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Inquiry, Reflection, and Wrapping Up

As we conclude our experience in this P2PU course, we have two separate, yet related questions about your inquiry into writing in a digital age.

With each, we invite you to reflect -- in words, images, sounds, or other digital media -- on your journey over the past three weeks.

  • First, what one particular example of digital inquiry -- from our conversations here or from what you saw in Digital Is -- really resonates for you? Why?
  • Second, what do you plan to do next with your own digital inquiry? Who will you connect and collaborate with in your local context? How?

Thank you again for sharing your thoughts and inquiries over the past three weeks. We look forward to reading your reflections here. 

Task Discussion

  • Janet Ilko   March 26, 2012, 1:56 a.m.
    • First, what one particular example of digital inquiry -- from our conversations here or from what you saw in Digital Is -- really resonates for you? Why?
    • The idea that we are currators, and what that means is what has resonated with me these past three weeks. Asking the question of who is in the conversation, who is not? How do we get  involved in a project and who do we include? Who includes us? This idea of digital space is exciting and daunting all at the same time.
    • I love the concept of working together in inquiry groups like this. I spend about 30 minutes every few days reading and reviewing the site. What resonates with me now is how can we be part of multiple conversations? How do I start aligning the sites in which I particpate? There is so much to learn, so many places I want to be, and yet you can't fully be in any one place until you commit to the project. I am currently in the trenches with digital writing with my students. i attempt to keep a blog that documents that work. How can I combine my blog to spaces like this? These are the questions that keep rattling around in my brain, the more I know, the more I explore, which then provides so many opportunities, but at times I lose focus.
    • Second, what do you plan to do next with your own digital inquiry? Who will you connect and collaborate with in your local context? How?
    • One thing our site has started at SDAWP is a twitter community. I am currently on deck as we share the week in the life of an SDAWP fellow. SDAWP_Janet is my twitter account if you are interested in following this project.  I have learned so much peaking into the life of fellow fellows. My own digital inquiry will focus the rest of the year in looking at opportunities for my students to express their opininons in relevant and creative ways. We will be exploring Apples Challenge Based Learning Challenge, in hopes of coming up with a more global project, again trying to expand the middle school mind. 
      I would love to be able to be part of a larger digital study group, Kevin, is your writing project willing to allow other fellows from across the country to join in the converations/
  • KevinHodgson   March 26, 2012, 6:04 a.m.
    In Reply To:   Janet Ilko   March 26, 2012, 1:56 a.m.

    Hi Janet

    Our WMWP site hasn't gotten that far with our thinking .... but I love that idea of connecting with thinkers at other sites. I'll let you know ....

    I am curious to know more about how successful the Twitter connection has been with your folks. Do you just follow or are you creating activities for them? What kind of numbers? Just wondering ...


  • Tellio   March 27, 2012, 3:46 p.m.
    In Reply To:   Janet Ilko   March 26, 2012, 1:56 a.m.

    I sure would like to pick your brain about this Twitter project.  I will definitely be doing this for our summer fellows.  I am considering using GroupTweet.  You create a twitter account for the group (ours is kwptech) and then you connect it to GroupTweet.  When you send an @ or DM to that twitter account from your own account and the group gets a tweet as well.  No new passwords or logging onto another account.  Might want to take a look, but let me know how that week in the life thing works.  Thanks.

  • EcologicalHumanist   March 24, 2012, 1:44 p.m.

    Curation. I find that idea valuable: an arranged digital space or a kind of path through online information, that is tended and annotated. Adding signposts, maybe, to other scholarship, with distance markers. Invitations to collaborate.

    I'm not really sure about Diigo, or DigitalIs, but created test accounts in both and they seem solid. Someone here was also using Prezi, which I was recently introduced to.  In the end, I think the particular type of digital technology is just cosmetic. The bottleneck isn't that online communities need some slick new product to streamline their work-flow, the bottleneck is eliciting participation and involvement. We can communicate, near-instantly, globally, with anyone who can access the internet. That particular design constraint has been eliminated. The challenge now seems to be filtering, sorting, and humanizing vast flows of data.

    Part of what digital writing means to me is more exposure in terms of the soft tissues of process. If crowd-sourced learning is going to be possible, more rough language is going to have to be attached to online identities, and often those identities will be attatched to real careers, paychecks, and so on...I'm 33, and I recognize the value of the internet for horizontal, elective learning, the revolutionary potential, which is precicely why I don't want the "ecological humanist" to be tied to my job, which represents the model of learning I want to avoid.

    Sorry I'm jumping into these conversations late, and thanks for all the participants here for giving me so much to think about. If I create something on DigitalIs, it will probably have to do with speculative fiction, since that is my greatest intellectual passion at the moment, especially alternate world and utopian narratives.

  • Christina Cantrill   March 26, 2012, 12:37 p.m.
    In Reply To:   EcologicalHumanist   March 24, 2012, 1:44 p.m.

    Hello Ecological Humanist -- thank you for jumping in and sharing your learnings and reflections here. Would love to learn more about speculative fiction and your thinking about its relation to digital literacy .. and maybe even the others topics you raise here, ie. participation and involvement. Sounds fascinating!


  • EcologicalHumanist   March 28, 2012, 11:30 a.m.
    In Reply To:   Christina Cantrill   March 26, 2012, 12:37 p.m.

    Thanks Christina! Generally, I'm interested in how narrative can work as a social design-space. Speculative fiction (whether "hard" science fiction that actually concerns itself with paramaters of known technology, or genres like alternate histories, idea-based SF, and utopian/dystopian futures) functions as a low-cost laboratory in which notes can be compared by those who otherwise might not have authority to speak.

    A classic example, I think is Edward Bellamy's 1888 novel Looking Backward, which along with dozens of unauthorized sequels and imitations, helped to define late 19th century political thought in the United States, and influenced socialist and utopian movements around the world.

    Anyway, in the near future I'm trying to design a short research paper for University students, and want to incorporate collaborative digital technologies, without mandating a particular website or solution. My goal, as it frequently seems to be, is to get them to work with one another to develop a research question and coordinate different, compatible inquiries...This course has given me a lot of ideas to apply this semester and in the future.

    By the way, in regards to posting participants and more passive followers, here is one observation: even the possibility of responding can foster a more active reading or listening. One metaphor I've used in a different context (talking about 19th century literary collaborations) was improv theater. An audience watches improvised drama differently because they know that they could, potentially, influence it. Digital writing/literacy strikes me as similar.

  • Katie Kline   March 24, 2012, 9:01 a.m.

    Where do I start and how will I ever stop once I get started? This question is my biggest hurdle in writing. I have so much that I would like to say and even more that I would like to respond to, but since I also know that I don't have much time, it is difficult to get started. So,  I knew when I signed up that I would not be an active participant.

     I have much to learn  about Writing and Inquiry in the Digital Age and so little time to devote to this learning. What I have spent my time doing these past few weeks is reading everyone's comments, following the links, getting a Diigo account started (and trying to figure out the privacy issues attached), and poking around in places I haven't spent much time. I have been inspired by the posts by Tellio, Bud, Kevin, Christina and others. I've been impressed by the work that Bonnie and others have shared and by Ben's reflections. I'm sure I'm leaving out people who have positively affected my thinking these past few weeks; but thank you for sharing what you have.

    But what drew me immediately to my computer this morning was the light suggestion that those of us who don't participate with the community are "lurkers." I know that Kevin didn't mean this in a disparaging way -- and perhaps his use of the term as strategic (It certainly got me typing).  Just as we create classrooms where all students participate and contribute, do we also need to create these online spaces where the same kind of participation takes place? (I think so). And just like we don't always have one large group conversation where anyone can contribute their thoughts at any time in our classrooms, I wonder if we need to think about how to create different kinds of interactions in spaces like this one.

    What I know from my classroom experience is that once the "smart" students start talking, other students who don't feel as smart or knowledgeable will often remain silent. And I think we may want to think about race and gender and probably other factors which may be at play as well. Who is silenced in this space and why? It is easy to think that it just a time issue, but I think there are probably other reasons as well.

    One of the lessons we learned at the Greater Ka.nsas City Writing Project (through our Project Outreach work focused on serving the needs of those most affected by poverty) is that just creating an open and welcoming space doesn't mean that we are doing enough to address our lack of diversity. If we wanted to diversify our site, we had to take strategic steps to do so. I think that if we want more participation, we may need to think strategically about how we do so. I agree that having specific tasks to complete is one good strategy. And I guess my own inquiry has much to do with how we ensure that these digital spaces are participatory and democratic, and not replicating historically racist, classist, sexist ways of silencing us. 

    And a very minor note, but there are online lurkers; they are not good  for the community.  But there are also online observers, some of whom are learning the rules of the discourse community they are visiting, or are just dropping in to see what is going on. These observers are good for a community. We want to encourage these guests to stay for the party, not make them feel like the outsiders they may already feel like they are.

    Wow -- that was a long comment.  Thank you everyone for creating this space that DID make me feel welcome and that pushed my own thinking and learning forward!

  • KevinHodgson   March 24, 2012, 9:16 a.m.
    In Reply To:   Katie Kline   March 24, 2012, 9:01 a.m.

    Hi Katie

    I appreciate the connection to Project Outreach, and it reminds me of the work out site has done to become more active "inviters" of all of our teachers into the conversations -- going out of our way to make sure we are as open and supportive as possible. In that case, we were looking at issues of race and socioeconomics and more. In online spaces, we are looking at comfort levels with technlogy, easy entries to participation, and knowledge that all views are valued.

    I'm an interested in your distinction between "lurkers" and "listeners," too, and it also reminds of a new book/study out about the role of introverts in a world that is increasingly loud with a few strong voices. (see Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World that Can't Stop Talking by Susan Cain). Since I am one of those fools who jump right in and start jabbering, I have to remind myself to make room for everyone, even those friends who just want to read and listen, and maybe need a gentle invite to participate.


    PS -- And I certainly do not mean to disparage those who are lurking here. What I am trying to do is figure out how to manage other spaces so that everyone has a chance, if they want, to be involved.

    PSS -- We had a similar conversation on this very topic in Bud's Common Core Inquiry Group. Just making connections ... and noticing how this subject is increasingly on our minds as we shift more to online spaces. Who do we leave behind? Who is silenced? -- important questions.

  • Katherine   March 26, 2012, 5:24 a.m.
    In Reply To:   Katie Kline   March 24, 2012, 9:01 a.m.

    Thank you for this thoughtful comment, Katie.  Obviously, as someone involved in the facilitation of this study group and contributor to Digital Is, participation has been on my mind.  I completely understand both the time management issue and the questions about the nature of participation.  The latter is probably my biggest "take away" from this experience as I try to articulate my own involvement in the process.

    Part of identifying ourselves in P2PU as "participants" or "followers" suggests a type of commitment that, for me, has changed during the course of these three weeks.  Obviously, as a facilitator, just as in the f2f or online classroom, it is difficult to move a process forward if you don't have direct participation.  And, clearly, in a f2f classroom, physical markers allow us to respond to lack of direct participation in different ways.  You are spot on, I think, when you suggest that "we need to think about how to create different kinds of interactions in spaces like this one", for just like in any classroom, we need those physical markers--the writing, the participation--to move the process forward.

    I have noticed that different types of prompts at different moments in the conversation invite in various types of responses.  Think about the activity early on during week one and now the new voices joining the conversation--those who remained actively involved throughout and those who are now rejoining the conversation after exploring and learning for a couple of weeks.  Like you write, Katie, it makes you think of different kinds of learning processes and various levels of expertise--when people feel safe and willing to lend their voice to the conversation.

    This, of course, makes me think about the moments of silence and what they represent as well as what they do to a learning space such as this one or Digital Is.  I think it was Terry who wrote early on in this study group about the frustrations of having "dead" online learning spaces--those that were once active or had the potential to be so and then went dormant.  To what extent do we try to revive those?  And, when this conversation has ended, what new conversations will open up?  How will this conversation have contributed to new conversations and new spaces?  And how do we understand (dare I write, "measure") the success of this space and spaces like it?

  • Tellio   March 26, 2012, 8:47 a.m.
    In Reply To:   Katie Kline   March 24, 2012, 9:01 a.m.

    Katie, for me, 'lurking' no longer has the negative connotations that it once had.  In fact I have begun to think of it in much the same way physicists think of dark matter.  Dark matter is the most common stuff of the universe according to my limited understanding.  It is the context of all the elemental particles, like water for fish and air for birds.  Could lurkers be thought of the same way?  Without their invisible context perhaps the whole would not be the same.  We can only guess at the influence of lurkers, but I happen to think of them as nodes in a largerly invisible network.  Just a thought as we begin to re-assess the role of lurkers everywhere online.  And they are everywhere and they are all of us at some point in space and time.

  • Katie Kline   March 26, 2012, 10 a.m.
    In Reply To:   Tellio   March 26, 2012, 8:47 a.m.

    Thanks for the response, Tellio. I like thinking about lurkers in relation to dark matter, but I also wonder if it is wise to abandon a word for the more sinister kinds of invisible participation in such online spaces. I'm thinking about my own kids and the ways I've talked with my daughter especially about people who are truly lurking in online spaces-- who are observing without a positive intent. They may not really be predators but they aren't just innocent observers. I think of non-active predators as lurkers, and I really think the distinction is useful. But maybe I'm getting too hung up on a metaphor that seems to be in wide use already.

  • KevinHodgson   March 24, 2012, 7:44 a.m.

    Are we at the end? Already?


    Although my personal inquiry is all about the relevant literacies in the lives of my students, I am going to veer off in another direction here.

    Next year, the inquiry focus at our Western Massachusetts Writing Project site is going to be "digital writing." Our focus leads discussions, impacts the planning of our workshops and conferences, and informs our collective reading that we do as a writing project site. We've already determined that the Digital Is site will be our "resource" around the inquiry of how digital media and technology tools are influencing our students as writers and composers.

    This group has raised some interesting topics (the curating threads still resonate in my head and I continue to grapple with how to best think and focus online information into coherence).

    On a "bigger picture" note, this study group also reminds me that a lot of people may be following the discussions here but not participating. I'm not judging because this is a part of online communities across various platforms and there are many factors that go into why a person "lurks" or participates. There are lots of reader; fewer writers. The question remains of how to get more folks involved as active participants in activities (thinking now of how our WMWP inquiry work might learn from the interactions here). This pondering parallels with my philosophies that I have for my students -- shifting them from passive consumers of media into active creators of it, and giving them agency with the technology.

    Certainly, having specific, do-able activities is part of the solution, and also, having some playfulness in the community is a key component, too. If it's too much like work, then no one is going to spend time doing it. We do enough of that during the day. Finding some balance between thoughtful inquiry, meaningful play and positive connections is the way to build an online community. (OK, so now I feel as if I am rambling aloud). And of course, as is the case here, the reflective process is a key component, too.

    This has been a great experience, and the group provided yet another model for using the P2PU site that I am storing away for another time.




  • Tellio   March 23, 2012, 1:33 p.m.

    First, what one particular example of digital inquiry -- from our conversations here or from what you saw in Digital Is -- really resonates for you? Why?

    I was fascinated by Christina's suggestion that we might want to look at all the activity surrounding "#beyondthetextbook".  I have been looking at new digital search tools for filtering the firehose of information that came out of that.  My goal is to first figure out a personal research 'algorithm' for gathering twitter-style data-- links, text, analytics, and all.  Second, I need to develop practical ways for filtering that torrent of tweets, blogs, forums and news.  I want to document that process, but I also want some advice and suggestions on how I might do this. I have already started this process, but your input would be great. I will write a little later today about my algorithm and ask for research suggestions.


    Second, what do you plan to do next with your own digital inquiry? Who will you connect and collaborate with in your local context? How?

    I want to share these search and filtering tools with my students.  I want to show them how to filter with these just as I do when I teach them how to use Diigo to gather, filter, annotate, and synthesize summaries from text.

    I want to share this on Digital IS as well as on my own blog.

    I want to find out what others do with research problems like this.

    I want to share with teachers this summer at our Summer Tech Academy.

    I want, if appropriate, to share in presentations to my faculty colleagues and for others on campus and off.

    I would like some of this to take the form of screencasts, videos, blog posts, and podcasts.


    I have had a previous experience doing something similar with #edchat, but I was only working on a single day's tweetcast.  This will be different.



  • KevinHodgson   March 26, 2012, 6:10 a.m.
    In Reply To:   Tellio   March 23, 2012, 1:33 p.m.

    My goal is to first figure out a personal research 'algorithm' for gathering twitter-style data-- links, text, analytics, and all.

    I'll be looking forward to learning more about how this evolves for you, as I think it is important. So much of what is part of my online self seems scattered (digital debris?) and I often grapple with how to best make sense of all of the little data points I am creating out here, and there, and over there ....

    I was thinking of this again this week when the newsletter from the NWP came through and I followed a link to yet another NWP online space. It's hard for even me to keep track of where NWP information and activities are located: between the NWP website, and Digital Is, and NWP Connect and now this other site for information from annual reports. Yikes!

    But my online world is like that, too.

    Maybe what you point to is "curating" ourselves, never mind content.




  • karen   March 26, 2012, 11:55 a.m.
    In Reply To:   KevinHodgson   March 26, 2012, 6:10 a.m.

    This is an interesting conversation, and it's made me think about how I've started to use Evernote as a personal curation tool. It's become a place where I forward important things on topics I have an ongoing interest in from all the many streams I follow (Twitter, rss, emails, web, etc.).

    It acts as a kind of intermediary content aggregation place for my own personal use/reflection.

    One thing that makes this tool work well for me is that I can forward tweets, emails, websites, etc. to my Evernote account with one click. Also the many ways to organize content works well for me. (I love folders, tags, etc.)

    I'm still a little new to Evernote so I'm still learning ways it can work for me, but so far I'd say it's really changed how I approach inquiry and reflection digitally.

  • Tellio   March 26, 2012, 12:10 p.m.
    In Reply To:   karen   March 26, 2012, 11:55 a.m.

    If you want to find new ways to drive stuff into Evernote you might want to consider ifttt (if this then that) at

    Amazing way to make Evernote the center of your info universe.

  • karen   March 26, 2012, 4:40 p.m.
    In Reply To:   Tellio   March 26, 2012, 12:10 p.m.

    Wow. This is pretty neat. Still getting my head around different ways I can use this.