The prompt this last week in Dave Cormier’s P2PU #rhizo14 ‘course’ was to consider the question “Is books making us stupid?”. This video is my response. And here is the Google + conversation which ensued.

Mariana Funes

Feb 5, 2014
oh, Janet. What a wonderfully touching video. I am reminded of how I nearly failed a final exam during my undergraduate studies because I discovered the alphabet and its history‚ĶI disappeared in the library and stayed there for days reading, needless to say this was not ‘relevant’ to my upcoming neuropsychology exam ūüôā Thank you for the memory. Do write a DS106 post on how you make these videos?

janet webster

Feb 5, 2014
Libraries have always been my fav places. I moved to UBC campus for its library, but now so much on the internet available. Still have at least 5 books on the go at a time, bedside.

janet webster

Feb 5, 2014
+Mariana Funes Sounds like your undergrad experience was rhizomatic!

Cathleen Nardi

Feb 5, 2014
An advertisement for a library media specialist convinced me I should become a teacher. But before that, my undergraduate thesis was based on the uncovering of the Gnostic gospels! finding me in the basement of the Harvard Divinity library for most of my senior year. This video brought all that to the surface. Indeed you should make a post about the making of the video. The use of the ‘spotlight’ was well designed. Thank you for sharing.

janet webster

Feb 5, 2014
Oh my! I’m taking Harvard’s EdX course on The Letters of Paul with Prof. Nasrallah at the moment. Absolutely fascinating and inspired my video in response to the #rhizo14 challenge this week. I don’t see how we can ever say we dont draw meaning even from the most ancient of texts. Last year I tackled Dante after a transformative 2 month journey to Italy.

Cinzia Gabellini

Feb 5, 2014
+janet webster respect, it takes a lot of courage to read dante. hope you enjoyed your journey in italy.

janet webster

Feb 5, 2014
+Cinzia Gabellini I loved Italy! Then went back again just to Firenze. I used a course from Yale on Itunes U. with a prof who is a Dante scholar to help me get through The Divine Comedy. I had never read it before.

Cinzia Gabellini

Feb 6, 2014
Glad to hear, Firenze is beautiful. What draws my attention was Dante’s picture by Botticelli in your presentation. At that time the ancient text was an inspiration source for all those painters.

janet webster

Feb 6, 2014
Boticelli is amazing! Visited the Uffizi while in Firenze and saw his works first hand. A dream come true- but makes me want to return!

This is wonderful, Janet–what did you use to make it? It reminded me of all the great books I’ve read and have yet to read. I think that books can combine with the orality that Dave Cormier was emphasizing: reading books with others then sparks amazing conversations. I learn SO MUCH by reading books together with students and engaging in conversations about them. The books themselves, one might say, actually do change when one talks about them, in the sense that what one discusses with others changes how one reads the text.

janet webster

6:39 PM
I agree-we shape text as we read it-we bring ourselves to it and have a wonderful discursive relationship with the author-Barthes writes that we actually also author text as we read. We are the inheritors of so many great books written, worldwide. My students have introduced me to so much over the years and I to them, very reciprocal learning. I just used Windows Live Movie maker-I want to go to film school now and make documentaries-I’m serious!! ūüôā
Posted in Digital Storytelling 106 | Leave a comment

‘Rhizomatic Learning’


“The Community is the Curriculum” (subtitle of the Rhizomatic Learning course)

This is a recent Google + Discussion by my PLN about ‘Rhizomatic Learning’- a term coined by Dave Cormier who is leading a P2PU course on this topic.

I was introduced to the idea of ‘rhizomatic learning’ while participating in #ETmooc last January and have wanted to respond to the idea, but my personal learning network on the web has answered some of my questions about the concept.

Vanessa Vaile

Originally Posted in Learning and Change (General) ¬†–¬† Jan 13, 2014

Who else here is in (or other appropriate preposition) +dave cormier‘s Rhizomatic Learning #rhizo14 ? ¬†PS there’s a G+ community too
Jeff Merrel

I am!
Vahid Masrour

Me 2!
Tanya Lau

My subconscious NY resolution was to focus on one or two things at a time…but there are way too many interesting things going on! I saw +Vahid Masrour post this yesterday too…don’t think I can resist checking this out…I’m in too!
Jeff Merrel

+Tanya Lau¬†when all else fails, we can always adopt a resolute lurker position and think that it’s alright. ūüėČ
Janet Webster

Just signed up!
Tanya Lau

Me too…LOVED Dave’s course intro, totally sucked me in!
Rick Bartlett

I’m loving this course. It’s exactly the arena where my thoughts need to be at this point for a course I’m developing.
Helen Blunden
I’m in but I’m struggling to see the connection between rhizomatic learning in the corporate context. ¬†I think we can do this for social learning and in our organisation, they do encourage creative, innovative or entrepreneurial approaches to problems but underpinning that are performance measures, enterprise behaviours, compliance standards and measures that we are accountable to follow. ¬†So even though they say they like this thinking, sometimes ¬†the conditions and environment is not conducive or rewarding for those who do. ¬†It’s a catch 22…
Tanya Lau

Hi Helen, yes…I was thinking about this in relation to your other post (in the rhizo learning community) and I think we’re coming up to tge same barriers as with implementing PLNs in orgs ie personal vs organizational objectives (as rhizomatic learning is all about each individual finding their own path rather than workong to imposed objectives). I added a bit more in my comment on your other post but thinking maybe relevance is more in the mindset and way of thinking that rhizo learning promotes – ie outside conventions…but you have a point, sometimes this can cause problems and there may be only so far you can go fighting the system….hmmm…not sure. Maybe a clearer option will emerge as we progress….

Rick Bartlett

I really appreciate both of you +Helen Blunden¬†and +Tanya Lau¬†being in this course. I value the cross-pollination that occurs because you work in business and not education. It’s so useful to hear your perspectives. I hope you also get some snippets of useful information along the way.

Helen Blunden

+Rick Bartlett¬†Thanks Rick, can’t speak for Tanya but I know I do. ¬†I love reading other perspectives but one thing is clear. The professional development aspect is important – keeping up and role modelling the behaviours. Part of me thinks that there will always be educators but will there always be a Learning and Development unit/team/department in businesses in the future?
Tanya Lau
Aww, thanks +Rick Bartlett¬†– and l feel the same way as you and +Helen Blunden¬† Diversity and getting insight into how other institutions operate (higher ed, k-12, not for profits etc…), and different perspectives is a big part of the appeal of these types of open online learning experiences. I have always enjoyed the analytical nature of academia so rather enjoy the geek aspect of that too (though I think some of it is starting to go over my head a bit…! And funnily as I was writing this response got distracted by a thread on fb about how some of the more academically / theory focused people might be going a bit overboard and excluding and/or condescending those from a non-academic background. Interesting. ¬†I think I’ve missed that undercurrent as I’ve only had pockets of time to go in and out of places and spaces and have only read a tiny fraction of what’s been posted.¬†Just par for the course in an experience like this, when there are so many people, voices, posts, comments etc flying about.+Vahid MasrourThis is an interesting point to consider (ie whether rhizo is suitable only in adult learning). The suggestion reminded me of the video that +dave cormier¬†posted of him questioning his 5 yr old son on his knowledge of dinosaurs (I saw it on fb, but may have been posted elsewhere too…not sure). I’m still getting my head around the whole concept of rhizo learning but I think this question goes to the perspective on the role of the ‘teacher’ / ‘educator’. I recall reading something from Dave saying that teachers will always play a role even in rhizomatic learning contexts…so using Dave’s video as a reference point, perhaps what the rhizo approach brings to teaching children is a mindset of not just focusing on simple questions and recitation of facts…but instead asking kids to describe their observations, explore, and come to their own conclusions of what that means, experiment, look at the evidence to see how their conclusions match up to this (i.e. supporting critical inquiry). And rather than giving them the answers straight up, encouraging them to seek them out (e.g. look things up, or ask different questions). This also means as their ‘teacher’ not being afraid of asking them open ended questions that you don’t necessarily know the answer to, so you can explore things together. ¬†It’s a bloody hard thing to do though, especially after years of being conditioned by school to recite facts and come up with the ‘correct response’. (Which, btw, is also a lot of what corporate learning approaches perpetuate – simple knowledge checks with one ‘correct’ response…maybe because that’s what people expect, maybe because it’s quicker and easier to develop – probably a bit of both).
Janet Webster
If I understand ‘rhizo’ learning correctly, I think this is exactly how children learn-they are driven by their curiosity-we may lose this ability to follow our natural curiosities as adults as we get conditioned to more formal ed structures or ‘corp production’ parameters.¬† My 2 cents.
Vahid Masrour

+janet webster but how do you make sure all the children have the minimum shared platform of knowledge that will enable them to interact/participate meaningfully with society at large if not by having a teacher/educational system that will guarantee that all have built this platform by a certain age?
Janet Webster

+Vahid Masrour Just saying that children’s natural curiosities about the world lead them into learning-‘rhizo-style’. Of course, they need guidance. Also, public ed supposed to be the great democratizer but as Ken Robinson points out in this video (I’m sure you’ve seen it) -public ed can also be faulted with an outmoded factory model of conformity which many of our cMooc communities (#etmooc, #xplrlns , #rhizo14 ) seem to be railing against (perhaps railing is too strong a word?)
RSA Animate – Changing Education Paradigms
Janet Webster
Here is another good video where a student lambastes standardization and common core curriculum:

Vanessa Vaile

I think I saw that — or maybe another, the TN student lambasting the state legislature about common core. the students are doing what the adults should have — same thing in HE.

Tanya Lau
Hi +Vahid Masrour¬†– I agree with you on the need to teach foundational knowledge and skills; and I don’t think that this is in conflict with rhizomatic learning – but what rhizo learning maybe does ¬†question is HOW these things are taught. i.e. is it by rote, sitting kids dow, n and saying ‘hey kids, now we’re going to learn about numbers’ showing them a list of numbers, then asking them to identify, or count numbers 1-100? Or is it by getting them to understand the concept of numbers by helping them to make the links with an everyday context they are already familiar with? For example, if playing with a car you could introduce the concept of numbers by pointing out that the car has 4 wheels and counting them – or better – asking guiding questions which prompt the child to observe which parts of the car that look similar, and introducing numbers through this exploration. Yes, it’s probably going to take a bit longer to teach this way but they’re probably going to have a better grasp of concept of numbers compared to learning them through recitation.

Janet Webster

Oh yes, of course foundational knowledge needed! But isn’t rhizomatic learning about an approach to learning?
Jeff Merrel

This is such a wonderful conversation. Interesting – I am still lightly diving in and out of #rhizo14 just because of time crunches (I teach this quarter and have been extra busy this month). But I came here to read this thread because, well, you all are part of my PLN. :-)I think you all know that I straddle the corporate world and higher ed world – our students are in corporate or non-profit settings, not K-12 teachers. And my background is in corporate as well.It seems to me – and I see some of this in this thread – that “rhizomatic learning” may simply be forcing us to think about and address this question how we get learners (children and adult learners) to be – capable learners. Call it self-directed and self-motivated maybe. But I do think it’s something about just being competent in figuring out how to own your own learning, when presented with a structure (course) or opportunities (job projects, PLN development) to do so.What I am struggling with in #rhizo14 a bit is: This is NOT a new question or challenge. We clearly haven’t addressed it well on a large scale, but it’s not entirely new. I love Cormier’s stuff – he’s a very innovative educator and change agent. An exemplar really of what can be done. And he has clearly created some new pedagogical tools to get at this issue that he also says he struggles with.But the underlying question – how do develop capable learners – is a really freaking old question.I came into the #rhizo14 ¬† course with a question in my mind of understanding “teacher presence” (see http://jeffdmerrell.com/2014/01/14/rhizome-plosion-part-ii-rhizo14/) and our role as educators (higher ed or corporate) in designing experiences that help build or rebuild individual learning muscle. Still haven’t followed up with more blog posts on that topic. But my ever-evolving mental map puts this question of “developing learners” at the center, with innovative sets of practices like rhizomatic around the edges, giving us new tactical ideas to use in a more webified world. But it’s not changing the underlying question.Trying to synthesize here. Maybe taking a long road to get to a blinding glimpse of the obvious. I’ll blame it on the cold in Chicago.
Rick Bartlett
Thanks +Jeff Merrell for synthesizing. I found it very useful to help me clarify my own thoughts on this topic.
Vahid Masrour

+Jeff Merrell¬†I think at least part of the answer to your questions may be answered in this post, where i discuss the “enforced independance” under the concept of “participation”:¬†https://plus.google.com/+VahidMasrour/posts/gk8UJFcdqHkInterestingly, i think that Participation makes even more sense within organizations (other than educational). In as much as people are choosing/deciding to focus their thoughts, energies, and action into what they are (supposed to be) doing, the more they will bring. A related concept would be that of becoming “stakeholders”.Does anyone going through high school really believe he is a stakeholder in the process he is submitted to? What percentage of higher education students see themselves as participants in a capability building process? And finally, how many teachers believe in their heart that their “participants” should be doing something else than paying attention/listening and answering correctly when they’re asked a question, instead of developing capabilities?

Jeff Merrel

+Vahid Masrour Yeah…wow. Spot on. Read your other post and I really like the participation angle. And laughing re: your high school example.I think this still gets at why I am so interested in this “teacher presence” construct (and I am pulling it from the community-of-inquiry framework). One of the bits behind the definition is that the teacher presence doesn’t necessary — and shouldn’t — always be performed by the formal instructor. That the “students” should also participate (there’s that word again) in the “presence.” All to say – the roles are more fluid. Teachers are both instructors/learners, and students are both learners/instructors.Ok. Back to my real job. :-0
Vahid Masrour
+janet webster exactly. The rhizomatic approach is about the how we educate, though it is granted that changing the how in turn demands take a second looking at the what, and jumping from there to the why is a hyperlink away.
Janet Webster

¬†+Jeff Merrell Thank you for your synopsis. I agree that some of these ideas are not new, but we are being given some new language or new metaphors ( rhizomatic learning) to help us work through some educational dilemmas in an increasingly ‘webified world’.
Jeff Merrel

¬†Actually…like that positioning of rhizomatic as metaphor…..
Posted in Edtech | 1 Comment

G+: ‘The Forge and Working-house of Thought’


G+: ‘The Forge and Working-house of Thought’*

(Digital Storytelling 106)

Even though I am busy finishing up teaching a full semester of 4 English courses, I find spare time to participate in my #DS106 daily creates, the recently hatched collabogiffing storytelling project and the very new #GifaChrome and #GlitchaChrome labs.

I participate mostly on Google Plus which I can easily access on my Iphone; one quick click on the go and I’m in my DS106 Community- posting my creations, commenting on other projects and running an ongoing conversation with fellow digital storytelling addicts. I devote a portion of each day to creative thought and production. I love the spontaneity of dialogue on G+ in response to the many daily postings.

Here is an example of one of my spontaneous creations: Today, Stephen Downes posted a humorous photo of himself on G+, claiming his rightful leadership role in MOOCdom by titling himself the ‘The Duke of Mooc’. I glitched and giffed the photograph at my suggestion to Stephen and at his generous “Feel free!” to do this invitation. I wanted to add to the humor of the image and add the dimension of technology’s role in disruptive innovation. I posted the result to G+ and it was then Tweeted out by Mariana Funes of #DS106.

  1. It takes a powerful man to ride the glitchy bull, that’s the Duke of MOOC

    Not only does ride a steer in Texas, the Duke of MOOC gets some glitch love from


Some other G+ responses to my glitched and giffed image of Downes’ photograph.


¬†Thank you! Speaks to Downes’ innovations, doesn’t it?

¬†It sure does, +janet webster. ¬†I am learning about Downes’ work this season as it informs my graduate work regarding online education. I think Downes’ may also deserve a layercake treatment from +John Johnston¬†for the way he’s really thought/contributed outside the box. Maybe once I learn the layercake secrets, I’ll return to Downes as a subject.
The glitched and giffed Downes’ photograph was then transformed into this short video by me at the prompting of a Daily Create.
Another fun, spontaneous creation of mine was the result of looking carefully over the giffi.us story last night (after 5 hours of marking English exams) and realizing that there was a mix-up of characters in the collaborative story. I took the story image back to the¬† Bunuel film surrealism we began with to try and lend some cohesion to the mashed-up genres of our story. I tried to enhance the serene eeriness of this woman’s¬† beauty which is juxtaposed with what we know to be the next frame in Bunuel’s film. Somehow the animation and coloration of the giff add to the beauty and to the unsettling suspense.
My story text: Claire, having witnessed tragedy unfold before her eyes……
I used the same technique for creating this glitchy giff as I did for the Downes giff above. I used a glitch generator to create about 6 or 7 still glitched images. I then used a gif maker to generate the gif out of my saved glitched images.
Today, my creation caught the attention of Rochelle Lockridge of DS106 on G+ who scooped it for her prototype in the newly formed DS106 GlitchaChrome lab.
Posted to Google Plus today
 The GIFaChrome labs are developing a new wide image format GLITCHaChrome. +janet webster allowed them to use her giffi.us glitched image of Claire for the first prototype. Thanks to  +Mariana Funes for facilitating this interaction.
G+posts in response to this GlitchaChrome prototype based on my creation.

¬†GIFaChrome labs are on the bleeding edge. I wouldn’t be surprised if social media platforms begin a bidding war.

Wouldn’t that be funny if someone actually picked up on our story?

Okay we are not selling to Facebook no matter how much they pay :o)

+Mariana Funes¬†You may change your mind. ¬†When Mark Zuckerberg decides he wants something, he can make it worth your while. ¬†Kodak or Hasselblad might be interested in acquiring us too. ūüôā
The DS106 G+ community has become a sort of forge and working-house of remixed thought for riffing photography, video, giffs, blogs, stories, ideas. There are daily contributions and innovations by worldwide DS106 members. There are no leaders, no content owners, rather we actively learn from each other in a fun, spontaneous, asynchronous and somewhat random way. Many creative prompts are the result of the DS106 daily creates sent to our emails or Twitter accounts , but both the Giffi.us and GifaChrome projects were spawned spontaneously through G+conversations and remixed productions (see my blog post “A Storied Gif is Born”).

*Thank you Shakespeare (Henry V, Prologue)

“In the quick forge and working-house of thought,
How London doth pour out her citizens.”
Posted in Digital Storytelling 106 | Tagged , | 1 Comment

Learning and Change


Jeff Merrell and Kimberley Scott of Northwestern University have extended their 5 week PLN seminar, by offering a Google Plus Community called “Learning and Change”. There are already some very significant discussions occurring in this community. I am posting one example here on my blog site because it ties into some of my own thinking about organizational change management.

Here is the link to the discussion.

Vahid Masrour

Nov 20, 2013

I’ll chip in to this topic to share a realization i had today: Change management and Innovation management (√† la Lean Startup) ought to be combined together to help organizations move/evolve/adapt.

But here’s the problem: the XXth Century organizational paradigm was designed with the (mostly) implicit assumption that organizations were meant to bring stability and predictability around productive (or value adding) processes. They inherently push the participants to following the almighty process, and vary as little as possible that process.

Cultivating innovation (aka adapting to an ever changing economical and social environment), demands accepting and dealing face to face with high unpredictability, and according to Lean startup, separate, different methods of management.

What this leads me to think is that organizations need to integrate at least some of the modes of thought that this demands, but this in turns implies that they have to accept at least some reduction of the stability. In other words, they have to become flexible, and therefore need to start living like the adaptation they need to do continuously are part of the daily matters and workload.

While ISO and such have helped us make our processes explicit, we now need them to be more and more fluid and changeable (while still “manageable”).

If you’ve come this far in the post, i’d love to see what you think about it, and if you have suggestions and pointers about how to deal with the ever-evolving-organization challenge, please let me know.

Kimberly Scott


Nov 21, 2013

Great to see you here, Vahid! I agree with your point that organization design and structure have not kept up with changes in the environment. Part of the problem too is that old paradigms about organization management keep getting taught, with little innovation happening in actually implementing and sustaining unique organization structures. It also takes a different skill set (and mindset) to lead in the way that you describe. Looking forward to hearing more of your ideas.

Janet Webster

Nov 21, 2013

I am not an expert in corp /org. mgmt,but I’ve been in the university setting for a long time now, and I see how slowly the gears turn and also how much more corporatized higher ed institutions have become to the dismay of many faculty¬† members. I’m reading Clayton Christensen’s book “Disrupting Class” which is a real eye opener for me about disruption theory and orgs / how disruptive innovations first have to go to an area of ‘nonconsumerism’¬† to find a foothold before they can really disrupt (which is where I think Moocs are, currently) and how the disruptions begin in non regulated spaces (cMoocs on the internet? PLNs??), eventually rendering the older approaches / systems irrelevant as the new innovations become more nimble, cost effective, efficient, and quite simply do the job better.
Fascinating stuff, and a post-PLN seminar blog post coming up once I finish the book.
I think Higher Ed is in for a ‘re-boot’.

Tanya Lau

Yesterday 2:51 AM

Yes…I’m beginning to take this view too +janet webster …’disruptions’ or challenges to the status quo are going to happen in non-regulated spaces – ie. not from the top down, but from the bottom. This is kind of the conclusion I came to after xplrpln in terms of PLNs in organisations…It’s very interesting though to consider why this is the case, as +Vahid Masrour has pointed out: organisations are by their nature (at least traditionally) driven towards maintaining order, process, predictability – the status quo.

Janet Webster

Yesterday 8:07 AM

+Tanya Lau But as Christensen points out, orgs can fail when they don’t meet the consumer demands. Tech has disrupted the music and publishing industries in profound ways. Not to say that schools are going to become defunct- but these online communities of educators ( unregulated spaces) are carving out innovative ways of doing business. What long term impact will this have on the org structures we work in?

Kimberly Scott


8:16 AM

+janet webster I agree! Having been in both corporate and higher ed, they are more similar than either would like to admit. Higher ed folks define and frame “consumer demands” differently than, say, consumer packaged goods companies, but “consumers”¬†in this environment will have an impact whether or not we think they should.

Vahid Masrour

9:19 AM

As we discuss adaptation to changing conditions, in the particular case of higher ed, we must wonder: what do they provide to the macro organism they function in (society), and how they can deliverthat value when we consider the new means of delivery that are becoming available.

Tanya Lau

12:15 PM
¬†+janet webster¬† I see individual ‘bottom up’ action (for example, use of PLNs in orgs) – as not entirely unregulated, more under the radar, as in action that is directed by the individual rather than the organisation, but indirectly guided by organisational goals. E.g. an individual using external connections in their PLN to assist them with a work related problem via social media using their own device (unmandated by the org – because access to social media is ‘banned’ by the org) – this type of action could be seen as ‘unregulated’ but at the same time it’s indirectly guided by the org’s goals (via the individual’s role description).And in fact, this type of ‘disruptive action’ might actually help the org to better meet consumer demands by tapping directly into their needs (crowdsourcing, open innovation etc).In terms of long term impact on org structures – they will have to become flat, the hierarchical structures won’t survive, this seems to be the implication of working in a networked environment.¬† Harold Jarche writes about this a fair bit, eg recent post he wrote about the democratisation of workplaces http://www.jarche.com/2013/11/democracy-is-coming/I guess orgs that continue trying to hold onto the old ways of doing things eventually won’t survive either…

janet webster

12:21 PM
¬†Wow! +Tanya Lau That’s a really good distinction you make.
Tanya Lau

1:21 PM
 thanks +janet webster! I credit #xplrpln for helping me consider these perspectives ; )



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The PLN Pitch


The PLN Pitch

A personal learning network for higher education

*Here is my own final learning artifact for Northwestern University’s Seminar Exploring Personal Learning Networks

*And my collaborative final learning artifact for Northwestern University’s Seminar Exploring Personal Learning Networks

*Useful information here: Exploring PLNs Collaboration Tools

At the end of the the five week online seminar, we were given a hypothetical case to consider….

Your CEO (or equivalent organizational leader) just heard about PLNs at a cocktail party and is excited about gaining a competitive advantage (or improving impact on mission) by leveraging PLNs for the organization’s success. But, she/he knows little about PLNs or what to do with them to support organizational success and strategy. Is the organization set up to benefit from and support PLNs, so it is more than just an individual thing? She/he is going away on vacation for one week, and upon return wants you to explain what PLNs are and to provide guidance for what to do. You have a one-hour meeting to facilitate a conversation.

Seminar participants grouped or paired voluntarily according to organizational type, industry or interests, and I joined a group for Higher Education. Our group debated whether the PLN pitch ought to be directed at senior management at a place of higher learning or to the faculty / teachers, possibly students and staff at the institution.

Some suggested readings by group members included:

Disruptive Pedagogies and Technologies in Universities by Terry Anderson and Rory McGreal

Stephen Downes on Connective Knowledge

Some key questions which arose from our G+ discussions and collaborative G Drive docs were:

1. Should institutions encourage  / manage PLNs or should the individual determine the nature and personal /professional use of a PLN?

2. How can connectivism or other learning theories be incorporated into this case study?

3.  How can educational participants be assisted in recognizing what they already do as part of a PLN? (professional associations, etc.)

4. How can one leverage acceptance of a PLN by showing the benefits of widening the existing associations to include other disciplines and fields?

5. What are the difference between Communities of Practice and Personal Learning Networks?

Our group decided to favor the individual agency-side, and our final artifact reflects this view. We subtitled our presentation “A Collaborative Sharing with our Colleagues” where we could potentially be sharing our ideas with administrators, faculty or staff members at an institution but leaving the creation and management of a PLN in the hands of the individual rather than pitching organizational oversight of personal or professional associations. This view seemed compatible with the spirit of academic freedom at a place of higher learning while possibly not compatible with legislative powers and entrenched institutional structures. One final seminar artifact submitted by a participant exemplifies the desire to maintain the ‘personal’ within a personal learning network.

We focused on the benefits of a PLN to faculty members. These benefits included….

  1. Opportunity for Global Collaboration

  2. Wealth of ideas

  3. Those who share get much more in return

  4. Connected knowing

  5. Interdisciplinarity, internationalization, information technology

  6. Our students are already doing this

  7. My story…

  8. Individual agency

  9. Professional and personal enrichment


From a personal point of view, my professional PLN has formed and expanded beyond my university firewall as a direct result of my engagement in online communities using social networking platforms such as Google Plus, Twitter and a myriad of Web 2.0 tools. In one of the #xplrpln Twitter chats, I tweeted that I feel like a bit of a ‘gamer’ when I check my online communities¬† throughout the day using my Iphone, tablet or laptop. It has become very important to me to learn about readings, presentations, conferences, thoughts, artifacts -all related to the open education movement underfoot in higher education.¬† I value the daily discussions I have with my virtual colleagues; I ask and answer many questions. I am connected online in rich, open and fluid ways that are not possible at my institution where we rely primarily on campus meetings or email for communications. My horizons have been expanded, and I am grateful for the open sharing¬† and learning within my PLN.

My tweeted definition of a PLN

A free, fluid, online, de-centralized association of ppl lrng / tchng abt topics of evolving interests

Post seminar notes: I am currently reading Clayton Christensen’s “Disrupting Class” which is reinforcing my ideas about a PLN pitch to individuals within a higher ed institution. As Christensen writes, “An organization will never disrupt itself.”

Here is a sampling of the seminar’s blog posts, discussions and final artifacts on Scoop-it.

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A Storied Gif is Born


Here is the story of a gif collaboration which found life on the DS106 Google + Community Sept. 26 after an initial ‘fun’ posting on the “I gif Therefore I Am” category by Ary Aranquiz inspired by Luis Bunuel’s ‘Un Chien Andalou”.


 The Google + Conversation (edited for brevity)  giffi.us.


Janet: I like this one!

Cathleen: You got her eyes!

John: Best reason to gif!

Ary: Thanks everyone!

Janet: You know, a story could be written about what this gif conveys! What about writing stories that match the gif images we create?

Ary: It conveys so much, doesn’t it?! Actually Janet what I want to do, when I find the time, is create a digital story using GIFs. I think someone posted an article here that had a comic book made from GIFs. I would love to create something like that.¬†

Janet: Wonderful idea!

Cathleen: Great idea, Ary!

Janet: I’m trying to decide what those eyes are telling me.

Christina: This is a fantastic gif, Ary! I agree it could be cool if just her eyes moved (or maybe all of her, because her breathing really adds to the emotion too!).
If anyone is interested, I have a blog post on how I made everything in a gif still except one part, in GIMP:

Janet: I suggested using this film exclusively- for a start. It’s very rich in imagery. I’ve downloaded the film too (it’s about 15 min long). It’s a classic in film history- a very good springboard to start this kind of gif digital storytelling.

Mariana:  It was a suggestion made by Janet; I like it as the aesthetics of the story will cohere and the film you chose has a lot of giffing potential I thought.

Janet: I was thinking of ‘sneaking’ +Talky Tina in now and again to tie into DS106 a bit. She’s black and white, a true friend and rather surreal herself!

 Ary: I like that +janet webster ! +Talky Tina is our #truefriend. Would be funny if somehow we worked her into every storyline too! 


Sandy: Okay, I’ll admit this is so full of over the top emotion and Hollywood noir drama that I had to laugh in admiring disbelief! Wow +janet webster!


Ary: I have been wanting to do something like this to narrate a digital story, using only GIFs, but I also think it would be great fun, if each of us GIF lovers here created a GIF to compose ¬†a collaborative GIF story. Anyone interested in playing along? One person creates a GIF to spark the storyline. The next person’s GIF elaborates the previous until the GIF story reaches an ending. We can add text or other elements as well if we want. Anyone want to play? Check out this example.¬†http://blog.nathanbransford.com/2012/08/the-publishing-process-in-gif-form.html

Mariana: Yes, I am in. And stop it! no more wonderful resources, there is more to life than watching gifs,¬†there is more to life than watching gifs, there is more to life than watching gifs…if you say something often enough, you will believe it ūüôā I can create a category here with the title of the story so that we could thread it like the example you sent? and we have an audience to tell the story to +Sandy Brown Jensen¬†who knows, by the time we get to the end, Sandy might write our conclusion. Thanks +Ary Aranguiz¬†I love the resources you are finding for us all.¬†

 Ary: Eat, Sleep, GIF!  Sounds perfect! 


Janet: Ah yes! What a great clip it is, then! Sort of fits with Talky Tina, Twilight Zone slant on DS106. The trick is really in that first line to get it going! I assume the text for the story will be a line or two to accompany each gif?


Talky Tina: This will be a fun thing for Friends to do! Plus, it will be a great thing to do to make lots of GIFs!

Is there a rule about it having to be a GIF that somebody else made already, or is there a rule about making the GIF yourself? Plus, are there any other rules? What happens if you don’t follow the rules?


Janet: Hi there, true friend! I think we should make our own gifs to create the story. Good for gif making practice and improving our skills.



¬† This seems like a fun project count me in to play along! I think pairing a GIF with two lines of text per post sounds great. And from there hope for the best. As each person builds off the previous post, there will likely be coherent narratives but disruptions in the story as well. Let’s just see what happens and then modify/adapt as we go? I just created Giffi.us and the registration is open. It will default to subscriber, but I’ll promote everyone to admins. Feel free to rework the site as you see fit!



Consider using the hero’s journey as your organizing principle:call to adventure, helpers, road of trials, belly of the whale, meeting with the goddess, capturing the elixir if life, magic flight, master of two worlds.

It’s a clear and familiar trajectory that has a lot of flexibility. Just my 2 bits…

Michael: Look for the register link on the right sidebar on the homepage of giffi.us. or go to giffi.us/wp-admin and look for a link to register below the log-in.




Posted in Digital Storytelling 106 | Leave a comment

Open Online Experience 2013




Open Online Experience 2013  (#OOE13)


‘The end product of tech is innovation’

From the work of Alec Couros (U. of Regina) and many other creators of Etmooc, comes Open Online Experience 2013 which begins September 4. I am one of the many co- creators of OOE13, having met my virtual colleagues online last spring while taking etmooc (Educational technology  and media Mooc).

OOE13 is a year long, professional development program for K-16 educators focussing on edtech integration but also introducing participants to the open education movement, to new educational concepts such as digital citizenship, digital literacy and digital storytelling. Participants will be prompted to blog their experiences openly on the web, to comment on blogs they find interesting and begin creating multimedia resources which they can share with others in OOE13- even possibly use in their teaching.

Some schools and institutions have elected to support their educators who are taking OOE and will be awarding formal PD credentials as well as forming school specific groups. All participants should find that the online networking and sharing becomes one of the most worthwhile aspects of of the program experience in the spirit of connectivism.

The program’s architecture on the web mimics the organization modeled by etmooc, combining a central WordPress hub with various social network feeds such as Twitter and Google+ into the central WP site. Mentors are also embedded in ¬†the program; these mentors are educators who have previous experience participating in connectivist Moocs and are able to answer the many questions participants may have along the way. Synchronous sessions are blended with asynchronous resource delivery for maximum flexibility in order to accomodate educators’ busy timetables. The co- creators of OOE13 believe that this mode of PD delivery can optimize edtech learning for educators K-12 and post-secondary.

OOE13 will be awarding badges for skills gained and creations made throughout the program. Participants will also have the opportunity to determine skill sets they have gained through self directed learning and  be awarded badges based on these.

Some notes about OOE13 collaborations:

The logo for OOE13 was the joint effort of Glenn Hervieux, Janet Webster, Jennifer Stellings.


The OOE13 organization chart was a collaborative effort between Janet Webster and Christina Hendricks.


The conceptualization of OOE 13 is that of Brendan Murphy with assistance and expertise from many valuable and dedicated educators. For a list of co- creators, see the WP site.  www.ooe13.org

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