course in a Box” although for me it is going to be more about “Community in a Box”.  I want there to be both spaces to watch movies and to share comments and to reflect on where they have been and where they are going.  And lots of mild eddied backwaters in the whitewater kayaking that MOOCs often represent–games, conversations, discussions, and lots of  ramps both off and on the info chicane.


Ambitious?  Probably, but I don’t plan to wireframe the whole thing before I start.  I think we will be using Jim Groom’s principle that the content will be the residue left behind by the the cognitive sawing and hammering done by visiting carpenters.  All this talk of construction and carpenters maybe we should call it the “Jesus Principle” of digital space building. Come to think of it,  I think I should view this project not as an “if you build it, they will come” honeytrap, but rather as an “if they come, they will build it” happening.

How does this fit into an existing frame like “Course in a Box” that is built atop a Github foundation?  Not a clue.  Leave me a comment if you have any ideas how to answer that question.  I am so grateful for #ccourses for helping me get the confidence to even bring up such a digital space. And for all my friends who I have met in MOOCs over the last two years.  I guess this all just an elaborate excuse to play dinosaurs in the sandbox.  Good enough for me.


Experimenting with Friends (AKA, Connecting!)

Simon and Kevin have been riffing back and forth with Soundcloud and I wanted to play around with what they did. I used their sound files and put them into a different container–Explain Everything.  It is all part of my attempt to do more in mobile spaces.

Here is Simon’s work, “CellFormatting”.

I am always so surprised when I translate others’ posts into a zeega by how much it resembles very close, slow reading. I get the same feeling here. I sometimes feel the same way when I memorize. Slow consideration is often the most efficient consideration. It is inherently playful as an activity. Well…it is for me.

Here is Kevin’s draft of a new song done on Garageband and uploaded to Soundcloud.

I only use his song at the end of my piece when it also enters into the end of Simon’s piece, but this is tied to some very interesting back and forth these guys have been sharing all weekend.

Here is my piece that I uploaded to YouTube using the iPad app, Explain Everything.  This is more proof of concept that the tool was capable of more, a sort of raw practice using a tool I had never thought to use in this way before. The emphasis is on raw.

Here are some discoveries.

1. Explain Everything (EE) is pretty good at sucking in digital objects.  In this case it accepts sound files from Soundcloud (mp3’s), animated gifs,  ad hoc recordings on the fly, and hand annotations.  I can do more.

2. EE allows for an odd kind of layering of different media.  Odd because, for example, you can see the sound files being turned on and off.  You can spin stuff.

3. As I mentioned above, I get the same feeling of close reading/translation with EE that I get with zeega and popcornmaker. I certainly feel closer to the ‘texts’ Kevin and Simon provide.

4. I get a powerful sense of play, that a game is happening.  I feel that product is not what this is all about.  It is about process and making as much as finished product (thank God). I am reminded of a tweet that Susan Watson shared this week via …well, it got around. Thanks to Sean Junkins and Karl Hooker.



And that brings me to Ian O’Byrne who really did exemplify above.  Instead of just consuming the new Star Wars Trailer like 45 million other people did in the first 24 hours, he posted on how folks were mashing and mixing the trailer including creating gifs from the movie (damn, I coulda done that) to lego-fying the scenes.  Brilliant.

I am so thankful to be connected like this.  I think that making might be our salvation.  I hope it is because…I am worried.  Why?  Because in the larger context–as in global context–what does it matter how connected we are if we are just preparing the next generation to preside over a slow ecological crash.  Dave Pollard in his most recent blog post divides the apocalyptic vision into two camps, the ‘Collapsniks’ who believe that collapse is inevitable and the ‘Salvationists’ who believe that civilization can be fixed.  How does connected learning fit here.  I am going to spend a lot of time thinking about this over the month of December.  I think that connected learning may well be the story that straddles this divide.  If it is then we should pour every bit of what we are into it.  If not, then let’s party like it’s 2099 when the population of the planet is 11 billion plus.

This is how my life online has been going online.  One damned thing leading to another. Or as  our rhizomatic friends Deleuze and Guattari are paraphrased by Davis and Sumara,

They point to the need to be aware of multiple interacting flows that , like the concealed root structures of some plants, give rise to similar structures of some plants, give rise to similar structures in diverse domains, even though the interconnections and shared reliances of those structures remain hidden from view.

Mindsets…are fractal-like, concealing intricate patterns of supposition and conjecture beneath a veneer of coherence (161-162)

Davis, Brent, and Dennis J. Sumara. Complexity and Education: Inquiries Into Learning, Teaching, and Research. Psychology Press, 2006. Print.

Hell, yeah!





Simultaneities and Synchronicities: I Learn by Going Where I Need to Go

tl;dr:  Stuff happens in threes, simultaneously. This post explores the three times three of synchronicity

Does this happen to you online, these weird synchronicities of three?

First, I got a notification that there was a new Android app for WordPress.  I need to live more in the mobile world my students live in especially now that phones are so extensible, so powerful, so engaged in the distributed net. I need to live where they live.

Second, I ran across this very interesting article by Inge de Waard about something called “WMUTE design (Wireless, Mobile, and Ubiquitous Technologies in Education).” More on this in a bit, suffice to say it is a a dense dig to find the rough diamonds. At least it is proving such for me.

Third, my friend Maha was tweeting about what to do next online and I see that she is also beginning to post online via mobile.

The thread that runs so true and through? Mobile connection as system, mobile systems as learning spaces, mobile systems as living spaces? “Mobile” seems to be the Grand Attractor?

So I went outside.  It’s what I always do when I am drowned by the profusion of the net. I am driven to move into a larger, slower, deeper and more profoundly simultaneous system.  Nature or Gaia or the Mother or the Father.  Name matters not.  I just step into a vision in a rain barrel


or the fuse of life that through a brown garden burns


or in a squall of birds flying over in the blue pall of a November morning.

The animated gif and the still photo and the video above are connected through my mobile device and through the blog and with the three seemingly synchronous digital events above into this seamless (or what seem to be seamless) being, this post.

I pull a book off the shelf.

20141130_100846 (4)


Davis and Sumara. They are a reminder of my abortive attempt at a doctorate, but I remember something vague about simultaneity that I read there.

The word simultaneity refers to events or phenomena that exist or operate at the same time. It is used here as a contrast to the modern and Western habit of thinking in terms of discontinuities around such matters as theory and practice, knowers and knowledge, self and other, mind and body, art and science, and child and curriculum.

Davis, Brent, and Dennis J. Sumara. Complexity and Education: Inquiries Into Learning, Teaching, and Research. Psychology Press, 2006. Print.

There are some pretty awesome charts in the Davis and Sumara book that I didn’t wanted to reproduce here.  Instead I have grabbed some from another source that makes the same point. The three graphs point out the growing cognitive complexity of TV crime shows.



Old school TV discontinuity, plot as strictly chronological.

Simultaneous and multiple narratives, fuzzy borders.

Simultaneous and multiple narratives, fuzzy borders.

Multiple threads layered one atop the other, truly synchronous.

Multiple threads layered one atop the other, truly synchronous.

Johnson, Steven. “Watching TV Makes You Smarter.” The New York Times 24 Apr. 2005. NYTimes.com. Web. 30 Nov. 2014.

Inside and outside. Atop and below. Helixes of stories in simultaneous and seamless connection. Online and off. Is there a new story being born here? What is my point? Life imitates nature?  Nature mimics life?  I think it is time to return to de Waard and her article about WMUTE design (Wireless, Mobile, and Ubiquitous Technologies in Education).  The term of art she uses is ‘seamlessness’.  Mobile learning is giving us the chance, all of us, to live a new way of learning.

Seamless learning is still a new area, and the challenges are multiple. As this discipline merges the technological and human challenges faced by the emerging new technologies of the last decade (mobile learning, social media, MOOCs, etc.), it is becoming clear that the ultimate learning environment will have to provide a smooth learner experience, with options to both consume and create content. It is a bit of unexplored territory.

Hyperbolic understatement much?

I have been thinking of all that has happened in the last year in my own “not so very” seamless learning experiences.  It has been a simultaneous and synchronicitous layering of MOOC’s and makings and social media. Now I am working toward the mobile part. I sense that it is the ‘click’ piece,

Maha is wondering, “What next?”  It is an ultimate question we should all ask as we move through whatever season in whatever hemisphere in whatever country we live in. Perhaps the answer is already moving from one bit of informal learning toward another, from MOOCs to makes to mobilities.  Omne trium perfectum.  All threes complete. 

As a lit teacher  I cannot help but feel the emotional tercets of a Theodore Roethke villanelle, drawing toward the powerful, seamless conclusion:

I wake to sleep, and take my waking slow.
I feel my fate in what I cannot fear.
I learn by going where I have to go.
We think by feeling. What is there to know?
I hear my being dance from ear to ear.
I wake to sleep, and take my waking slow.
Of those so close beside me, which are you?
God bless the Ground! I shall walk softly there,
And learn by going where I have to go.
Light takes the Tree; but who can tell us how?

The lowly worm climbs up a winding stair;
I wake to sleep, and take my waking slow.

Great Nature has another thing to do
To you and me, so take the lively air,
And, lovely, learn by going where to go.

This shaking keeps me steady. I should know.
What falls away is always. And is near.
I wake to sleep, and take my waking slow.

I learn by going where I have to go.


Teaching Stories and Mindfully Learning



“Be mindful to your teaching story. Always learning. Always growing. pic.twitter.com/NasAU8UWzB”

Source: twitter.com

I celebrate the idea of being conscious of your teaching story. Here is one about my lost wallet.

In all my years of owning a wallet I had only lost it once before (and that was at a restaurant where I met my in-laws for the first time–yeah, first impressions, not. ) Yes,  I had good wallet habits yet I lost it in my morning walk from car to office.  I did not realize it was lost until after my last class of the day. I had no hopes for recovering it, but I waited a bit before I  doing the manic, St. Vitus Day, cancel the credit cards dance.

The next morning I got an email from a former student of mine saying that she had found the wallet and would I like to pick it up.  All the money and cards and irreplaceable ephemera and cruft of lots of years was undisturbed in there when I got it back. Happy day and rewards all around and karma generated by the kilo.

So, my story is just another example of the Golden Rule: teach as if someone you are helping might find your lost wallet someday (or change your IV or keep an eye on your kid or make your dinner). Teach humanely, thankfully, and humbly.  It is its own reward, but…it can’t hurt to do so just in case you lose your wallet.  This is not the first time karma has reared it rollicking buddha laugh in my teaching life, nor will it be the last.

One last think.  One of the ways to be a mindful teacher is to constantly remind yourself of what your teaching stories are.  Maybe I need get that first tattoo for that permanent reminder.




The Four Burners: the Quandary of Connection and Attention in Work, Health, Family, and Friends



Jennifer England put up this webinar as a Soundcloud file.  One of the real value added features of Soundcloud is the ability to annotate the sound file and to comment on others’ annotations.  Beautiful tool.  I put up three responses to seed it. Crickets.  Hmmm.

I put up a Vialogue of the same webinar, thinking perhaps that it was the video that folks needed to engage with.  I made a few comments and included a table of contents in case folks wanted to skip around and only comment  on a portion of the video.  More crickets.  Double hmmmmmm.

I organized a film evening using the easy video IRC tool Synchtu.be.  I knew when I put up The Internet’s Own Boy to watch that the time I chose might not be suitable for our European and points east folk to watch.  Mira Vogel and Susan Watson both came.  The ability to watch and comment synchronously was a revelation for me.  I thought more folks would come although the ones who did gave a tremendous gift to me.  I am grateful.   Not crickets, but perhaps ‘golf clap’ might be the phrase I am looking for.

I also created a Hackpad for folks to add educational movies/documentaries/shorts/etc. so that we might find a way to find more content for the Synchtu.be Channel. I sometimes just turn on Synchtu.be and let it cycle through the playlist of videos already there. It would be nice for folks to be able to randomly dip in and watch what they wished as they wished. How nice to be able to add others’ choices to the playlist.

Not even crickets.  I look in the void


and the void sounds back.

I am left mostly confused by the week.  What is happening here?  Some tentative conclusions:

1. I am not good at marketing. My marketing channels are not working.  No surprise there.  Like many teachers, getting attention tends to be a local skill-in the classroom, with your tribe on Twitter, your Facebook friends.  I always feel uncomfortable even pimping my own posts. I will feel uncomfortable tweeting this post out. Likely, I will not even place this on the #Ccourses blog  And if folks don’t respond then it means they are not buying what I am selling. Or it simply didn’t get through their attention filter.

2. Others in my various circles are not attending.  Some are busy and say so.  That is one’s absolute imperative.  I have no problems. The others who are in my Google+ circles, my Twitter feeds, my Facebook friends–there has to be a reason for no uptake.  Of course, I am not blaming them. Jeez, you can’t have it all.  Where would you put it? I think it is the same problem I have in attending.  There is too much and time and attention are too thin.

3. In the end we have to decide for ourselves what to do and where to go online.  But we also have to decide what to make and who to engage with.  I am thinking that for those of us who have not reached and (at least for my case) are unlikely at this point to ever reach the tipping point where one’s channel is already peopled enough to give one sufficient attention bandwidth, this becomes a true quandary.  What is worth my connection time?  What has been proven to ‘not connect’ and should I continue activities like Vialogues, Soundcloud, Synchtu.be, Hackpad?  Life is an infinite game, but its length is a zero sum one. What to do?  Should I keep throwing manna on the water in the hope of connection?  Isn’t that the definition of mental illness, doing the same thing over and over but expecting a different result?  Should I pull in the boundaries of connections to the tribe however one defines that.  A G+ circle, a twitter hashtag, the blessed 150 of Dunbar’s Number?  Or will that just be happy echo chamber?   I could live with that if it actually existed.

I am reminded of one of the wisest of David Sedaris stories, “Laugh, Kookabura”.  In it, Sedaris is in the middle of a hilarious Australian travel piece when he quotes his Ozzie friend,Pat, as they pass by a billboard with four stove burners pictured.  Pat remarks

“One burner represents your family, one is your friends, the third is your health, and the fourth is your work.” The gist, she said, was that in order to be successful you have to cut off one of your burners. And in order to be really successful you have to cut off two.

The hypothetical game that happens in the piece asks the questions: how successful do you want to be and which burners will you cut off in order to be so?


I played this game with a student the other day in a conference about her research paper on workaholism.  She resisted.  Wanted to change the rules.  Finally, she decided what was really important in her life.  She decided that she really wasn’t a workaholic, just someone who needed to work to pay for school.

When I have a week like this I have to ask myself which burners?  I have characterized what I do here on #CCourses as one of these elements.  It isn’t the health burner (unless you are burning the candle at both ends in order to stay ‘connected’).  It isn’t the family burner unless you have decided that someone online is your family. It’s either work or friends.  So…if you want to be successful online and you characterize this as work,  then you have to give up one of the other burners.  If you want to be really successful then you have to shut down two of them. This is the quandary of connection.  What price will I pay for the attention needed to actually connect online?

I know some will immediately say that they don’t buy the premise. I can only argue that it’s a thought experiment. You have to buy the premise to play the game.  It’s like Monopoly,. You don’t have to be a blood sucking  derivatives trader to play.  You just have to hold your other rules and assumptions in abeyance in order to consider another stance.  (Peter Elbow called it the believing game.)  For me, I decided about Thursday of last week that the connection game as I was playing it wasn’t worth the burner  I lit in order to play it.  I dropped the work of connection and turned up my friends and my family and my health. Today I return to connection to ask you what you might do or what you might have done to balance these burners.  (It certainly is a funny question considering the little (but very appreciated) focus that these posts engender. )

Personally, I am not thinking of the four burners as a thought experiment anymore. I  have seen its wisdom over and over in my own life so often that this week may have been the tipping point. It is now my credo for wise action.  Like most credos, it is a personal one arrived at through the idiosyncratic process Nikos Kazantzakis  calls the “full catastrophe”, life. Your mileage, as always, may vary.

This means that while my flame isn’t going to flickr and die, my connection burner is going to go way down.  Just as I think multitasking is a chimera,  there can only be one priority at a time in my life.  Let’s just leave it that my #CCourses Food Truck hours are going to be drastically reduced by popular non-demand.


What Are the Essential Connections? You Choose.

The very short YouTube below was done using the neat new app PostIt Plus and the neat old app Explain Everything. My point here (and please forgive the crappy audio sandwich between my comments) is to strip down from the deep chaos I have been experiencing as I have tried to reach out, create, do in multiple spheres of action (home, farm, school, online). So I seek as a strategy in order to catch my breath to back off and focus on what I decide is the essential connection. We need to be able to control the flow or at least we need to give our minds that illusion. Or to quote Mary Oliver: