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.