What is being done here could be what is happening in your courses. Work could be shared and reflected on in a public place. You know, like the internet. It could look more like you and less like Blackboard or some other boxed LMS. Because you chose to make it look like you want, you would have more “ownership” of it. You know, like your living room. You could have it around even after all your classmates/students had left. You now, like your resume. You could craft your own space and you could show to others and say, “This is what I do.”
The digital space is a WordPress blog with the FeedWordPress plugin. FeedWordPress is a syndication tool that allows the blog to go and get content from other blogs and add it to the blog, the Webletter in this case, as a post. The webletter is a domain I own and is hosted by BlueHost.
The theme is a very minimal free theme and over the last five years we have not changed it much. The pages and rss feeds have remained more or less the same. We are trying for some strange minimalist branding…
I have seen a space like this one being used two times. One is in Lisa Lane’s amazing Pedagogy First class that she has been running for the faculty at MiraCosta Community College in California. The class is open to anyone who wishes to participate. It is a beautiful example of how the web can work as a learning environment.
The other is the infamous ds106 that Jim Groom brought to the attention of the world a few years back. It uses the same structure of WordPress and FeedWordpress with numerous other features that I cannot create. Alan Levine, Tim Owens, and Martha Burtis have all had a hand in crafting the amazing ds106 space.
Everyone likes to be rewarded for what they do. A small token of appreciation or a big ol’ end of the year bonus, we all like to be acknowledged for our work in some way. Intrinsic rewards are not something that other people can control; it is up to each person to find those rewards all by their lonesome.
The books were purchased by the Gift Center and the Viticulture t-shirts were provided by the Yavapai College Greater Verde Valley Foundation. The Ben and Jerry’s and the certificates were privately funded. The Faculty Focus stuff was provided by Mary Bart the editor at Faculty Focus. The flash drives were provided by TeLS. The lunch with the president was also provided by TeLS.
The 9 Weeks x 9 Posts x 25 Sentences
That came from nowhere. I suppose there was some thought as to the length of the thing and how much could be expected without losing everyone. Thatcher had suggested making the sentence requirement 11 sentences. As a former English teacher I laughed.
I am writing this during week four and so far there have been very few complaints about the length of the challenge or the length of the writing. We shall see what folks have to say nearer the end.
The Open Web
The writing is shared on the internet. Unlike Blackboard where we ask students to write and submit work, this open “internet” allows us to share with a broader audience. Audience is important in writing. Do we write differently if we know only our spouse will see what we have crafted? Do we a different amount of energy into work crafted for a global audience? There are differences.
It happens that October is “Connected Educator” month and there is a very active hashtag on twitter (#ce13) for connecting with other places and educators. That was just coincidence. But I think we can leverage the audiences that the ‘Connected Educator” already has.
For Next Year
We are discussing a “Race bag.” For those of you that enter races, particularly running races, you are familiar with the race bag and the goodies it contains. Some energy gel, some flyers about local businesses, some anti-rubbing gel, a t-shirt maybe, and some other vendor related stuff associated or not with running. Well, how about next year if you participate you get a “Challenge Bag” that has some useful items in it. One might be a “My Dog Ate My Blog Post” certificate. It could be used when you need to turn in your post late. How useful would that be? How about a really nice laminated sign for your office door that says, Ask Me About The 9x9x25 Challenge.”
As I discussed in a previous post there are many options out there for connecting with vendors and things we can get. Whether we have the same rewards as this time, who knows?
Other Institutions Doing the Same Thing?
Just this week Northwestern Michigan College started a very similar challenge with their teachers. Pretty cool. Take a look. http://teaching.nmc.edu/?p=2236