Examining the Craft of Connection & Global Projects

Reading the chapter Connection, from the forthcoming Flat Classroom Book, took a little adjusting to the format. Since it is being prepped for publication, it is filled with   page layout mark-up, which threw the sequence off a bit. Still, it is ambitious and covers a lot of ground.

With the early focus on the tools and technology to build the foundation of personalized professional development that will get any educator connected, I did not find a lot of new material. Then again, this is information that is more targeted for the newbie. I did find a few interesting wrinkles and some new terminology however.

Having long been onto RSS, I am someone who reads a lot. In fact, I harvest enough websites that I regularly stare at the bold All Items (1000+) unread posts in my Google Reader. This fact made me pause a little bit longer on the Mark Hurst quote from Bit Literacy about the need to “say ‘no’ – early and often and to say ‘yes’ rarely.” Regardless, I think starting off with RSS is particularly shrewd. I too advocate that if there is one technology tool that any educator should understand it is RSS. It simply opens up the world, bringing it right to the desktop or portable device.

Some new terms to me were Classroom Monitoring Panel (CMP) and Brand Monitoring Platform (BMP). Ironically, I have been employing these strategies for some time but never really thought there was a name for them. I have more readily used Pageflakes to build a CMP each time I led a class through a Flat Classroom Project. My forays into brand monitoring are a bit less formal, but the way they are presented in the chapter makes me rethink investing a bit more time into the practice, as well as discussing it in more depth with some of the administrators at my school and district.

I wrote a whole lot more about Personal Learning Networks and Personal Learning Environments recently as part of the massively open online course (MOOC) PLENK10, in which I have been following and participating concurrently.

Additionally, I liked the way the text both breaks down a lot of the jargon and provides a lot of definitions, which would be enough to make any newbies head spin. More than anything, I like the general kind of call to action that is present with the challenges and steps that would enable any reader to get themselves connected and build a network with themselves squarely at the center. I also liked the testimonials and knowing that I wrote some material for their potential use a while back, I am wondering if it might make an appearance in any of the chapters. Beyond that, reading the reflections of T. Salim al Busaidi and Anne Mirtschin, a teacher I worked with on one of the past projects, inspired me to write my own testimonial.

Yet, without question, I think the most valuable information in the chapter is the section on Taxonomy of Global Connection. Presented as five levels, it is an easy to understand and very applicable framework for designing an interconnected project with hopes of international connections. This is the kind of information that can and likely will get cited by others as foundational knowledge.

Finally, I was glad that the references were included as endnotes for the chapter. While I was familiar with some of the resources I am interested in taking a longer look at some of the others. The work by Sadoski and Paivio, Rizzolatti and Hurst were all new to me and piqued my interest. I was also glad to see how prominently the work of Henry Jenkins in Confronting the Challenges of Participatory Culture featured, which for me is a keystone text for anyone trying to get a handle on all of this.

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