(This is step eleven in the free Teacher 2.0 course/"experience" at Mightybell - participate at https://mightybell.com/experiences/3ff5259e1c4d9948-Teacher-2-0.)
I have a skin disorder called Vitiligo (you might know this from Michael Jackson, who had the same thing). It's the loss of pigment, in my case largely on my hands and my face. Because of my experience with social networking, one evening I built a social network for people with Vitiligo (http://www.vitiligofriends.org).
As far as I can tell, Vitiligo Friends has become the world's largest social network for people with Vitiligo. Those who have Vitiligo, especially if they have dark skin, are often terribly discouraged by the social stigma--real or imagined--that they feel. Every week I receive notes from new members thanking me for changing their lives by creating a place that lets them talk to others with the same problem. Running Vitiligo Friends is one of the most rewarding personal activities that I participate in.
Because of this new world of the Internet, we are able to create projects from the "bottom up" that in the past required significant financial resources to create and/or advertise. This is the "long tail" of ideas, interests, and activities that we can now be a part of that even ten years ago would have had a hard time seeing the light of day. In a way that is unique in the history of mankind, we can make a difference for ourselves and others by building, curating, or participating in a "passion" project.
Our students live in this same world of opportunity and they are also likely to see it dramatically increase their opportunities to do work in their lives related to things they care deeply about. In order to help them understand the power and potential of this work, and to know how to help them know how to become active participants in this way, we need to experience the same thing.
What have been your experiences in building, curating, or participating in passion projects?
I would like to start collaboratively designing another MOOC and focus on 'online writing' - this will bring me full circle back to the beginning of my work online - and hopefully make a difference for those who would like to immerse in self-directed learning blended with scaffolded facilitation to improve their confidence in writing online. ...
my experience in collaboratively building our Reflect and Connect course (a Moodle/Mahara experience) last year has led me down another fantastic pathway to utilising my instructional design skills, facilitation and mentoring skills. we plan to deliver this one again later this year ...
but my most recent experience in collaboratively building a MOOC for the Eportfolio community of Practice has been the centre piece of my writing online this year - it has led me to other MOOC experiences and enabled me to practice the art of 'online writing'.
therefore I would like to develop a framework, model and action plan for building a MOOC for 'online writing' and once again offer it free to any educator as a professional development stepping stone to building confidence in participating, designing, developing and delivering courseware online in Australian adult learning environments
Steve once again you have inspired me to leap into another 'zone' that will encourage me to build and curate this passion project.
Here's what I wrote at MightyBell about this Step:
I've been stuck on this Step for a while -- not because of the step itself, but because I've been so busy actually building and participating in TWO passion projects. I'll say more about them at teacher20, but want to describe them briefly here:
1) The Tres Columnae Project (tconline.trescolumnae.com/) is a joint effort by my friend Ann Martin, our students, and me to build a 21st-century alternative to the traditional language textbook. We started with Latin because we're passionate about it; because Latin teachers (and students) are often quite tech-savvy; and because even the best Latin textbooks are still firmly bound to the 20th-century model of *show and explain* rather than *participate.* With "TC," however, our learners actually create learning materials for each other -- they add their own stories, images, audio clips, videos, multimedia products, and other "stuff" to the "core" materials that we've provided. So there's an authentic audience (potentially everyone in the world) and a real reason to excel. It's been an interesting challenge for many of my students -- they're so firmly indoctrinated into the "do the worksheet" mentality that it's a difficult stretch for them to move into "create something wonderful."
2) I've also been working, hard, on ideas for the 21st-century successor to the 20th-century school. Here's a somewhat-outdated vision statement for what we're planning to do:
Following up in a bit more detail:
For the past several months, I think I've felt like Teacher 1.5 rather than Teacher 2.0 -- that is, I've been caught half-way between the Old Ways and the New, Uncreated Future ... which is a difficult place to be! I can't go back to the old textbook-and-worksheet mode; I never really did that anyway, though I did use textbooks and worksheets as learning tools. But I can't go back to Teacher Me, c. 2005, either. The students in my classes today are very different from their counterparts in 2005, and society itself has changed in measurable ways since then, too. On the other hand, a lot of my colleagues are caught in 1992 or even 1982 in their teaching practice, and it's hard even to have conversations with them about teaching and learning. I have a number of teacher-friends who still see themselves as Dispensers of Limited, Valuable Information -- a completely obsolete role in this age of hyper-abundant, constantly changing information, but a familiar and comfortable one. And then I have a lot of friends and colleagues who are conflicted, as I am, about what their new roles should look and feel like.
Hence the two passion projects. When I started working on them a few years ago, I thought they were in a sequential order: first the Tres Columnae Project, as proof of concept, then the first Three Column School, then maybe some others. But I've come to realize that they're much more closely connected than that. How do you "do" collaborative content creation with learners in a school environment that, by its structure, still emphasizes static knowledge and test scores? It might be easier in an unsuccessful 20th-century-model school, but I've worked for a decade at one that's highly successful according to those criteria. Does that make us "somewhat more free" (to quote a favorite phrase by Langston Hughes), or does it make us more cautious about "messing with success?"
EIther way, I've come to the realization that I need to move on to a new phase of life: a phase where I'm still pursuing my passions (helping people learn and love Latin and Roman culture on the one hand; building joyful learning communities -- to use our common tagline for both projects -- on the other), but doing so in a very different structure from the ones where I've spent the last 20 years. And that's why it's taken me so long to write this post! Writing it down only took a few minutes, but living to the point of being able to write it has taken a long time.
Thanks so much to everyone who's part of this Experience! Without your thoughts, your support, the prayers of those who pray, and the good wishes of those who wish well, I don't think I'd be writing this today.
I have been participating in a series of workshops entitled Persistent Questions for Instructional Leaders. There are four in the series. At each workshop we are given an introduction to a critical thought question around leadership in education. We then break off into small focus groups of 5-6 people to discuss the question before returning back to the larger group. Collaboration like this is a passion of mine because of the amazing learning that can result.
Another passion of mine is Twitter and collaborating online with other educators that offer a wealth of resources and wisdom.
I am an organizer of EdCampLa. I started this after receiving word from Dan Callahan was going to cancel EdCamp New Orleans if there was no participation. I looked around the EdCamp site to see what was going on http://edcamp.wikispaces.com/. I had heard of EdCamps but not one in New Orleans so I contacted some people in PLN and asked it they would be willing to work with me in creating an EdCamp in New Orleans.
EdCamp New Orleans evolved into EdCamp Louisiana and thanks to 4 people in my PLN this will be our second year and it is a great experience. We have the opportunity to organize a Day of Learning, for Teachers provided by Teachers. Yay us.