Google Classroom: The Real Deal?

The Vialogue below is a NYTech Hangout where some pilot users for Google Classroom got together, non-disclosure notwithstanding, to discuss their initial experience with using Google Classroom in the classroom.  Very interesting and worth skimming or watching in whole.  Also, I include several useful links inside for further viewing and reading. Join and enjoy.

#CLMOOC: the Make Bank Is A Convivial Tool

snow trax

This is a post about the Make Bank on our summer’s learning sandbox called #CLMOOC . This is a post about community and how the Make Bank can help us become a better one. If we seek it.
I have been sharing a video with folks recently. It is Nancy White distinguishing between a network and a community. Kevin Hodgson (@dogtrax) and Bart Miller (@BarMill)have joined in (and you can too), but my point here is that the Make Bank can be more than an archive for a network. It can be a deep and true way to connect with a kindred soul.
Many questions have re-surfaced for me recently as I have re-connected to the Make Bank: What kind of participant uses a ‘make bank’? Are these the same as lesson plan banks–intended for use in the classroom?  Or are they intended thus: “Look, I did this. You might like to do it, too. Here are some instructions, some examples. Have at it. Get back to me. Really.” What do make banks tell us about the quality of community life? Is their use properly on a continuum from lurker to creator/facilitator? How do I use them to best effect? What use are they if we do not take the makes into our personal, professional and pedagogical ecosystem?
I come to #clmooc this year with many questions as one of the very small cogs helping Karen Fasimpaur (@kfasimpaur) and Christina Cantrill (@seecantrill) to implement Alan Levine’s (@CogDog) new WordPress theme,  ds106 Assignment Bank .  It is a new, handier way to help our #clmooc-ers share what they are making all summer. Why are we implementing this new tool? I think it is a more useful way to access what are both artifacts of the #clmooc community and ways into that communion.
As a facilitator I contributed several makes last summer, although I can’t really say that I ‘worked’ the bank very much afterwards in my professional or personal life. I know I missed an opportunity to be a more connected learner, a better teacher, a ‘handier’colleague, and a better person because I did not do that.
In my work this spring with Karen and Christina and Alan,  I have had the opportunity to return more deeply to the ‘source’ as we attempt to create Make Bank 2.0.  As we have been cleaning up the way we categorize each make, I discovered much to value. First, I found that the best makes for me are the ones with the most voice. I can sense an interesting teacher behind whatever is written. For example, Sheri Edwards’ (@grammasheri) “Music in My MInd” really did help me get into her mind, a kind and sharing one at that.
Second, I have learned that some of the best makes are probably the least fleshed out and the least like lesson plans. For example, Kevin Hodgson’s (@dogtrax) Hack a Webpage was short and sweet , pointing to the remixing tool X-Ray Goggle as a way to retool someone else’s web page.  Appeals to the good pirate in us all.
Third, simply wallowing around in the makes, lurking, is a positive value that might lead to better community. For example, if you are flopping about for a way to introduce yourself on the Google Plus community for #clmooc, you might find some of your moocy fellows have already done it like here and here and here.
All of this leads to a very public vow I express here:  I promise to dive more deeply into the Make Bank this time. If you want to join me, here are some ways for you to ease into the shallow as well as the deep end.
1. Lurk: read some makes.
2. Do: actually try to put on the ‘shoes’ of someone else’s Make.
3. Improve: you can improve a make by adding tutorials or even finding examples of what the make represents.
4. Create: actually share a make with others
5. Mentor: help others in your community to add to the Make Bank
6. Facilitate: remind others of the resource and how useful it is personally and for the community
I want to do all of the above this summer and I, unrealistically, want to do all of the makes. It appeals to the autodidact in me, but I say it’s OK to become involved in any of the six ways above. I just want all of us to partake of this buffet.
If we do them and we make them and we share them, I think we demonstrate how makes are vital our community is, how they are an expression of that vitality, and how we are more than just an affiliation.
Considered another way, the makes in the Make Bank might be our community’s keystone species. According to Wikipedia, 

A keystone species is a species* that has a disproportionately large effect on its environment* relative to its abundance. Such species are described as playing a critical role in maintaining the structure of an ecological community, affecting many other organisms in an ecosystem and helping to determine the types and numbers of various other species in the community.

“The role that a keystone species plays in its ecosystem is analogous to the role of a keystone in an arch. While the keystone is under the least pressure of any of the stones in an arch, the arch still collapses without it. Similarly, an ecosystem may experience a dramatic shift if a keystone species is removed, even though that species was a small part of the ecosystem by measures of biomass or productivity.”

Of course, I oversimplify, but I trust that the make and its bank will prove to be the convivial tool that Ivan Illich wrote about so eloquently in his work, Tools for Conviviality. He defined them there

I choose the term “conviviality” to designate the opposite of industrial productivity. I intend it to mean autonomous and creative intercourse among persons, and the intercourse of persons with their environment; and this in contrast with the conditioned response of persons to the demands made upon them by others, and by a man-made environment. I consider conviviality to be individual freedom realized in personal interdependence and, as such, an intrinsic ethical value.

As these convivial tools rise up from a brand new #clmooc we can be the change we seek in the world. We will be agents in a world that needs us to create learner ecosystems that are alive, diverse, and full of affordances and especially full of tracks that open up to adjacent paths every time we share a make.  We can see the tracks if we let them come to us.
various tracks (truck tire, deer, turkey, bugs)
Let the tracks show us the way.

Quixey: App Search in an App-Centric World