When cows can fly: In the heat of the #TvsZ 6.0 moment

#TvsZ 6.0: A giant game of Twitter Red Rover

This weekend, I’ve been playing #TvsZ 6.0 with friends and students. The game is both like and unlike previous iterations. I have loved every version I’ve played so far, but this one may be my favorite.

Why? Because, though I love zombies, it turns out that getting rid of zombies has opened up more imaginative freedom for players. Zombies are such a dominant narrative, that when we are within that paradigm, as fun as it is, it controls our sense of possibilities. The various zombie tropes we know get deployed, reworked, and remixed in endlessly fascinating ways.

But take away the zombie master narrative, revise the underlying game action from involuntary or even violent transformation (#bite) to the more constructive valence of community building (#recruit), and the ethos of the game transforms. We still play for fun, and players feel loyalty to their teams (more on that in a moment), but tweets tend toward “I want you on my team, so I #recruit you” rather than the “I’m going to get you despite your protest, so I #bite you”.

Of course, there’s still a LOT of trash-talking (and I may be among the worst offenders in this realm). I don’t have time to paste in tweets to show this, but search on the #TvsZ hashtag and you’ll see the banter among players from different teams.

Why I’m a #teamtech member

I began as a #teamtech member because I figured it would be the less popular of the two initial teams (nature vs technology). Also, our plan as we developed the game concept was to invite players to hack the binary of the two original teams, so I figured I’d be moving on to a third team in fairly short order.

Very quickly–more quickly than we’d planned–a third team (#bovine) established itself, and for a while a fourth (#dragon) and even fifth team (#fish). Then the cows and the dragons combined forces in what can only be described as the triumph of creative imagination: and so was born the team I call “the flying cows”, team #dragonbovine, a group of fun-loving, firebreathing flying cows.

I immediately wanted to join them. Who doesn’t love the sheer silliness of it? And I was gratified when a few #DB players made attempts to #recruit me to their team. Part of me really wanted to join them, to glory in the linguistic punning and visual potential of such an imaginative identity.

But I resisted, out of a sense of loyalty to my (at the time, dwindling) team. Ah, what a tough call 🙂

Technology, Nature, and Imagination

As I think of it now, these three teams embody three sets of values and bases of human thought. They are, clearly, not incompatible. In fact, I’d argue that the (constructs) nature, technology, and imagination are entirely interdependent and deeply interconnected. And maybe that the real beauty of this version of #TvsZ: instead of opposing sides (humans vs zombies), this time we have interconnected, interdependent perspectives working separately but with awareness of each other.

If I were trying to build a game that would suggest an avenue of hope for our collective future–a future threatened by so many challenges at both local and global scales–I’d want something like #TvsZ 6.0, as it has emerged through the players’ own initiative. We need technological solutions to some gloabal warming challenges, but we also need imagination and creativity and lightness-of-touch to choose among and advance those solutions, and we desperately need people who care deeply about our environments, be they natural or participatory communities.

Many players embody this ethos. Here’s one example. One player was confused about the rules, and another player helped her out:

#Teamtech ethos

So what is the ethos of #teamtech? I can’t speak for my teammates, but my sense is that we are motivated by a desire to improve our collective way of life by recognizing the sheer variety and richness of human innovation. We defend the pursuit of knowledge for it’s own sake (#gogeeks), and we trust that people in teams imagination (the flying cows) and nature will balance us with their wisdom and kindness.

Plus, we seem to love to make Star Wars, Star Trek, and other nerdy film references. #Gogeeks!


Public scholarship and undergraduate teaching

“Certainly those determining acts of her life were not ideally beautiful.  They were the mixed result of young and noble impulse struggling amidst the conditions of an imperfect social state, in which great feelings will often take the aspect of error, and great faith the aspect of illusion.  For there is no creature whose inward being is so strong that it is not greatly determined by what lies outside it. …But the effect of her being on those around her was incalculably diffusive, for the growing  good of the world is partly dependent on unhistoric acts, and that things are not so ill with you and me as they might have been is half owing to the number who lived faithfully a hidden life and rest in unvisited tombs.” (George Eliot)

I’ve been participating–with varying degrees of engagement, though with unflagging enthusiasm–in #connected courses this fall. As with so many other MOOCs and mooc-like online learning experiences, I find myself most engaged by the small conversations that happen around the edges of the organized course content. This is why I like Twitter, I think. I like to dip my toe in the endless stream, to be aware of what people are talking about, to engage, to meet others, to browse some of the blogs I would never otherwise encounter. I am, I suspect, a fox by practice even if a hedgehog by conviction, to abuse Isaiah Berlin’s immortal metaphor.


In other words, I like to separate myself intellectually and physically from the task at hand and move to another before the first is finished. Catch up with my own teaching and research obligations. Reconnect with my family life and my personal goals. Some people call this juggling. I think of it as an extension of my pleasure in browsing used book store shelves: even if I find a book I want to purchase right away, I love to look at all the others, to gather a pile of potential purchases and weigh them against each other before purchasing more than I can read in the near future.

One thing I love about online learning is that I can engage in it in fits and starts; it gives me the pleasure of browsing among an endlessly fascinating variety, and putting off committing to any individual endeavor that will necessarily narrow–and deepen–my engagement.

And this kind of self-paced engagement is, I am realizing, something my own students would love to do as well. Every semester, about halfway through, the energy in all my classes flags. I know that I need to step up my game this time of year, to plan a bit of a tap dance or sales job to help my students focus and commit to the topic at hand. Sometimes I’m more successful than others; but I always know I need to do more, to become not only professor but also entertainer-in-chief.

I often try to plan “fun” assignments for mid-semester. When I teach Jane Austen, I schedule “Dance like Jane Austen” day at this point. Or this is when we watch a film in class and live tweet our comments rather than discuss them. Or learn to enrich the visual and aural and design-based elements of whatever multi-media blogging platform we’re using that semester. This semester, for example, my students will be playing a game on Twitter, though that won’t begin for a couple more weeks.

I’ve always accepted the mid-semester doldrums as necessary evil of the academic calendar. Much like the halfway point of a long run, it’s the most difficult from a motivation standpoint, even if not the most challenging or difficult. (And if it IS the most difficult, then it’s sure to be even worse. It needs to be a time when students gather their energy since they don’t have reserves to spend.)

What does this have to do with public scholarship?

I’ve been thinking about how to inspire my students to redouble their efforts and reengage in the academic challenge, which has caused me to consider, as I so often do around this time of year, how to teach better next time around.

My lightbulb moment:  I want to propose for next year: Seminar in Public Scholarship. I was thinking about “connected scholarship”, but while Mimi Ito’s work and all I’ve learned via this #connected courses experience is a huge influence on my thinking, I think my potential students will intuitively understand the word “public” more easily, as they browse their choices in the catalog.

What would be the purpose, the “why” of this course?

I teach at a small, private liberal arts college in California. Our students are the products of a public education system in California that has suffered decades of neglect and worse. As the Connected Learning Network’s “Agenda for Research and Design” points out, parents of children from wealthier backgrounds are pouring ever-greater resources into their children’s lives to compensate for the gaps in public education, while parents of less wealthy families do not have that same ability. Our students are often from California’s less wealthy families. Our students are often first generation collegians, seeking a college degree for the promise of a future that will catapult them into the kinds of jobs and careers that they desire–careers often defined by autonomy, flexibility, prestige, and relatively high financial remuneration. Unfortunately, as Ito et al state succinctly: “A college degree has become a requirement for most good jobs, but is no longer a guarantee of acquiring one” (17).

Even if college is not a direct route to a “good job,” as many of my recently graduated students have discovered to their woe, I still believe that the work we do here, the learning that happens here, can be transformative and helpful in our students’ lives.

But how? That’s the real question, and that the question that so many private colleges are asking themselves in today’s market, with the manifold burdens of rising tuition, skyrocketing student debt, and a meandering or uncertain path from liberal arts into the “good jobs” that so many of our graduates need and desire.

I, a modest English professor who studies nineteenth century literature, am not going to solve all these social problems (though I am so very glad to read and benefit from the great work of folks like Mimi Ito, Elizabeth Losh, Cathy Davidson, Howard Rheingold, Gerald Graff, and many many more who together, I believe, will make a huge difference), but I do want to change my own teaching practice so that I address the real needs and concerns of my actual students. No surprise there, that’s a baseline value I imagine all #connectedcourses participants share. So, why do I imagine that a course titled something as obscure as “Seminar in Public Scholarship” will accomplish this?

But first, a “digression” into what students want:

What do my students want from their college classes? They want to learn, to have access to a world larger than they understand and older than any of us can imagine. They want to have a teacher who is a guide and a mentor who will make sense of that world, who will shine a light that organizes all the seemingly unconnected or disconnected strands into a coherent and knowable package that will directly impact their own lives. They want an entertainer, who will transmit to them knowledge in delicious and endlessly various nuggets. They want a warm and caring human being, who will forgive them their human failings, and inspire them to become better versions of themselves.

At least, that’s what I imagine they want. (Gosh, I think I need to ask them! How have I taught this many years and never actually asked!)

What I want, on the other hand, are students who do the learning themselves. Who look to me as an expert, but who enjoy the process of making new knowledge for themselves. And what I’ve realized is that these two concepts are not so very disparate. A few times in the past few years I’ve felt at moments that students’ needs and my own teaching desires were energizing each other. Twice now, I’ve felt close to achieving a surprising approximation of this kind of learning. This semester, teaching my connected courses class, and last year when teaching an Austen seminar which connected to both scholarly discourse and Austen pop-culture life online. In those two classes, especially, there were periods where students own interest was driving the content. This level of engagement was uneven among students, and waxes and waned during the semester. But the possibility that student interest could motivate class discussions, could enrich assignments so that students worked well beyond expectations, could obviate the need for “edutainment.” Now those are moments I savor.

Finally: why a seminar in public scholarship?

What I now think I want to try is to build a seminar that leads students through a few steps toward taking control of their own education. I keep working at this, and I think I’ve realized the missing ingredient. Students NEED access to all those qualities I listed above as their ideal teacher. And I, flawed and limited human that I am, cannot fulfill all those roles. On good days, maybe I’ll embody one or two. On bad days…well, enough said.

I alone am not enough to enable my students to envision themselves into their own personal ideal, and stimulate them to work toward that ideal, and give them all the resources they need to get there, and console them for the difficulties they encounter along the way…etc. I think no single teacher actually is enough (though I know there are amazing teachers out there who get a LOT closer than I ever will). Maybe that’s why most academics I know live with a low level of “imposter syndrome” always at work in our souls. We see the need, and our inability to fill it, and we wilt a bit.

But, here’s the thing: somewhere, at some point in history or on the map, someone exists who can be the perfect mentor for each individual student at each moment of her learning trajectory! Voilá! That’s the promise of connected learning, and, especially, of personal learning networks. But there’s a catch:

What is clear from the existing literature is that currently it is generally educationally privileged youth with effective learning supports at home who are able to take full advantage of the new learning opportunities that the online world has to offer and to translate these opportunities to their academic and career success. …[but]…

The emerging hypothesis that undergirds our approach is that the majority of young people need more supports to translate and connect their new media engagements toward more academic, civic, and production oriented activities. We advocate for more focused research that examines both in-school and out-of-school supports for self-directed, interest-driven, and technologically enabled learning through the lens of equity and opportunity around envisioning various ways to interact with the world as a scholar. (25)

So, my “Seminar in Public Scholarship” is born. I want to scaffold in a process by which students can find role models (in the largest sense) to help them articulate what kind of post-graduation person they want to become. Then, after they have created their own “why” for their education (or at least for their engagement in the individual course) then we can work on the literacies of twenty-first century connected learning. In the past, I’ve started with ideas, and skipped directly to skills. This time, next time, I will start with asking them to create their own “why”, their own image of their future “best self” so they can then learn those things that will help them become that self.

Perhaps, like Eliot’s Dorothea, most of us spend ourselves in diffuse avenues. But maybe, if we are very lucky, we can become, like Dorothea, a positive benefit to the world we inherit. I know that the language I use of “best self” comes loaded with Ruskin’s assumptions and Victorian oversights, and that Dorothea is hardly a heroic role model. But these ideals live in my mind and inspire me to continue to work. And maybe–maybe my students need to find their own guiding light, who though limited and imperfect, might embody the values and strivings that inspire them?

Sounds simple, doesn’t it? As I type out these final sentences, I realize that many of my #connected course colleagues are probably already doing versions of this. Please share your strategies in comments!

A few of my inspirations for this (way too long) blog post:

Attention Mindfulness Journal

A friend recently asked for the “attention journal” assignment I am using in my introduction to digital scholarship course (WSP101 on this blog). I’ve pasted the assignment in below. This post is a description of what I want to accomplish by the assignment and how I am conceptualizing it. I’d love your feedback and comments!

I got the idea for this assignment from reading Howard Rheingold’s Net Smart. He discusses David Levy’s (University of Washington) mindfulness assignments:

Levy created a college course called “Information and Contemplation.” In addition to teaching breath awareness to his students, Levy asked them to keep a log of their email behavior for a week, noting how their body and emotions felt, and how they were breathing while they were online.

(Rheingold, Net Smart, 73)

Here’s a brief feature on David Levy (I’d love to learn from him!) And here’s a Google Tech Talk by David Levy. While Levy is an expert on teaching technology and awareness, this semester is my first foray into this field. I backed into deciding to teach awareness after deciding to have my students use Twitter and Medium.com to blog and share all their coursework for a class this semester. I knew that I would need to confront many issues: screen fatigue, differential device access, social media concerns, identity and FERPA questions, etc. And I’d also need to explain to my students WHY I was trying to get them to spend MORE time on social media–Twitter and Medium. Most messages students receive about social media is that it is a waste of time, a threat to their future (drunken posts, etc.), merely a platform for marketing (true enough sometimes), etc. Here I was arguing against all of that.

So I wanted to begin the semester by asking students to really think about their own engagement with technology. What do they do? What do they like and dislike? How conscious are they of their own body and breathing when scrolling through a social media feed? How aware are they of their own technology practices?

I also want to put students in the driver’s seat. What are their interests in relation to their own technology use? The course will be both investigating these questions and also practicing skills related to developing personal learning networks. It is crucial, then, that students come up with their own questions about these topics. I want them to learn something useful, to find a reason that this class will help them in their own learning goals.

Here is the assignment I developed. It is largely borrowed from an assignment in a course titled “Contempletive Practice” taught by David Ambuel and Angela Pitts at University of Mary Washington. I left the terms of the assignment deliberatedly vague: what counts as “technology use,” for example. Phones? Laptops? Video games? Students asked these questions in class, and I turned the questions back to them to answer. They also asked “am I doing it right?” in various ways and I consistently told them that there is no right and wrong in this observation of themselves. They also asked “what am I trying to find out?” (which is a great question, really), and I bounced that back to them as well–“what do you want to learn about your own attention/technology combination?”

I haven’t yet seen their blog posts, but I’m excited to discover what they made of this assignment.

Here’s the assignment:

Attention Log

Throughout Week 2 of the course, you should keep a regular “attention journal” to notice how your attention moves while you are online. This exercise is to help you become more aware of how your mind–in combination with the Web–works. There is no right or wrong way to place your attention for this exercise. My hope is that you will simply observe your own attentional practice.

In order to do so, please keep a log of your engagement with online media for one week. Each session should be a minimum of 15 minutes, and you should observe at least 5 sessions.

As you surf, or do homework online, or scroll through social media, remind yourself to notice what you are thinking, how you are breathing, what position your body is in, if you are feeling anything (emotionally or otherwise). Again, there is no right or wrong answer to any of this–just mindfulness of what you do. In making entries to your journal, you want to strive for brevity, accuracy, and precision.

Make a separate entry for each session.  Use the entries to describe your practice in detail, but you do not need to be repetitive, i.e., you may combine similar traits.

For each session, respond to the following questions:

1. Date,
2. Physical Space and means of access to Web
3. Duration of session,
4. What occurred,
5. How you noted it,
6. What happened to it,
7. What worked,
8. What did not work,
9. Other comments.

This assignment is gratefully adapted from a meditation journal assignment: http://meditation.umwblogs.org/meditation-journal/

Blog Post & Tweet

After students complete the journal itself, they then are asked to write their first blog post of the semester (week 2.5) summarizing and narrating what they learned from the journal. They then tweet the link to the post to the class hashtag, so everyone can read it.

Why should students take my course?

Yesterday a small group of folks here on campus gathered in the Faculty Alcove of the library to watch the first webinar for Connected Courses. The Webinar featured  Mike Wesch, Cathy Davidson, and Randy Bass, and was FANTASTIC.

What was so great about it? The speakers were fantastic: succinct, inspiring, on topic, smart smart smart. But what really made the event special was that I got to watch it with a group of folks all engaged in helping learning happen in different ways: one professor of psychology, one of Spanish, one specialist in digital scholarship, and two undergraduate students not enrolled in any of my courses.

It was AMAZING to discuss teaching and learning with such a diverse group of folks who all really care. The students, especially, challenged me to think differently, to question some of my own assumptions, and to try things that sound pretty scary to me (like an anonymous chat backchannel during class discussion. Scary!)

After the webinar, we were asked to respond to a specific writing prompt (ahem, another demonstration of good pedagogy!) Here’s the writing prompt this post intends to address:

So what is the real “why” of your course? Why should students take it? How will they be changed by it? What is your discipline’s real “why”? Why does it matter that students take __________ courses or become _________ists? How can digital and networked technologies effectively support the real why of your course?

Mike Wesch made a comment that spoke to my course’s “why”:

WSP101, the course I am focusing on for this project, is an introduction to a program in self-directed learning in which students can choose to design their own learning programs (within the limits of the course offerings of the college, and their study abroad and internship experiences). It’s a really exciting program, and offers students who are both ambitious and motivated an opportunity to tailor their experience at our small college to suit their own goals. So, in a way, the “why” is easy for this course.

Why take this course? To learn how to decide for yourself what you need to learn and to practice some ways to achieve that learning.

I think the Whittier Scholars program fits easily into the connected learning concept. I am just updating the methods the program has long used by encouraging students to build their own personal learning networks on Twitter and Medium, and other places.

But another comment yesterday really got me thinking:

Whittier Scholars, for all its wonderful flexibility and clear basis in students’ own interests, can also seem a bit vague or difficult to evaluate. Sometimes, that can lead students to feel unclear about what constitutes accountability. This is something I need to really work on.

The class this semester will be doing self- and peer-evaluation quite a bit. In fact, they will be writing ocassional narrative evaluations of their own participation and submitting their self-assigned grades to me. I, then, will respond to their narratives and suggested grades. Grading, in other words, will be a dialogue. I hope this will help. We shall see.


I wrote all that, and then I saw this comic on my Twitter feed. This is so true and right and good that I can’t help posting it here:

Digital Skills for Designing Your Own Major

Here is a syllabus I am trying out for the first time. The course is an introductory course for students who plan to self-design their own interdisciplinary majors:

Whittier Scholars Program 101

This course is the foundation course for the Whittier Scholars Program. It is designed to enable students to explore issues such as: human beings in a social context; the relationship between the individual and the community; the role of education and the life of the mind; and the ways in which values and affect play a role in asking and understanding enduring questions and analyzing issues. Themes are addressed in terms of different historical periods, disciplines, cultures and identities. Director’s permission required. 3 credits.

Course Goals

  • Initiate you into Whittier Scholar’s academic community (participate)
    In class we will practice what it takes to be a successful Whittier Scholar, including participating in discussions, note taking, attention management, envisioning your own curriculum, using campus and digital resources, etc. You will also be required to attend a few campus activities, digital meetups, and Whittier Scholars events during the semester.
  • Explore methods for taking charge of your own education (question)
    The Whittier Scholars Program gives students (with the help of a group of faculty advisors) the responsibility for designing your own curriculum. Why design your own? So that you can explore questions that YOU care about. This class offers tools and practice in researching possibilities, seeking mentors, and seizing opportunities to ask burning questions. These skills prepare you for success not only in the WSP but also in a rapidy-changing world, a world in which you may often need to “learn, unlearn, and relearn” as your interests and contexts change.
  • Practice communitication, including writing, as a process (communicate)
    Communicating artfully is a process that involves listening to others, evaluating evidence, analyzing your own questions, advancing ideas, offering and accepting criticism, adapting your speech and prose to suit a specific audience, and practicing precision and persuasiveness. Note: error-free writing is the assumed starting point of this class. We will not study grammar, but will address “mechanical” issues as needed.
  • Participate in social media to advance your learning and life goals (collaborate)
    This class will explore new avenues for overcoming distinctions between learning and doing, education and work, and public and private identities via social media (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, blogs, etc.). We will practice participating in social media collaborations and spend time shaping our individual digital identities to reflect our ethics and goals.

What do you want to learn?

Discovering that is the central purpose of this course. Along the way, we will play with various tools and develop skills that will hopefully help you place your own questions at the center of your Whittier College education. In class and via social media, we will pursue the learning that you wish to explore this semester—and, potentially, in your Whittier Scholars major and project. In order to provide a framework for your explorations, we will read some texts chosen for their interdisciplinarity and elegance. You should read (or watch) them carefully, attentively, and take notes as you do so, focusing on how they might relate to your central questions.

The seminar format gives you the privilege and responsibility of regularly participating in discussions. In this class, we are not only each other’s discussion partners, we are also each other’s reading audience. Collaborative learning, including reviewing each other’s writing, will be a regular part of the course. In addition, since most of your writing for this class will be posted publically on the Web, the whole world is your potential reading audience. As your questions take shape, we will develop learning networks to help you pursue your questions both within Whittier and in the world—and Web—beyond.

As the semester progresses, you will take increasing control over the course. In the final unit, “Community,” you will lead class for about 40 minutes in order to bring the classroom community into your “big question”—the topic you’ve been pursuing over the semester. Your leadership will begin with you giving a short TED-style talk about your big question. What you do next is up to you: maybe it will involve a discussion, or a game, or a

Learning Objectives of the Course

  1. To enable students to generate and address “fundamental questions” about the individual, community, society, and the relationship(s) between and among them;
  1. To expose students to a range of disciplines and perspectives that will enable them to begin to formulate answers for themselves;
  1. To increase students’ ability to respond critically to ideas presented in a variety of media, i.e., text, film, oral presentation, etc.
  1. To increase students’ understanding of the social environment in which they live and their place within it; and
  1. To help students begin to think about their education and their own goals as a first step toward designing their own education for the WSP.

Required Texts

Most texts for this class will be articles and talks available online and/or in PDFs that you can download onto your device or print out. Whether you choose to read them on screen or on paper, you will need to read them carefully and attentively, to make notes in them, and to bring them to class according to the reading schedule below. The only book you need buy is the following: Coelho, Paulo. The Alchemist.

Online Materials –your grades are available to you on Moodle throughout the semester

Participate in the course Moodle website regularly. Go to http://cms.whittier.edu and login using your my.whittier login and password. You should be automatically enrolled in the class. I will post syllabus updates, PDFs, useful links, and assignments, and you will post some assignments. Visit the course Moodle website at least twice a week, before each class session. All grades will be posted to the Moodle Gradebook during the semester so that you can keep track of your progress in the course (though there will often be some delay between marking and posting—please be patient!). There are also many writing resources available through links on the Moodle page. Explore them! You’ll be amazed.

Writing for the Public

You will write and revise blog posts regularly throughout the semester. You will write most mornings in class. You will regularly tweet your ideas and links to your blogs. Also, you will regularly read and comment on classmates’ writing.

Most of the writing you do for this class will not only be shared with your classmates and myself, but also with anyone who finds you on Medium.com. We will therefore discuss early in the term your options for your online presence: you may choose to publish your work under your own name or to use a psdeunym. We will read about what trade-offs are involved in this decision so that you can make an informed decision, and you will sign a contract with the class identifying your individual choice.

You will also be reading—and publically commenting—on each others’ writing. These comments, as with all work you do for this class, should be constructive and helpful. The more specific your comments, the more helpful they will be for the writer. Generalized compliments should be avoided. Take your review responsibilities seriously, and make significant suggestions to others!

For additional help with writing throughout the semester, I encourage you to come see me in office hours and also to visit the writing center in the Center for Advisement and Academic Success (CAAS).

Initial Course Schedule

Since this is a seminar, reading and other assignments should be completed BEFORE CLASS on the date indicated so that you can participate fully in the discussion. The only exception to this are assignments listed as “in class” on the syllabus. Always bring relevant books to class. Our schedule will usually change during the semester: the most up-to-date schedule will always be available on the course Moodle website.


  Read and àWrite before class In class
Unit One: Individual: How do you want to learn?
Week One  
R 9/4 In class:

Wallace, David Foster: “This is Water” Commencement Speech on Youtube.

Abridged (illus) http://youtu.be/DKYJVV7HuZw



Attention Experiment

After class: Update your Moodle profile.


Week Two àKeep Attention Log this week to discover your attentional practices
T 9/9 Cronon, “Only Connect…”


Berlin, “The Hedgehog and the Fox”


[Optional: Nussbaum, “Liberal Education and Global Community” AACU Winter 2004


àSummarize Cronon reading (1-2 pgs)


Discuss readings and two types of summaries: 140 character summaries and purposeful summaries for writing.
R 9/11 Topic: What is your digital identity and footprint? What do you want it to be? Sign individual publishing contract for class work.


Read: Terms of Service for Medium.com and Twitter.

Hogan, Bernie. “Pseudonyms and the Rise of the Real-Name Web.”


In Class Workshop Day: Medium, Storify, and Twitter


F 9/13 àTweet Link to Medium.com Profile Last day to add classes
Week Three
T 9/16 Davidson, “The Classroom or the Worldwide Web?” from The Future of Learning Institutions in a Digital Age (8-25)

àTweet at least 2 interesting claims from reading.

Discuss tweets and claims, make collaborative summary.
R 9/18 à Blog 1: What you learned from keeping an attention log. àTweet link & summary. Workshop w/ John Jackson: Multimedia annotation strategies and Zotero
Week Four
T 9/23 Davidson, “Pillars of Institutional Pedagogy: Ten Principles for the Future of Learning” from The Future of Learning Institutions in a Digital Age (26-35) (pdf)

àBlog 2: Five Personal Learning Principles (5- 7 mins read). àTweet link & summary

Discuss personal learning principles in relation to Davidson’s institutional principles.
R 9/25 Sall, Mike. “The Optimal Post is 7 Minutes”


àWhat is an “attention minute”?

Sall, Mike. “Double the pain, double the gain.”


à Blogs 1 & 2 revised and submitted for publication by classtime

àTweet summaries and links for them.

  9/27 last day to Drop
Unit Two: Identity: What do you want to learn?
Week Five
T 9/30 Topic: Begin Big Question project: What is your question and why use TED, Youtube, etc?


àBlog 3: What is your big question? What do you want to know? (minimum 7 mins read)

àTweet summary/link.

Develop rubric for evaluating blogs and working collaboratively.
R 10/2 Rheingold, “Attention and Other 21st Century Social Media Literacies” (pdf)

à Blog 3 revised submitted for publication by classtime.

àTweet summary and link

Discussion of mutli-modal composition: what are modes, and why not write essays like everyone else?
Week Six  
T 10/7 Peer Revision Workshop

à WSP Application Essay

Class decides: bring paper copies? Or laptops?

Set Unit Three schedule for class leadership.


R 10/9 “Behold the Mustache”: Howard Rheingold’s visit

àTweet three questions for Howard before class.

Attend talk at 5pm

Live Tweet his talk? Class should discuss and decide.

F 10/10 WSP Applications Due  
Week Seven
T 10/14 The Alchemist

àTweet 2 interesting quotations from The Alchemist before class, including page numbers.

àBlog 4: Embed a TED or Ignite talk that relates to your big question (blog 3). Describe why you find the talk inspiring. How does it relate to your big question? How does the speaker capture your attention? What would you do differently? (5-7 mins read)

àTweet summary and link

Explain why each quotation interests you to a partner and together develop a question for the class.
R 10/16 The Alchemist

à Blog 5: Title blog with a question you want to explore. Begin with an interesting quotation from The Alchemist and explain why you find it compelling and how it responds to your question. (5-7 mins read)

àTweet summary and link

Think/Pair/Share: discuss tweets and reading in relation to your own plans.
Week Eight
T 10/21 àBlog 6: Your Lesson Plan. Begin with links to resources we—your students—must read, and a blog or twitter assignment we must do in advance. (minimum 7 mins read)

àTweet summary and links.

Workshop Blog 6
R 10/23 The Alchemist

à5 tweets about The Alchemist. They may respond to class questions from previous session or they may assert a new idea about the novel or ask a question for the class.

Storify tweets into topic categories. Discuss key topics.
Unit Three: Community: What will you teach us?

Topics and assignments to be input by student teachers at least one week before session!

Week Nine
T 10/28 àBlog 6 revised and submitted for publication by classtime.

àTweet link and summary.

R 10/30 àBlog 7: Your Learning Network: Who are you connecting with to pursue your big question? How are you connecting? Where are you sharing information? What have you learned? (minimum 5 mins read)
Week Ten (Weeks 10 & 11 are Advising)
T 11/4  
R 11/6  
Week Eleven
T 11/11
R 11/13 Prepare for Twitter Game
Nov 14-17: Play TvsZ
Week Twelve
T 11/18 àBlog 8: What did you learn from playing TvsZ? (minimum 5 mins read)
R 11/20
Week Thirteen
T 11/25
R 11/27 Thanksgiving Break
Week Fourteen  
T 12/2 Final Blog: What is your next step? How will you use your connections, skills, and questions to get you there? How has this class contributed to your ability to pursue your own learning? (7 – 9 mins read minimum, carefully revised and submitted for publication)

àTweet summary and link

R 12/4 Last Day of Class