Connected Courses

It’s been a long while since I posted on the bavablog, but I have a few good reasons as to why. I’ll be blogging about each of them over the next week or so (I’m back in the blog game!), but let me start with the first reason of many: Connected Courses. The official announcement will be coming will becoming next week, but I have been promising Howard Rheingold, my co-conspirator in this experiment, a post trying to explain what the hell Connected Courses is for some time now. I have failed at my charge thus far, but he’s a hippie so hope springs eternal for him 🙂

Connected Courses Crew at UC Irvine for Course Design Bootcamp
Below is my peripatetic attempt to explain Connected Courses, which I’ll be a part of alongside an amazing cadre of educators that I’ll do my best to namecheck after I take a stab at a description. But one more thing before that, the road towards designing Connected Courses consisted of six months of planning, numerous calls, and a three day intensive bootcamp at UC Irvine that took place two weeks ago. I’ll try to write more about the details of that experience, but I think framing the road to perdition might help contextualize what’s to follow. Now let me try and explain the genesis and raison d’etre for Connected Courses and what shape it may be taking over the Fall 2014 semester.

After being interviewed by Howard Rheingold for a Digital Media & Learning (DML) video about connected learning last summer, he somehow caught the ds106 bug. As some of you fine readers may know, it’s a very dangerous condition. The ds106 bug occurs when you get exposed to the awesome community that undergirds the digital storytelling course that started—and is still happening—at the University of Mary Washington (UMW).  As a result of this infection, Howard wanted to explore how we might get DML to help provide some resources for getting educators exposed and interested in possibilities for creating a similar course. As we started to think about it, we imagined a series of web-based resources that would help interested educators get up and running with their own domain and web hosting so they could explore the various options available to them with such a powerful open source toolbox. This was modeled on what we do with participants in ds106 as well as an initiative we’re running out of UMW called Domain of One’s Own—which Howard and I explored in depth this Fall with a  three-part video series dedicated to demosntrating how we built the aggregated hub for his Stanford course.

When Howard went to Mimi Ito with the idea, she not only dug it, she wanted more. Her idea was to try and bring together a group of educators who have taught courses that embody the principles of connected learning and the values of the open web. Some examples of such courses are Alec Couros‘s ETMOOC, Jonathan Worth‘s Phonar, Anne Balsamo‘s cooperative FemTechNet, the National Writing Project’s  CLMOOC, and Gardner Campbell‘s Thought Vectors to name just a few. In fact, as part of DML’s Reclaim Open Learning Symposium last Fall, a few of these courses were recognized for their respective approaches to open, web-based teaching and learning.*

Our goal is to build an inclusive and expansive network of teachers, students, and educational offerings that makes high quality, meaningful, and socially connected learning available to everyone.

So, as timing and luck would have it, we were able to bring folks from each of these courses to UC Irvine two weeks ago to spend an intensive three days designing an open, online course that will be launching in September. The idea is relatively simple, we’ll be providing a framework and support for educators who want to explore what it means to teach a connected course. The dream is that it becomes a broader, inclusive community that fosters and supports ongoing collaboration and exploration.

The course will be broken down into seven major parts, and they will happen from September 2nd through the middle of December. It will cover a wide swath of topics related to connected learning.

Sept 2 -Move-in/Orientation: The first two weeks are being consider a pre-course orientation. I’ll be working with Alan Levine and Howard Rheingold to get any interested faculty their own domain and web hosting. We will provide support for folks who want to get their own domain up and running, as well as an overview of what’s possible in such a space.

September 17th – Why We Need a Why?: The course officially starts with the why.  What is, or should be, the future of higher education?  What do we stand to lose or gain in pursuing the possibilities opened up by the Web?  What are the underlying logics and effects of different approaches to teaching with technology/online? This two week unit will be led by  Michael Wesch, Mimi Ito, and Helen Keegan.

September 29th – Trust and Network Fluency: This unit will be led by Jonathan Worth and Kira Baker-Doyle, and they will explore a range of questions including: In the quantum learning space where interest is a key driver, how do we employ the same dynamics in our teaching? How do we maintain trust and a sense of security in open networks? How do we build our networks? How do we enable at-large learners to engage in our courses? Where should we teach our classes?

October 13th – The World Wide Web: From Concept to Platform to Cultures:  Gardner CampbellKim Jaxon, Chris Mattia, Howard Rheingold, and Laura Hilliger will lead an exploration of the web, exploring the following issues:  What is this thing called the World Wide Web? What are the values and ambitions that gave rise to its design? If “the medium is the message,” what is the message of the web? What are some threshold concepts that help us to understand what is meant by “the web”? How is it reframing learning and education?

October 27th –  Diversity, Equity, Access: Facilitators Lisa Nakamura, Anne Balsamo, Liz Losh and Veronica Paredes will examine the assertion that wisdom is created through discussions over differences. This unit will explore the implications of race, gender, and sexuality on networked culture by employing a feminist pedagogy that demonstrates a praxis of networking and mentoring.

November 10th – About Co-learning: Facilitators Howard Rheingold, Mia Zamora,and Alec Couros will explore how self empowerment emerges within classrooms that embrace co-learning. And by extension, how networked learning contributes to self empowerment as students take more charge of their own learning outcomes and share their interest-driven knowledge. This unit will explore how this pedagogy differs from traditional methods of teaching & learning? As well as how instructors can support a co-learning environment?

December 1st – Putting it all into practice: Planning the connected course: For the final unit I’ll be joined by Lisa M. Lane, Jaime Hannans, Jaimie Hoffman, Mikhail Gershovich, and Alan Levine to help people focus on practical issues like building their course site, creating a syndicated site, digging into specific issues that arise when teaching an open online class, reflections on previous weeks’ activities, as well as feedback on specific assignments and projects while building a connected course. Like the orientation week, this will be on the ground support and feedback to help faculty practically employ some of the ideas explored on their own technical platform.

It’s a pretty intense cast of characters that will be providing a fourteen week, top-notch professional development opportunity for anyone who wants to explore the various technical, social, and cultural implications of teaching on and through the web. I’m working on coupling this experience with a focused cohort on the ground here at UMW. And I am aware of several others campuses that are doing the same thing. The idea is to get faculty up and running with their own space so that they can explore the web as a portal to imagining possibilities for their own courses. The various topics over the course will allow folks to dip in and interrogate a variety of issues they’re interested in, yet the experience starts with a technical primer on setting up your domain and webhosting and is bookended with specific, practical applications that provides hands-on technical guidance and course design feedback to help anyone interested design their own connected course.

I think that’s pretty cool, using the a connected course to scale connected courses, it’s very reflexive 😉 The site and registration will be up and running next Friday, so consider this long, meandering post a preview, if you even made it this far.


*In fact, that event was born out of the DML sponsored Reclaim Open Hackathon that gave birth to the Reclaim Your Domain work I’ve been part of this past year, which is gaining some momentum and a broader community thanks to the recent Reclaim Your Domain Hackathon in LA.

This entry was posted in Connected Courses, Uncategorized and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

7 Responses to Connected Courses

  1. Pingback: Hollywood Forever | bavatuesdays

  2. What a grand project! Can’t wait to see it unfold.

    • Reverend says:

      I’m still holding out the idea that you and I can run a video show this Fall. Perhaps we can loop this class in somehow 🙂

  3. Mike C. says:

    I’ve got me a one credit class I’m teaching to pre-service high school teachers on Educational Technology this Fall. I’d like to hook it up to this, but I’m curious how the workload and focus meshes. Also, I’ve got some SLOs for that class I’m obligated to deliver (teacher certification is pretty rigid, ugh).

    But can we talk? These issues seem surmountable.

  4. Mike C. says:

    (I’ll also say the original plan was to make this course a SFW experiment, not a connected courses experiment, but this lineup seems too good to pass up).

    • Reverend says:

      Let’s definitely hook up, I am working on a second post that tries to outline what the actual three day meeting was about and how it might inform the course this fall. I am excited because it is an interesting hodge podge of models, people, ideas, and approaches.

      The one down side is I have been a bit in over my head. I am trying desparately to catch up on my psoting, course preps, and much more. One day I will do jsut that, but that won;t be tonight 😉

  5. Pingback: Explaining cMOOCs & #rhizo14 authoethnography & #connectedcoursesReflecting Allowed | Reflecting Allowed

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.