Session 7-This Week's Activity
Tell about something you’ve worked on that you felt was meaningful and motivating. Explain what made you feel motivated. If you were designing a learning experience or environment, what would you do to help others feel motivated and engaged?

As a teacher I am often working on things that I feel are meaningful and motivating. That's why I teach in the first place. I love to share with others the things that I am passionate about. When you have a "teaching moment" and see that you have really impacted a kid's life, that's the big reward.

Most recently I am working on an overhaul of the visual arts curriculum, and expansion of this department at my school. One of the things that I find most interesting and exciting is involving my students in this development process. I want them to play an active role in the direction this will all take. Discovering what they find interesting often surprises me. Their choices inform the curriculum so that I am confident we are laying the groundwork for a creative learning environment, unique among High School visual arts programs.

Students have been very responsive to taking part in this process. I have offered them no rewards at all. It wasn't needed. They are excited to have a say in what they will be doing in school.

Just watched the video about Makey Makey. The only thing I can think to ask is "Why?" The product replicates keyboard function using other materials. I get that. What I don't get is where is the creativity in copying functionality to less functional materials?

To me, the only example they showed that had real educational value was the stairs/piano example. For kinesthetic learner, this really drives home the idea of scales and intervals using a physical mapping of an aural experience.

For the week's activity: 1) Go to and choose a site that you find interesting
2) Post (at least) one question and answer someone else’s question (at least one)
3) Reflect: What aspects of the experience contribute to a sense of a learning community? What aspects limit a sense of community? 

This was not a pleasant experience for me. The site is appealing to a particular audience and there were no topics that are within my personal areas of expertise or special interest, so I felt I had nothing of real value to contribute in terms of answers to any already posted questions. I felt that users of this site probably don't share my particular interests. It was unwelcoming. Reading the questions and answers posted, there just seemed like a lot of pontificating going on. No verification of fact vs. opinion, so no way to tell what is a good or helpful  answer.

Part of this week's prep, we were asked to "Describe an experience where you helped someone learn something--and you learned something in the process."
As a teacher, this is an everyday experience for me. That's just good pedagogy. The act of teaching is the act of learning, and by opening yourself up to learning, you model the discovery process for your students. Even when I am going over a topic I have taught many times, I present it in the form of questioning. Through their answers, I am always seeing the thing in a different perspective. Teaching is learning, learning is teaching.

Next Thursday 17.05 GMT BBC World Service is broadcasting 'What If... We Could All Talk To Joi Ito?'
Razia Iqbal introduces Joi Ito to an audience of listeners world-wide, and they ask him to justify the claims he makes for the benign power of the web.
Live with an audience of the public at MIT's Media Lab in Boston, USA.
It will be available on bbc iplayer later if you can't listen live

I thought I posted this yesterday, but perhaps, I did commit the post. About 2 weeks ago, I asked the group about their opinions about MOOC's in general based on their experiences with this MOOC. I promised to share my responses to those same questions. You can find my commentary online at

Just watched session 4: So glad someone finally brought up Maria Montessori. I don't think we can have a real discussion about any of this without talking about her own Powerful Ideas about learning.

I struggled terribly over the past week with the Turtle program. Not as user friendly as Scratch. I get how it's training the brain to think more in programming terms, but I think by default my brain resists thinking too logically. As an artist it made me frustrated that I know I can hand draw so much faster, and with greater beauty than what I could produce with Turtle. There's a restriction with Turtle (and to some extent with Scratch) that is about being creative within limits. It's looking for a type of logical creativity, rather than free exploration of the wild mild.

My adventures with Scratch...

I have been playing around with Scratch, but I do not have a project to share. I have been very frustrated by the program. I  am probably trying to make it do something that it is not designed to do. 

I want to manipulate the background to create a moving mandala or kaleidoscope effect. My program starts out fine, but the image reaches a certain point and just stops, even though there are more instructions to be followed.

It's feeling a little lonely in here. What is everyone up to?

MOOC's are often held out as an example of how education, especially higher education may be run in the future. Students would have the opportunity to explore topics of interest on MOOC's and apply to a credentialing agency to have their expertise vetted and certified. These credentials could then be put toward credits in higher education to make college more affordable and to, potentially, shorten the time necessary to earn a degree.

So, I'm curious... Based on your experience to date with this MOOC:

1. Do you think this a viable model?
2, What new knowledge or skills have you acquired and how might they be applied to a degree?
3. Have you participated in MOOC's before and will you participate again?
4. Does the structure of this MOOC align with your learning preferences?
5. If you were designing this MOOC, what would you do differently?

[I promise to post my own answers later. I don't want my thoughts to affect your responses.]
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