Personal Learning Network (PLN) Assignment

Personal Learning Network (PLN)

Networked Learning Independent Study Project Design

Objective: develop and use networked learning to create a personal learning environment/network for 21st century research and design. 


  • Each learner selects his or her topic of study, (what you know, what you want to know), and establishes a research question.
  • Acceptable/Responsible Fair Use policy is discussed.

The project is positioned within the following perspective.

What if your teachers disappeared and you had to learn on your own? Would you give up on learning? Where would you begin? Why would learning be important? You are an empowered learner. You have the power to learn anything. How much you learn is up to you. How you manage your learning is up to you. How you manage your time is up to you. A big part of your success will depend on how well you are organized. 

Introduction of Tools

Web applications are introduced one at a time to give participants the chance to master the tool within the context of the study topic. Digital literacy is integrated into these lessons as needed. The essential questions of digital literacy are presented. 

  • Where can you go for good information?
  • How do you know if you can trust what you find?
  • How will you find subject matter experts you can trust to help you learn?
  • Why is reflection important when you are learning something new?
  • Why is it important to share what you’ve learned? How will you share?

Web Application (Components of the Networked Learning Environment for Research)

Social Bookmarking (RSS) “Diigo”and/or “Pinboard”

  • Explain Really Simple Syndication (RSS) and evaluation of Websites
  • Set up the account
  • Subscribe to each others accounts
  • Bookmark, read and annotate at least 5 reliable websites per week that reflect the content of chosen topic
  • Add, annotate and read at least 3 additional sites each week.

Microblogging “Twitter”

  • Create and Account
  • Follow 10 Individuals or organizations you found during research.
  • Advanced use as interested


  • Create Evernote account
  • Begin content collection

News and Blog Alert (RSS)”Google Alert”

  • Create a Google Alert of keywords associated with selected topic
  • Read news and blogs on that topic that are delivered via email daily
  • Subscribe to appropriate blogs in reader

Personal Web Aggregator (RSS, Information Management) “iGoogle”, “Symbaloo” and “Netvibes”

  • Introduction to Google, Netvibes and Symbaloo
  • Customize choice
  • Start by creating a Homepage
  • This will build as you learn new tools

News and Blog Reader (RSS) Google Reader RSS Feeds

  • Search for blogs and newsfeeds devoted to chosen topic
  • Subscribe to blogs and newsfeeds to keep track of updates.
  • Set up gadgets in Symbaloo or Netvibes

Personal Blog(RSS)/Mobile Blog “Blogger”

  • Create a personal blog
  • Post a research reflection each day of the content found and experiences related to the use of Networked Learning Research Environment pertaining to project topics
  • Find bloggers with similar topics subscribe to blogs in reader

Internet Search (Information Management, Contacts, and Synchronous Communication)”Google Scholar”

  • Conduct searches in Google Scholar and Fogler library databases for scholarly works.
  • Bookmark appropriate sites
  • Consider making contact with expert for video conference”

Video (Research, Fun) “Vimeo”

  • Create and Account.
  • Create a Channel.

Photo Sharing “Flikr or Picassa”

  • Create and Account.
  • Upload Photos.
  • Share Photos.
  • Interest of Participants

Video Conferencing (Contacts and Synchronous Communication) “Skype”

  • Identify at least one subject matter expert to invite to Skype with you, group, family, community for your project.

Daily research, reflection, share (Ongoing during project)

Once the personal learning environment is constructed, you will continue to conduct research and navigate new content on a daily basis. Lab activities will be divided between introducing a tip or offering a research theme for the day, actual time spent conducting research will vary.

  • Craft a final synthesis of your work.

Other Networks

Covered with time remaining or interest. 

Podcasts (RSS) “iTunesU” “Academic Earth”

  • Search iTunesU or Academic Earth for podcasts related to topic
  • Listen or view to at least 4-10 podcasts or lectures


  • Steele-Maley, T (2010). Networked Project Design
  • Drexler, W. (2008). YouTube – Networked Student. YouTube – Broadcast Yourself. Retrieved February 24, 2011, from

Design Based Research Plan 1 Web 2.0 Foundations

Elaborated Design Plan for Web 2.0 Foundations

Informed Exploration

Educational Focus

Web 2.0 Foundations is a semester long secondary school course focused on participatory co-learning in multisited contexts with the goal of elevating the understanding of ones potential for creating positive learning outcomes in blended learning contexts. Focused on building a personal learning network for networked research the course Web 2.0 Foundations is situated within the middle grounds of formal and non-formal learning environments and relies on connectivist and constructivist pedegogy.  This intervention has been designed to better understand how a learning community in a traditional rural school setting responds and contributes to the conversation on adapted (Blended/Connected learning environments) while also achieving pertinent school based and national standards.

Research framework:

Needs Analysis and Survey of Literature

The controlled curricular structures of the “school” are not adequate to meet the challenges faced by the worlds young people in the twenty-first century. Further, the one hundred year absence of systemic change in education provides an environment that is ripe for what Zuboff (2010) has called a “Mutation”: modes of learning “that create value by offering [learners] individualized learning that express a convergence of technological capabilities and the values associated with individual self-determination”. Zuboff’s argument is cogent in education as only now, in 2010 do we see some meaningful consensus on educational change beginning to solidify, for instance around the need for computers in learning to address the 21st century skills of finding leveraging, synthesizing, collaborating and problem solving with information (Hayes Jacobs ed. 2010, Bonk, 2009, Davidson and Goldberg, 2009). This new and still growing consensus occurs while the bulk of school and curricular policy remains static (Apple, 2010, Darling Hammond, 2010).  The realization that educational systems are unresponsive to needed change raises the importance of new learning environments when considering that our world systems are in decline (Burns Our interdependent world calls for a deliberative, culturally conscious, and collaborative generation. With this in mind the future role of education as a change agent has never been more important.  Bold initiatives  grounded in the seminal work of critical educators such as(James Beane, 1995,1996; Michael Apple, 1990,1996, 2009, 2010, Boulding,1988), eLearning mavericks (George Siemens, Steven Downes, Alec Couros, and Dave Cormier) As the world realizes both systemic global crisis (UN millennium Development Goals, 2010; ICISS, 2001), and the exponential growth in global connectivity, education can and must help catalyze a new global civic culture through the restructuring of how we provide learning to our world.

Systemic Social, Cultural and Organizational Influences and Constraints on Design.

This design exists within a traditional school system setting atypical to Committee of Ten Standardization yet within the current environment of standardization and standards based reform (RISC and MCCL).  This environment is both exciting and intimidating to the researcher.  The learners involved in this study are primarily rural western European Americans at or around the poverty line to middle and upper middle class.  The learning environment numbers from 150-200 young people across a 60 mile district.  ALL 2012-2013 participants are local to one high school and number at 75.  Strong small rural community ideologies exist with conservative, pragmatic and progressive manifestations creating an environment of uncertainty for students.

Theory development

The Design work for Web 2.0 Foundations elevates, connectivist, constructivist, and open learning theory. The course’s mission is to connect individuals to the world through place based and international studies that are applied to an individuals interests, passions and quest for serving their local and world communities. Web 2.0 Foundations is made up of young people who co-develop their own program with a Teacher/Mentor Networked Learning Mentors (Via Twitter, Google +),and other local and international community members. At every stage of research, design, Web 2.0 Foundations supports individual learners while also connecting those individuals face to face and virtual project based learning cohorts that have can have a mission to solve local, regional, and global problems that effect our interdependent world.

Audience Characterization

The intended audience for this design research are both young and old existing within the academy and in informal and formal learning environments outside of the academy.  The research is meant to have impact on the theory, design and implementation of new learning environments at the middle level and secondary level in private, public and quasi public/private institutions. It is my hope that young people find this research accessible so they may take a greater role in the design of education.


Field Methods

Task analysis will be used to better understand daily patterns of learning, Contextual Analysis will be used to situate the study in local and global educational contexts, Audience and Expert Review will be used for internal and external reflection and iteration and Ethnographic methods (specifically ethnographic fieldnotes) will be used for recording the learning process. Participatory design will be used to support learner motivation and participation.

Systems Design

Participants who engage in Web 2.0 Foundations are introduced to  an integrated project based learning process’s that leverages internet based learning systems, Mobile Learning and collaborative project based learning.  Learning modalities are face to face and blended with synchronous and asynchronous learning over a four month period.

Learning Targets

The project is situated amidst multiple learning targets both institutional and informal. Local and international institutional learning targets make up the institutional learning targets and  include NETS-S, Local 21st Century Benchmarks, and adapted common core requirements.  Wider learning targets include effective connectivism and networked learning practice.

Design Strategies and Principles

  • Context evaluation, content sequencing, fostering interaction with an additional emphasis on addressing knowledge as existing in networks and learning as developing and forming diverse, multi‐faceted networks (Siemens 2008)
  • Generate Value for Learners
  • Curate a Gathering of human experiences and Artifacts that are synthetically processed
  • Use of Empathy
  • Agile communication of findings during design process “data as narrative”
  • Contribute solutions to a broad learning community


Apple, M., Au, W., and Gandin, A.L., eds.(2009). Routledge International Handbook of Critical Education. New York, Routledge

Apple, M., ed.(2010). Global Crises, Social Justice, and Education. New York, Routledge.

Bannan-Ritland, B. (2003) The Role of Design in Research: The Integrative Learning Design Framework. Educational Researcher, 32(1), 21-24.

Bonk, Curtis J. (2009). The world is open: How web technology is revolutionizing education. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

Darling-Hammond, L. (2010). The Flat World and Education: How America’s Commitment to Equity Will Determine Our Future.New York: Teachers College: Columbia Press.

Downes, S. (2005, December 22). An introduction to connective knowledge. Stephen’s Web

Downes, S. (2006, October 16). Learning networks and connective knowledge. Instructional Technology Forum: Paper 92.

Davidson, C.N., Goldberg, D.T. ( 2009) The Future of Learning Institutions in the Digital Age. Cambridge: MIT Press.

Emerson, R. M., Fretz, R.I., Shaw, L.L. (1995) Writing Ethnographic Fieldnotes. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

Hayes Jacobs, H. (2010). Curriculum 21: Essential Education for a Changing World. Alexandria: ASCD.

Siemens, G. (2008a). About: Description of connectivism. Connectivism: A learning theory for today’s learner, website.

Siemens. G. (2006a). Knowing knowledge. Electronic book.

Siemens, G. (2005, August 10). Connectivism: Learning as Network Creation. e-Learning website.

References informing overall design stage.

Bell, P. (2004). On the theoretical breadth of design-based research in education. Educational Psychologist, 39(4), 243-253.

Blomberg, Jeannette, et. al. (1993). Ethnographic Field Methods And Their Relation To

Design, In Participatory Design: Principles And Practices, Schuler, Douglas, Ed. Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, New Jersey, 123-155.

Brown, A. L., & Campione, J. C. (1998). Designing a community of young learners: Theoretical and practical lessons. In N. M. Lambert & B. L. McCombs (Eds.), How students learn: Reforming schools through learner-centered education (pp. 153-186). Washington, DC: American Psychological Association.

Brown, A. L. (1992). Design experiments: Theoretical and methodological challenges in creating complex interventions in classroom settings. The Journal of the Learning Sciences, 2, 141-178.

Cobb, P., Confrey, J., diSessa, A., Lehrer, R., & Schauble, L. (2003). Design experiments in educational research. Educational researcher, 32(1), 9-13.

Cole, M. (1996). Creating model activity systems,Cultural psychology: A once and future discipline (pp. 257-285). Cambridge, MA: Belknap Press. Cole, M. (2001, January 19-20). Sustaining Model Systems of Educational Activity: Designing for the Long haul. Paper Presented at Symposium

Honoring the Work of Ann Brown, Berkeley, California. (Accessed online on 15 November 2001 at Collins, A., Joseph, D., & Bielaczyc, K. (2004). Design Research: Theoretical and Methodological Issues. The Journal of the Learning Sciences,13(1), 15-42.

Design-Based Research Collective. (2003). Design-based research: An emerging paradigm for educational inquiry. Educational Researcher, 32(1), 5-8.

diSessa, A., & Cobb, P. (2009). Ontological innovation and the role of theory in design experiments. The Journal of the Learning Sciences, 13:1, 77—103.

Nasir, N. S., Rosebery, A. S., Warren, B., & Lee, C. D. (2006). Learning as a cultural process. In K.Sawyer (Ed.), The Cambridge Handbook of the Learning Sciences (1st ed.) (pp. 489-504). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Richey, R.C., Klein, J.D.,(2007). Design and Development Research. New Jersey: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.

Shavelson, R. J., Phillips, D. C., Towne, L., & Feuer, M. J. (2003). On the science of education design studies. Educational researcher, 32(1), 25-28.


iLab Fieldnote: Preparing for Mentor Meeting (9 Oct)

A Fieldnote on Student Directed PBL, Co-Design and Mentors

Project: Web Server Development and Deployment (Canvas LMS)

Participants: @MrHodgdon @Nathan_A_Austin @Victor_Pearce

Mentors: @steelemaley (Lead; eLearning and Information Studies Department) @jmandala (Network Mentor: Web Server Configuration, Internet Form, Function and History)

Sometimes the path to self directed learning in a co-designed project gets a bit blocked.  Lets face it, in blended learning environments where the formal meets the informal (or even in environments where young people are unschooled) the learner may need (or) seek advice from mentors and need direct facilitation.  This is not only important but essential in many learning projects where co-design is a goal.  If young people know enough to ask tough questions and have allowed themselves to fail without becoming despondent (They are still pushing ahead with a design) the path to informed collaboration  is clearer.

In preparation for the iLab Projects Mentor Meeting this Tuesday I asked Josh Jacobs of Mandala Designs (Mentor: Web Server Development) what he thought the  project team needed at this snapshot in time.

He related that the team might take a look at their everyday use of technology to create driving questions for themselves.  He related that to gain a working understanding of of the key collaborators of software and hardware and technology and how they make a users web interaction happen is foundational for understanding Web Server Development.

A small snippet of Josh from my fieldnotes:

Evernote 20121005 19:25:39

From Fieldnote to Design: The Co-Design Experience: Learners as Users, Designers and Researchers

In order to facilitate the process of the project on Tuesday to build on what Josh Described we will use an adapted form of Context Mapping from Sanders et al. (2005):


Every user study starts with a preparation phase. Setting up the study involves the formulation of goals, planning, selecting participants, choosing techniques, etc. These elements are known by conventional research practitioners. With generative techniques, however, extra attention is needed in formulating goals. Generative research appears less formal than more traditional forms of research but its successful application rests on carefully selecting the main directions of exploration.


The next step is to sensitize the participants and prepare them for group sessions. Sensitizing is a process where participants are triggered, encouraged and motivated to think, reflect, wonder and explore aspects of their personal context in their own time and environment. A sensitizing package consisting of little activities or exercises is sent to the participants at home in the period before the session. They may get several days to weeks to complete the sensitizing package. Sensitization over a longer period, typically one or more weeks, prepares participants to access their experiences and to express and discuss these in the group sessions. The quality of the information learned in the sessions depends greatly on the depth and length of sensitizing.


A session is a meeting in which participants do generative exercises. Participants receive instructions and sets of expressive components, and create artefacts that express their thoughts, feelings, and ideas. Their experiences are revealed when they are asked to present and to explain these artefacts to the other participants in the group.


The qualitative data collected in the sessions are rich and diverse. The artefacts created by the participants contain many stories and anecdotes related to the topic. The stories and anecdotes are usually recorded on video and audio. Transcriptions of the verbal protocol are also made. The study is not meant to support or reject existing hypotheses, but to explore the context, uncover unexpected directions, and widen the view of the design team.


The final step is bringing the results to the design process. For the early phase of the design process, the results can both inform and inspire the design team. Conventional ‘written’ reports often fall short in communicating effectively to design teams. Techniques that are more interactive, such as workshops, cardsets, and persona displays can be used to enhance the design team’s understanding for and empathy with users.


Our Process as it Relates

As the goal setting planning and participants are embedded in this project, participants where “sensitized” using multiple asynchronous tools and impromptu meetings in school spaces.  The iLab uses Project Foundry to scaffold project work through group communication, project design scope and sequence, task management and feedback loops for iteration. The participants also use Twitter for communication and sensitization. The sensitizing period for Tuesday’s session has been 4 days.  The session planned will be organic and focus on mapping the user web interface backwards to web server development in hopes of queuing prior knowledge but also to formulate visuals to aid in question development and student research direction. We will most likely use either a Promethean Board, or Sketchnotes via Goodnotes App to capture the session notes.  The session will also be recorded via video and Images portions will be uploaded to the web using Twitter, Blogs and or Evernote. For analysis, the participants will be asked to relate their analysis directly via blog posts and and to communicate project design iteration toward project goals and beyond to web server development.


Sanders et al. (2005). Contextmapping: experiences from practice. CoDesign: International Journal of CoCreation in Design and the Arts, Vol. 1 No. 2, Taylor and Francis.

(2012) Creativity-based Research: The Process of Co-Designing with Users. UX Magazine, ARTICLE NO. 820 April 24, 2012

I derive my inspiration for fieldnoting from @triciawang and Writing Ethnographic Fieldnotes, Emerson et. al.

Toward a Networked Introduction to Projects

“So the coin of the realm is not memorizing the facts and figures their going to need for the rest of their lives; the coin of the realm will be, do you know how to find, validate and
leverage information; do you know how to analyze and synthesize that
information; and can you problem solve, collaborate and communicate with
– Ken Kay [1]

Web 2.0 Foundations: A Course in Participatory Technology

An Opening Vignette:

Technology is a word we often confused with computers, programs, and myriad gadgets only.  If you dig deeper I think you would agree that humans have utilized technology in very innovative ways since the Middle Paleolithic (or for those numbers folks out there c. 200,000 years ago+-).  Be it friction fire, basket-making, agriculture, irrigation, warfare, in-door plumbing, radio’s or iPads there has always been a human driving the social use of these tools.  Elders, leaders, young people, wise people…. have always enabled and proliferated technology at the core of cultures.  We need to never loose site that you, the young people before us are entering a radically different world than the one we (the olders in your lives) came from.  Though pockets of traditional life ways exist (and may proliferate in terms of localization of food and economies), the connections young people have to the world and what the world needs are fundamentally shifting the narrative of our shared futures. We need a learning design that helps young people prepare for a world without borders.   So how are we (educators) responding? In 2008, Pearson put together this short video to make a few suggestions:

“We have to develop a narrative that sustains 21st century learning.”

The 21st century imperatives for learning deal with connection and connected learning.  Do schools enable you to find, validate, leverage, analyze, synthesize , problem solve and collaborate with information on a regular basis?  What does this look like?

Web 2.0 Foundations is designed to be a participatory venture between you our school, learners, teachers, the community and world that enables and moves you into spaces of dynamic individualized learning with new technologies.  This learning creates spaces (mental, physical and online) that enable  21st century literacies.

Over the semester I will post my design field notes for Web 2.0 Foundations and iLab Projects with a focus on networked learning, designs for extensive networked research, mLearning (Mobile Learning), project based learning and more. It is my hope that these fieldnotes give a record to your learning process and ultimately help the process of learning change so prevalently taking place in the world and right here in Midcoast Maine.

Your part in this design has begun and I am so happy to be in a network with you all.


A note on our distributed web.

We will tag everything we create with the following:

web20found (Social Bookmarking, this blog , student blogs (Called Lables))

#web20found (Twitter Hashtag)

web20foundtools (for specific tech tools used in the experience)

web20foundreading (for specific readings and research findings we like)

I will tag these posts with


#fieldnotes (Twitter Hashtag)


Here are seven attributes that should have or need to develop for successful online learning

Here are seven attributes that should have or need to develop for
successful online learning:

  1. You have to have a sense of self.
  2. Successful learners online
    have an awareness of metacognition — self-motivation, self-starting, and
    ownership of one’s actions. In other words, they reflect on how they learn as
    well as what they learn.

  1. You need to be able to manage your time wisely.
  2. They
    must be able to lay out their tasks with a critical eye, plan them accordingly,
    and follow them through to fruition — many times without someone looking
    over their shoulder.

  1. You have GOT to know how to collaborate.
  2. This is a
    biggie. More than an understanding of technology, more than a perfection
    of writing skills, the ability to collaborate is one that must be used
    comfortably online.

  1. You need to be able to set goals for yourself.
  2. Being able to
    see the target and backwards plan towards that target is vital.

  1. You need to communicate well in writing.
  2. The entire
    online community is based on the language of words and how to
    communicate them effectively. One cannot use texting language and expect
    to be heard. A student needs to use their best level of writing.

  1. You must follow the community norms.
  2. Just like a
    classroom has a set of rules, so does an online class. A student must
    function within the norms and rules of netiquette set up by the instructor (or,
    better yet, agreed upon by the class itself).

  1. You must be your own advocate.
  2. As slam poet Taylor Mali
    once wrote when asked if they would be tested on the material, “If not you,
    then who?” So does it go with being one’s own advocate. If you won’t ask
    the questions, take control, and make sure your voice is heard in a positive
    way…then who will? 

Via Heather Wolpert-Gawron at Edutopia

Web 2.0 Foundations:

Comment here on what Netiquette points are important to you for our learning community.

Google Docs: Tips

Great Google Docs Tips for Students

  1. Access your documents from anywhere:
    Whether you’re in your dorm room or the school library, you can access
    your Google Docs. Take advantage of this to make it easy to do your work
  2. Use Docs reference tools:
    Take advantage of the Define option to use Docs’ built in dictionary,
    as well as a thesaurus and an encyclopedia available for use right in
    your document.
  3. Go mobile: Google Docs is available on most smart phones, and has a number of capabilities available on the go.
  4. Save to different file types: You can easily save your documents and spreadsheets to commonly used file types like DOC, XLS, CSV, and HTML.
  5. Use keyboard shortcuts: With keyboard shortcuts, you can speed through all of your tasks in Google Docs.
  6. Use templates: Google Docs has a template gallery for just about anything you can imagine, from an apartment bills organizer to a doc for organizing college visits.
  7. Convert PDFs to images and text: Use Google Docs to make PDFs easily editable.
  8. Create forms: Gather research information, ask for opinions, and more by creating Forms in Google Docs.
  9. Search EVERYTHING: Search through pretty much everything you’ve got by searching Docs and Gmail together, thanks to Gmail Labs settings.
  10. Autodetect links: Simply add links in Google Docs by having them automatically detected, instead of having to input full URLs.
  11. Adding video: You can embed video in documents, slides, and more to dress up your presentation.
  12. Insert photos with drag and drop:
    Instead of going through the process of attaching, you can just drag
    and drop files from your hard drive into the document, then wrap text
    around the photo.
  13. Create graphs:
    Visuals are great tools for getting your point across. Using charts in
    Google Spreadsheets, you can create your very own information-sharing
  14. Look up live finance data: In Google Spreadsheet, you can use special formulas to pull live information from Google’s finance service.
  15. Self-update spreadsheets:
    In addition to inserting live finance data, you can create a live link
    to that data for a document that constantly updates itself as accurate.
  16. Draw in Docs: Using Polyline, snap to guides, and other drawing features, you can easily create the images your documents need.
  17. Insert facts:
    Using Google Spreadsheet, it’s easy to insert facts, like the
    population for a city, which is simply pulled through the Google search
  18. Simply add equations:
    Google Docs has found a way to make it easy for students to take notes
    in class, offering an Equations editor for adding equations onto your
  19. Embed Docs anywhere: Get a link to your document or spreadsheet, and you can embed or publish it anywhere, including Facebook or a class blog.
  20. Just share: Get the ball rolling on collaboration through Google Docs by sharing your document through email links.
  21. Turn it into a webpage: Download your document in HTML, and you can share it as a webpage with a minimal amount of hassle.
  22. Chat away: In Google Docs, you can see anyone who is currently editing the document, and if needed, send a message to chat with them.
  23. Team up with anyone: Using Google Docs, you can collaborate on a document with friends, classmates, and professors.
  24. Share an entire folder: If you’ve got a collection of documents to work on together, just open up a shared folder that everyone can access.
  25. Work on documents all at the same time:
    Google Docs allows users to simultaneously work on a single master
    document, so you can come together with other team members and
    professors to work on a document at the same time.
  26. Allow editing without signing in: If you’re sharing a document with classmates who don’t have a Google login, just make it available to edit without signing in.

  1. Track visits: Using Google Analytics, you can track how much traffic a published document is receiving.
  2. Set notification rules: Find out about the changes made by your collaborators on any given document by setting up notification rules.
  3. Use Docs instead of emailing attachments:
    Rather than emailing revised versions of documents over and over again,
    you can just use Google docs and see revision histories.
  4. Kick slackers off of a project: Simply remove collaborators doing more harm than good by clicking None next to their name.
  5. Freeze to stop editing: If you’ve perfected certain rows and columns in your spreadsheet, just freeze them so they’re not accidentally edited.
  6. Revert back to old versions:
    If your group doesn’t like a certain set of changes made, it’s very
    simple just to revert back to automatically saved previous versions in
    the revision history.
  7. Save brainstorm notes for group projects: Get everyone’s ideas all together in one place by using Google Docs for brainstorming.
  8. Use data validation: Make sure that your collaborators aren’t adding a mess to your spreadsheet by using data validation on shared documents.
  9. Use color coding: You can change text colors based on rules, like setting green for one classmate, blue for another, and red for yourself.
  10. Clean up your main Google Docs page: Move items to individual folders, and you can make your landing page a lot cleaner and easy to navigate.
  11. Insert a bookmark: Make it easy to access other parts of your document, like a table of contents, by inserting bookmarks throughout.
  12. Create subfolders: For an extra step of organization, create folders within folders.
  13. Get color coded: Color code the names of your folders for quick and easy identification.
  14. Get synched: Using tools like Syncplicity, you can get all of your Google Docs synched up with documents from Microsoft Office.
  15. Create your own shortcuts: Put together shortcuts to launch Google Docs, create a new document, and even access frequently used documents in a flash.
  16. Print multiple Docs at once: If you need to speed through printing several documents at one time, just download and open them as a zip file.
  17. Quick View PDFs: When you see PDF files in search results, you can just Quick View them to open them up in Google Docs.
  18. Check your translation work:
    Google Docs has added a translation tool, which can easily be used to
    double check your work when writing a foreign language essay.
  19. Get a grade before you turn assignments in:
    Using Flubaroo on Google Docs, you can get quick feedback on your
    assignment, giving you a chance for improvement before you need to turn
    it in.
  20. Write in full screen mode: Make your toolbar, menus, and other tempting distractions disappear by displaying your Google Docs in full screen.
  21. Automatically correct your common mistakes:
    If you have words that you just can’t spell to save your life, set up a
    preference to automatically find and replace your mistakes with
    correctly spelled words.
  22. Customize your styles:
    If you like a consistent look for your documents, set up a customized
    style so you don’t have to go back and fix it with every new document.
  23. Work offline: Use the offline feature of Google Docs to work on the bus, plane, or anywhere you plan to go without an internet connection.
  24. Save web pages to your Google Docs account: Turn any web page into a PDF for viewing later by using the send to Google Docs extension for Chrome.
  25. Back it all up:
    Google Docs itself offers a great way to back up your documents, but it
    never hurts to save elsewhere, right? Back up and download all of your
    Google Documents and save them to a hard drive for safekeeping.
  26. Use Google Docs for everyday stuff, too: You can use Google Docs to track expenses, maintain your calendar, and more.

Via Open Colleges

Weaving the Dream


Weaving a Dream


In his book Mable McKay: Weaving the Dream (1994) Greg Saris tells an ethnohistorical story about Mabel, a Pomo basket maker while also discovering his own heritage in the process.  At the end of the book Saris asks Mabel why she allowed him into her oral history which so few outside the Pomo knew.  Her response….”because you kept coming back”.



In our education circles we are very busy dodging, planning, creating, and dealing seemingly “against” a system that is hell bent on making the corporate and managerial school a model for reform that is palatable to our communities. I see in your tweets, blog posts and videos that education


innovators are struggling and letting it be known.  It is a rough and emotional road.

In a recent blog post and Monika Hardy forwarded to me along with some sage advice coupled with my last few days at PFUNC 11 I am reminded that all of our wranglings in education need not loose site of our learning communities, and the humans behind them. We need to come back, consistently to young people.  Do you remember beyond the banter of struggle what the noise of young people learning sounds like…. looks like….?


Do you remember the feeling you had; the heartache of happiness,  body and mind full of  hope…..hope.  Do not loose these feelings, even in your….reform work to help, political struggles and battles in education. But do not rest in your classrooms, learning centers and other space of education either.

Keep coming back to the learner: not the standard, model, curriculum….Weave your dream with learners as a learner, and never forget that they are there, watching, waiting, worried and hopeful.  Listen to young people and they will do more than follow your lead, idea, design….they will lead, ideate, and design.  Your dream will be successful, inspirational and world altering precisely because you kept coming back….to what matters to us all.


[1] Splitting Cane for Weaving. (n.d.). Retrieved September 12 2012, from:

[2] NA. Retrieved July 6  2009, from:

Saris, G.  (1994). MAbel McKay: Weaving the Dream. Berkley: University of California Press.

Pearson (n.d.). Learn to Change Change to Learn [Video]. Retrieved from

A Web 2.0 Foundations Learner Benchmark Fall 2012


  1. Read the Course Syllabus, and watch all of the Media To Get You Thinking for the week (They are Short) and Read Writing In Discussions
  2. Tell us about the what you’ve researched and what you’ve learned. This could be about the big topics of the syllabus and media, or about little pieces  you discovered and  found really interesting. Remember to comment on at least one other post.


What We Need To Become As Learners

What I learned from the four “Media to get you think” videos is that right now, across the world, our educational systems are in a rut. By a rut I mean that our educational system is not working. The the third video “a few ideas… Visions of Students Today” –

– stated “Students are told there is always a single unambiguous right answer to a question. Students are also told that the voice of authority is to be trusted and valued more than independent judgement.” Thus students end up guessing the answer that they think the teacher wants from them.” Our educational system is doing this to us. The educational system that we are enrolled in right now is forcing us to be so dependent on our educators that we can not think for ourselves. Thus making us unable to be able to learn on our own. The educational system, or at least the way it is set up, also does not want us to be divergent learners. This is not just theory either. The video “RSA Animate – Changing Educational Paradigms”

– has a part in it when the narrator is talking about a group of 1,500 kindergartners that were tested on being divergent learners. In the test if you scored about a certain level you were considered a genius. 98% of the kindergarten children tested as geniuses. The narrator in the video goes onto say that as the same group of children were tested five years later less than half of them were considered divergent learners. The same children were tested again another five years after their second test. The numbers showed that a minimal amount of the students who were considered now educated tested as geniuses. This relates back to the quote from the “a few ideas… Vision of Students Today” video in which they were talking about how students are told there is one answer to everything. There is undeniable evidence that our educational system is forcing kids (us) to believe there is only one answer to everything and as we can clearly see is that this is making kids (again us) dependent on the teacher and makes us less of individuals and just more dependent.

In the United States the major conception is that if you go to college you will become better educated and thus get a job and thus be wealthy. This is not always the case however. In fact it usually isn’t the case. The video “a few ideas…Vision of Students Today” had a picture at one point that read “After two years in college 45% of students showed no significant gains in learning; after four years 36% of students showed change. This is clearly a result of this dependent relationship that we have with our educators. Generally when you go to college you are on your own and you are responsible for your individualized learning. However, in our educational system, as proved by these videos are not taught to be individuals. “ We [Students] are told there is always a single unambiguous right answer to a question. We [Students] are also told that the voice of authority is to be trusted and valued more than independent judgement.”

I have thought about these videos and their message for a while. In my mind I have come to the conclusion that there is something we can do about it. We as students can change this educational rut we are in. We can change it by doing what the second video, “The Machine is Us/ing Us”, hints towards. We have very powerful technological tools on our hands. We as students can use them to become better learners, to become more individual learners, to become more responsible learners, so that we may be held accountable for our own education. In fact that is what we are in this class for. As the syllabus reads “You should be aware that in the my [Mr. Steele-Maley’s] view you are the only person responsible for your education. You must take an active part in that process and act responsibly.” On this not let me say that I hold you, Mr. Steele-Maley, accountable for this statement. I hold you responsible for making us individual learners, making us responsible. As you said at the beginning of class on Friday, September 7th, 2012, “If I do my job correctly, at the end of this course you should not need me, I should be irrelevant.” I hope that this comes true. I hope that his course holds me accountable for my learning. I hope this course makes my education comes from me. I hope that for all of us as we become better individual learners. That is what we need to become as learners. -DM

Success, Careers and Values

“‘It’s actually really important that you succeed at what you’re succeeding at, but that isn’t going to be the measure of your life.’

Too often, we measure success in life against the progress we make in our careers. But how can we ensure we’re not straying from our values as humans along the way? Clayton Christensen, Harvard Business School professor and world-renowned innovation guru, examines the daily decisions that define our lives and encourages all of us to think about what is truly important.” – TEDxTalks