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July 16: Making and Creating

Have you heard of or been part of the whole “Make” Movement? It’s a shift towards helping us see the value in the act of creating instead of merely consuming. Although much of the focus of the Make Movement is centered around physical projects -- things you can hold in your hands and tinker with -- there are plenty of connections that we can make to writers and technology. (See Chad Sansing’s piece on this shift.)

This week, we’re hoping you will spend some time thinking of the ways that technology and media are providing (or perhaps not providing enough, if that is your line of thinking) avenues for people to take charge of creating content for themselves-- and pushing some boundaries along the way. Think along the lines of publishing, of audience, of remixing, of mixed media, of the skills that go into creating something. (See Christina’s post about Making is Connecting and you can watch the video that she shares there, as embedded here.)

The stereotypical vision (but based, unfortunately, in reality) of the drone kid, sitting on the couch with a gaming device in hand while immersed in advertising overload on multiple screens around them, is a picture I’d like to push aside  and reconfigure -- sort of like an etch-a-sketch. Shake it up, and redraw that scene. Let’s provide our young people ways to expand their own sense of wonder as writers, video producers, game designers, composers.

Just to spark some thinking visually, check out this interesting graph on The Myth of Web 2.0 Participation by Gary Hayes. I’d argue that while most of the users of technology and digital media are still on the left side of the chart, what we as teachers want to do is help our students move down the slope to the far right. (And where are YOU on the graph? What kind of modeling do we do for young people?)

Along those lines, then, in NWP’s Digital Is, I’d like you to considering exploring Peter Kittle’s collection entitled “Engaged Writers: Crafting New Texts.” In particular, take a bit of time to experience Bee Foster’s enlightening piece on “redefining text.” You’ll never look at a football play in the same light again, and you might think differently about those kids who doodle on the edges of notebooks or design plays for their sports teams.

Laura Beth Fay examines the idea of the “participatory culture” of the digital landscape (ala Henry Jenkins) and it is worth asking ourselves, how far do we go to provide our students with opportunities to tap into those experiences?

And Bud Hunt takes us on a journey into Connected Writing, giving us a nice entry into further upcoming discussions about what it means to be a connected educator. I’ll point you to a resource within Bud’s collection, in which Paul Allison shows the Youth Voices network provides a viable, and live, place for rich conversations. Those young writers in those kinds of networks are making content, and making connections.

A few of my own resources revolve around ways that I tried to give power and agency to my students, and connect them with the world. What I hope they are making is content, connections and compositions that give them entry into the world. For example, our Youth Radio project used podcasting to zero in on voice, and provided a platform for my students in our little suburbia to feel part of something much, much larger than our classroom. And there was the Many Voices for Darfur, which brought world politics into our classroom, and that shaped how my student began interacting with the world. Our Making Connections project was designed to bring writing into online spaces, but really, it was about finding a platform for urban and rural students to make something unique: a shared writing space. And finally, I want to suggest you consider my own exploration into the possibilities of bringing video games into the classroom -- not as another “gamification” idea but as a way for students to design, create and publish their own video games. THAT is the shift we are exploring.

So, for guiding questions for you to consider this week:

  • What aspects of technology (online/offline, computers/cell phones, etc.) make it possible for more people to take control of the tools and create their own content?
  • What is it about that technology that might hold them back? (ie, limitations)
  • What are your impressions of the Gary Hayes image about the “myth of participation"? And where are you on the chart?


Task Discussion

  • Christina Cantrill   July 20, 2012, 12:06 p.m.

    What aspects of technology (online/offline, computers/cell phones, etc.) make it possible for more people to take control of the tools and create their own content?

    Trying to boil down to what I might consider the basics -- thinking about creative work I am around at Spiral Q, my garden, NWP, and Halloween as as I was growing up. These seem to be the common items:

    • Access to tools, materials, time and space for creating
    • Purpose (which could also be about or also about audience) ... also often there needs to be some degree of match possible to the tools and materials, time and space that are accessible (or could be)
    • Some degree of familiarity or time to develop familiarity with tools and materials (personal or collective/collaborative)

    I like Terry's digging into this question -- the adjacent and rhizomic notes remind me that inspiration/visioning is part of the equation ... although I don't think it has to come first, it can be made through the experimentation and creation itself.

    So what drives it all? Questions? Connections? Interests? Passions?

    Paul Allison's meditation on youth voices starts to get to some of this, I think.

    And bringing in a more emotional perspective, I think Mihaly Czikszentmihalyi has some interesting ways of describing this.

    What is it about that technology that might hold them back? (ie, limitations)

    Terry asks this question over at the Vialogues discussion: "People give up their creative impulses for a reason. What is it? Assumption is that we have a massive adaptive function called creativity. True? Where does it live? How (cuts off here, just fyi) ..."

    I think this is an interesting place to reflect. Again starting with my own life, I know it can be due to a lack of any of the things above. In thinking about purpose, I also started to think about how sometimes there is a match between purpose and the tools, materials, etc. that I have -- and sometimes there isn't. When there isn't there is another kind of equation I make that is sometimes related to effort ... sometimes related to skills that others can bring ot the situation ... sometimes its about ego or lack thereof. Or passion? .... Hmmmm.

    Interesting question. I wonder what youth today would say.

    What are your impressions of the Gary Hayes image about the “myth of participation"? And where are you on the chart?

    It's the myth of non-participation, right? I guess that what I'd like to describe is a movement through this and not a certain place. So it kind of depends.

  • Sheri Edwards   July 19, 2012, 10:03 p.m.

    Personalizing the Story




    • What aspects of technology (online/offline, computers/cell phones, etc.) make it possible for more people to take control of the tools and create their own content?

    First, tech newbies need a mentor and time. They need to know that time is carved out by just diving in and learning "just in time." They need a short project to accomplish quickly, one by themselves and one with students. A google presentation is a great way to start. Here's how I started:

    Google Apps Presentation Collaboration

    The Presentation Thank You

    They also need to know about Creative Commons, reSearch strategies (including citations and validity), which can be learned and taught "just in time." 

    I mention and suggest Google Apps because they are free with any gmail account. Before we were a Google Apps school, I would create five generic email accounts for students to login to collaborate and create. I would log in and the students could access and collaborate. Most of the educators I work with use Google accounts for collaboration and forms for gathering information. Cost and access are iimpediments.

    Get started with Twitter. Let them lurk. Then retweet. Then join the conversation. Ten minutes a day.


    • What is it about that technology that might hold them back? (ie, limitations)

    Cost and access are impediments; many free tools are available.

    Time is always an issue; "just in time" must be a mantra.

    Pedagogy and mindsets prevent beginners from starting. We don't learn the tools first and then do a project. The project (topic, audience, purpose) determnes the tool and we learn as we go.

    IT departments cringe at techy teachers; be sure a teacher is part of the IT department so that the tools can be adopted and accessed, not closed. At our school, I'm the Technology Director; I teach all day and I know what could work and try it. I ask the IT to help me make it happen with their filters and codes and firewalls. I thank the foresight of our Superintendent for making this happen, the bridge between teaching pedagogy and IT mindsets.


    Age has nothing to do with it (my twitter is @grammasheri because that's who I am).

    "Old Guard" has nothing to do with it; I've been teaching for twenty-six years.

    Passion has everything to do with progress.


    • What are your impressions of the Gary Hayes image about the “myth of participation"? And where are you on the chart?

    I like the participation chart at first glance. It' a start. I think "The Creators" will be updated to include personal, local, global, and activist, or something like that.

    I fit in "The Sharers" and "The Editors." Although I do comment on blogs. I'm not a creator, usually, although I am creative. 

    And that brings me back to television and lurkers. I think that television can inspire original thought and ideas, just as lurking can. People need information to grow their brains. 


    So, to finish the story...

    Here's a slight modification of my presentation to the school board about digital literacy, complete with an ePub: Digital Literacy, today and onward...  I presented it on iPads. 

    How did this happen?

    The Tech that Made It Possible

    Connection: Twitter; Social groups (P2PU), Slideshare subsrcription alerts, Flickr, Google Search, YouTube

    We're struggling with the cost of technology and the question, "Is it necessary?" This conversation and others I've followed helped me "edit" others' work to create the presentation. Its a remix and mashup of others' and my own ideas. I'm passionate about closing the knowledge and digital gap for my students. All educators need to know how important it is. 

    Creation: Mac, Pages, Flickr, YouTube, Google Search, iPhoto, SnagIt, YouTube embeds

    I used Pages on my Mac using the ePub template from Apple. I chose ePub instead of iBook Author becausethe document can be easily placed in my Public Dropbox for others to download; other devices (not the Kindle) can also read it. It allows for videos and links and automattically creates the format when opened in iBooks. I wanted it in a form that demonstrates the power of mobile and desktop technology.

    Connection: F2F, Dropbox, Posterous Blog, Google Site, Creative Commons, Twitter

    The information seemed pertinent to other educators' issues, so, to share, I blogged it and made the ePub available as Creative Commons. I tweeted.

    Tech Limitations

    What if I didn't have the computer and it's software, the interment connection, and the knowledge to search, connect, and find answers? What if I weren't willing to share?

    Myth of Participation Chart

    My granddaughter joined Twitter in 2009, so I did to keep up with her. I haven't stopped; I've learned so much and met so many fantastic educators who have inspired me to continue the journey. Web 2.0 allows this, and we need to help others get to the sharing, editing, and creating. But start small. It's 2012, and the technology in the cloud now allows everyone to participate if they have access, which should be a right of all people, in my mind because Web 2.0 opens up all the opportunities: research, resources, jobs, etc.

    So, have I made it to editor? I'm not the creators as you all are, but I am an example of an elder willing to grow and learn, and passionate that my students have the same access to these opportunities. 

  • Christina Cantrill   July 19, 2012, 11:54 a.m.

    Hi all. On the making and creating theme, Mark Surman of the Mozilla Foundation will be leading a webinar in 10 minutes on "Digital Literacy Through Making and Sharing" here at Connected Learning. An archive will be created and posted here afterwards too, just fyi.

  • Christina Cantrill   July 19, 2012, 11:58 a.m.
    In Reply To:   Christina Cantrill   July 19, 2012, 11:54 a.m.

    oops, got the time wrong. starts in 1 hour and 10 minutes - ie. 1pm ET/10am PT.

  • Tellio   July 19, 2012, 9:58 a.m.

     What aspects of technology (online/offline, computers/cell phones, etc.) make it possible for more people to take control of the tools and create their own content?

    I am curating a site called "Tech Pedagogy".  I am using this question to make a little meta-significance of that technology.  Here is what I discovered about the tools I have highlighted on that site and what this curation technology "allows me to control". This is really the first time I have reflected on and made overt the selection filters I use to curate.  Yours is really a question about values. isn't it, and what technology helps us to value specifically?  This appears to be what I value at

    1. "Adjacencies" (or stuff slightly or largely off the bubble):  I like digital things that feel nearby, but that are not precisely within the category of tech pedagogy. For example, I recently scooped up a cool story about how an artist used rubic's cubes to 'paint' a canvas.  Sometimes when you teach you chum the water with bloody fish just to see what surfaces.  Yes, I think of this as tech pedagogy.  It shows us the beauty of repurposing, of taking something that is not a pencil and cannot make a mark then using it to make art.  The title of the piece is "Dream Big" It shows us that iconoclastic dreams are not only worthy but necessary for the evolution of the species.

    2. Evidence that reveals things unseen perhaps even "unknown unknowns":  for example, I have a scoop on the new PEW cellphone survey.   In that post I wonder out loud what the implications are for a society where 53% of its 18 year olds and over are using their cellphones for Internet access.  It makes me also ask, "What happens when you factor in the under 18 years crowd?"  The evidence points in many directions, all of them interesting and many of them petrifying.  

    3. Living with the rhizomatic crowd:  I love to connect the dots or maybe I am only uncovering them.  I started with one post from Crooked Timbers , a discussion of open data public advocacy, and I ended up with why we need roadmaps for high level curation.  This seemingly random walk is similar to "three stories" I made up for my kids many moons ago.  They got to pluck three words or names from the air and I had to tell a bedtime story that included them.  After I did them for awhile, they begged for me to give them three words.  I got the idea from a political philosophy prof I had in my undergrad days.  He would ask for three concepts, historical figures or concepts.  He would proceed with a tour de force demonstration of his mastery of the field that more like an intellectual journey rather than the ego trip it could have been. Its rhizomes all the way down, dontcha know?

    4. Useful crap:  modeled after the Whole Earth Catalog (the last one and all of its children--Coevolution Quarterly, Kevin Kelly's Cool Tools). I like to let the creme rise to the top.  The filtering algorithm here is first, did I find it useful and second, might my perceived audience find it handy as a pocket on a shirt.  The example here is Vialogues.

    Here is a vialogue based on a video that one of Kevin's students created for his class
    this past Spring:   ; I am sure Kevin and his student would appreciate some useful comments and discussion.  It is open to the public for the moment so play nice.  It should be obvious to any teacher how this jacks into our students' love of video/YouTube/Vimeo/allthings vid.  We have hacked the vid with text, but I think this is quite a bit better than the generic and juvenile commentariat at YouTube (aka, the troll magnet).  

    OK, this comment has gone on way too long, sorry.  But to be more concise I also value authentic examplars told as narrative,  I love depictions of workflow, theoretical forays, and disruptive innovations.  Generally speaking, I love boundary lands, permeable ones preferably.  I love the iconoclastic. I love stuff that 'angers up the blood'.  All of this I discovered on my site.

    To herd the 'sheep' back into the corral of your question, I realize that what this particular form of technology does is give me a window into my own deepest intent and a vehicle for sharing what that is.  To draw back the veil of ones own biases is no mean feat.  This technology affords that to me or at least it has in this moment with this wonderful question.  

    Now, where were we?

  • Christina Cantrill   July 18, 2012, 12:51 p.m.

    This conversation makes my heart pitter patter! Probably my favorite subject and one that I'm super excited about in various ways ... and one that feels deeply important right now in the world of literacy learning and one the reasons I am so honored to work with writing project teachers, and all of you, in thinking about this.

    So thank you.

    Here are some of the connections that I am working to make for myself and potentially for others too (or so I hope):

    1. The MacArthur Foundation's principals of Connected Learning include a focus on production. And this feels critical to me and also important to the NWP network as a community that focuses on writing and literacy. ... In thinking about Connected Learning (CL) last night with some other colleagues, in fact, the question came up about whether these principals are about digital media (note that the CL principals did emerged from the MacArthur Foundations Digital Media and Learning Initiative) ... and re-watching Gauntlett's video just now, I remember how well he articulates the connections to larger and larger non-digital ideas that preceed digital media and also the impact that dgitial media has had on the opportunity of connecting. I plan to spend a little time digging into this a little more this week, so thanks for the reminders here, Kevin -- I think it's going to be very useful for conversation moving forward.

    2. I lovethe question Sheri talked about with her making a flag vignette, ie. How do I make this work? I reminds me of conversations around design thinking and protoyping that I've been connected to recently. Katie Salen from the Institute for Play speaks well about this on a webinar she led in relation to connected learning and her work at the Quest 2 Learn Schools in NYC and Chicago ... I also just returned from the "3RD Space Leadership Insititute for Creativity and innovation" led by colleagues from the CoLab, Piasa Bluffs Writing Project and Saint Louis Art Museum. In that work we, all educators. focused on using an inquiry and design approach -- 3RD stands for Responsive Design elements of Explore, Envision, Enact -- and on protoyping as a way to harness empathy, embrace failure, and push innovation. Powerful work that involved 8 writing project site teams -- you can see a little clip here that made it to the local news too for a quick view into what was happening.

    What's important here though is what Sheri said -- how do I make this work as the driving question ... and not focusing on right/wrong. Substituting "prototyping" and "iterating" for getting something right is a path that feels healthy and generative to me.

    3. I also have to admit a bias here -- I don't really like TV. This is a preference I developed since I was a kid, and not a judgement on TV watching -- although I know this is a tricky subject and I know when I talk about it I often feel like I am unintentionally judging TV watching in general. ... That said though, the reason I bring it up here is that I find myself agreeing with Gauntlett (as with Postman) about the role and problem of TV without exploring and questioning my own biases -- which we know is always an unhealthy thing -- so I appreciate what you all do to push on this subject above. I also recently read Jacque Ranciere's "Emancipation of the Spectator." I don't mean to say that I think Gauntlett is making a black/white good/bad arguement here either (in fact he is deliberately careful not to do this) ... I just think the role of the spectator (or lurker, or "reader" as my PhilWP colleague Shirley Brown always likes to reframe it) is really important to consider wholistically too and I'm excited by the potential here too.

    Okay ... just a sketch of some stuff I'd like to dig into more and happy to think with others about also as I grapple with it all. I also think this vialogues stuff is great so I will test the waters of response there too.


  • Tellio   July 19, 2012, 8:32 a.m.
    In Reply To:   Christina Cantrill   July 18, 2012, 12:51 p.m.

    Here are a few quick responses to your numbered comments, Christina.  My only question about that process is this:  who is the steel and who the flint?


    1.  Trying to bring to ground some of the abstractions in the topic above I am forced to call in the big cannon--ze frank. His explanation of the Higgs-Boson is the perfect example for me of digital literacy, an exemplar.

    (Expect more in Week Four from this gentleman digital farmer.)

    Part of me loves and appreciates the need for the MacArthur principles.  The apparent certitude in them gives me a direction to draw towards.  YMMV, but in the end they leave me cold until I can make a living connection like ze frank does between the spiral hotdog and the Higgs-Boson.  In the end he does make it with hilarious profundity.  I can identify much more readily with hilarious profundity, but the seriously profound takes quite a bit longer.  What I think has to happen is that teachers need to build from the MacArthur blueprint but being totally aware that the educational hut that results reflects local materials, local skills and local will.  Kind of like fungi--95% or more is underground and connected there not from above.

    2.  Damn, this is turning into one of those long replies...ah well.  You write, "What's important here though is what Sheri said -- how do I make this work as the driving question ... and not focusing on right/wrong. Substituting "prototyping" and "iterating" for getting something right is a path that feels healthy and generative to me."  Perhaps this is where digital practice bumps up against the disconnect of assessment.  Until assessment becomes feedback this fast prototyping might be impossible or at least have to fly well under the radar.  I feel like James Carville sometimes (pity me, please) and I want to put a sticky note (you know, one of those ones that never come off) on every monitor, tablet case, and phone screen there is:  "IT'S THE CONNECTION, STUPID!"  Let me back that off quickly.  Noone here is stupid and everyone here understands the concept, but we forget sometimes, but I think that Katie Salen's group, the Institute of Play gets it.  Play connects.  It is whole brain, inherently fluid and more like an artesian well than a tap in your kitchen (read any 'reform' movement).

    Again, I love the organization and workflow that might come from these models, but I am convinced that unless their use cponnects with a deeper personal intention that they are only models.  In fact if you have this deep intention I think almost any model will work.  I would like to see way more work being done on how to bring people together to act from their own intent in local ways and to seize opportunities that idiosyncratically arise wherever they are.  Of course, all of the folks you mention are making these models work.  I am not critiquing the models only noting that they are the boat not the river that carries them.

    3.  TV is just an ink blot test.  We each project upon it the biases you speak of.  I love all of the thinkers involved in this.  Postman was the rocket fuel behind my own subsersive teaching.  William Morris inspired my interest in farming as a craft.  Illich pushed me to de-school and convivialize and unschool the lives of my children. I was firmly in their camp.  I made no bones about judging TV, the central metaphor of my wasted youth being "Gilligan's Island" and televised sport of any kind (baseball being excepted).  Then I was exposed to folks like Clay Shirky and Steven Johnson.  It was Johnson who made me realize that even as we were watching this dreck we were still learning.  That was a bitter pill to think that someone might actually be going all cognitive on their world by watching whatever floated their boat, even golf!  Shirky put it even more starkly:  gin, situation comedies, or the Internet, they're all just cognitive sinks.

    Christina, you might want to go to this Vialogue and add your two cents worth about Gauntlett.  He is lurking on that site (or so he says in an email today) and might benefit from our crowdsourcing the annotexting of his video.  Kevin and I welcome anyone who wants to connect if it so moves you. 

    So long and thanks for all the links. \o/


  • Christina Cantrill   July 21, 2012, 7:18 p.m.
    In Reply To:   Tellio   July 19, 2012, 8:32 a.m.

    Late to respond to this Terry but lots of spiral hot dogs to chew on here! In rereading I realize the influence of what you wrote here on the response to Kevin that I posted yesterday, particularily where you wrote "I would like to see way more work being done on how to bring people together to act from their own intent in local ways and to seize opportunities that idiosyncratically arise wherever they are." I didn't use the word "intent" but I believe that's what I was grasping at so i'm glad you prompted me to return to this.

    Just back from a wedding last weekend too -- of two peers, one divorced with a teenage child, the other single and wanting to have a child and a family. All of us are in our 40s now and wonder where the real line is around child-bearing as well as even finding the right partner for that ... and yet, they found each other, are so well suited for each other, and now are married and happy with a 4 month old little boy (and with a very happy and loving step-daughter/step-mother situation now too) . I share this because a mutual friend stood up at the wedding and talked about the intentionality behind this event -- that this wasn't just chance or force of will, as often folks will comment -- it was a deliberate intention of the two of them to find the right person to grow the family that they wanted. And we all nodding in absolute agreement. They manifested this into being.

    So I feel even more greatly impacted by what you say here and this vision. Ie. I would like to see way more work being done on how to bring people together to act from their own intent in local ways and to seize opportunities that idiosyncratically arise wherever they are.

    Powerful. Thank you.

  • Tellio   July 22, 2012, 9:49 a.m.
    In Reply To:   Christina Cantrill   July 21, 2012, 7:18 p.m.
    Thank you. I was just being an attention hog. That and I thought that everyone needed to know about the spiral hot dog (Ok, and the higgs-boson, too). By now you should be able to see my task. If there is anything in-apt let me know or don't and watch it twist beautifully in the wind [?][?] [?] Glad you had a great wedding. Talk about invocations! Terry On Sat, Jul 21, 2012 at 6:18 PM, P2PU Notifications <
  • Susan   July 17, 2012, 7:46 a.m.

    Kevin, thanks for all the resources and for getting me thinking again. I wish I had more time to delve into this, but I am running a writing workshop this week in my studio. Loads of fun but taking all my time.

    One of the first books to challenge my thinking in this area was Clay Shirky's Here Comes Everybody. I began to realize that I needed to shift from passive user to someone participating in the culture. And I also believe we can serve as coaches to our students, helping them participate in meaningful ways as they learn to navigate an open, connected world.

    That said, I am not much of a maker. I tend to retweet rather than create my own, share others resources rather than share my own, and read about creating rather than doing the creating. I spent time on your website, where you have an amazing number of resources you've created and shared. As the video says, our convivial tools allow this, but I haven't taken advantage of them fully. (I love his summary at the end of the video-powerful reasons.) I've some catching up to do!

    I do believe we need to redefine text and in doing so will be more apt to encourage creation in our classrooms and with our kids. You have me given me inspiration for my workshop this week.

  • KevinHodgson   July 18, 2012, 5:46 a.m.
    In Reply To:   Susan   July 17, 2012, 7:46 a.m.

    I'm glad the resources and ideas might be useful. I think a lot of what we do is "seed planting" of ideas, and sometimes it takes time (give our time constraints) to take root.

    I wonder about the act of retweeting and sharing other material and how that falls into a definition of creating. If those resources have some new context, then I think it could be considered curating (which is another P2PU inquiry going on that some of us are involved in).


  • KevinHodgson   July 17, 2012, 5:14 a.m.

    I think the video by David Gauntlett really established some firm connections along key points: that agency is in the hands of the creator to make something new out of existing materials (even digital material); that the activity of making shifts consumers away from mass-produced materials and therefore, provides an individualistic sense of creation; and that the social element of digital literacies has the potential to increase engagement and heighten the creative element of making something that will impact the world.

    Gauntlett’s lecture is worth a view, and his exploration on his chart of creativity that forms the centerpiece of his argument is something to be debated, I suppose. I found it interesting how he identifies television as the great creativity suck (my words). But he makes a good point:  he states that television is a tool “that does not allow everyday people to share their vision” as opposed to new media sites that do allow for that (although he admits that we should not fall into the dichotomy of television-bad/digital media good – there’s a lot of crap in digital realms just as there is a lot of quality programming on television).

    His lecture had me thinking about the ways to make more connections between how we encourage our students as creators of content, and not just passive users.

  • Tellio   July 17, 2012, 9:34 a.m.
    In Reply To:   KevinHodgson   July 17, 2012, 5:14 a.m.

    I am responding to the video here at Vialogues. I have invited Gauntlett to participate in the discussion there (although I just sent the email so I don't know if this fits into his schedule).  I am of the Steven Johnson/Clay Shirky school that assumes the mind is making meaning all the time and that it doesn't much care what kind of 'clay' it uses.  This 'de-valorization' of TV is probably well-deserved, but its de-valuation is not.  Passive is not always bad.  Active is not always good.  Thomas Edison is the poster boy of Maker Culture, but a closer look shows it is not an unalloyed one.  Edison industrialized creativity and was a suppressor of other creators.  I did, however, love how Gauntlett brought up Illich, an unrealized asset to the school reform movement. 

    Like you Kevin, what I would like to see more of is a 'laying down' of walkable paths from passive to active, from watching TV to beginning to make it to watching more of it so that you can make it better.  I want teachers who can move from this well of passivity (yes, I think it does have power in potential) toward the flow of action.  Water can't flow without a source.

  • Sheri Edwards   July 17, 2012, 12:41 p.m.
    In Reply To:   KevinHodgson   July 17, 2012, 5:14 a.m.

    Thanks, Kevin, for all the resources. I've just reviewed the work of David Guantlett and tried to pull ideas from our past discussions to it, and to reflect on my classroom, one that is similar to many others. So what would that mean?

    I have a student-drawn American flag hanging in my room. It was created twenty-five years ago by one of my first grade students who had erred with one fat red stripe, Crying, he came to me disappointed. I reached for a white piece of paper and dangled it in my hand, saying to his sobs, “I wonder if there is a way you could fix this?”  He looked at his flag, he looked at me, he noticed the dangling white paper and his young eyes sparkled, “I could cut a white stripe and tape it to my flag!” So every year since then, the story is still told, “What can you do to make it work?”
    And that has been a thought for the last few years in my instructional practice, “How can I make this work?” The students engage with the tools that connect them to each other and to ideas. I need to make these connectors and creators work in my classroom. I must add to the static and contained texts of the traditional reading and writing curriculum; I must include the dynamic and diverse texts of the cloud curriculum. 
    One grant that supports a career curriculum asks that students answer these questions: “Who am I? Where am I going? and How do I get there?” These questions can focus the classroom, and with a repertoire of traditional and textured resources, the students should be centered and engaged. I am a “whole child” teacher; it matters to me that students access those things that are important to them. By learning together with these textured literacies, we can grow great things that impact our classroom and perhaps the world.
    Here I think portfolios provide a foundation, a place of consideration and curation that occur at any age and grow with the person. “Who am I? Where am I going? and How do I get there?” “What can I do to make it work?”
    We begin the year reviewing the portfolio (we’ve started ours in Google Apps which can be transferred to the students personal account at age thirteen). We ask the questions and create and curate the artifacts that present ourselves; some is public and some are not.
    We read anywhere and our response, our writing, is varied: personal journals, discussions in class and online, blogs, reports, comparisons, etc. with an audience and purpose that may be personal, community-related, or globally connected.

    And the significance of this is:

    And our focus will be making: communicate, connect, contribute,collaborate, consider, create, cooperate, curate...






    And as we build our class learning network, the students will build their own. We will move towards a digital citizen and its power:

    Some textured literacies in our repertoire:

    Google Apps for Education: collaborative docs, sites, presentations; blogs; research; YouTube, etc.

    Google Research

    iMovie, Photo Booth, Keynote, Pages (ePub)

    Personal Persuasive Project (constant review: How can I make this work?)

    “How can I make this work” allows my students and I to take the good of what we’ve inherited and what we’ve created and turn it around to be distinct and dynamic, considered and connected. We want to invite community, local and global, into our conversation just as we accept invitations from others’ conversations. I want us to know that, like that first grade flag, we can be a part of making the world work. Together, we create and connect in positive ways as we develop our craft of making.

    Now to review more of those resources...

  • KevinHodgson   July 18, 2012, 5:44 a.m.
    In Reply To:   Tellio   July 17, 2012, 9:34 a.m.

    I invited David Guantlett (via Twitter, where he responded to a version of this post at my blog) over to Vialogues. I hope he joins the discussion there. And that others will to.

  • KevinHodgson   July 18, 2012, 5:49 a.m.
    In Reply To:   Sheri Edwards   July 17, 2012, 12:41 p.m.


    Thanks for all of the extension links and resources, and an overview of the ideas you have developing. Connecting creating and making to portfolios is an interesting line of thought, and mkes sense to me.


  • Tellio   July 18, 2012, 5:55 a.m.
    In Reply To:   KevinHodgson   July 18, 2012, 5:44 a.m.

    Sorry I missed that on your blog. I will check it out.

  • Christina Cantrill   July 18, 2012, 12:59 p.m.
    In Reply To:   KevinHodgson   July 18, 2012, 5:44 a.m.

    Cool! I've reached out to Gauntlett via twitter too (in the past, I mean ... clearly, I'm a fan) and he's aware of Digital Is and that work so you might want to make that connection with him too just to connect the dots. Also, don't you think this could be a great conversation on TTT? Just a thought :)

  • Tellio   July 19, 2012, 6:43 a.m.
    In Reply To:   Tellio   July 17, 2012, 9:34 a.m.

    I got a very nice response from David Gauntlett and I will ask if it is OK to quote from his email.  I gotta say how grateful I am to all of you for giving me reasons to contact folks from all walks and from around the world in pursuit of answers.  This is the power of complexity theory.  P2PU sets out the initial conditions and the participants follow those initial nudges cooperatively and collaborative and personally wherever they might lead.  What emerges is unpredictable, but organic and terribly useful.  Sometimes it means chaos and destruction, but don't we need both the breakdown (catabolizing) and the build up (anabolizing)?

  • Tellio   July 19, 2012, 10:57 a.m.
    In Reply To:   Sheri Edwards   July 17, 2012, 12:41 p.m.

    How I love the flag story.  I think that you drew out the right question for us from the experience, "How can I make this work?".  I have seen many folks draw a very different question from their teaching experience, "How can I make this fit?"  The difference is the one Kevin is pointing to in his opening salvo above as he invokes the Maker's Manifesto:  If you can't open it, you don't own it.  Your question and subsequent teaching allow the learner to 'own' it.  Owning it is the key to the learning highway.  Thanks for this quiet, deep, clarifying narrative.  Worth a thousand and one Core Contents.

    You mention more questions:  “Who am I? Where am I going? and How do I get there?”  I think you leave out a critical one, one I  leave out all the time, "When?"  Kids want now.  Their brains are hardwired for now.  Adults have learned the hard way about 'when' and want to push this hard earned wisdom onto them.  They may nod their heads as if in agreement, but they are struggling to satisfy their driving questions now.  We have to help them answer this now question like you did in the flag story in the right here and the right now.  The flag story would not have the emotional power it does had you sat down with the class and done some brainstorming and a little focus grouping and some blogging and finally voting on a set of possibilities which were whereupon subject to reflection and consideration thank you very much. 

    I appreciate how the class portfolio is reflected in the personal portfolio.  Maybe  some crossover connecting is in order there as well.  Hyperlinking from the class to the personal and the personal to the class?  Creating epubs selecting best student-selected pieces? Dunno but it seems to me that connecting more will improve both.

    I love the synaesthesia of 'textured literacies' but I don't think I yet understand it even though I read the earlier articles referred to.  I might address learning more about this in my classes by using the connective technologies like Storify or or diigo.  I am learning as I go here and am not so sure myself if this is a term that has legs at least for me.  YMMV.

    I would like to end by suggesting another question we can ask after we have addressed "How can I make this work?"  Let's ask afterwards, "How else might you have made this work?"  This question drives home the reflective nail and needs to be asked lots more in schools and in business and every place in our personal lives.  Its fruit is likely as not to be a bitter one, but that doesn't make it any less fruitful.




  • Sheri Edwards   July 19, 2012, 8:53 p.m.
    In Reply To:   Tellio   July 19, 2012, 10:57 a.m.

    Yes, tellio, I agree with the addition of your questions:


    How else might you have made this work?


    Part of the process of our classroom is to set goals (what, why, when, how) and to reflect on what else could have been done. We've started small, but our goal is to get to this point:

    Student choice

    Student goals

    Lots of feedback (self, peer, teacher, community)

    Student reflection

    Student curation

    Student sharing


    Everything looks so linear and it isn't. And we must also prepare students for what doesn't work, when we need to abandon or revise our focus. 

    My hope is that our work together does allow us to make a mark. 

    By the way, the flag story is very powerful in my classroom especially, because my students probably know or are related to the artist, who sometimes stops by to see if his flag is still there.

    I hope we do some more talking about portfolios and this transition in classrooms towards making, creating, making a mark.