Feedforward in the Garden of Your Mind

One of the projects I have started the year with is a Google Form survey. I have asked students to fill out this form.  Tomorrow we will look at the data in this spreadsheet that the form above generated. There is an amazing cache of data in there and I have asked my students to find stuff of interest.  I am looking forward to their observations with keenness.

Here is the last question I asked them: “We will end the semester at some point. May 15, in point of fact.. The Ides of May (if there is such a thing). Write for me what you imagine you might have done in your semester in English 300.”

My response to this question below is an example of feedforward as far as I understand it.  Or as some folks call it,  ‘presencing‘. I am trying to use my fervid imagination as a way to pull both myself and my class toward a more valued future, a previously unopened door to a more potent adjacent possible.

“OK, relax. Turn on the time machine. Set it for May 15, 2015. On.

What a glorious spring is has been! I smell cut grass and the beginnings of a cool morning breeze.

I am waiting for the last projects of the semester. It worked. My fellow learners bought into the idea that what they value and what they need to know is critical to learning, their learning. We did a lot of stuff. Some of it very unexpected. Who could have predicted that the Google+ community would have produced so much collaborative work. I said at the beginning that collaborative work was allowed and boy did they take me up on it. Some of it ended up as conference papers and presentations but others were epubs and even service learning projects.

Speaking of presentations. I have never know so much variety and such quality. When I invited my department head in to watch he insisted that he only had ten minutes to watch. He stayed the whole hour and then he started pounding on the doors of other faculty to tell them they had to come watch. It was so crowded that I was really glad someone had the idea to stream them. I had a couple of colleagues, one in Egypt and one in France tell me that they had never been so excited about teaching and learning afterwards. We had pechacuchas and ignite talks and incredible demonstrations and even someone who did theirs on a Google Hangout from Saudi Arabia. Thank God for all those adhoc Google Hangout everybody started doing when one of us needed to be gone for a week for surgery.

I always say half joking that the great and happy secret of my job is that I get paid to learn. I think I really am getting paid this semester. The podcasts that we started doing on a regular basis throughout the semester have really taken off in the edtech community especially the ones that were led by students.

And this says nothing of how I have gotten so much help on my MOOC project–MOOC HOSTEL. I don’t think it would have happened without the class’s help. First, they helped me with the user experience. Second, they became active users of the site. Third, they began to spin off projects for blogs, podcasts, YouTube Channels.

Don’t get me started on YouTube. Our channel rocks. I don’t know whose idea it was to make that work or the class internet radio station. In fact the sheer volume of fun and useful stuff generated blows my mind: memes, videos, multigenre, pix …just astonishing.

Everyone had something they took pride in creating and will take with them into the future. Apps, series of posts, a research blog, a twitter account with 500K followers–that was a huge surprise for everybody. “

Some folks might think that this is hyperbole.  In fact it needed to be even more embellished than I managed.  I wonder what my students will think when I read this to them tomorrow, this missive from the future.

Fold-A-Voice: An Experiment with the Fold-A-Story Concept Using Hackpad and SoundCloud

This is a fold-a-story but with a twist: it is audio. We are making this up as we go along. I am using Soundcloud as my tool of choice for sharing here because it is easy and free (some limits apply) and embeddable here. All you have to do is record in Soundcloud then copy the link to the file into here. You don’t even have to use the embed code.

The idea here is to add your voice to the story by adding below. I have begun a numbering protocol, but it is not entirely necessary if you don’t want to use it. An added bonus is that if you want to fork the story all you have to do is highlight the number like I have for “One” and then create a new pad that others can diverge into. Kind of a choose your own fold-a-voice adventure. Ready, Player One?

El Lector


I am no believer in Fate, but I do pay attention to what the British philosopher David Hume called “constant conjunction”.  In this case I have had two instances of “reading aloud” conjoin my path.  This I do not ignore.

The first was from a recent episode of the highly recommended Gweek Podcast that featured writer and, more importantly, reader Maggie Tokuda Hall.  In the podcast embed below you can skip ahead to  21:32 in the podcast and listen to how she and her husband read books aloud to each other.  I read massively to my kids when they were young and I have always admired the stories of the ‘cigar factory lectors’.  I had to ask myself, “Why did I stop?”

I don’t really know, but I think over the last two years I have begun to reconsider the power of voice through my collaborations on MOOCs like #clmooc and #rhizo14 and #ccourses especially with Kevin Hodgson, Simon Ensor, Maha Bali, and Susan Watson.  Bless their pointy little heads.  This realization was  underlined by their recent birthday greeting to me.  Bowled over.

The other conjunction was this post about World Read Aloud Day.  The site tries to get classrooms together for the purpose of…wait for it…reading aloud. Lector friends everywhere is their goal (at least for one day, the first Wednesday in March). There year it falls on March 4.  Here is an editable embedded HackPad where I gathered together some resources (if you are interested).

View World Read Aloud Day on Hackpad.

I am always the instrumental dude, so my next step is to figure out how to add this to my class. Perhaps I can

  1. read aloud for our Google+ Community or

  2. better yet a relay reading of a “commons” book or

  3. read aloud at the end of class from some biography or science fiction or poetry read or

  4. read aloud to each other from something they have valued in their research work  or

  5. read aloud poetry/short story that is apt for their discipline

Below is another editable Hackpad if you want to add some ideas, images, links of your own for using reading aloud in the classroom. Thanks for sharing.



Following the Bouncing MultiMedia Ball: Playing in the Popcorn Fields

I am embedding a PopcornMaker Mix here so that others may share in it and play with it. PopcornMaker allows for such collaborative play. Join in. Not sure how this will work but that is the nature of the infinite game of play and life.  You can watch the progress here throughout the course of the experiment or you can join us here. And, following Alan Levine’s learning dictum, if you can’t figure out how to do it twenty minutes (or even ten), ask for help.  Glad to offer it.

Remember.  Join us here:  Uptown 

How I Read Slow or Participatory Epistemology 101

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Mulling how a slower pace of life might help us think less and experience more. In slowing down we may create and learn mindfully on the web.

Source: storify.com

I have a class of posts that I think of as participatory epistemologies (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Participatory_theory).The participation comes from the active decision to read and appreciate in an unhurried way, recursively in all dimensions.

Here is my checklist for that:

  1.  Look up:  highlight and search Google using the right click function on the text or other media in the post. Save the interesting stuff into your info cubby of choice. Evernote, Google Drive, Dropbox, One Note, and Pocket are just a few possibilities. I use Diigo mostly, but if I want to curate and share I also use Scoop.it.
  2.  Look down:  drilling down into the piece, annotating and coming to understand and empathize with the piece through the writer’s heart as much as possible.  This involves for me exploring the diction of the piece through software like the OED or by grabbing a good dictionary like the Oxford American Dictionary & Thesaurus.
  3.  Look through:  this involves the translation of the text. I think of this conventionally as writing a summary or actually creating a “tl;dr” with the text.  You must participate in a piece in order to summarize. Slowly.  There are other ways to translate.  I use tools like Zeega or Weavly or PopcornMaker or the like to take text and transform text into static and moving images and sound as well as text.  This is a very slow business.  Like a poetry explication this process can be very literal.  In other words one might convert a word or phrase into its sound or image counterpart.  The word ‘running’ in the text becomes the actual image on the screen.  But the process can be highly figured, too. It can be a translation of the tone in the text or a reconfiguring of the symbols and metaphors there.  Either way this kind of participatory epistemology is slow, even intimate, and only done well with love and a tender touch.
  4.  Look all around:  I think of this as “antennae out”.  The analogy for me is driving.  When I am in a dodgy driving situation I signal my intention to open up my awareness by almost creating antennae with my little fingers.  I know it seems silly but this embodiment signals at least for a short time my heightened awareness of the danger.  It signals that I am entering a different state of knowing.  I get the same sense sometimes when I slow read.  For some reason the antennae of attention are like the hackles, they rise a bit as a signal that something ‘wicked’ this way comes.  And by wicked I mean wicked cool or wicked interesting.  This kind of attention is not sustainable for me very long, but I am always attuned to it and will often stop and observe like a bird watcher in the woods expanding to the periphery where most of the vision really is.

Continue reading How I Read Slow or Participatory Epistemology 101

Petty Joys: A Series

There is always a story. Yes.  The gallery below is part of a story that began when peanut butter was really cheap and young boys and girls ate a lot of it.  We got peanut butter in gallon tubs. As…

Source: rhetcompnow.com

As we begin week one of #theyoushow Brian and Alan are pushing us to consider the whole of digital storytelling from the center all the way past the margins.  No thresholds, my friends.  No thresh holds.

See on Scoop.itMy “You Show”

Honoring the Dead You Did Not Personally Know

I have been struggling to find a way to personally honor those who died  in France and elsewhere at the hands of those who are so certain of the Truth that they feel they can be the arbiter of life and death.  I feel terrifically tangential online, but a recent chat made me realize that there are no degrees of separation here.

Here has been my way of ‘saying a prayer’.  Listen to both of the pieces below.  The first is a Arvo Part’s “Cantus In Memoriam Benjamin Britten for string orchestra and bell”.  I think of it as the wake and funeral procession of a jazz funeral.

The second one is the joyous sendoff as we walk back from the grave:  ” Didn’t He Ramble” by the Magnificent Sevenths of New Orleans.  The joy of the sendoff is for the soul of the dead but it is also for the souls of the survivors.  The music’s purpose is not solely to console and be upbeat.  It is also to remind those who have lost something (and that would be all of us) that we need to return to world and remember it all in the world, to never forget and keep on.

The Wake and Funeral Procession



The Joyous Sendoff


Rest in peace | Live in peace

Don’t Abandon the World | Attention Must Be Paid

Some of the best long form reading I have done of late has been on Medium including the Hans de Zwart one on Ai WeiWei  (and, apparently, on the entire universe of privacy).  I ran across another from my RSS feed this morning by Rob Walker, How To Pay Attention: 20 Ways To Win The War Against Seeing

I have ripped all 20 ways and bulleted them here for your consideration.  As we move from consumer to producer and from passive taker to active maker, I think they all bear translation into our lives as teachers and learners.  Every one of these is a touchstone to further thought and a manifesto to action.

Here are the ways to re-attend that Walker lists and discusses.  I really am using this as a way to get folks into this post.  There is so much more there.  These should just whet your tongue for the rest of the article.

  • Conduct an overlooked-object scavenger hunt …
  • a single-color scavenger hunt
  • Spot something new every day
  • Change Perspective
  • Reframe the familiar
  • Walk with an expert
  • Talk to a stranger
  • Let a stranger lead you
  • Take a day-long walk through an unfamiliar part of town
  • Poeticize the irritating
  • Look slowly
  • Look really, really slowly
  • Look repeatedly
  • Repeat your viewpoint
  • Just Listen
  • Soundmap
  • Follow the quiet
  • Look at anything besides your phone
  • Misuse a Tech Tool
  • Care for something

I will be returning to these bullet points all week by adding my own annotations to them using Diigo.  Here is the link to these ‘bonus tracks’ although now I am thinking of them more as  a ‘director’s commentary':  https://diigo.com/078f8v  If you want to join in the active annotation of this post, just join Diigo and then join the public and open Diigo Group that will allow that sharing: https://groups.diigo.com/group/ccourses