What characterizes classrooms where peer-connected learning takes place? – Cindy O’Donnell-Allen in Teaching in the Connected Learning Classroom

Happy Monday!

A few months back, teachers in the Mendon-Upton Regional School District in Rhode Island were introduced to connected learning by educator and the director of Technology Integration Dave Quinn (@EduQuinn) . Dave wrote that “we are looking for insights from the connected learning community on how to implement this approach a school setting. In 90 seconds (or less), can you share one big idea or simple action step to begin creating a connected learning classroom?”

Check out some of the results gathered here:

This week let’s continue to learn with and alongside our peers – this time connecting beyond just each other and meeting some educator/learners at UC Denver in a graduate level teacher inquiry course. The instructor, Julia Kantor, will invite them to make with us and then share what they make on a new flipgrid that we will share.

Make, Part I

This week, I encourage you to “make” something new that goes beyond blogging with words; this week I’d like you to Make A Map!

What is a map? According to Wikipedia, “map” comes from the early 16th from medieval Latin mappa mundi, literally ‘sheet of the world,’ from Latin mappa ‘sheet, napkin’ + mundi ‘of the world’ (genitive of mundus ).

Start to make a map, or a world napkin, of your learning and thinking so far about connected learning and equity … a map could show a path you’ve taken or one you are thinking about, it can show places you’ve been and artifacts you’ve collected, it can pick up dreams you’ve had or ambitions you are fostering, or a map can support another in finding a way. Your map can start anywhere … and end anywhere … and like these educator-made examples, your map can be on paper, can be made with watercolor, it can be digital, it can be interactive, it can be textual, it can be chronological. It can even be a collage or a mash-up.

How you make your map is completely up to you.

Make, Part II

Once you have made your map, let’s also try to share it, and your reflections on it, in a new way. I have created a Flipgrid: that I have also shared with other educators studying at the University of Colorado Denver.

I love the design of Flipgrid and find it relatively easy to use if you have a microphone/camera set up to your computer (you’ll see I tested it). First, start by clicking the big green + button, then to record click on the red camera. You can record and re-record until you are satisfied. Follow the green “next” to continue.

Once you understand Flipgrid, use it to share your map with us. Tell us what you made, how you made it and what you notice about your journey so far exploring connected learning and equity. Remember that you are sharing this with peers – in our class as well as other educators also interested in learning more about equity in connected learning and teaching. Flipgrid is also publicly available, so please keep that in mind when sharing.


Now I’d like us to shift our focus to youth and the ways they are working together in communities of peers. Start with Teaching in the Connected Learning Classroom this time and think about the implications of peer support and peer culture with Cindy O’Donnell-Allen, Katie McKay, Lacy Manship, and their awesome students.

Have you heard of the Harry Potter Alliance? I learned about the HPA through colleagues who were working on understanding the intersections of fan interests and civic action and saw HPA as an example of youth-led connected learning. In regards to the peer-supported aspects of this work they write,

[HPA chapters] … see themselves not only as organizations with civic goals, but also ones that are constituted on social relationships. HPA mandates that there are at least two chapter organizers to share the burden. Chapters often begin with the organizers bringing together a group of their friends … Group activities can often be purely social in nature, like going ice skating or out for hot chocolate. Organizers stress the strength of the social relationships between members, and often friendships extend well beyond the official activities of the group.

What’s the outcome? In 2015 the Harry Potter Alliance made national headlines with this article in the Washington Post about How ‘Harry Potter’ Fans Won a Four-Year Fight Against Child Slavery. And today, I notice HPA continuing its work; one part of which is helping to organize other fans, such as those emerging around the blockbuster movies Black Panther and Wrinkle In Time. See a recent Black Panther focused twitter chat at #fanactivistcon.

Let’s continue this focus on civic and community engagement and think about the complexities of this work with Sangita Shresthova in her chapter 4, Between Storytelling and Surveillance: The Precarious public of American Muslim Youth from By Any Media Necessary: The New Youth Activism and then focus on chapter 4. (An annotatable version is also available.)

End this week’s reading/watching with Brother Mike, formerly of the Digital Youth Network, as he talks about the role of mentors, including teachers and “near-peers” in growth and learning.


Find 5/6/7 things that inspire you made by your peers (and near-peer/mentors).

Mid-Semester Self Assessment

Since we are almost mid-semester (and into Spring Break), it is also a good time to check in on your work in this course and do a self-assessment. This self-assessment is the same one that I will ask you to complete, and turn in to me, at the end of the semester.

This mid-semester one is not a requirement to turn in, but simply meant to be a tool for your own learning and reflection. I have also included a link for you to give me feedback as the instructor.

See the ED677 Self Assessment Guide.

In Connected Solidarity,

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