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  1. karenatsharon

    Failure and failing

    So this week's topic in our Openspokes fellowship is failure, something we are all intimately acquainted with, for who has not failed at a task, at a crucial moment, sometimes with serious consequences? Who ends up a goat and goes to hell? Failure has been the gristmill for religion, literature, history, science, psychology and philosophy for eons. We all know who arrived at the North Pole but rarely do we find out about who didn't. Fail and failure have always been negative words so it is interesting to see so many people trying to turn it into a positive just lately. I have failed spectacularly in the educational setting, more than once

    Since beginning my exploratory journey of online educational communities, failure has been a constant thread running throughout the discussions.   Brendan Murphy and I discussed failure in April, Kirsten and Erin have already posted this week about failure and what it might mean in regards to learning and students. I like Erin's belief that what we are attempting to do is teach resiliency and I think that Kirsten is spot on when writing about learning as a cyclical process, that failure has no part in since it is seen as an end and not a beginning. And yet, we use the term fail/ failure constantly in education, particularly in summative evaluation/assessment. In fact, we're addicted to it.

    As we move to change our curriculum to reflect the circular nature of learning, perhaps we may also finally let go of the idea of summative assessment and banish failure from the classroom and from the educational discussion. After all, who is the summative assessment for? The student? Not at all. They know where they are from personal experience and the formative evaluation they have been receiving during the year. Parents? I used to dread report card time, when it seemed to be a litany of what my child needed to do to improve and having to argue with my husband about the value of the report card. (Sadly my children told me this was how they viewed report card grades: A-could have done better, B-bad, C-death.) Teachers? Do we crave designing multiple choice tests? Close sentences?  Having students study for provincial standardized test? How do we feel about the cookie cutter remarks we have to use in report cards where we've had to tell a seven year old they are limited in their ability? What kind of accounting system are we using to evaluate our students when you're a failure at seven? Where does our belief in allowing children to develop at their own pace, to explore and play as they learn and grow fit in with our bureaucratic school system and its need to be validated through summative assessment? So who's to blame for the word failure being bandied about?

    We all are.

    This is a world wide problem tied to long standing ingrained cultural practice. Parents and students expect grades, teachers comply as part of their job, the school system and governments use grades and pass rates to be accountable to the public for their spending on education. We have to re-frame the discussion, not only within our own practice as teachers (how much summative assessment can we strip out of our teaching particularly as we move to allowing students the ability to govern their own education and develop skills of self-regulation) but also with students, parents, our school boards and our governments. Until we all begin to question the role of failure in our system, we'll continue to talk about what to do about failure instead of looking at the education of a student as a continuum, where students meet challenges, work to overcome them and move on to the next challenge at their own pace so they can be successful.

    P.S. I am fascinated with what happened to our good old fashioned English words that meant failure before the use of failure became widespread in English. There are multiple words that mean something similar to fail/failure in Old English: dwelain- to deceive, mislead, lead into sin or error (this one is closest to the original Latin meaning), aleogan- to fail to fulfill, misbeodan- injure, do wrong to, gedreosan- fall, perish, fail and abreoðan- fail, perish, be destroyed. All of these were replaced with the single word fail which is why there are so many definitions.
  2. karenatsharon

    Hybrid Pedagogy: Leaders in Innovation

    I’m biased. I admit it. I’m partial to the  Hybrid Pedagogy team of Pete Rorabaugh, Jesse Stommel, Sean Michael Morris, Robin Wharton and Valerie Robin.  How can I not be? These are the folks that brought us Twitter vs. Zombies where I learned to use Twitter as a communication tool through a game with Pete Rorabaugh. (I make an excellent zombie!)  I had participated in MOOCMOOC (a Hybrid Pedagogy playground) where I was introduced to the collaborative nature of Google docs. (No limit to the number of participants- write a paper in a day!) MOOCMOOC brought me to ETMOOC, a collaboratively run mooc which blew my mind away! I’ve written gushing posts about ETMOOC before but it can never be stated enough: Best learning experience ever! I felt renewed , rejuvenated in my learning, inspired by the brush with some amazingly creative people.  Jesse Stommel was a participant in ETMOOC and guided a collaborative effort in writing a poem. ETMOOC lead to postetmooc, because once you’ve ETMOOCed you want to maintain those collaborations, the positive energy that swirls around when your mind is being stretched and you’ve got a group who care about collaborative learning as a support network. You can see how Hybrid Pedagogy has become so much a part of my learning. In the spirit of collaboration I want to share!
    When I contacted Pete Rorabaugh and Jesse Stommel about spending a month on Hybrid Pedagogy for postetmooc they were more than open to the idea. They have graciously agreed to participate in our discussion about digital publishing, networking, and community. 
    So what’s so great about Hybrid Pedagogy and why should we spend a month studying and reading and questioning the founders? Let me count the ways:

    1.   Promoting links between higher education and K-12: This is a great idea. As a former elementary teacher, I often feel like a poor cousin in the teaching world (particularly when people asked me why I was not teaching at a higher grade level.) Education is experiencing a major shake-up and K-12 is going to be a part of that change. The need to collaborate and rethink the process of learning is critical for all of us, at every grade level.
    Description: Jessifer's avatar

    It's always been a key part of our mission to broaden our network and make connections between K-12 and #highered.

    And isn’t this something we’ve wanted to see too?

    2.   A community:  Both Pete Rorabaugh and Jesse Stommel see the creation of Hybrid Pedagogy as a community that networks, researches and publishes scholarly articles surrounding the issues of progressive, critical pedagogy. “What we wanted to build was a network, a community for engaging a discussion of digital pedagogy, critical pedagogy, open education, and online learning. At the same time, we wanted to build a collection of resources to help facilitate conversations within that community.”…
    As we’ve moved on from ETMOOC we’ve joined different ventures that require us to think about community, networking and publishing. We’ve also begun to really understand the value in developing collections of resources to share with our peers. 

    3.   The spirit of scholarly generosity: As a journal, Hybrid Pedagogy has a team whichpeer reviews everything it publishes. They’ve published lots in a short period of time. But it is the spirit behind the journal that is the motivating factor here. They’re challenging the idea, not of scholarship, but of academic publishing and the rigid format that has evolved over the last 100 years that often favours the publisher and not the scholar. “The notion of an “academic journal” needs dismantling and reimagining. This isn’t to say that we shouldn’t continue to have traditional academic journals, but that we need to considerably broaden the landscape to make way for dynamic collaboration, new media, and participatory culture.”…

    As we move forward, we too need to think about how we are going to share our academic work with the world. 
    4. The use of play as a teaching tool: This, to me, is critical. I believe strongly in the value of play as a facilitator for learning for students of all ages. I rarely see it within the adult learning setting. The creation of Twitter vs. Zombies was eye opening to me. It wasn’t just that I learned the use of a technology I was struggling to understand through a game, but I also experienced the sheer joy of learning through play. As I said before, I haven’t played such a great game of tag in years. Through the process of game playing (because I am a highly competitive tag player) I learned to post pictures in Twitter, add sound, use Bitly, etc and finally create a popcorn video. Much of what comes out of Hybrid Pedagogy, including MOOCMOOC also incorporates this aspect of play. As Pete Rorabaugh wrote to me: “In short, we want to promote digital interaction -- our own and those of our colleagues -- that are open, collaborative, experiential, critical, experimental, rigorous, and playful. We want to promote collective pedagogical and scholarly work that empowers student agency and challenges established educational binaries.”

    And really who doesn’t want to be a part of that amazing transformation?

    So for the month of June, follow #digped (they do a twitterchat on the first Friday of the month about various topics), check out their website, follow some of the Unconferencesuggestions and prepare to ask Hybrid Pedagogy your questions in the hangout and in our Twitterchat #etmchat!
  3. karenatsharon

    Being Open and the Open Web

    Well, currently I am enrolled in Inspiring Leadership through Emotional Intelligence (Coursera) and Teachtheweb through Mozilla, plus being a member of several communities so I am feeling a little s t r e t c h e d. Both physically and mentally, so the...
  4. karenatsharon

    Post ETMOOC -April

    So I promised a more analytical response of why etmooc was so valuable as a learning process and here it is. What is interesting is that even though I am no longer in the weekly/biweekly task mode for etmooc, as a post etmooc blog group member our grou...
  5. karenatsharon

    A Wonder for My Mental Beach-ETMOOC

    As Christina Hendricks first said "This is my love letter to ETMOOC"It is hard to believe that three months have gone by and that ETMOOC has passed so quickly. If you had said to me on New Year's Eve that, "2013 would be the year you fully reconnect wi...
  6. karenatsharon

    Who is Digital Literacy for?

    So I am stuck in last week's storytelling mode because I am still working with Popcorn Maker. While you can turn the sound off on the video you've downloaded, you can't seem to be able to replace the sound track with another track ( I was thinking o...

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