Hi everybody! My name is Rachel Stern and I am excited to be starting my very first blog. I decided to call my blog “Learn with Stern” because I spend most of my day doing something related to learning (and my last name is Stern!) I am a full time 3rd grade teacher and a part time graduate student at Arcadia University. I am working on completing my Masters degree with a certificate in Connected Learning. In my free time, I love to cook, bake, go to the beach, binge watch TV shows, and eat at new restaurants. I also LOVE to travel and wish I had more free time to travel the world! IMG_0130

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 Hypothes.is 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 cantrillc@arcadia.edu.

Have a great week ahead!


Joining a Higher Education Information Technology Support Network

The “teacher” network that I selected was Educause.  Educause describes itself as an organization that …” actively engages with colleges and universities, corporations, foundations, government, and other nonprofit organizations to further the mission of transforming higher education through the use of information technology”.   Educause also describes its members [in that they] “contribute to thought leadership on major issues, and highlight how emerging trends and technologies may influence technologies may influence the evolution in higher education”.  It is this contribution and highlighting that has me reflecting on its capability for serving as mentor network.                                                                                          Specifically, perhaps the biggest reason that I love Educause’s network is their focus on developing strategy for information technology within higher education.  As Higher Education professionals-I think Information Technology professionals can be guilty of only focusing on the short term solutions.  However, as support professionals-we often need to be the catalyst and the guard for a long term strategic solutions-in many ways comparable to the educational curriculums that occur within the K-12 classroom.  Educause helps formulate that strategy-so post secondary education professionals can develop the curricula for the classroom.                                                                                                                                                      One of the reasons that I think that Educause definitely exemplifies Rami’s example of writing professionals within the field.  Indeed-many of the articles that are found within the website are written by chief information officers (CIOs) at many prominent universities.  One of the many reasons that this website/exchange network is supreme is the fact that these CIOs write about their experiences, both the good and the bad about various strategies.  This focus on real world informational technology pedagogical principles really helps higher education IT professionals develop strong solutions.  This focus on “in the field” technology demonstrates the commitment to helping IT staff develop curricula, and also serve as an effective teacher network.                                                                                                                                                                            Additionally-there are some requirements for membership within Educause.  Rather than explicitly excluding certain groups, Educause positively states that it is open to post-secondary education institutions, as well as corporations with post-secondary education interests.  While this on the surface does seem somewhat not really exclusionary, these requirements do happen to limit the applicants for Educause.

My Interview with my mentor on how to improve my autonomy

So for this requirement, I interviewed my boss and my mentor Sam Lodise, how I can improve my autonomy at my job here at Arcadia.  We discussed Sam’s views on autonomy in our “classroom”, and how he has achieved his autonomy within his current position.

Here is the recorded interview!

Important side note: Additionally-my manager, Sam Lodise-just wanted to bring up a good point that was not necessarily mentioned within my interview.   One thing that Rami mentions in her in section of Thrive-is the idea of autonomy-and that ultimately, “we are the experts of our craft”.  Especially, considering that our classroom as post secondary education technologists, we can often fall into the realm of thinking that IT support professionals need to have all of the answers to all issues faced by the faculty/staff.  However, as Sam mentioned to me-the essential for us technology support is that we know the process for the solution for our users.    Knowing the process behind the solutions helps us solve future issues!

Take away from this conversation:  What I was struck by when I had this interview with my mentor, was the amount of confidence that he has when regarding his ability to conduct business for Arcadia!  Indeed-my mentor communicated to me that he saw no difficulty in trying balance an IT solution for a problem at a specific level, how the solution relates to University level technology strategy, and then how the solution ultimately aligns with a national education policy overall, which-when done correctly-is like this below chart.

I think what I can take away from this discussion with my mentor is that above all what you need is confidence in the classroom.  Once you unlock that confidence, you will be surprised how your teaching will improve!


Value from looking to merge my work with the support of my peers

I work at Arcadia University targeting a specific program.  This program, within the health sciences, runs a satellite campus (that I support) which is geographically over twenty miles away from the Glenside campus.   In this program, this program is meant to be a competitive academic program, and one of the ways that the faculty and staff main the academic integrity for this program is through weekly high stakes examinations.  Failure on any of these examinations puts the student’s academic future at Arcadia in jeopardy.  Throughout the 10 year of the campus, the satellite program has had various technological issues (both inconsequential and catastrophic).  These various technological issues have led for the faculty, staff (myself), and administration to begin evaluating various alternatives to the current digital testing process that this Arcadia program undertakes.

We have found a new model, and we are examining the ways to implement this new model.  In order to implement this new testing model-we need to move from using laptops, we are investigating using iPad tablet computers for this new testing paradigm.  However, as Daccord and Reich mention-it is important to have a plan in place as we implement the change to iPad testing computers, we need to have a plan in place.  It very easy to fall into the trap that many educators can face to focus too much on the solution of iPad tablets, and not remember that the more important issue is whether or not these tablet computers address the bigger question of what better ways are there to test the students.   And this article fits in nicely with the end of Rami’s Thrive Chapter 2.                                                                                  It is quite easy for us as educators to just focus on our viewpoints, (and be susceptible to groupthink).   Indeed, we need know our own campus best (“I just want to do my own thing”) and, what good does searching for articles has to answer these questions (“I don’t see results from networking”).  Nevertheless, Daccord and Reich article does have value for our Arcadia testing search-and Rami’s article validates the use of Daccord and Reich within our search process.  As we develop our search process for new iPad testing processes at Arcadia, we need to evaluate their effectiveness within our program.  This outside involvement really does help ensure that the method that we use to test our Arcadia students will solve our problems!


Hello world!

This is your very first post. Click the Edit link to modify or delete it, or start a new post. If you like, use this post to tell readers why you started this blog and what you plan to do with it.

Happy blogging!