Creativity and Innovation Day

Collective intelligenceImage via Wikipedia

As I start at the Macquarie ICT Innovation Centre next term I thought this holidays was a good time to think about creativity and innovation.  So I spent time exploring, watching, listening and thinking about these topics.  Today is Creativity and Innovation Day so I thought I would set my self a deadline to synthesis my thoughts and collect my resources.

After reading 30 questions in 30 minutes on How To Save The World I thought it might be a good way to organise my thoughts so far without getting too tangled up in them.   It’s a pretty long messy list of questions but it’s reallly just a reference for me.

Digital Literacy

  • What’s the difference between looking at a digital image and look at a photographic artwork?
  • What is the value of a newly created artwork vs an artwork selected as part of a mashup?

Learning about teaching

  • In teaching practice is sharing resources more important than discourse about teaching?
  • In an ideal workflow how does the sharing of resources between teachers work?  How is this passed onto students?
  • Can teachers learn from other teachers teaching in online learning environments?
  • How can I really notice what is happening when I’m learning about teaching and learning?  How can we change the way we learn in professional communities so that we can notice? (Daniel Goleman: Why aren’t we all good samaritans?)
  • What is my real passion – apart from teaching and learning?  What is the process of identifying it?  How can I create teaching and learning opportunities so that I all members of the experience are able to dip into their passions?  (Ken Robinson, Schools Kill Creativity)
  • What is the right mix of individual participation, content publishing, open-ended conversation, meetings, projects, access to expertise, relationships, community culltivation and context to build a community of practice amongst teachers? (Nancy White: Spidergram Activity)
  • Who are the stewards for an online community of practice for teachers?  How will we reward this responsibility?
  • What are some good examples of teaching teachers to communicate and collaborate online?  Trusting, communicative communities.
  • How can the opinions, thoughts and ideas of teachers come fully into the link through online learning communities?


  • Why do I feel like creativity is really shiny and pretty when it actually feels like frustration and futility?  Is this how others feel?  Is this why people avoid it?
  • How can we motivate people to stop
  • How can we be creative failures?
  • We all learnt about creative teaching techniques are they really more important now or is this a misconception?  Are there other things we should be focusing on like processing power. (Creativity Techniques Wiki)
  • Do meme’s inspire the kinds of creativity we want for society? (Creativity Portal: 365 pictures)
  • Do competitions inspire creativity we want for our society?
  • Do we need to limit creativity to inspire inspiration?  Who decides on the boundaries? (Limit creativity get innovation) How does this tie in with meme’s and other social ‘events’?
  • Do these resources really inspire creativity in the classroom or are they the new worksheet?  Labuat, Exploratree,


  • Complexity requires a consistent light touch, look too hard and you lose focus?  What are the skills?  How early do these skills need to be taught?
  • Do meme’s inspire the kinds of innovations we want for society? (Creativity Portal: 365 pictures)
  • Do competitions inspire the kinds of innovations we want for our society?
  • Should schools be focused on innovation?

Social learning

  • Why is it important?  Why don’t most communities actually reach the point of collective intelligence?
  • How do we help find the teachers with passions?
  • Don’t reject any offer.  Try to make your partner look better.  Don’t judge. How do create environments where people are more interested than they are interesting?  (This is an excellent talk by Randy Nelson at Pixar)
  • How can we create learning environments that encourage a diversity of people to contribute?
  • Much of my reading has talked about the necessity for individuals to be fairly self-aware and self confident to be productive in online communities.  How do you build this?
  • Is Ze Frank a learning community?  What makes his projects so successful? (ZeFrank)
  • Have we always ‘wasted’ time or are we actually ‘wasting’ more of it using collaborative technology?
  • What is the difference between a constellation of practice and a community of practice?
  • How can you encourage the quieter members of the teaching community?  What is the impact is we don’t?  A lopsided system remains?
  • Is emotional intelligence a key factor in the success of online learning communities?  Are most teachers more socially aware than other groups?  Eg if you compared them to WOW communities? (Daniel Goleman: Social Intelligence and the Biology of Leadership)
  • How do we overcoming the technology barriers such as – difficulties in tagging and using rss and having lots of places to go to do things.   If we overcome some of these barriers how do we ensure we still keep the good stuff like the strong communities of people sharing slides, videos etc in the communities that are currently available?

Practical thoughts

  • – Refocus attention on finding teachers who seem to have good offline social intelligence and engagement.
  • Blogging – start blogging about communication skills, listening watching, responding – take this from the NSW Literacy Curriculum
  • Focus on the other people in different situations.  What are they thinking and feeling at the moment?
  • Develop holistic communities that deal with issues that are important, have broad relevance, inspire passion, allow individuals to contribute in a variety of ways.
  • Develop online communities that have diverse leadership.
  • Have those leaders use all the technology and other resources to populate those communities including: rss, multimedia and content publishing.

Creativity resources

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CCK08 – Whether I do or I don’t makes a difference

I’ve realised that studying in any formal context is not really high on the priority list at the moment.  I am not going to get a pay rise for it so at the moment I’d rather be posting examples of my kids work like this and sharing it with other teachers than reading lots and spending lots of time thinking about Connectivism.

The main two things I have spent time thinking about as I have read this weeks posts and tweets are:

  • If I am ‘the space through which stuff passes’ then whether (and how) I decide to participate is of consequence.  If I don’t participate or am not open to participation I represent a deadend or a roadblock.  If I do then I can’t know my impact and whether it will be a positive or negative experience except in superficial ways.
  • Openness (to ideas, knowledge, divergence, practice, questions, people) is important in learning.  A process that alllows you to actively practice openness is useful in helping you understand where and how connections are being made.

So instead of doing the readings I’m cheating and going straight to my network.  I read How to Save the World regularly because of it’s openness.  I get lots of content on straight educational technology and basically it confirms there are other people out there thinking similiar things and sometimes alerts me to a new tool or resources.  How to Save the World is where I go to get a different perspective – someone who is really committed to thinking holistically about the world, someone who reads different things to me, someone who works in a different field.  For me this is really important for my learning, going outside of the norm.  Anyway so I’m cheating I’m using his list of questions to think about Connectivism.  I understand that my answers are superficial, that there are plenty of underlying complexities but these are my answers for this moment in time as if I was explaining them to someone who was new to networking.

How do we best decide who to include in our networks?

In my job I have been trying to build a community.  A community of readers for my blog.  A community of blogs within that I can read.  A community of communicators on twitter.  I follow lots of people in lots of contexts.  Part of how I have been doing that is by friending/following/subscribing to lots of people on Twitter,, edublogs often this starts a relationship.  Sometimes this is a one-off connection, sometimes it’s deeper.  Some people I watch closely, some not so closely.

Then there are lists.  For example this elearningtwits list.  Someone, somewhere who knows other people who are interested in similiar things puts together a list for example this list of Australian educational Twitteratti and suddenly the connections that I was making seemed closer.  To me this is similar to Facebook’s friend recommendations.  Whilst it is a manual processes it is useful for me in finding people who who deal with the same curriculum issues, the same weather as me.  Not only this but the nature of Twitter meant that not only was I making friends with people on the list but also their friends.  I was also getting lots of friend requests from educators in much more similiar circumstances to me.  Lots of the people who have sort of limited networks of between 10-100 people in Twitter have been the most fun to interact with but I probably wouldn’t have found them without the list.  It was a pretty remarkable day.  It made me appreciate how if I could only keep one tool it would be Twitter.  It’s simple.  It’s rich.  It’s personal.

How can we learn to accommodate more people and build deeper relationships with those in our networks without sacrificing other important activities in our lives?

This is hard.  For me one really important interaction can be as influential as many other non-important interactions.  A peripheral connection with certain people can be as important as a constant connection with another.  If I go with my gut, with what feels right it seems to work out pretty right.  Overall though the more connections, the more open I am the more learning seems to occur.

Maybe too for me it’s about being both diverse and passionate at the same time.  So that each interaction is useful in more than one way.  For example I enjoy listening to music, a little bit of art and it makes me feel pretty good to help others.  So when I read blogs and use my networks I gravitate toward people who tick more than one box.  For example I read a film educators blog that gives me ideas that I can transform for my classroom.

How much time should we invest in networks, with which members, in what ways, and how do we make the most of that time?

I think also it’s important to realise when the connection isn’t as fruitful.  When something, a relationship, a quest or information, analysis of a question, isn’t going anywhere.  It seems to me that as a relationship deepens it can actually take less time to keep it going.  You have history.  You know what you’re talking about.  It’s more that if you have an important question you can rely on them to give you a more considered response.

Some of the best professional relationships I have include a web-developer whose way of thinking inspires me.  I’d prefer to follow a way of thinking that is open and interested than people who will just share a link to a maths resource.  By focusing on like minded idealists like myself who share practical ideas or offbeat viewpoints I am able to draw from an extensive pool of people who can give me lots of different ways of looking at things rather than validating or negating my view point.

I always like adding new people who have a different perspective to me or to the people who I’m used to listening to because they challenge me to really think about my beliefs, about other ways of looking at things.  They open up new doors to resources that have been overlooked.

How do we discover the people who should be in our networks, but currently aren’t?

So one way is the Twitter list example – it just appears on your doorstep because someone else has made the connection for you.  Sometimes it’s through work or reading a blog.  You then follow up a person and follow them around on the web for a while and decide whether they are follow closely type person.

Also I have been listening in on the conversations for ACEC08 which is a educational technology conference in Australia and I’m finding that although the conference is face to face I can kind of meet people and get an idea of people who might be interested to work with, read, listen to.

It will be interesting to see how these relationships progress – if they get deep enough to warrant a two-way buy in or if they remain peripheral.

If learning is, as the instructors of this course contend, nothing more or less than ‘making connections’ (neural, conceptual, and social), how do we learn to learn the things in the chart above and the other things we need to learn to be self-sufficient, useful members of communities – to be who we were intended to be?

I think part of it is learning to listen to our emotions as we learn.  If something feels like it isn’t going well.  If nothing is happening.  If we feel frustrated.  Then we need to consider where is this feeling coming from.

As well as this I think the web is a pretty honest medium.  You can easily get a sense of who is an d*&khead on the web.  You might see a pretenious, egocentric tweet or get your comment deleted from a blog post and you get a sense of a person.  The reverse is true too.  True passion and a good nature opens connections rather than closes them.

The things I have had to learn in a practical sense so that I can feel like I am connected to things is basically learning to take step back and listen to what I’m feeling, make assessments – much less on how I will be perceived by others and much more on what does my contribution add to the whole or add to my own life experience.  I wrote about this in a previous course here.

How do we discover what it is we need to learn?


How do we learn to critically assess what we see, hear, and think, and overcome the prejudices, prejudgements and worldviews that block us from being open to new ideas, insights, perspectives and knowledge?

If making connections is the goal then isn’t being involved in very different spheres one way of preventing ourselves from going down narrow paths or buying into narrow ways of thinking that don’t allow us to open ourselves to connections. Perhaps in the future those who keep their fingers in the most divergent pies will be as valuable as those who go very deep in one aspect of knowledge.

We all have learning ‘disabilities’ of one kind or another.  How do we recognise and overcome them?

By listening to the people in our network when we speak – who listens, who responds, are the responses increasing the connections or narrowing them.  By asking what they heard.

In my current teaching role I’m teaching kids with learning ‘disabilities’ I’m excited about the possibilities for them.  Within a network they are able to play small but important roles in many different ways.  I think if we as a society want to solve the problems of the future we need to find better ways of coming up with solutions – not just the solutions themselves.

By understanding accessiblity and providing options both for ourselves and for others we strengthen our neworks by increasing the number of connections and the ways that we can make connections.  This is potentially the most exciting aspect of the change in the way we learn and innovate.

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CCK08 – Week 1 Fun

I started FOC08 and found it difficult to connect with people and content.  This time I’m trying a different approach.  I’m teaching, working loads and still want time for free expression so I’m going to limit my interaction to just a sprinkling of readings and a couple of new thoughts each week.  I wonder if I’ll connect with anyone with this level of interaction.  So far so good, the Hub

This Weeks Overview

Connectivism Wordle

Connectivism Wordle

Important Ideas for The Week – What about the kids?  It’s just a course?

The readings this week got me thinking about the future, what will it look like for these kids I’m teaching.  So I think this idea of slowly changing the way we work so that we can better understand things like Transmedia Navigation is really important.  We won’t figure out how we can best equip young students with the right skills for this kind of participation until we understand it ourselves.  We won’t understand it ourselves unless we participate.  Hence why I am involved in the course.  So I wrote a post on the blog where I wear the hat of Primary School Teacher to generate some discussion over there.

Stephen’s remark that things that are most course like – for example everyone descending on the course at the same time – feel the least natural.  This really resonates and yet I don’t feel really connected to the idea of Personal Learning Networks either.  The great thing about a course is that everyone does come together at the same time, it is also a pain.

From my internet I want the extremes either the pushing the envelope thinking or the connection to the mundane everyday of everyone else.  So I think one of the reasons that I’m really paying attention this time is that I receive a regular email from Dave Pollard and I always find him to be a good anchor.   He provides the pushing the envelope thinking so if he’s listening I’m listening along also, and he is listening.  My next step is to find someone who I can connect with who is providing the mundane Aussie perspective – connectivism in everyday life.  I think that with a theory like this it’s what you do everyday a little bit that will be where the rubber meets the road.  This is not simple and it’s not just about Twitter.

Question of The Week

  • In the broader social context how can we construct an environment that motivates a variety of users to contribute so that any idea of ‘truth‘ is at least somewhat representative of the community in which it is being analysed?
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Learning and Change


I’ve always been a bit of a hippy.  Raised by people with a healthy interest in such idealist pursuits as Intentional Community.  My reading list varies but one that I keep coming back to and really enjoy is Dave Pollard for Intentional Community.  One aspect to his journey that I find interesting though that when trying to think about coping with change, better options etc he has created a fairly rigid timetable of activity.  For me I’m still at the beginning of the journey of doing things the way that feels right, I try to change my habits so that the routines are more important than the activities but it just doesn’t happen, I end up following leads, chewing on thoughts and talking to people.


‘The tendency seems to be for most educational institutions…’ (and I would suggest people) ‘to fall imperceptibily into a role devoted exclusively to the conservation of old ideas, concepts, atttitudes, skills and perceptions.  This happens largely because of the unconciously held belief that these old ways of thinking and doing are necessary to the survival of the group and that is largely true if the group inhabits an environment where change happens very, very slowly.’  This is a quote from a vlog by Howard Rheingold entitled Does The Use of Social Media Necessitate Changes in Pedagogy.  He goes on to say something along the lines of in groups where the environment changes rapidly different skills are required including the ability to forget.  In an educational context I that a real focus on the value of the task rather than the outcomes could be a good place for us to start thinking about changing the ways we learn.


One thing I have realised is that making time for producing content in a variety of ways helps me deal with the change.  It isn’t really that useful for me to tag things and put them into Diigo or , I only really focus on what I’m reading and how it affects me when I write or create.  I wonder if artists have always know this?  I also wonder if when we’re kids we get this impression that if you’re not going to make a career out of it it doesn’t matter too much so we stop creating anything just for the sake of it.  Steve Hargadon discusses his thoughts on the topic in his post ‘The Solution to Content Overload: A Thought Takes Hold‘.  This tool, the Social Technographics Profiler enables you to look at the different demographics and their relationship to content.

I think we have always know the best way to teach, the best way to live, the best way to work – it is now time for us to put our knowledge into practice.  It is about being at one with the change and that really means being a fluid kind of being.  For practical tips on doing this check out this post by Zen Habits, 8 Great Anti-Hacks to Fundamentally Change Your Life, it challenges some of our assumptions about goal setting and work habits.  It includes such counter-intuitive tips as; denounce the culture of permanance, stop hiding behind the comfort of stepping stones, say no to the industrial productivity complex and convert money back to time.

Anyway this has been a big week in my head and also lots on so I hope this post makes sense, at least to me a month from now.  It’s time for me to direct my attention to music and learning and to practice some of these new skills.

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Facilitating Online Courses 08 – Personal Goals

My personal goals for this course are:

  • To make time for the course.
  • To understand how to generate a fluid learning experience.
  • Practice working in groups online.
  • To better understand how you can work to a goal as you define the goal.
  • To purposefully connect with others and making sure I make time and space to make those connections visible through linking to my blog and posting things on Twitter.
  • To understand how to better communicate the processes and benefits of working in online communities to those who have limited technical skills

My first frustration is that I can’t see the webcast of the first meeting.  Hopefully the video file comes up soon so I can get a sense of the discussion so far.

In trying to get my head around this I think the first step for me is to figure out the parameters of the course.  To me one way of establishing this is through the main portals of information.

I’m really keen to complete the facilitating an online event and hopefully I can do this with the community I work within using

I am also completing the Connectivism course, hopefully the two courses have slightly different approaches.  I’m sure I’ll take away different things from connecting with different educators.

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Social Networking Checklists

Phase 1: Analysis and requirements gathering

  • Who is the community?
  • What are the needs of the community?
  • Who will have ultimate responsibility for the community?
  • Who will steward the community?
  • What are the outcomes that will be achieved if the community is sucessful?
  • What are the values of the community?
  • What types of activites would the community members like to engage in?
  • What are the guidelines for participating in the community?
  • What types of technology will be used? An available network eg Ning Facebook or custom made. Cost v benefit.
  • What technical support will be available?

Phase 2: Set-up

  • Create an orientation area for new users eg user-guides, videos and community rules/guidelines
  • Create content plan with key facilitator
  • Build the technology
  • Add content eg blogs and videos
  • Create all materials required for engagement eg emails, faq’s, responses to difficult questions


  • Short training sessions on facilitating community
  • Short training sessions on using the technology
  • Initial monitoring of community alongside key facilitator


  • Publish information to personal networks eg Twitter, Website, Blogs
  • Getting bloggers to write about the network

Ongoing Faciliation (Provided by Community Stewards)

  • Providing stimulus content for the community eg writing blog posts and asking and answering community questions
  • Scheduling synchronis meetings

Ongoing Maintenance

  • Quarterly community health check including community dynamics and technology needs eg we would like to add a video-conference meeting
  • Technology updates

This resource from Social Signal was helpful in putting together my checklist.

Can you think of anything I have left out?

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Reading and Writing at the Same Time

Classical ideal feedback model. The feedback i...

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Understanding the educational blogs and bloggers.  A while ago I wrote about my process of uncovering the people behind the blogs I was reading.  This was really useful.  Since then I have been more concerned with the management of those people.

Non-linear Reading & Writing

As I began to read various educational blogs I noticed a few things:

  • Sometimes I was reading really similar stuff over and over
  • Sometimes it was from different angles but mostly it was from one of two poles
  • I try really hard to comment lots but sometimes when you’re moving fast it’s hard.  The balance between reading/writing and commenting is hard to find.
  • Copyright doesn’t only apply to a book or even to your blog post.  It applies to your comments as well. (link)
  • Sometimes when I read something very different I found it easier to get inspired to do something or write something.
  • My favourite people to read are those who provide insights into teaching practice as well as web2.0 tools like Larry Ferlazzo’s blog.  It also has links to student work and I find that really useful
  • Outside of that I read lots of different blogs from Pyschology Blogs to Pop Culture to Research.

I have tried to find a good process for blogging on a regular basis.  Chris Brogan has a great example of a blogging workflow.  He basically helps you define what you are trying accomplish with your blog and then work from their to identify what you need to write and how to get inspiration.  One of the most interesting questions for me was ‘What’s the point of having a blog if you can’t get a conversation started?’ This is definately something I’m always thinking about.

I think it’s possible that the processes of really realising the benefits of blogging is moving in slowly constricting circles until you are reading blogs and writing your own in a community where their is mutual benefit.

Reading and Writing on The Same Page

One thing that has really helped me understand the close, close link between reading and writing is Zemanta.  Usually how this works for me is that I start off with a few ideas from blogs that I have been reading or something I’m trying to do.  Then Zemanta suggests a few other articles which I might check out for example this one.  As I write more it suggests more.  So I’m literally reading and writing at the same time.  This is something I do without Zemanta but Zemanta makes it much easier and I read much more than I would without it.  Additionally it will suggest Creative Commons pictures from Flickr that might be useful.  The picture above is a Zemanta suggestion.

Zemanta is also a tool that does a number of things to supercharge your blogging.  It can automatically suggest tags and add reference links.

What I’m Still Struggling With In My Writing

  • Lack of consistent feedback
  • Deciding where I write and for what purpose.  I think I write mostly to remember the context of links and explore my own thinking but… (link)
  • I’d like to Focus more on reading and writing in a way that encourages both polarisation, homogeny and diversity (link)
  • I’d like to think more seriously about if I’m improving the quality of my writing.  (Chris Brogan again)
  • I’d like to find new ways to reuse other peoples content rather than just link to it, for example the Ed Techie’s Eduwomble concept..  I wish I could find the time to make a video or audio file sometimes instead.
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Rethinking Work – Value Vs Achievement

I’ve listened to bits and pieces of Clay Shirky before but listening to his entire talk made me think in a practical way about the impact of large numbers of connections and the fact that having more numbers of things increases these connections exponentially.  The thing I think we need to be careful of is that we are using our numbers and our connections for.  I’m starting to think this idea of ‘value’ will become more tangible and measurable than money, maybe our currency will change over time, certainly sites such as BookMooch suggest this might be the case.

Now I don’t care much about money I’m not an economist or anything like that but I do care about what people in my world care about.  And obviously a shift in economics is going to have an impact on our education, social lives and the way we draw meaning from our lives.  In trying to understand this idea I have explored lots of different angles

The Wikinomics playbook talks about the shift towards a paradigm where ‘the goals is a refined idea… not an idea beaten into consensus!’.   I think a focus on the abstract concept of money is part of the problem and that is why we end up with inferior stuff all the time. We all know this that because the deadline, profit, money has to happen we put all the really good ideas on hold and let them go bad, and most of what we do is inefficient and generally bad for long term growth.  Now this seems to effect us both indvidually and in business.

The current world is a world of goals and achievement, they are how we decide if we’re doing the right thing. Goals and achievement seem to be the wrong language for our new world. They suggest that something is over at a point.  But it is never over and usually this prevents us as workers from doing a good job or learners from learning new things.  It makes us fear anything that will take us off the path of achievement and goals.   But if in the world we are moving into they lose value what will they be replaced by?  I think it will be a much stronger sense of true value and the processes that are influential in ensuring this.  Thinking about things in those terms makes articles such as this one, the standard look at your outcomes the create action plans etc.. a bit hard to swallow for me.

So my thoughts on the ‘value’ of work have intesected with a couple of articles I have read recently about the growth mindset and being ‘Open To Growth‘ and that this helps us feel connected to others and at the same time achieve more and feel more valued for our achievements because we’re not competing and always feeling bad that someone is doing better.  Whichever way we look at it these ideas of value, achievement, growth and worth all mean that the way we approach our everyday work needs to change.

It almost needs us to reverse our thinking:

  • We need to take value from the things we do now
  • We need to thinking long-term as a way to create more value in the things we do now in the future

I know this seems to be a bit of a fuzzy kind of idea but it’s one I hope to develop through my work and study.  For now at a practical level the important thing for me personally is that each day I am doing things that I believe contribute to the whole and that also provide value in and of themselves.

This usually means each day I spend some time working on products that are useful to others (videos, lesson plans, blogs), I spend some time reviewing what other people are doing and I spend some time documenting (through videos or blogs) the process I go through to achieve a product.

Each of these activities leads me in slightly different directions but they all end up contributing to each other.  Slowly I’m begining to get to the point where I can do much more in much less time and I like the things I work on a lot more.

If anyone has any really good resources for planning for constant value rather than achievement I’d love to read them.

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Connectivism and Connective Knowledge

I have just finished listening to this presentation by George Seimens.  I found it a very good summary of the challenges and opportunities associated with Web2.0 or the read/write web:

  • The connections come before content.
  • Content can be stored and there can be multiple versions of it.  We need to work on understanding this ambiguity.
  • There is a growing need to become more skilled in recognisining patterns.
  • For the education field (and probably other areas of the population) to participate the tools need to be aggregated into a Virtual Learning Environment.  A place to connect.  A place to share.

I will also be participating in an online course on Connectivism and Connective Knowledge.  I thought it would be a good way to immerse myself in the subject matter by standing out on a limb a little and going to a university that is half-way across the world, conducted by 2 lecturers, where I will be able to collaborate with other educators.  It will be interesting to see the types of activities we get up to and how these topics are dealt with collaboration, goal setting, openness, problem solving, authenticity, connection, awareness, sensitivity and technology.  It will also be interesting to see if the work is creative commons commercially licensed, who knows where that might lead.