Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Connecting Faculty Seminars (The Activity that Almost Was) - Vignette

Between our October and November C2.0 meetings, with the collaboration of Maria and the CTL's Josephine Corso, I designed a connecting activity. In this seminar, as in every seminar I lead, we try to provide faculty with learning experiences that emulate what their students may experience as faculty design different types of activities. 

A couple of months ago I realized (duh!) that the fundamental experience of connecting and collaborating with other learners online was missing from Community 2.0. In conjunction with the Hybrid/Online Seminar, Maria and I designed an activity in which C2.0 and H/O seminar participants, assigned in small groups with 2 or 3 participants from each seminar, would collaborate on doing research that they would theoretically be presenting at a conference or publishing in a journal. The research related to social pedagogy…ah, one of our favorite topics!

It seemed so simple at first. Get the pairs or triads working together with their colleagues, have them gather sources in diigo.com – a great social bookmarking platform that lets you annotate and comment and reply to each others’ comments on actual web pages. Then the groups would come up with a 150-word abstract for their article or presentation, and a working title for it, and tada!

Well, maybe…but given the fact that C2.0 only had 2 more meetings for our year together, and we needed a common platform for the groups to be able to communicate…and that there was at least one or maybe more steps I had completely forgotten to plan for…it eventually became clear that this idea was much more ambitious than I had realized.

Rather than overload everyone at this point in the semester, we decided to table it for now, and focus on finishing up any loose ends – like providing support for those doing their connecting activities, and focusing on the in-depth year-end reflection that is a hallmark of C2.0. We also decided to encourage the reflection as offering major potential for participants to use as the basis of generating an actual article or presentation.

Planning the activity, even though we didn’t actually do it, was a great learning experience about how easy it is to get way too complicated. It also gave me a new and deeper appreciation for what all of you have been doing with your connecting activities.


  1. ... the activity that almost was -- and hopefully will be! Thanks for writing this up!
    My take-away lesson is that we tend to underestimate the complexity of collaboration and community. I think this is why the conversations on evaluation we've been stoking has been so important. In order to evaluate, we need to first observe what it is we are evaluating: The multiple steps in connecting and collaborating are filled with so many variables. The result is a constellation of learning that emerges. (And maybe that celestial metaphor could be applied to a more cerebral metaphor--think of the multiple parts of the brain that are being stimulated (lit up): prior knowledge, new knowledge, communication, language, insight, etc.). We're traditionally used to conceptualizing learning as a linear process.
    The challenge is always touching on those linear curricular goals that are in place, while generating innovative practices that enrich (and, we hope, improve) learning.

    1. Yes, hopefully it will be...and maybe the image I selected was too visually drastic, connoting the connections broken. What actually happened was that we came to our senses about what was realistic given the amount of time we had and fortunately we had the ability to respond accordingly and change our plans. I'm hoping we will be able to try doing this activity with the Hybrid/Online Seminar next year.

      Thanks, too, for your articulation of learning as a non-linear process. It is a good reminder for designing learning activities, which I tend to do in a rather linear way. Then I often end up tossing or at least tweaking the plan as other priorities and ways of learning - that I could not have anticipated - surface in the actual moment of interaction.

  2. I like this idea. Also it can be a way to showcase platforms that could be use in the Hybrid environment. Is it going to happen?

    1. Hi Milena, thanks for your comment. We decided it was going to be too much to squeeze in at this point in the semester (thus the image of the broken net!-)