I felt very fortunate to read and watch all that I did today. I learned so much, and in trying to put it together,…

I felt very fortunate to read and watch all that I did today. I learned so much, and in trying to put it together,…

I felt very fortunate to read and watch all that I did today. I learned so much, and in trying to put it together, this video was the result. Rodd Lucier , Kevin Honeycutt, and Vi Hart are the spokes of my connected learning today (you’ll know what I mean if you watch).



  1. Ben, this is the first of your videos that I have watched and I love it.  I especially like how you describe connected learning in your introduction.  What I am still struggling with is whether this is a form of learning that can be replicated in a middle and/or high school setting and what structures, systems, skills are needed to make this happen.

  2. I think that is the big question. Can the type of learning we are experiencing right now be utilized with students who don’t always take full responsibility for their learning? Will a decentralized and ad-hoc network sustain those learners who aren’t passionate about everything we teach?

    My experience has been that a lot of this works, but that a more defined path or suite of options is necessary to show students how connected learning looks rather than expecting them to figure it out on their own. I also think that the size and consistency of a classroom makes a lot of resource sharing and deepening the network a lot easier.

    What has your experience told you?

  3. Like Phil, I really like your introductory description of what connected learning is. I have two connections to your post and the comments (neither of which are as beautifully subtle as yours is). I am a part of a collaborative inquiry (face-to-face) that is in the process of implementing student inquiry. We have so much learning to do, but as the coach, I have to be the lead learner. Just yesterday one of the team members asked me how it is that I am learning what we should be doing. My answer was that it comes from my network that is teaching me all the time: Flat Classroom Certified Teaching Course, Ontario Ministry of Ed webinars, Heidi Siwak’s presentation just this past Saturday on Classroom 2.0 Live, etmooc, and now your video. None of these events are intentionally connected, but in my head they are, and something will come of it!

    My second connection, comes from Heidi Siwak, who references Neal Stephenson’s comments on liberating constraints. This is a framework that creates a carefully design experience within which students construct their own knowledge. So, they are not all reading or viewing the same texts. The class could become its own network. Ultimately, the student could have a global network; the Flat Class Project may be a way for that to happen. 


  4. Julie A.C. Balen, That question of “where do you find this stuff” or “how do you know where to go” is one that will continue to be asked (a lot), and I really like your answer. I do think that that it starts with a set of beliefs about the nature of learning, though.

    It isn’t aimless wandering, but rather an attention to the belief that learning should be authentic (with a real purpose and real audience). By pursuing that belief into the various networks (yours are pretty awesome), it shows the way forward a lot easier than simply googling your way to find a resource. 

    The more that I dig into the content and network being created within #etmooc , the more I see that not only should a classroom be a network, but that each person within the classroom should carry a network around with them. You shouldn’t have to rely on the set classroom network for all of your learning, but rather you should be creating a network that can outlast your classroom. 

    I hope that all makes some sort of sense. Thank you for your kind words by the way. Also, my personal beliefs about the nature of learning that led me to my current point is here:

  5. Benjamin Wilkoff Hi Ben.  It has taken me a while to get back to this thread but it has been buzzing around in my head.  My frame of reference for this conversation is a number of years guiding my grade 9 students through the Digiteen project.  At the end of each project my students knew how to navigate and contribute to a wiki, participate in a Ning community and save annotated bookmarks with Diigo, but they didn’t understand the bigger picture.  They did what I asked because that was the course expectation and their marks were dependent on it.

    In my opinion for anything MOOC like to work in schools there need to be some pretty major institutional changes.  For one our assessment systems need to change.  As long as student’s learning is going to be subjected to someone else making a judgement on it they are never going to truly take control of it – they will just go through the motions.

    I also think that there are a lot of really sophisticated habits of mind involved in navigating a MOOC like this one.  There is a lot of filtering, synthesising of ideas etc and these are not something students do naturally.  I don’t think just dropping k-12 students into a MOOC like environment would work for most students.  What I am interested in is teasing out the different habits of mind necessary for success in these environments and then figuring out how to vertically articulate them so that by maybe grade 10 or 11 student’s could participate in something like a MOOC.

  6. Phil Macoun Hi Phil. Great to meet another Flat Classroom teacher online! This is a great conversation. A colleague and I are running our first FCP in February, so my thinking about connected student learning and FCP is projected. However, we run an interdisciplinary class at the grade 11 level on leadership, which really means that it is  student council embedded into the timetable. This is our third year, or sixth time, to run the course, and it is quite Mooc-like in that the teacher gives a ‘direct instruction’ session every Monday (aka Alec’s Monday night sessions), and then the rest of the week students plan their activities, work on ongoing items like wiki updates, and maintain their eportfolios.  Each unit is its own inquiry of sorts–September was prep to go to We Day, October is always the construction of the Haunted House and other misc activities around Halloween  November is Remembrance Day, and December is the Stuff a Cruiser event. The level of engagement fluctuates from very high for the Haunted House  and the Stuff Cruiser event to less so for Remembrance Day. The teacher conferences with students and provides mini-lessons where needed. Does everyone read the same material? Rarely. Does everyone participate in the same activity? They don’t have to, but they may choose to. There are activities that all students must do.  For instance, all students must choose an International Day of something (who knew  there are so many?) and plan a school wide event to celebrate that day. Students are applying the lessons on presentation, audience,purpose, engagement, cooperation, planning, organization, etc. and then reflecting on how the event went. Lots of metacognitive work goes on here.

    In this class the network is made up of the students in the class, the teacher, the students in the building, and many of the other teachers in the building. There are expectations to be met, but there is choice, collaboration, creation, and community. Students do have to filter. What we might not be doing is actually talking about the ‘moocing’ skills. Hmmm…..

  7. Yes – Those best things and connecting them are so important and so creating networks where you can be vulnerable is the first step! That might also just be the scariest step! I really like how you took to the streets to get practical support for your positions! I need a wheel! I need to create spokes 🙂

  8. Ben, what about bridging the technology and learning and collaborating gap with the people you work with daily? Sometimes I find it easier to get online and work with this world, but I need to find a way to work with the people I see everyday, despite their resistance to the possibilities for change in education and creating connectedness and vulnerable spaces.

  9. Phil Macoun, I love that Stephen Johnson book. It really changed my thinking on creating an environment for the “slow hunch” instead of the fast win.

    I would also agree that a MOOC (at least in this current iteration) is a more sophisticated beast than most students are ready to tackle (or most teachers, for that matter). However, I think that trying to establish a MOOC like this one within a face to face classroom missing just how valuable the face to face elements are. They aren’t essential, but they are powerful. The ability to “get everyone on the same page” is huge, and it can happen much easier in a classroom. 

    To a certain extent, you can think about this mooc as a worldwide blogging project. It is much more than that, but by boiling it down into the “actions” that we partake in, it makes it easier to approach as a student. Students can blog easily. They can read and remix ideas as well. Giving them a format that works is going to be essential. We do this format because it allow for greater collaboration and less need for synchronous communication. They may not need that, though.

    Julie A.C. Balen THANK YOU for such a concrete example of what this can look like in a school environment. I am so excited to hear more about how you take the principles of the “Flat Classroom” and put them into practice. 

    Jessica Swift You have hit it right on the head. Getting people that we work with in our face to face networks to buy in, is both easier and harder. It is more satisfying and more frustrating. When you open up the network wide, only the willing and passionate will step through. When you select only those in the network that are f2f then you are limited by both passion and willingness to change. Both can be overcome and are worth it, but it isn’t necessarily easy. 

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