Playing with Playful Ways of Knowing and Learning

Play is training for the unexpected.~ Bekoff, biologist

A child’s play is not simply a reproduction of what he has experienced, but a creative reworking of the impressions he has acquired. ~ Vygotsky, psychologist

Happy Monday!

Thank you for your thoughtful work over the past week. I’ve been moved by your makes and interested in the power of this activity, so I’m working on a blog re: the use of the #the4thbox that will curate some of what you all created together with that of other educators. For me, a question I want to explore in my 4th box is about the interests the kids bring to story. I’ll share my remix in my post; more in a bit.

That said …

I am posting this ahead of Sunday’s big game so I don’t yet know the outcome. However it did go, I’d like you to be inspired by the energy of it all and start off this week by playing something yourself. Yes, that’s right — take some time this week to play!

And if someone asks what you are doing (or you ask yourself) you can blame me and ED677. 🙂

First things first, let’s play!

A key thing to do this week is play something. And then reflect on your play. All I ask is that you play something new-ish to you and/or add new playfulness to something you already do.

Here a few suggestions if you are stuck:

The rules are simple: 1) When you think of The Game, you lose The Game. 2) When you lose The Game, you announce it to those around you.

As you play, whatever you play, jot down some notes to yourself about the experience: What do you notice about about your play? What ways do you approach it? What questions arise for you? What experiences do you draw upon? What was challenging? What was easy? What have you learned? What the implications for equity?


Okay, now let’s do some reading/watching together. We will start with hearing from Katie Salen, a game designer, animator, and educator, about the role of play in learning:

Next up is Mitch Resnick, the founder of the Lifelong Kindergarten program at MIT Media Lab, who writes about playful ways in his new book Lifelong Kindergarten. Let’s tap into his thinking with a 2007 article titled All I Really Need to Know (About Creative Thinking) I Learned (By Studying How Children Learn) in Kindergarten. And then catch up with him via this video where he talks about the 4 P’s of Creative Play:

We can also connect with James Paul Gee on Learning With Video Games from Edutopia. (And, if you want to go a bit deeper in this direction, try the opening chapter, Semiotic Domains: Is Playing Video Games a “Waste of Time” from his very influential book from 2003 titled What Video Games Have to Teach Us about Learning and Literacy.)

And then, let’s hear from students and K-12 teachers about the role of play in learning:

Finally, let’s top it all off with this chapter from the book Design, Make, Play: It Looks Like Fun, But Are They Learning? written by educators connected to The Exploratorium in San Francisco.


In our playing we often make things — sometimes it’s a score, often it’s sense of satisfaction, and other times its an artifact, a new connection, or maybe a new way of thinking about things.

Share with us what you made through your play. You can write a blog or try something different this time, like a “vblog” (ie. you can record your thoughts on video and post those to your blog instead of text), a screencast, a collage etc. Show us the ways you played and then tell us what playing leads you to think about and wonder about in relation to connected learning and equity.


Find 5/6/7 things — from each others blogs, the readings, and other work you are doing — that you think would support you or others in your life to play a bit more. 


Just a reminder that this week we will meet on Thursday night 2/8 at 7:00pm ET via Bluejeans. We will focus on unpacking our ideas about play as well as meet with Dr. Kira Baker-Doyle who will talk to us about a research project she would like to invite you to participate it.

Some of Kira’s play btw:

Note: I also updated the calendar in Canvas with our gathering dates ahead, every other Thursday at 7:00pm ET. All will last one hour, except for April 26th where we will plan to meet for 90 minutes instead.

We hope to see you there; but if you have a conflict, all gatherings will also be recorded.

  • February 8
  • February 22
  • March 8
  • March 22
  • April 5
  • April 26 (final projects; extended meeting)

In learning and playful solidarity,


Seeking Equity

Happy Monday! So great to see so many of you in person this past week; if you weren’t able to join us, here is a quick link to the archive and related google doc. Also, I love your Find 5s — very nicely done!

Some interesting questions I noticed browsing through (my own 5fs):

  1. … could teachers already be the ultimate social network?
  2. What is your equity vision for students in your classroom?
  3. He is definitely born in the wrong age or he time traveled?
  4. I just wonder what way we can both measure a student’s outcomes but also not destructively label them as well…?
  5. Does that mean our blogosphere is a MakerSpace in the broadest sense of the word? And that MakerSpaces are a form of connected learning?!


A key goal of this class is to design connected learning opportunities for learners and for teachers that are geared towards equity. But what do we mean by equity? And how do we get there?

Mimi Ito and Justin Reich say, in a recently released report titled From Good Intentions to Real Outcomes: Equity by Design in Learning Technologies, say:

We stand at the cusp of widespread adoption of new technologies that have the potential to both radically reduce or exacerbate existing forms of educational inequity. A concerted push for research, innovation, and joint action around a common purpose of deploying learning technologies in the service of equity could dramatically enhance our understanding of how new technologies can truly democratize education.

While Nicole Mirra reminds us that connecting learning and teaching is not simply learning technologies, learning technologies – and networked technologies, in general – do have a great impact on the ways that we work, live and relate to each other today, both in and outside of schools. Colleagues of mine from the San Diego Area Writing Project spent some time also inquiring into the smart use of technology in support of equity and have defined equity for themselves as anything that supports the “the full human talent development of every student, and all groups of students.” Read this related article, Smart Tech Use for Equity, from Teaching Tolerance to learn about their work and a summary of their findings.

What about aspects of learning such as curiosity in education? How equitably are we thinking about opportunity there? Here is this weekend’s panel discussion from EduCon 2018 exploring that exact question (note: skip ahead to about 26:00 to find the beginning):

Let’s now turn to a widely circulated image on the web you might have run into meant to support distinguishing equity from equality (Amy found a version of this in her post this week too).

If you haven’t seen this, read more about The Evolution of an Accidental Meme: How one little graphic became shared and adapted by millions by it original creator Craig Froehle.

Also make sure to read this important set of reframing by organizer Paul Kuttner in his blog post The problem with that equity vs. equality graphic you’re using.


Starting with the syllabus, I quoted Juliet Shor from a 2013 webinar called Connected Learning As Pathway to Equity & Opportunity:

New institutions and new practices, as they arise in a highly unequal and stratified society … will take on those inequalities unless they are actively combated.

This week’s make is meant to support us in imagining how we might get into this fight for equity. We will be using an alternative image/remix of the Equality/Equity graphic and following the questions of a related making project titled #The4thBox from the Center For Story-based Strategy and Interaction Institute for Social Change.

Check out #The4thBox and make a 4th image of your own. Use it to discuss the importance of not just telling a different version of the same story, but of actually changing the story (by challenging assumptions). Questions from this project include:

  • What other story could be revealed in this setting?
  • What other “psychic break” could you make up?
  • What other underlying assumption here could you challenge?
  • Who built that wall in the first place and/or who took it away?

On their website they have paper cut-outs and a digital remix version. Feel free to add and use other materials and imagery.

I also encourage you to bring in resources from our last two weeks of class so far; for example, drawing from our previous readings, what would change if we wondered what about the interests of the kids? How might, in the words of Dewey, the matter at hand be of “immediate and personal concern, even to the point of actual participation?” How do social interactions fit in here? Where are the kids own stories? How do social and network technologies play in? What about connected learning and teaching?

If you want to go deeper thinking about this in relation to education, below are a few resources that may support your thinking about equity in education in particular (feel free to suggest others too in your blog posts or Find 5s this week):

Share what you make and/or reflections about what you make/remix, on your blog.


How can you connect to other educators working to build equity in the area/s you have been exploring so far? This week try to make at least 5 new connections that you think might help you to continue to think about equity and connected learning throughout the semester.

These connections can be to individuals, resource sites, blogs, organizations, coalitions, subscriptions to newsletters, following on Facebook, Twitter, and the like. They even can be in-person and not online – radical!

Here are a few tips … While you are reading the links above, do you notice the different ways that media is being used throughout? What hashtags are you noticing? What educators names can you click on to learn more about? Who can you google to find them blogging or tweeting online about similar issues? What new blogs or learning forums do these resources connect you to? Are there physical locations where things are happening? Are there online events coming up that you can connect to?

Tech Tips

Twitter: In case you are curious about twitter and don’t know where to start, here are a few links that might be helpful.

Hyperlinks: When making links within your Find 5s, try to make hyperlinks instead of posting the messy/impossible-to-read link itself. Here’s a digital writing 101 tutorial how.

Embed media: If you really want to be fancy, learn to embed media right into your blog post. Here’s a tutorial on video embed on WordPress. If you use another kind of blog, I’m sure you can find tutorials on that too.

In Connected Learning Solidarity,

Democracy and Participation

Happy Monday!

What an excellent week — of course, it got a bit warmer, which helps, but it’s been so fun reading your blogs and getting to know each of you a little bit through your design, the story of you interests as a kid, as well as your notes about your current pursuits. I was inspired to write my own blog too.

If you haven’t already, make sure to check out the blog of all of your classmates. Our blogs are now feeding into the shared class blog that I set up: You might want to bookmark this site as it can be your go-to place through the semester. Here you can see all the posts together, in creation order, and you can also click through to each individual blog by following the right navigation links under Contributors.

As we get started …

A note on commenting: There are various ways to comment to blog posts if you want to do so. If the blog supports commenting, you can comment directly of course. If the blog doesn’t support commenting however (Tumblr often doesn’t unless you set it up), then you can make a “comment” on your blog and then link back to the original blog you are referencing (ie. “I like the way that Christina mentioned flow and creativity in her blog on honoring interests and connecting learning”). In fact, this method of commenting via referencing/linking to others work is a key way the “blogosphere” communicates.

And a third way to do it is via social media — for example, when I posted my blog post, I tagged my colleague @poh on twitter with a link to my blog to share it with him. (You will need to share your social media information to do that, of course.)

Read/Watch + Annotate

And, as we keep working on “getting started” while we also dive into another one of the key values of connected learning: participation. This week I’m inviting you to participate in something that may be very new to many of you in relation to your reading and watching online — an experiment in social reading and web annotation.

The invitation is to connect with other educators via an online project called Marginal Syllabus:

This project convenes conversations with educators about issues of equity in teaching, learning, and education. … And it also engages a double-entendre, ie. we partner with authors whose writing may be considered marginal – or contrary – to dominant education narratives, and our online conversations occur in the margins of texts using web annotation.

To facilitate this work, Marginal Syllabus uses a tool called
Last year, ED677 and the Marginal Syllabus shared a reading that I invite you to dive into this week as well; The School and Social Progress, a speech made by John Dewey in 1907. Here is how to get started:

  1. Start with the collection The School and Society, a series of lectures in the public domain by Dewey. Check out this Wikipedia page to get some background and find out more about the context in which he was writing:
  2. After familiarizing yourself with the its context, click on this version of The School and Social Progress. Print out the text if you want or read it online, with or without comments (to turn off comments, click on/off the eyeball that shows up on the right side of your screen).
  3. Make some notes to yourself off-line in a notebook or something else. Feel free to take your time reading this speech and don’t feel you need to comment on everything. You can use these prompts if helpful: What does this speech make you think about? What questions does this speech raise?
  4. Then take a moment and think about our context today. …

The Global One-Room Schoolhouse: John Seely Brown (Highlights from his “Entrepreneurial Learner” Keynote at DML2012) from Connected Learning Alliance on Vimeo.

Okay … ready? Now let’s annotate, online …

  • Here’s a screencast on how to use on the Marginal Syllabus website (created last year; so specific dates are no longer relevant).
  • Return to The School and Social Progress and read through noting other people’s annotations and related discussions.
  • When you are ready to annotate or comment, sign up for (check your email, etc. to activate your account). Return to The School and Social Progress.
  • Find at least 3 things that you would be comfortable commenting/annotating from the text in public.

Here are some questions that might support you in sharing publicly:

  • What is important about the relationships between schools and society?
  • How might what Dewey wrote at the turn of the last century still be relevant today?
  • What ways does Dewey reflect what John Seely Brown talked about? How does it relate so far to your readings about Connected Learning?
  • What does this make you think about in terms of equity (or inequity) in learning today?

And a few things to try:

  • You don’t always have to make your own annotation but can instead respond to others here who have already made a comment. Note that when you do, they will receive an email and may then also reply.
  • If you refer to content we have read in this class, mentioned that in your comment and make a link to it. That way these become resources beyond our class and others can find/read them too.
  • Add the tag #ED677 to your annotations so that we can see all of our annotations together.
  • Try responding with not just words, but also images or other media you think might be relevant and of interest.

Next, let’s read a contemporary article by Linda Christensen together. Linda is a colleague from Oregon and editorial board member of Rethinking Schools. This essay was published last year in Voices from the Middle and titled Critical Literacy and Our Students Lives.

I try to make my literacy work a sustained argument against inequality and injustice. I want my students to be able to “talk back” when they encounter anything that glorifies one race, one culture, one social class, one gender, one language over another: texts, museums, commercials, classes, rules that hide or disguise domination. A critical literacy means that students probe who benefits and who suffers, how did it come to be this way, what are the alternatives, and how can we make things more just?

Just recently, as part of a NWP & Marginal Syllabus collaboration, this article was also available for annotation (the link above will lead to you the annotated version).

Linda took part in the annotation as well as an online conversation with other colleagues, including Kevin who you met previously. Check out these resources this week. In what ways do these address equity in connected learning? What questions do they raise?

This time experiment with the ways you approach this annotation. For example try to keep the annotations on as you are reading it for the first time — what’s that experience like? Where does it lead you?

Finally, when you are done here are some related readings that highlight some of what can be powerful about annotation and social reading (again, no need to annotate — just for your interest):


Reflect on your participation in these Marginal Syllabus events and/or shared annotation of a public article. You can write a blog post, or create a video, make a drawing, to express your ideas; post this to your blog. What do you notice in this process? How might “Marginal Syllabus” support you in thinking about connected learning and equity? What are your thoughts on the value of participation in this context? What questions are raised? What are the implications?


As I mentioned in the ED677 syllabus, each week we will each find things — at least 5 things — online to share and reflect on that are about each other’s work and/or the larger field of Connected Learning. I’d like you to start this process this week.

Find things that:

  • Your fellow classmates shared or posted;
  • That were mentioned or linked to in our shared readings/watchings;
  • That you find online and that relate to the topics are are thinking about together.

Have fun with this as if it is a game (because it is!) … for example, if you can get this done by Friday, then find 5 things and call is your “Find 5 Friday” (or use #F5F as a hashtag). If it is Saturday though when you get this, then you can “Seek 6 Saturday” (#S6S). And if it’s Sunday, the “Search 7 Sunday” is perfect (#S7S).

Here is an example from 2014. Notice how Lizzy writes something about each one and then makes a link to where she found if the post is public and online; to start you can use Lizzy’s example as a model.

Please post what you find to your blog.


Just to remind you that there is an online meeting for this class on Thursday January 26 at 7:00pm ET. I know that not everyone can come and that is fine — I will record this gathering for those of you who missed it. We will use Bluejeans for this meeting and I will send you an invitation to attend.

Into the semester: I did hear from a few of you about potential conflicts on Thursday, although it does seem like overall Thursday will work. Therefore I’d like to aim for Thursdays and will plan to record each meeting in case you can’t make it (and we all have busy lives, so come when you can; we will look forward to seeing you).

I will update the calendar to reflect upcoming meetings every other Thursday at 7:00pm ET.

In connected solidarity,

Honoring Interests and Social Learning

Welcome to ED677!

I am Christina Cantrill and I work for the National Writing Project as Associate Director of National Programs. I am excited to work and learn with you this semester.

My background and experience is based on working alongside writing project educators exploring the implications of digital media on learning and literacy. You can connect to this work at Educator Innovator.

I am looking forward to this chance to work with you and all and am keenly interested learning more about you. This first week we will take the time to introduce ourselves to each other, get familiar with the goal of this class, and get ourselves ready for the weeks ahead.

As we get started …

What does “connected learning” mean to you? Take a few moments to yourself and jot down some words that you think of when you read that phrase.

Note that there are no wrong answers to the question because whatever it means to you is probably exactly right — there are many ways to connect (both on and offline) and to learn through these connections.

Now take a moment and think about this — what does “equity” mean to you? Take another few moments to jot down these thoughts too.

Keep these notes for yourself somewhere and return to them throughout the semester. When you do you can ask yourself questions like this: What do you notice about your ideas about connected learning? About equity? What is changing? Staying the same? Why?


Although we will be using Arcadia’s Canvas LMS system, to a certain extent, I am primarily interested in us exploring and using a variety of tools that are on the Web (and the Open Web, whenever possible). This week I will set up a class blog for ED677 Spring 2018 (using WordPress) and encourage you to bookmark this and start there.

Please begin by pulling up the ED677 Syllabus and doing a close reading of it. I’d also like you to respond to it by making comments/annotations in the margins. Here are some questions to get you started: What excites you about this course? What raises questions?

Note that this syllabus is a Google Document. You can use the “commenting” tool to make comments and ask questions that the rest of us can see and respond to. You can also use the color highlighter to highlight parts you think are particularly interesting or exciting … or maybe even a little odd. And you can respond to each other. Please mark up this document with comments — I’d like to know what makes sense and what doesn’t before we get started.


Our readings this week will give us some basic background information to some ideas and frameworks we will be using together through this semester.

I’d like you to familiarize yourselves with a framework or “an approach to learning” that we will reference called Connected Learning that emerged out of work of the MacArthur Foundation Digital Media and Learning Initiative in 2012. Review the Connected Learning Research Report and Agenda by Mimi Ito, et al, which will provide some background and context.

Next, read through this more recent collection by a colleague Nicole Mirra called Transitioning from Conventional to Connected Teaching: Small Moves and Radical Acts. In this collection she uses the frame of Connected Learning to think about the implications for connected teaching, drawing together examples by a range of educators (link in left column) as well as designing her own shareable infographic that we can continue to use and reference.

Want to learn more about this framework of Connected Learning? Check out the What is Connected Learning? by Connected Learning Alliance. Then jump over to Educator Innovator and meet my colleague Kevin Hodgson in Practicing the Principles of Connected Learning.


Inspired by educators like Kevin, this course will encourage you to use a range of online tools and resources to support connecting to each other and to the wider world. As a key idea in this course is to explore the idea of social learning, we will be using the capacity of networked technologies to support us connecting with each other even at a distance. This will allow us to explore these practices together and develop our collective knowledge.

We will also explore what it means for each of us to maintain our own online space, even if only temporarily, so that we can practice doing this and reflect on the implications for teaching and learning. Establishing a blog is a simple way to get started and what I would recommend if you don’t have already. We will also be experimenting with twitter as well as social annotation tools like and Now Comment.

Finally, we will connect all our links and spaces via a shared ED677 blog space that I will create and manage. Once you create your blog I can connect it to this shared blog. This will make our shared blog the “one-stop” shop for the weeks’ activities as well as finding the blogs of your classmates. (Note that if you already have a blog and would like to continue to use that one, that is fine — I just ask that you tag your relevant posts with #ED677).

Why blog?

Kevin makes some interesting points about why he blogs as an educator. Here is another interesting post by a math teacher about why to blog in the first place called Enrich and Enhance Your Professionalism through Blogging; and an “epilogue” post by a former librarian, now literacy teacher, who reflects on her experience blogging as she shifts professions (and yes, goes on to start a new blog).

The best way to familiarize yourself with blogging, as a genre and social tool — is to read and follow bloggers.

  • Check out this list of teachers who blog from KQED. Check out a few of these blogs and notice how these teachers use their blogs. What are they writing about? How have they designed it? What is the title they use and where does it come from? How do they identify themselves? What medium do they use in their posts?
  • Also, to think more about your own sharing/writing, here is a blog post by blogger/educator Alan Levine about how to “blog like a champion.”

Setting up your blog for ED677

I would like us each to maintain our own blog to share writing and media with each other and the wider public throughout this semester. This week you should create that blog (or set up a blog you already have to work for this course). Once created, I would like you to connect all of our blogs to our ED677 Spring 2018 shared class blog.

I created a guide to help you with this process. Once you get it set up, post something to say hello and test that it is working.


You made (or set up your already existing) blog for ED677! Nicely done.

Now, let’s do some posting together. Here is a prompt to respond to by making something — you might want to write a blog post or you may respond using a another form of communication (drawing, video, etc.) that you post to your blog. This prompt will be shared with the rest of the class and, ideally, publicly on your blog. It is meant to introduce yourself as part of our ED677 Community.

Describe an interest that you had as a young person, whether or not that interest was recognized as learning in school. Write or make something about it that you can share with others … Tell us about what might have piqued this interest. How did you pursue that interest or what did it make you think about? What and who supported you as you dove deeper? In what ways were your interests connected to school, or not? What were the implications?

Post this to your personal blog if you are comfortable doing so; once you post, add a link to the discussion in Canvas that I started for this week so we know where to find your posting.

If you don’t want to post this to your personal blog, post it in the discussion forum directly. Note that although I’d like to support you all in doing more public writing (ie. posting to your blog) than class writing (ie. posting to our class Canvas). However, at the beginning, it’s important to decide what you want to be public and what is more private/only for the class.

Feel free to tinker with where you post things and why. Challenge yourself to be clear about the choices you are making and why you are making them. Jot some notes to yourself about your thinking; we will chat more about this when we meet online.


Speaking of meeting online, I would like to meet once every two weeks, on Thursday evening, via video chat. We can work to find a time (and another evening if needed) that works for everyone, but I would like to make our first video meeting on January 25th at 7:00pm. We will be joined by Dr. Kira Baker-Doyle.

If you cannot make this meeting, please email me right away and let me know and we can work out how best to do follow-up. If, however, Thursday evenings never work for you throughout the semester, please let me know what evenings might so adjustments can be made. Email me directly at

Have a great week ahead!