Tuesday, August 9, 2016

will this blog see tomorrow?

It's an open question.  Think about today's in-class discussion, ask yourself what you really want out of this semester, and then comment to this post with your decision and at least one reason for it.  (NOTE: As Benjamin Franklin famously observed, "We all hang together or we all hang separately." We won't move forward unless all of us participate.

I've created an approach to learning in which students use 2.0 tools to create their online identities, express themselves, and show the public what they can do. 

I call the model Open Source Learning and I define it with a mouthful: "A guided learning process that combines timeless best practices with today's tools in a way that empowers learners to create interdisciplinary paths of inquiry, communities of interest and critique, and a portfolio of knowledge capital that is directly transferable to the marketplace."

Students use Open Source Learning to create a wild variety of personal goals, Big Questions, Collaborative Working Groups, and online portfolios of work that they can use for personal curiosity, self-improvement, or as a competitive advantage in applying for jobs, scholarships, and admission to colleges and universities.  You can see a sample course blog here, some member blogs here, and sample masterpieces here and here

Several members of the first Open Source Learning cohort made this video about the experience:



In an era when it seems like all you hear about school is how much it sucks, it's nice to see student achievement make positive waves.  Check out this Open Source Learning interview with students and Howard Rheingold, the man who literally wrote the book on The Virtual Community 20 years ago. 

The defining characteristic of Open Source Learning is that there is no chief; all of us are members of a network that is constantly evolving.  Another key element is transparency.  What we learn and how well we learn it, how we respond to setbacks, and even some of our favorite inspirations and habits of mind are right out there in public for everyone to see.  Readers will rightly perceive what we curate as the best we have to offer.

And all this is Open.  In thermodynamics, an open system exchanges substance, not just light and heat.  To us, the important idea is that the network can change in composition and purpose.  Every time you meet someone new and exchange ideas, you're not only enriching each other, you're changing your minds and contributing opportunities for others to do the same.  In other words, you're learning and teaching* (*one of the most effective ways to learn).

We're not limited to one source for curriculum or instruction.  We have a full slate of online conferences scheduled this year including authors, authorities on the Internet and social media, entrepreneurs, and others.  Last year a mother/daughter team presented a lesson on class distinctions in Dickens & Dr. Seuss online (I'd post & link if I hadn't forgotten to click 'Record').  Ricky Luna invited a champion drummer to talk with students online about music and its connections to literature and life.  If we read something that makes an impression we can reach out to the author.    As you get the hang of this you'll come up with your own ideas.  Testing them will give you a better sense of how to use the experience to your greatest advantage.

No one knows how learning actually works--what IS that little voice that tells you what you should've said 15 minutes after you should've said it?  How does a subneuronal lightning storm somehow account for our experience of being conscious?  We are not sure how to account for the individual experience and demonstration of learning.  We are also not sure what exactly the individual should be learning about at a time when factoids are a search click away and the economy, the environment, and the future are all increasingly complex and uncertain.

Maybe this is why learning still seems magical.  Maybe it shouldn't be.  Maybe if we learned more about how we think we'd be better off.  After all, how we think is a powerful influence on how we act.  If you think of your blog work as a list of traditional school assignments/chores, you will treat it that way and it will show.   Your friends will miss your posts and worry that you've moved to The House Beyond the Internet-- or that you're still at your place but trapped under something heavy.  At any rate you'll be missing the whole point.  This work should help you connect the dots between the interests that drive you, an academic course that derives its title from words hardly anyone uses in casual conversation, and practical tasks like applying for scholarships and college admissions.  The general idea is for you to: do your best at something personally meaningful; learn about how you and others learn while you're in the act; and fine-tune your life accordingly.  In addition to mastering the core curriculum, improving your own mind is the highest form of success in this course of study.

As you well know (Put that phone away or I'll confiscate it!), many people are worried about the use of technology in education.  They are rightly concerned about safety, propriety, and focus: will learners benefit or will they put themselves at risk?  The only way to conclusively prove that the benefits far outweigh the risks is to establish your identities and show yourselves great, both online and in meatspace.  As we move forward you will learn how the Internet works, how you can be an effective online citizen, and how you can use 2.0 and 3.0 tools to achieve your personal and professional goals.  You'll also learn a lot about writing and the habits of mind that make readers and writers successful communicators. 

Because Open Source Learning is a team sport, this is all your call.  You have to decide if you want to pursue this new direction, or if you want to invent another possibility with or without social media, or if you prefer the familiarity of the traditional approach.  There is admittedly something comforting about the smell of an old book, even if it's a thirty-pound textbook that spent the summer in a pile of lost-and-found P.E. clothes.  My perspective may be obvious but I'm just one voice.  Please add yours with a comment below. 

34 comments:

  1. Yes, I would like to continue with Open Source Learning. I'd like to continue with it because it's something new and I like to try new things. My opinion I dislike textbooks because its boring and basic. We all have access to technology, so why not give this a try.

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  2. Yes I would like to use the blog, because it is a more modern way to learn. Also because it allows those who are shy and uncomfortable to break out of their shell and become free in a world of writing.

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    1. Yes I would like to use the blog because it doesn't feel like we're soldiers following our leader. Now we are the leaders.

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  3. I like the blog i guess. They look pretty fun and can be a good project to work on.

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  4. I'm in because I want to do something different for once, not like any of my previous years in an English class

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  5. I feel like textbooks are over rated....... Technology is key at this time. I feel like we should get used to it. I don't really have much to say except that I agree with no more books #SaveTrees

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  6. I think that trying something new is going to make me gain a new learning experience (: I am excited to try the Open Source Learning.

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  7. Yes, I would like to use new technology and computers as a new way to learn. Its far more interesting way to learn than boring books.

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  8. Though I admit there is something comforting textbooks and doing things traditionally, I like the idea of blogging a WHOLE lot more. By blogging, we'll be able to express ourselves in a way that isn't really... possible (for lack of a better word) in a typical English class. It'll be a cool experience for all of us.

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  9. Unlike textbooks, this blog is able to share multiple opinions. From shopping to education, technology has become a necessity. I feel that with technology, we can achieve and do so much more! So yes, Open Source Learning is a great idea for us to become better writers and experience something different.

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  10. Though I admit there is something comforting textbooks and doing things traditionally, I like the idea of blogging a WHOLE lot more. By blogging, we'll be able to express ourselves in a way that isn't really... possible (for lack of a better word) in a typical English class. It'll be a cool experience for all of us.

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  11. Although our school textbook are familiar, I would rather do this. Sometimes it feels like everyone at school just goes through the motions because our lessons and teacher's teaching styles are all the same, repetitive things. This is different, maybe it's better...Never know 'til we try it.

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  12. Yes, I would like to continue on with the blog because it will allow everyone to express themselves in a better a way. Especially for the ones who are shy and don't really like to give out their personal opinion. We will become our own kind of leader!

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  13. I would like to use the blog because it's a more modern way to learn and is a new way to learn new strategies.

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  14. I like the traditional approach of things: textbooks, paper, and pencil! However, it does get old and with all the textbooks I have to read this year already, I would much rather prefer to stray away from the all so infamous textbook especially in an English class (which in my head seems impossible) and do something completely different. The "different", whatever that may be, can be anything. Just something other than reading a large, heavy, boring textbook!

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  15. I would have to agree with Open Source Learning because it allows us to open our minds up to new ideas. Books are helpful in the more traditional sense, but it's time for a change.

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  16. Might as well try new things it may be a good thing never know until you try it and I want to see how this goes I'm in

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  17. Yes, I believe Open Source Learning is a great idea. Many teachers are already using technology and I think we should follow their lead. Students are already using technology so we don't have to learn or be introduced to it.

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  18. I am convinced of this new upgrade and how we will be learning and trying out new ideas :)

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  19. I think it'll be a bit weird because I've never had a blog or been in a class that's more involved in technology but I'm excited to see where it goes(:

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  20. I would like to use Open Source Learning. Because I would like to try out something new. This might be more beneficial for us students than a 500-page-textbook that no one wants to read.

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  21. In my opinion Open Source Learning is the new thing! With this we can expand our horizons then being stuck with a plain book. We can finally move away from being stuck at our desk with our eyes glued to the desk and explore what the world has.

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  22. Yes, I would like to use the blog because it seems very ineteresting. I think it will be a fun way to learn and for everyone to express their thinking. Using the textbooks can get really boring and I think trying something different will be great!

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  23. Yes, I'd like to use the blog because I think it is great we utilize the technology we have to learn and express ourselves through writing.

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  24. For me, I'm all in it for trying new things. We've been using textbooks in forever, so why not try blogging.

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  25. Yes, I'd like to do a blog. I say yes because it seem a more open and exciting way to learn without the constant droning of the teachers up front.

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  26. Unlike textbooks, this blog is able to share multiple opinions. From shopping to education, technology has become a necessity. I feel that with technology, we can achieve and do so much more! So yes, Open Source Learning is a great idea for us to become better writers and experience something different.

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  27. Blogging will express readers ideas and emotions and doing so will make us improve our writing skills! it's always great to try something new so why not give it a try?

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  28. Yes I would prefer the blogs over the old textbooks because I have never written a blog before. I also don't want to be carrying another book across campus everyday. The blogs will be a new way to learn and write your own opinions.

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  29. I like books and using paper but open source learning might be a good thing to try. In my experience classes go better when you need to physically hand things in at least for me. But yes, I'm open to the blog idea.

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  30. I like books and using paper but open source learning might be a good thing to try. In my experience classes go better when you need to physically hand things in at least for me. But yes, I'm open to the blog idea.

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  31. I like this idea because I want to try new things

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  32. I like this idea because I feel that this will bring even more brighter ideas. I feel like we could communicate more. Also because textbooks are boring

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