Community curriculum

On Flickr by laurentclemson on November 3, 2007Dave Cormier pinged me the other day while I was away from my computer and pointed me to the reflections of a participant in the two week workshop he has just been facilitating on “Educational Technology and the Adult Learner.” (He also called it a “community curriculum.”) The post warmed the cockles of my heart. Thanks, Dave.

Leslie’s Last Day reflections | ED366H Educational Technology and the Adult Learner

I leave the class with new connections and community networks, there is that community word that keeps popping up. Along with the curriculum I left with alot of great advice and direction from fellow learners. I have a much better sense of virtual communities for social and professional networking. We so often hear that people don’t communicate any more, well looks like we communicate with many more and it is creating alot of great work. It is like the collective consciousness we hear about, technology is helping us to tap into it and to help manifest it exponentially.

Dave reflected that the two week experiment tossed people in deep and created an experience. He wrote about his overarching goal:

There were three main goals that I was hoping for from the course… all hoping to change the focus from ‘the material’ to the ‘experience’.

Sometimes I call these “transformative experiences” – often accompanied by some degree of discomfort and angst until the view gets sorted out a bit. But it also creates the community of learning, forged out of the challenge. Again, Dave wrote:

Community Literacies esp. Community commitment
Maybe the most important part of the of a course like this are the community literacies that are accumulated through a community enquiry into new material. The learners found that they could work together and rely on each other. They wrote nightly reflections and commented and helped each other with their work and reactions to the course. the sense of ‘competition’ between students evaporated. A sense of responsibility to the work at hand became stronger as the students found less and less direct guidance coming from the front of the room.

They also got a sense of how I relate with my own online community and how that serves me in my own professional and, indeed, personal ways. Knowing that we have a community to rely on can be as much an emotional support to our practice as a technical one. Each student has remarked, in one sense or another, how their nightly blogging (closed, sadly) has allowed them to understand that they weren’t alone in their moments of frustration or overwhelmedness. Thinking of your professional life as something that can contain a community that can do all those things can be a very powerful realization.

Notice the reflective practice here, that pulls the learning out of the leap.

I find working with online interaction and the variety of tools and media at our disposal starts making more sense only after a deep dive. That tickling on the surface doesn’t reveal the possibilities as well as jumping in all the way, even if it makes us feel inadequate or lost.

This makes it harder to convince the reluctant. It reminds me of the Guillaume Apollinaire quote:

Come to the edge, he said.
They said: We are afraid.
Come to the edge, he said.
They came.
He pushed them…. and they flew.

Photo Credit:
view photostream Uploaded on November 3, 2007
by laurenatclemson

EFQUEL Slides Featured on Slideshare

I was surprised to get an email that the slides I used at a keynote at the European Foundation for Quality in ELearning are currently featured on SlideShare’s SlideShare’s homepage. Fun! This is one of the things I still need to blog about, but in the meantime, here are the slides.

I was a little worried about keynoting at a conference about quality in elearning – not my normal bailiwick. But I was pleased to learn about the work of this group as it is not all about rubber stamping a certification that is meaningless outside of any particular context, and there was a great deal of interest in the space between formal and informal learning – a space I’m very interested in.

Lessons from failure

A couple of months ago I got a call from Lisa Junker at the ASAE & The Center for Association Leadership. She wanted to interview me about failing as a learning strategy. Out of that comes this brief article ….Lessons from failure: Unexpected Impact – Associations Now Magazine /a>. The story referenced in the article is one I have blogged about here
and here.

Scott Leslie on Trailfire

Creative Commons License photo credit: Carnavas
As part of the online Knowledge Sharing (KS) in International Agriculture Development workshop, we are exploring KS tools and methods and then sharing our learning via the KS Toolkit Wiki. One tool that came up for review was Trailfire. I had not heard about it, so I put a query out on my Twitter network and in moments, Scott Leslie, a Northern Voice colleague, came to my rescue. Here is a 15 minute podcast with Scott about Trailfire and related tools used to share and comment on our journeys across the web.

Podcast: Scott Leslie on Trailfire

This tool is a Firefox plug-in, so if you want a defined group or community to use it, they all have to be FF users and agree to use the plug in. It would be interesting to test this in the international agriculture research community. (Or any other community.) There is also the wonderful bit about serendipity – finding trails left by others – their annotations and opinions — on sites that you are looking at.

Scott also shared his pre-call prep notes — which I find interesting. (Thanks, Scott!) I’ve put them below.

If you are interested in more blog posts like this, please let me know — and what tools or methods that might interest you.

Trailfire notes

Firefox plugin that works in conjunction with a main site

allows users to create “trails” which are made up of sequenced web sites

a trail mark also allows users to add an annotation to the page, so that when you are looking at that page
with the plugin enabled, you see a small mark, mousing over it shows you the full comment and
provides a link to the full trail

the website allows you to share your trails with others

you can also have the plugin show ALL trailmarks that have been made for a specific page, not just yours, which opens up
all sorts of possibilities for finding other users and finding other trails, other contexts in which a page can be seen

you can also add comments to other people’s trailmarks, meaning that conversations can actually break out “on” the web pages where the
marks were left without the need for any additional server software

cross between a social bookmarking and annotation tool

Educational and Other uses
obvious one is for instructors to create a trail through a series of web pages with some educational objective in mind

but as students/learners can also create their own trails and marks, it also becomes a way to connect with other informal

it empowers users to connect and share with each other without requiring the individual sites to provide any facility or
containing mechanism to do so

simple way to add help commentary to websites – add a mark that leads off to further help documents and tutorials from whatever site
you are trying to use, or use the note to add help, like Greader shortkeys mark

a way to non-invasively annotate the web

a way to leave commentary for Others on websites

a virtual layer that overlays the web; this same technique is now being exploited by browser plugins like PMOG,
passively multiplayer online game, a game played ON TOP of the regular web through a browser plugin

cf. also medium ( )

URLs mentioned in this podcast:

Blended Chocolate – why I love online learning

love the cacao - by choconancyFrom my talented friends in Australia comes, Blended Chocolate, a three part online learning module about chocolate making.

Now I’ve heard people talk about how online learning is lifeless and is boring. As I started looking at these flash based learning modules on chocolate, I realized two things. What Gary Sewell put together here both shows his/his team’s passion and taps into mine. That’s the magic sauce (well, beyond the chocolate itself.) Passion.

Look at Kim of Otago Polytechnic in New Zealand’s offering on Permaculture, all woven into a blog with lots of visuals, videos and a sense of warmth. Scan the amazing offerings people are making on WikiEducator. No one is making them do that!


Passion from the creators of the offering. Passion in the topic. Warmth in the invitation. Poof! Learning!