Over the last few weeks of reading ETMOOC posts I’ve noticed that sometimes I leave a post open in a browser tab for days.  These posts-to-return-to-when-I-have-more-time exhibit a common feature – many of them contain infographics or interesting visual representations. In an activity like ETMOOC numerous open tabs is not a viable solution, so I decided to curate.

I could have bundled the posts together with bookmarks and tags, but decided to focus on the visuals themselves as they are what I want to explore in detail and perhaps what I will want to share outside of ETMOOC in the future. Though I’m a fairly regular user delicious and, I decided to work with a curation tool that is also very visual – Pinterest.  (To this point my use of Pinterest has been largely materialistic, though I have seen many using it to collect educational resources.) I like the way the board is coming together, though Pinterest really should listen to user feedback and make it possible to re-arrange pins within a board.

In the process of pinning these resources I swerved and ran smack dab into learning! I’ve spent considerable time exploring curation as a skill and have learned it is significantly more  than collecting resources. Curation also requires reflection and sense-making. A key resource I explored was this presentation by Robin Good “Content Curation for Education and Learning, Emerge 2012” (note – it will take considerable time to digest, but it is worth the investment). For a shorter resource see Beth Kanters piece “Content Curation Primer“.

So as valuable as Pinterest, or Delicious are for collecting and sharing ideas and resources having a space (blog) to reflect on and converse about the content is more important to learning – certainly to my ETMOOC learning. Jumping from seek to share isn’t enough – a good curator makes sense of the ideas presented.

I intend to follow-up this post with a few that delve into the sense-making part. But in the meantime I will to add to these great visuals as I explore the hundreds of blog posts in ETMOOC and the thousands of links contributed by this great sharing community. If you are interested in seeing the infographics I’ve gathered so far click the icon below.



What you share with the world…

As I’ve navigated the fast moving ETMOOC river these last days I’ve been focused on the idea of SHARING.  As we explore Connected Learning – Tools, Processes & Pedagogies the theme of sharing has been a big one.

Dean Shareski’s session on Sharing is Accountability (slideshare) contained a quote from Sue Waters that is important for us to consider when deciding what to share:

The idea of blogging as part of a constructivist MOOC is that you’re reflecting and sharing your learning. Ideally what you’re looking for is to learn from others while building on, and adding to what you’ve learnt.

The more you read, participate by leaving comments on other participant’s posts, engage in discussions and conversations – the more you’ll learn and want to share – and this is when you REFLECT on it by writing a post! (slide 71)

A learning moment occurred for me when I purposefully returned to some of the blog posts I had read previously. (I often read a post when I see it pop up on Google+ and that means I’m reading it shortly after posting.) When you revisit a post after a few days there may be a conversation developed in the comments that offers important lessons.  For example, this discussion on over-sharing between Brent Schmidt and Sue Waters (much to learn from Sue!).

So a key learning for me this week is how important it is in a MOOC environment to keep returning to spaces that we’ve previously explored, to see what may have changed (or not) and to participate openly in the discussion when you have something to add. We cannot just skim along this great ETMOOC river, we must return to our favourite docks and see what wonderful learning vessels are moored there now.


Photo note: I’ve been wanting for a long while to use this line as a contribution to the Great Quotes about Learning and Change flickr group. I usually use my own photos as a way to encourage me to take interesting/odd pictures on a regular basis. Not having anything on hand that would work, I searched my flickr contacts for a creative commons licensed photo with the word “sharing” and the one above, taken by Dean At Unplug’d11, was included (I’m in there somewhere). A nice way to complete the sharing circle.

Introduction video

A big part of ETMOOC is “putting yourself out there” and for me that will mean trying new things.  So I got out my son’s little Sony camera and did one take of me in my favourite room. Then I fetched some of my favourite photos and started working with iMovie.

Quite a few hours later I have finished my introduction video and I have learned a lot.

  • it is very difficult to take smooth video of yourself
  • I need to articulate my name better … Jeannine (Ja neen) *sigh*
  • iMovie can do a lot but some things just aren’t intuitive
  • though audio sounded about even in the program it is quite different on upload
  • cats are not reliable props

I have a lot more to learn so your feedback is welcomed!


ETMOOC begins in a few days … I am really looking forward to stretching my connections in new directions.

The organizers have done a fantastic job of orienting a diverse group of people to the mission. I’ve used the Orientation page at to guide me in:

  • fixing up my very neglected blog by adding a new menu, new tags and an archive;
  • adding the blog aggregator page to my own RSS tool of choice;
  • adding columns to tweetdeck for all 3 lists of ETMOOC partipants (1200 and counting!), as well as the #ETMOOC hashtag;
  • joined the Google+ ETMOOC Community, I’ve not used G+ much so I’m looking forward to getting to know my way around;
  • added the ETMOOC Google calendar to my own; and
  • updating my page and attempting to update my profile pic across all my social spaces (I’ve found that avatars and profile pics are very useful cues in trying to get to know folks in these massive spaces).

My personal goals for participating in ETMOOC are to consolidate my own knowledge base of connected learning and educational technology, and therefore be a better advocate for it in public education, and to continue to encourage educators to consider non-teacher (eg parent) perspectives when shifting pedagogy.

School – Family Partnerships for the 21st Century

I read a lot of articles about improving the school – family dynamic in public education. Some focus on parent involvement, others go toward parent engagement. I have been inspired by the work of Joyce Epstein and Debbie Pushor as they both encourage the development of true partnerships based on mutual respect and a desire to enhance student learning.

(For those interested my friend Lorna Costantini brings their research out of the journals and into our living rooms through conversations with both women that are rich with real examples. See here and here for archives).

Today I read an article on home – school relationships that contained a sentence that really popped for me … made me say out loud “exactly!”.

(As I love the flickr group Great quotes about learning and change, I knew I had to make a poster using this line; I’ve wanted to use my orange mushroom photo for a long time and longed for a quotation about families and communities).

Wanting to know more about the author Marilyn Price-Mitchell I read her paper Boundary Dynamics: Implications for Building Parent – School Relationships. It really meshed with my own beliefs that connections, trust, networks, and knowledge creation are coming together to provide us with a real opportunity to build school – family partnerships that benefit all of us – students, parents, teachers, and community.

The knowledge society, the learning organization, and the information technology revolution represent trends that are bringing the family into the mainstream of education in ways never before experienced p. 22


I’d like to give credit to Chris Wejr who’s “Things that make me go BOOM” linked to this article and had me reflecting on all kinds of great things today.

LearnEast 2.0.11 – Parent Perspective of 21C

There’s an excellent learning event underway for NB educators in Fredericton this week. LearnEast 2.0.11, a high quality, low cost event attended by 200 keen teachers from around the province, has been organized by Bryan Facey (@Faceyman) and Jeff Whipple (@jeffwhipple) of District 18 and Jay Colpitts (@JayColpitts) of District 14.  I was happy to be asked to sit on a panel this afternoon and discuss my views (a parent’s perspective) on 21C and virtual learning opportunities for NB students.

In advocating for 21C and virtual spaces I outlined three areas where our modern tools can significantly improve our public education system.  Acknowledging that 21C type learning doesn’t require a tech-rich environment, I commented that tech tools and the internet do however enable us to make so many more connections that strengthen the role of public education.

1) Connecting students to their passions – our modern tools allow us to make personalized learning possible.  We can go beyond differentiated instruction, beyond ability grouping and reach out and touch the passions of every student of every ability in every school.

2) Connecting parents to the learning in classrooms – be it through inviting comments on a student/class blog, contributing ideas to a school wiki or skyping in from the office to provide real-world perspective on a discussion in the classroom – technology allows parents to interact with the learning in schools that goes far beyond reading comments on a report card or signing off a homework sheet.

3) Connecting the community to the school and the school to the world – the role of public education can be enhanced significantly by building connections between our local resources and our schools as well as by linking our schools to other communities around the world.  Many teachers have utilized local/global partners to enhance classroom learning, but the ability to do this virtually expands our capability tremendously and really enables us to authenticate public education as a community building institution.

I summarized my contribution by paraphrasing Stephen Downes (@downes) and encouraging the group to embrace a system where students do not have an education provided for them, but one that empowers students to build an education for themselves.


The current issue of Educational Leadership has an article that I felt had the right ring to it for the beginning of a new school year – it is titled “Joy in School” (Stephen Wolk) (click here for a TinyURL link). The article has little reference to technology or web tools, but it goes straight to the heart of what learning should be – JOYFUL.

Wolk remarks:

“If the experience of “doing school” destroys children’s spirit to learn, their sense of wonder, their curiosity about the world, and their willingness to care for the human condition, have we succeeded as educators, no matter how well our students do on standardized tests?”

He goes on to explore 11 ways that educators can integrate JOY into the classroom, including: Give Students Choice, Take Time to Tinker, Get Outside, and Show Off Student Work, and he make an important distrinction between joy and fun.   

Many of the ideas are simple and in fact I’ve seen many examples in local schools, but the impact we could have by integrating 9, 10 or all 11 of the ideas would be wonderful to see.

The school is dead…long live the school.

While blogging as a means of personal learning is still very new to me, the reading and writing I’ve done in the last few days authenticates the value of this format for me. Participating in this type of learning means assembling a personal learning network (PLN) and my network, while still small, contributed to my learning coming full circle in very big ways.

 The progression went something like this:

A few days ago I read a thought provoking post called “Letting Go” by Alec Couros which contained this…

What if you know deep down that schools need to change drastically or cease to exist at all before there will ever be any significant change? What if you feel you are just prolonging the inevitable, and simply giving temporary life to a model that is clearly in its death throes?

This theme of our model of education needing a monumental shift in order to serve 21C learners is very prevalent in the edublogosphere. Almost everyone writes about it in some way and some even suggest abandoning schools altogether . I wanted to develop my own thoughts here at Tools of Engagement but didn’t have the time to devote so I commented:

… while I believe that what goes on inside our schools MUST change, we need to use technology to engage students and help each of them to grow a large web of flat world relationships, we must also see our schools as social places, as communities, where we come together to learn rather than teach.

Now that I’m taking the time to expand on my thinking I’ve revisited some experiences from 2007 that I learned a great deal from. There were two key events I attended last year (both sponsored by the NB Department of Education) that convinced me that while our schools must change there is a place for them in future learning models.

The first event was Let Children be Children (slides) presented by John Abbott of the 21st Century Learning Initiative.  This lecture provided much insight into how we can move from teaching to learning, from the factory school to the community school,  and from teacher directed learning to self directed learning. The vision of 21st Century Learning Initiative is:

New understandings about the brain; about how people learn; about the potential of information and communication technologies;about radical changes in patterns of work as well as deep fears about social divisions in society, necessitate a profound rethinking of the structures of education.

Developing schools that integrate the home, the school and the community and that employ emerging technologies to engage all partners in a learning community are essential.  

The second learning event was Literacy & Learning in the 21st Century with keynote by David Warlick. David delivered his message that it is not about the technology but about how we redefine and integrate literacy in the new digital landscape. Literacy in the 21C is “exposing truth” (reading), “expressing ideas” (writing) “employing information” (‘rithmatic) AND tying it all together “ethics”.  At this conference David implored teachers to “let them see you learn“. It’s a phrase I’ve quoted in a few speeches and advice I’ve taken with my own children.

To come full circle – a link recently tweeted by Cindy Siebel led me to Innovative Learning Service (ILS) part of the Calgary Board of Education.  I spent several hours soaking up information and finished with a determination to encourage a similar approach to innovation and 21C learning here at home.

One of the items explored at the site is the OECD’s six scenarios for the future of schooling.  I particularly liked #4 Schools as Social Centres as it brings the ideas of Abbott and Warlick together: 

  • Digital technologies will enable schooling to become a far more shared endeavor.
  • Schools and other community organizations, (family, libraries, the work place, churches etc…) will assume a shared responsibility for the education of the young.   Expertise is activated from wherever it is located.  
  • Teacher professionals will be defined more around understanding the nature of learning and of brain research rather than around a comprehensive understanding of the disciplines.
  • Teachers will recognize that continuous professional development both around digital technologies and learning theory will be essential. Schools will recognize the necessity and desirability for constant interaction with the community.
  • Schools and teachers are seen as leaders in this endeavour and are elevated to a position of influence and esteem in the communities they serve.  
  • Here digital technologies will emphasize communication among and by all stakeholders in the equation – learners, educators, community members and parents.
  • Networking is what it is all about.

So “the school is dead” as a factory, as kill and drill, as talk and chalk, and as institutionalized curriculum with little regard for digital literacy.

And “long live the school” as a student centred, community supported, collaborative, connected place to for all of us to learn.

Special thanks to Cindy for tweeting the ILS nugget and to Lorna and Jeff for convincing me that Twitter can be a valuable tool in a developing a personal learning network.

Passion Based Learning

Today I read an old post by Konrad Glogowski on passion based learning (found via Remote Access) that stopped me in my tracks.  The following passage says so much about what we need to be considering:

Today, however, we tend to think that using online tools that appeal to young people will automatically ensure their engagement. Genuine passion cannot be ignited with a podcast or a blog. Instead, we need to give our students the freedom to learn and engage with ideas that they find relevant and important.

My interest in blogging comes from wanting to learn more about engagement of parents and students. Coming into this I knew “it’s not the tools, it’s what you do with them“, but I was thinking in terms of having parents and students take greater interest in education because they were participating in it. Now I hope we can go even further – all the way to schools that ignite passion.   

I think the idea of giving a student the freedom to find his/her passion resonates with me because my son has the opportunity to pick a subject or topic for a project that he can work on independently when he has completed his regular class work, and he will have access to a computer (not sure what that means in terms of web tools yet). 

Problem – our discussion of passion revealed he didn’t really understand what I was getting at. (So I had him look up the meaning of the word online without thinking of how else the word is used – I had to think quickly to get out of that jam). We finally made some progress when we discussed what he was interested in learning about. 

In the absence of knowing ones passions can we substitute interests?  Perhaps as a child explores interests they will become passions over time. So far we have determined his interests are figuring things out, puzzles, mazes, codes and making things.

As he would like to use the computer for this learning we’ve looked for some possible resources, but so far much of what I’ve found would amount to him “playing” online.  He doesn’t really want to do a “history of” research piece – he wants to make something.

So, I’d welcome any suggestions you may have (other than Scratch which he uses a lot at home)…