Category Archives: Documenting4Learning

A Scavenger Hunt to Connect and Document Learning

I remember scavenger hunts from my childhood in Germany. A group of people, divided into teams, were given a series of missions to complete and then return to the point of beginning as fast as possible. The first team to return with all the missions completed won. The missions usually took the teams to a variety of locations in a specific area. Some of these missions were bizarre, like “Knock at a stranger’s house and ask if they had an egg”, the egg would then be evidence of having completed the mission. Another mission was to go to the local cemetery and find a specific grave following an included map. The name on the grave would be evidence of completion.

The GooseChase app has taken the organization, management and submission of evidence of the hunt digital (Hat tip to Wes Fryer for making me aware of the app). I immediately thought of the potential of using the scavenger hunt concept as a way to gamify the creation of artifacts to document learning as well as the potential to connect educators at a conference.

The opportunity to test it out came as I was planning to cover the Tri-Association’s Annual Educators’ Conference. Over 600 educators gathered from International Schools from Mexico, Central America, the Caribbean and Colombia in San José, Costa Rica. While the management side of the game is handled on the desktop version, participants had to download the app on their mobile devices to see the missions and submit the evidence of completion.

Hence the Game: Tri-Association: Building a Learning Network– A Scavenger Hunt to Document Learning and Build a Learning Network Among Educators of the Tri-Association Region was born!

My goal was to:

  • gamify the experience of documenting learning
  • give attendees the opportunity to meet, collaborate and connect with other conference attendees.
  • amplify the learning by sharing the gathered artifacts among the different teams
  • introduce and have participants use different strategies to document learning
  • encourage participants to push themselves outside of their comfort zone with social media
  • scaffold missions to move participants through different levels and skills in using social media FOR learning

During the opening session of the conference, I was able to introduce the concept of the scavenger hunt and share instructions on how to participate.

The app allows for individual participants or for the creation of teams. For this particular conference, the creation of teams according to the country, the participant worked in, was a convenient choice. Since there were over 600 educators, it also seemed to even the playing field, since some countries had more participating schools than others. Each country team could only submit one artifact as evidence of mission completion. Once a mission was completed, it moved from “available missions” to “completed missions” in the app, hence preventing a team from earning points for the mission for a second time.

GooseChase has an incredible pre-created mission bank, which I was able to draw from as inspiration and to edit and customize for the International educator crowd and the conference venue. Since the participants would not be leaving the conference center, some of the GooseChase missions had to be adjusted. Each mission required participants to submit evidence of completion either in a text format (could be no longer than 300 characters), as an image or a video (which could not be longer than 15 seconds). The app also allows a submission of evidence via a GPS location (one option that I did not use, since we did not leave the conference venue).

I created missions under the following umbrellas:

  • Fun/Entertainment/Team Building
  • Documenting Learning
  • Reflections (session specific and overall)
  • Crowdsourcing of Resources
  • Social Media skills
  • Connected Educator
  • Appsmashing (required participants to use  Flip Grid to complete the mission)

I created a total of 58 missions for the three-day conference. Some of the missions I added during the game to keep the participating teams on their toes.

Each mission was given a predetermined point value upon completion. The harder or more involved the mission, the more points would be awarded. As the game facilitator I also had the option of awarding bonus points for being the first team to complete a mission or for an especially creative artifact submitted. Although the platform awards points automatically, the facilitator has the option to delete any submission and share the reason for the deletion with the team, if the submission did not follow directions or missed to give evidence of the mission goal or learning.

These point additions or deletion subtractions, coupled with the notifications from facilitator to team members added a certain spice to the game, that made the game more exciting and even dramatic, as the scores on the leaderboard fluctuated constantly.

The app takes care of all scores (additions and subtractions) immediately, which was reflected in the Leaderboard instantly.

Click on the image below to see a full list of the missions with their description (you might have to zoom into the loong image 🙂

Each submission gives the participant the choice to also share their artifact via social media. The app automatically added the conference hashtag, which I had filled out. 

As the facilitator of the game, I was able to send messages to each team or to all participants at the same time. The updates to the leadership board are instant and contributed greatly to the friendly competition that ensued.

The platform could not make it easier for the game facilitator to download all the media created by the teams and organize it to further unpack for learning

Once the zip file is opened, the app creates folders with the submissions and the media named with the team’s name.

Here are samples of submissions by participants:

The overall feedback of enthusiasm during the conference was visible. Team spirit grew as missions were completed and teams were fighting to move up in ranking on the leadership board.

  Also check out the conference reflection blog post submitted as part of a mission:

There were a couple of things I noticed that could be improved with the app, whichI tweeted @GooseChase :

  • Participants need the ability to not just record a video or shoot a photo from within the app, but be able to select and upload a video or photo that is already on their camera roll. This is especially important when there were already artifacts of learning created and saved as well as allow more flexibility in appsmashing (artifacts being created in other apps, example a digital sketchnote or a collage). Currently the only way to “get this evidence into goosechase” is to take an image of another digital device displaying the file”. It also turned out hard to be able to take a quality image/video for some of the missions, without being able to edit a photo or video.
  • During the game I noticed, that text submissions were “hidden” from other participants, versus photos and video submissions were open for everyone to see. Since one of the goals was to SHARE resources, ideas, quotes, recommendations, etc. this was an important component to be missing by hiding any text responses from the other teams.

GooseChase was kind enough to acknowledge and respond to my tweets that they are aware and updates are in the works.

I felt that the scavenger hunt was an overall success for the conference participants as well as the goals I had set for myself in engaging and connecting the participants via social media, documenting learning, strategic reflection and sharing learning. Participants were engaged, they were having fun, they pushed themselves outside of their comfort zone, they learned in new ways, they went beyond attending a conference to participating in their learning. In addition they had an experience, which allowed them to take it back to their schools and apply with their faculty and students.


My next idea is to create a global scavenger hunt with teachers and students from different continents and countries. The goal to bring awareness of culture, country, language, traditions, geography, etc. Interested in being part of that global scavenger hunt? Leave me a comment or get in touch with me via Twitter (@langwitches).

 

 

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When a Blogger Writes a Book

So, I am finally starting a blog post the way so many other bloggers have started one (and that I frankly don’t like): “I have not written much on my blog lately…” Wait… wait… here comes the “excuse”…

While it is true that I have not written much on the Langwitches blog lately, I have been writing, writing, and writing. I have been writing a book! I am co-authoring a book with Janet Hale titled

Documenting Learning: Making Thinking Visible, Meaningful, Shareable, and Amplified.

The book will be published in early 2018 by Corwin Press. We have handed in the first manuscript and are awaiting the first wave of feedback from reviewers.

Documenting Learning is designed to aid educators in exploring, gaining insights into, and personally applying responses to these questions:

  • What is learning? What is evidence of learning?
  • How do we look for, capture, reflect on, and share learning to foster meaningful and active engagement?
  • How do we amplify learning as members of a globally connected learning community?

Soo….it has been an interesting writing experience….In the beginning I asked myself: What if I document what I learn as I am writing a book about documenting learning? I am a big believer in practicing what you preach, especially as an educator. The process of writing the book has started over a year ago… I chose to use booksnap-type images to document my writing journey and to be able to share it visually as part of my learning,

Writing Process

I have written a self-published book before and contributed to a chapter each to Mastering Global Literacy & Mastering Digital Literacy. It was the first time for me that I co-authored an entire book. The process from brainstorming and outlining our chapters, writing collaboratively to experimenting with the logistics of working collaboratively and individually  all contributed to a unique writing process. I was ready to observe from the beginning, how I went through the process, tested, adjusted, re-aligned and how I stayed conscious of the process, my thinking, feeling and learning of any changes it demanded.

Many times the content just seemed to demand to get out onto the screen through the keyboard, when other times the pressure of “having to get a chapter done” gave way to a “writer’s block”.

Writing did not always happen in my office at my desktop, but on the couch, on the patio, or in bed. Many times it was necessary to change location to keep writing. I am a list maker. Part of my writing process was the need to see a checklist of what chapters were ready and what chapters still needed to be worked on. It The same was true for our digital files. Files and folders were moved, renamed, deleted and created in order to stay organized. The writing process was not necessarily linear, as we wrote several sample chapters in the beginning to be turned into potential publishing companies. We also wrote several chapters, which in the end were not included into the final manuscript.

Analog versus digital writing- book versus blog- officially versus for myself

As you well know… I am a blogger… which I learned does not seem to automatically qualify me to be a writer of printed books. There are so many facets in addition to “freely” writing, which is what I was used to and have enjoyed over the past 11 years on this blog. I have learned a ton about analog writing, thanks to my co-author Janet. While blogging, I enjoy the freedom of writing as if I were speaking to you, the reader, I don’t worry much about spelling, grammar, my heavily influenced (Germany/Argentina) syntax, or the need to be perfect. I know that I am able to edit and update at any time. I enjoy not having to have one, two, or three other people having to go through every word, discuss every potential meaning a reader might infer, follow a certain format. In short… I like writing on my blog…. with my mistakes… with my own logic (or craziness)…in my own time…inventing my own words or phrases sometimes… switching languages…

During the process of writing our book, I became even more aware of the differences between writing intended to be published in an analog, traditional form or writing for a blog, destined to be read in a digital environment. Online, I am free to experiment with hyperlinked writing, multimedia, and non-linear writing. I often felt constraint, as I was able to only rely on the words, sentences, paragraphs, chapters and sprinkled images throughout the chapters. I felt constraint by formatting, word count, and limitations of text.

I ached to be able to return to my blog writing after a while.

Co-Writing

I have no idea how co-authors wrote a book together in “the good old days” before Google Docs, Skype, texting, etc.? Janet and I never met physically during the time we wrote the book. All our interactions were virtual. Skype and the ability to screenshare was invaluable.

Having the ability to edit visuals instantly (with Janet being present as a little Skype window) made it easier than having to attach the image with an explanation and then return to sender to be interpreted.

I must admit, that the writing (by person A) in Google Docs plus the edits (by person B) started to get confusing, especially when the meaning was not clear and were misinterpreted from one author to the other. Co-writing, often felt that I was losing my voice in the process. Janet and I tested and tried different methods of making our co-writing visible during the writing process, on order to not lose our original thoughts and voice. We heavily used :

  • the comments in Google Docs for edit suggestions and organization (by resolving comments)
  • color coding and strike-through text to show edited material, questionable content (does it stay? does it have to go?) and additions/deletions
  • the revision history to re-copy content that previously had been cut

It was definitely a learning curve for both of us. We needed to test what worked and what didn’t, voice to each other our concerns and to be open to change our approach in the middle of writing when it was not working for our writing process.

Visual Writing

it was clear from the beginning for me that the book would contain visuals to support the content. I experimented with a variety of approaches to “write” with my visuals. When I was working on a specific section of the book, I created the visuals first, then used the visual to write the content. Other times, the text in the chapter came first before the inspiration for the visual followed.

Visuals are an integral part of my learning process, they are a way of making my thinking visible and shareable. Visualizing my thinking organizes my writing. During the process of writing the book, I started to notice that I am seeing less and less of a distinction between “writing text” and “writing visuals”. Writing visuals are just another form of amplified writing.

Amplified Writing

It is not the first time for me to wrap my mind around amplified writing. As I was confined to analog territory while writing the book, my unique perspective as a blog writer gave me the opportunity to writing on the edge of analog writing and trying to find ways to embed what I know to be true from the blogging world.

  • I did not want to lose my connection to the reader.
  • I did not want to finish writing the book, get it published and forever be separated from the reader.
  • I wanted the readers to be able to extend their reading beyond the final paragraph or the final chapter.
  • I wanted  the readers to contribute to my continued learning about the topic.
  • I wanted the added value from crowdsourcing perspectives, action research and best practice examples.

The book will contain QR codes to “embed” extended reading, videos and audio file. While the book will be in print , hence once published it will be non-editable, the QR codes give us the flexibility to add, edit, change additional resources as they become available.

The book will also contain “tweetable quotes” to remind readers to share with their own network and make it easier to connect to the book’s online community on Twitter.

Writing starts with Reading

While this blog post was about documenting my learning as I was writing a book, it would not be complete without including that writing always starts with reading!

It is worth mentioning that my reading habits are continuing to evolve and have been influenced by writing the book. I have noticed that I prefer reading the paper version of the book, but when highlighting and later being able to access these passages, the digital book version is invaluable.

Now what?

Writing a book was nothing I had ever done before. It pushed me far beyond my comfort zone in writing. I worked hard to not lose my voice as a blogger and digital writer in the traditional format. Once you amplify writing in digital form, it is hard to scale back to traditional writing.

Although the book will be heading to the press soon (after hearing from the reviewers and continued editing work with the publishing company), we are already starting to build community around the message of the book. If the book topic interests you and inspires you to document your own learning (as a teacher or as a student), we want to provide a space to connect with others interested in sharing and amplifying documentation OF/FOR/AS learning to make best practices visible and accessible to each other.

Social Media

Let’s connect online for curated resources, best practice examples, and conversation around documenting learning.

Hashtag #documenting4learning

The book’s companion hashtag has been alive and growing over the last few months. Janet and I are curating resources that support, foster and make documenting OF, FOR, and AS learning visible. Once the book is released, we expect more educators will contribute their own thinking and practice around documenting learning. We will share chapter discussion questions, host book studies and Twitter Chats. Be prepared to participate and contribute 🙂

It has been a year of writing, a year of learning and a year of documenting the process. I am excited to watch how the learning continues to unfold in digital spaces once the printed book is published. I am looking forward to the amplified learning opportunities with you!

Educators Need to See Themselves As….

I am working hard on my and Janet Hale’s upcoming book, Documenting Learning- Making Thinking Visible, Meaningful, Shareable, and Amplified with Corwin Press. (Estimated date of publication: Spring 2018). As I am articulate why learners (and specifically educators) should see themselves as documenters, my mind wrapped itself around the following: Educators need to see themselves as more than covering content, lecturers or deliverers of prescribed/established curriculum.

We live in a time, where we learn, how we learn, when we learn and with whom we learn changes at an exponential rate. Now more than ever, we can’t rely on the old tried and tested methodology or practices, because the rules of what it means to teach and learn have changed.

As educators, we must:

  • have the self-motivation of life long learners, who are never satisfied with the status quo and see continued learning as part of their regular work and life. (added on May 7)
  • have the restless heart of an adventurer to try new things and step outside of our comfort zones.
  • have the spirit of pioneers who thrive in uncharted territory.
  • have the mind of a scientist to push beyond what we can see with our eyes and imagine theories, articulate theses and find evidence to dispute or confirm them.
  • have the soul of a teacher to instill the love for learning and inquiry and explain our world to others.
  • possess the courage of an innovator to continuously wonder “what if…” and not be afraid to fail as part of the process.
  • have the imagination of a storyteller to paint in vivid colors different types of stories and to share these stories with the world.
  • posses the unselfishness of a parent to unconditionally love our profession and share without expecting anything in return.
  • possess the curiosity of a researcher to continuously search, test, try, prototype and document our work to contribute to a larger purpose of advancing educational practices.

 

 

Network Literacy and Documenting Learning

documenting-learning-literaciesThis is the sixth and last  post in a series to dig deeper into the relationship between literacy and documenting learning. HOW does documenting learning have an effects on awareness, skills and developing habits around the so called 21st century “Now” literacies.


silvia-rosenthal-tolisano-consultant-interested-in-working-with-me


According to Eric Hellweg in Harvard Business Review Blog, Network Literacy is about:

1. Obtaining a basic understanding of network technology. Networks are facilitated by technology and so a certain fluency with the technology involved is key. Here it’s less a call for coding than for understanding the capabilities of services like social networks and the differences and similarities between them.

2. Crafting your network identity. You are who you know, says Hoffman — but also what they know about you. In a networked age, your identity is multivariate and slightly out of your control. Who you know shapes who you are.

3. Understanding network intelligence. This is more than simply understanding how to access information. Access is no longer the issue. It’s how to find the right information through your network.

4. Understanding network capabilities. People are still focused today on information instead of what Hoffman sees as more important today — communities and networks. Aligning your focus more on the network and surrounding yourself with the right people in your networks will change the way you approach problems and advance through life.

Taking these four overarching areas in mind, we can see how documenting learning supports each one of them.

Obtaining a basic understanding of network technology
As more and more network communities are sprouting, the more important it becomes for us to be able to understand them in terms of purposes, similarities and differences.  When would it make sense to share your documentation on a blog? When should you create an Instagram account? How does Twitter fit into all of this? Which network platforms and communities serve which purpose? Participating in which communities would we most likely receive input, feedback, push-back, collaboration, curated resources or whatever connections we are in need of? As we document learning and we prepare to share, we need the skills to make decisions what networks and their communities would most likely give us the desired outcomes for learning we are looking for.

Crafting your network identity.
Being part of a network community means being more than a passive lurker, who reads about the work of others and takes advantage of the resources that are being shared. It is a process to build a network identity that others will choose to follow due to quality content that is being contributed to the network. Being part of a network community is also about building trust among members.  What do we want others to know about us as a member of that community? What do we stand for? What niche do we fill? What content represents our area of interest or expertise? What do we want to be known for in the network community? How do we want others to see us in the community? As we document learning and understand the value of sharing and amplifying, we are constantly making decisions about what to share and whom to share it with. Our network identity is the one that attracts specific types of followers as we grow our networks to have access to an authentic audience that can provide amplified learning opportunities.

Understanding network intelligence.
One of the biggest shifts in our thinking in terms of learning and information is the one that acknowledges and gets over the fact that we are no longer restricted to receive information from a book, in other text formats or in formal educational opportunities such as formal classes, workshops, seminars or lectures. It is hard to understand this shift when the learner has never experienced the power of a network to gain access to information, filter information, create new types of information and disseminate information for them. How do we get to just-in-time information whenever we are in need of specific information outside of business hours, during a semester break, with no monetary budget for accredited classes, outside of an officially published and available book, article or magazine?  How do we take advantage of and use the power of crowdsourcing, a phenomenon impossible without networking communities? As we document learning, we need to develop skills to leverage network intelligence for our learning. We become visible researchers of learning,  we are supported by our networks to connect documented experiences of others to our own, We can incorporate information funneled and filtered from many sources for us to use and experiment with on our own. We also become part of the capacity of the network to paint the bigger picture of what learning is, how it looks like from different perspectives, with amplified expertise and pool of examples of successes and failures at our disposal. Something that would not be possible without a network.

Understanding network capabilities.
It is about communities and networks of people. In these communities, participants are contributors, not just consumers. That is how networks work. If no one were to contribute, the mechanism of any network would not function. As we share our documentation of learning, disseminate the documentation strategically via our networks, we amplify opportunities for the learn to receive feedback, teach others, find like-minded people or receive push-back of our thoughts, ideas and theories. That simple act, transforms documenting of learning to documenting for learning. As we document learning, we need to develop the skills to use the capabilities of networks to broaden our horizons and support our learning objectives and goals. We document to share our learning with others, keeping an audience (potentially global)  in mind, contribute our perspective, voice and reflection to a community of learners. As we share strategically, we need to surround ourselves with the “right” people, who can appreciate our documentation work in terms of research value, pedagogical value and resources and potentially reciprocate for our own learning. Simply sharing out into cyberspace does not return the specific goals of documenting learning. As we experiment, grow, and interact with different types of network communities, we become adept at what community serves which purpose to share our documentation and amplify our learning.

Information Literacy and Document Learning

documenting-learning-literaciesThis is the fifth post in a series to dig deeper into the relationship between literacy and documenting learning. HOW does documenting learning have an effects on awareness, skills and developing habits around the so called 21st century “Now” literacies.


silvia-rosenthal-tolisano-consultant-interested-in-working-with-me


Information literacy consists in the ability to identify, search effectively for information, locate, filter, discern the quality of information, evaluate, analyze, tag,  categorize, re-mix, create new types of information and effectively use and communicate the findings well for an issue or problem at hand. 

We live in the age of

  • information overload
    Many of us don’t know how to find relevant information among all that information that is being thrown at us 24/7, nor what to do with that information.
  • fake news
    Many of us don’t know how to discern truth from fake information
  • information beyond text
    Many of us don’t know how to “read and write” information that is not being communicating with text alone, but comes in a variety of media forms and is being shared on a variety of media platforms.
  • creators and producers
    Many of us don’t know how to handle the ability to re-mix, produce, create and disseminate new forms of information.

How is information literacy with its new demands on the learner related to documenting learning? I see many connections to be made in our attempt to gain fluency in information literacy as we are documenting.

When we document our learning (or the learning of our students), we:

create information
Let’s keep in mind how information is created (from data to information to knowledge). As we are documenting learning and we look for learning, we collect data, reflect on the meaning of data to create information from our observations by capturing learning in various media forms. Documenting learning is about creating information about the learner, the learning process and about the bigger picture of what learning means.

choose useful information
Learners need to sharpen their ability to evaluate what information needs to be gathered, what characterizes  evidence and where to find the most helpful and useful information. Documenting learning is about much more than snapping a picture (or hundreds of pictures) of this, recording a moment in time (or 20 continous minutes of recording) of that or collecting everything that is being “covered”. Documentation is about strategically choosing useful information from a large pool of data to capture evidence of learning, to make learning visible, connect other documentation artifacts to each other and it is about creating new useful information about the learner and learned knowledge. The ability to make choices between useful and unhelpful information is critical, if we want to go beyond documenting of learning and move into the realm of documentation for and as learning.

 

tag, categorize & hashtag information
With the amount of information being created, it is paramount to know how to tag, categorize and potentially hashtag our information in order to make it easily searchable for ourselves and others. When we document our learning, we need to consciously think about how we might tag/categorize/hashtag each documentation, media, reflection, etc. so we, as learners, can ultimately see relationships across content areas, connect with other previously created information and future information yet to be created.

manage information
Stephen Downes predicts that “Increasingly in the future students will be responsible for managing their own online learning records and creative products.[…] they will need to manage these resources, index them, and enable access to them.” Documenting our learning, via a blogfolio for example, provides us with the opportunity to use systems/platforms that will facilitate the management of our online records. The ability to archive our learning promotes our ability to track and document learning over time.

make sense of information
We are constantly being bombarded by information, without even trying. With the ability of anyone being able to create, re-mix, share and disseminate any type of information they wish, comes the responsibility of greater importance placed on critical thinking as we interact with information. Documenting learning focuses on capturing the process of learning and evidence thereof. Not every image, audio, video or text is such evidence. As we take a closer look at the captured artifacts, we need to make sense of the data and information collected to make sense of what it means and stands for in terms of our learning.

connect information to see relationships between information
Information literacy is not just about having access to an extraordinary amount of information, but ultimately the skill is about being able to DO something with the available information and to add value by showing relationships.The learner needs to be able to look for patterns and trends in information. Documenting these findings is characterized by the ability of the learner to articulate the connections and relationships, make them visible and use various techniques to digitally connect the evidence (ex. hyperlinked writing, hashtagging corwdsourced evidence and conversations, annotexted video or images, media collages, etc.)

curate information
Curation implies more than just collecting resources and artifacts, but is about organizing and grouping content. it is about adding value to the originals by recommendations, reflections and relevant connections to perspectives, themes, other topics or a story of learning to be told. We need to develop skills that elevate us beyond mere collectors of information to curators. Documenting learning provides a framework that supports developing and honing these skills of curation. We choose relevant information, we reflect on learning, we add value to artifacts by making connections and make our thinking visible to others.

enable access to information
Most of us grew up in an era, when we were consumers of information. We read books, newspapers, articles or magazines that were written, edited and published by others. We listened to radio stations and watched TV or movies produced by others. Over the last decade, we have become a society of producers of information due to the access of devices that facilitate recording at literally no cost. There is a difference though between creating information and enabling access to this information to others. A mindset of privacy, protection of intellectual property, analog content (difficult and expensive to share), Password protected content or copyright restricting licenses all contributed and continue to contribute to information behind walls. As we are seeing and reaping the benefits of greater access to information, we notice the importance and connection to digital citizenship and network literacy. When we are sharing our documentation of learning freely, we give others the opportunity to learn from our work, thinking, reflection, failures and successes. We contribute to a larger picture of what teaching and learning looks like, can look like and will need to look like in our future.

disseminate information
Disseminate means to spread information widely. Documenting learning goes through a flow of looking for learning, capturing learning, reflecting on learning, sharing learning and amplifying learning. Simply sharing our documentation by publishing the information online does not necessarily mean, we are spreading it widely and reaching a larger audience. The saying “If you build (in this case: share) it, they will come”, does not hold necessarily true. Disseminating implies to scatter widely, as in sowing seeds. We need to strategically disseminate (sow the seeds of ) our information to be able to amplify our work to a global audience. Dissemination of information requires new types of skills tightly connected to network and media literacies. When we document learning, we prepare our information in ways that dissemination becomes easier, part of our flow to amplify our learning.