Remembering Summer Learning

This year, and summer especially, will remain in my memory as one where I explored new methods of learning.

I had already discovered the power of twitter as a personal and professional learning tool, what with various twitter chats in which I began participating in 2011.

Last Spring, I signed up for my first MOOC with coursera. I logged in for the first few days, then, never again. Failure to continue the course was a combination of being somewhat disoriented there, not being as interested in the course as I thought I would be, and a general lack of time.

Undaunted, in July I signed up for an EDx course: The Future of Learning with Professor Richard Elmore. Happily, I found this one to be a topic in which I was not only interested, but engaged in right from the start.

Professor Richard Elmore,
June 2014 (Photo credit: mas)
I had been fortunate to attend an introduction to the MOOC on the Harvard campus with Prof Elmore in June. In the course we explored modes of individual and distributed learning and leading through exploration and understanding of our own theories of learning and leadership. This course provided me with tools to imagine and contribute to the future of learning. More on this to come in future posts!

So, I've experienced two MOOCs to date. Both were designed with participatory interaction occurring primarily through the course website, with expanded conversation happening on discussion platforms within the site (which I found to be extremely chaotic in both cases...), as well as through social media (a facebook page and twitter). Connections to others for both were based on platforms for writing and reading.

Another summer learning experience was reading "Beyond the Bake Sale" as a #PTcamp bookchat with over 100 educators and parents spanning 10 time zones. We used digital tools including Voxer, twitter (#ptcamp), ApprenNet, and blogs to discuss a couple of chapters each week.

Most striking about this experience were the visual (ApprenNet) and aural (Voxer) aspects of connecting and sharing. The group was certainly much smaller than a MOOC but much bigger than a typical book group. The digital tools enabled us to connect and challenge each other through voice and video.

Bake Sale was a stand out experience that continues to have ripples! Out of that bookchat experience came material for an MTA ED Talk to be given at their summer conference in Williamstown last August. Unfortunately, I was unable to give my ED Talk due to illness, but no good work is ever wasted! Themes and examples from my Talk have been used in various ways since, including on this blog. The bookchat had also enabled the ability to establish relationships - connecting through voice and video makes quick colleagues! I maintain a personal and professional learning network with members of the #ptcamp group who inspire me daily.

For those interested: Here's a Harvard Graduate School of Education video of Dr. Karen Mapp (one of the Bake Sale authors) describing her work on the Dual Capacity-Building Framework recently released by the US Department of Education: http://www.gse.harvard.edu/news/uk/14/11/building-capacity-family-engagement