Your post reminded me of a challenge I see every time Couros posts about students having those three aspects of a digital identity: no matter how much we as educators may encourage this, ultimately it is up to the students to make it part of their lives. I have been blogging with my students for some years now, and when it is not a class requirement, they stop posting. I think part of this digital presence that we want students to establish – the \”residency,\” as Robert Schuetz said in the recent blog post that led me here (http://www.rtschuetz.net/2016/02/mapping-our-pangea.html) – is not always happening where we suggest. I know my students have an online presence – but it\’s on Instagram and Snapchat, not the blogsphere. Perhaps instead of dragging kids on vacation to where we think they should set up shop, we need to start following them to their preferred residences and help them turn those into sturdy, worthy places from which to venture out into the world.
This is certainly an intriguing way to look at it, but there’s another way to frame it as well. Students are on sites like Instagram and Snapchat because they’re connecting with their friends there. I doubt many (any?) are using those platforms for learning or engagement purposes, so attempting to engage with them there may not translate for educators. It may have the colloquial effect of “I’m on Snapchat because my parents aren’t; if my parents join I’m either going to block them or move to another platform they’re not on.” Something similar to this was seen in cultural teen use of Facebook as parents swarmed to the platform over the past decade. To slightly reframe it, how many high school teachers in the past have seen students in the hallways between classes socializing and thought to themselves, “I should go out and teach in the hallway, because that’s where the students are and they seem alert?”
It might also shed some light on our perspectives to look at what happens at the end of a quarter or semester in most colleges. I always remember book sellback time and a large proportion of my friends and colleagues rushed to the bookstore to sell their textbooks back. (I’ll stipulate the book market has changed drastically in the past two decades since I was in University, but I think the cultural effect is still roughly equivalent.) As a bibliophile I could never bring myself to sell books back because I felt the books were a significant part of what I learned and I always kept them in my personal collection to refer back to later. Some friends I knew would keep occasional textbooks for their particular area of concentration knowing that they might refer back to them in later parts of their study. But generalizing to the whole, most students dumped their notes, notebooks, and even textbooks that they felt no longer had value to them. I highly suspect that something similar is happening to students who are “forced” to keep online presences for coursework. They look at it as a temporary online notebook which is disposable when the class is over and probably even more so if it’s a course they didn’t feel will greatly impact their future coursework.
I personally find a huge amount of value in using my personal website as an ongoing commonplace book and refer back to it regularly as I collect more information and reshape my thoughts and perspectives on what I’ve read and learned over the years. Importantly, I have a lot of content that isn’t shared publicly on it as well. For me it’s become a daily tool for thinking and collecting as well as for searching. I suspect that this is also how Aaron is using his site as well. My use of it has also reached a fever pitch with my discovery of IndieWeb philosophies and technologies which greatly modify and extend how I’m now able to use my site compared to the thousands of others. I can do almost all of the things I could do on Facebook, Twitter, etc. including interacting with them directly and this makes it hugely more valuable to me.
The other difference is that I use my personal site for almost everything including a wide variety of topics I’m working on. Most students are introduced to having (read: forced to maintain) a site for a single class. This means they can throw it all overboard once that single class is over. What happens if or when they’re induced to use such a thing in all of their classes? Perhaps this may be when the proverbial quarter drops? Eventually by using such a tool(s) they’ll figure out a way to make it actively add the value they’re seeking. This kernel may be part of the value of having a site as a living portfolio upon graduation.
Another issue I often see, because I follow the space, is that many educational technologists see some value in these systems, but more often than not, they’re not self-dogfooding them the same way they expect their students to. While there are a few shining examples, generally many teachers and professors aren’t using their personal sites as personal learning networks, communications platforms, or even as social networks. Why should students be making the leap if their mentors and teachers aren’t? I can only name a small handful of active academic researchers who are heavily active in writing and very effectively sharing material online (and who aren’t directly in the edtech space). Many of them are succeeding in spite of the poor quality of their tools. Rarely does a day go by that I don’t think about one or more interesting thought leaders who I wish had even a modicum of online space much less a website that goes beyond the basic functionality of a broken business card. I’ve even offered to build for free some incredibly rich functional websites for researchers I’d love to follow more closely, but they just don’t see the value themselves.
I won’t presume to speak for Aaron, but he’s certainly become part of my PLN in part because he posts such a rich panoply of content on a topic in which I’m interested, but also in larger part because his website supports webmentions which allows us a much easier and richer method of communicating back and forth on nearly opposite sides of the Earth. I suspect that I may be one of the very few who extracts even a fraction of the true value of what he publishes through a panoply of means. I might liken it to the value of a highly hand-crafted trade journal from a decade or more ago as he’s actively following, reading, and interacting with a variety of people in a space in which I’m very interested. I find I don’t have to work nearly as hard at it all because he’s actively filtering through and uncovering the best of the best already. Who is the equivalent beacon for our students? Where are those people?
So the real question is how can we help direct students to similar types of resources for topics they’re personally interested in discovering more about? It may not be in their introduction to poetry class that they feel like it’s a pain doing daily posts about on a blog in which they’re not invested. (In fact it sounds to me just like the the online equivalent of a student being forced to write a 500 word essay in their lined composition book from the 1950’s.) But it’ll be on some topic, somewhere, and this is where the spark meets the fuel and the oxygen. But the missing part of the equation is often a panoply of missing technological features that impact the culture of learning. I personally think the webmention protocol is a major linkage that could help ease some of the burden, but then there’s also issues like identity, privacy, and all the other cultural baggage that needs to make the jump to online as seamlessly (or not) as it happens in the real world.
…perhaps we’re all looking for the online equivalent of being able to meld something like Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs with Bloom’s Taxonomy?
I’ll have to expand upon it later, but perhaps we’re all looking for the online equivalent of being able to meld something like Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs with Bloom’s Taxonomy? It’s certainly a major simplification, but it feels like the current state of the art is allowing us to put the lower levels of Bloom’s Taxonomy in an online setting (and we’re not even able to sell that part well to students), but we’re missing both its upper echelons as well as almost all of Maslow’s piece of the picture.
With all this said, I’ll leave you all with a stunningly beautiful example of synthesis and creation from a Ph.D. student in mathematics I came across the other day on Instagram and the associated version she wrote about on her personal website. How could we bottle this to have our students analyzing, synthesizing, and then creating this way?
Syndicated copies to:
I want to read 42 books in 2018.
I sometimes feel guilty about failing miserably at these based on the way GoodReads counts their books vis-a-vis finishing complete books, particularly when I’m often reading such dense technical books in which reading a page a day is a near Herculean task.
Thus, because I can have finer control of things on my own website, I’ll try to break things out on a more granular level.
I want to read (aka work my way through) 2-3 technical textbooks in 2018.
I want to read 10 non-fiction books in 2018.
I want to read 20 fiction books in 2018.
I want to read 10 juvenal fiction/literature books in 2018.
The political expert and author discusses his latest book, The Despot’s Accomplice: How the West is Aiding & Abetting the Decline of Democracy.
Dr. Brian Klaas is an expert on global democracy, democratic transitions, American politics, Western foreign policy, political violence, and elections -- and the security and economic risks of all these challenges. Klaas is the author of The Despot's Accomplice: How the West is Aiding & Abetting the Decline of Democracy. He is a Fellow in Global and Comparative Politics at the London School of Economics. Klaas has advised governments, US political campaigns, the European Union, multi-billion dollar investors, international NGOs, and international politicians.
The journalist and author discusses her latest book, No is Not Enough: Resisting Trump’s Shock Politics and Winning the World We Need. Part 1 of 2.
Naomi Klein is an award-winning journalist, syndicated columnist and author of the international bestsellers, This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs The Climate (2014), The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism (2007) and No Logo (2000).
In 2017, Klein became Senior Correspondent for The Intercept. She is also a Puffin Foundation Writing Fellow at The Nation Institute and contributor to the Nation Magazine. Recent articles have also appeared in The New York Times, The New Yorker, The Boston Globe, The Guardian, the London Review of Books and Le Monde.
Her latest book is called No is Not Enough: Resisting Trump's Shock Politics and Winning the World We Need.
An interesting little episode. I’m glad there are two parts, but I already find myself wishing there were three.
The books introduce subjects like rocket science, quantum physics and general relativity — with bright colors, simple shapes and thick board pages perfect for teething toddlers. The books make up the Baby University series — and each one begins with the same sentence and picture — This is a ball — and then expands on the titular concept.
An overview of an app for tracking your reading that offers different tools than Goodreads or Litsy
I’ve been using Zotero, a free, open-source application, to track my reading for several years now. Originally designed for scholars, Zotero has a number of features that make it ideal for readers who want to track a bit more about their books and reading habits than sites like Goodreads or Litsy allow. Of course, I have accounts on Litsy and Goodreadsand I still use Zotero. I just use them for really different things (it’s also possible that I’m a little too uptight about tracking my reading). If reading Emma’s post that outlined 8 Reasons to Catalog Your Books got you itching to start tagging and cataloging, I’d strongly suggest Zotero. Continue reading “Why You Should Use Zotero To Track Your Reading | BOOK RIOT”
People feel possessive of books because they help form our beliefs. How couples keep, display and discard books can be the stuff of heated debate.
After bickering with her husband nonstop for a week recently, Amber Fallon made a huge sacrifice for love. Four books.
This represented an appeasement in the ongoing book battles between Ms. Fallon and her husband, John. Both are big readers. Both own many books. His are alphabetized in a floor-to-ceiling bookcase in their bedroom. Hers take up three of his shelves, fill their home office and stack precariously in a “To Be Read” pile in a corner.
When books start to spill onto tables and countertops, Mr. Fallon—who gives away many of his books once he’s read them—demands answers. Why does his wife need two copies of the same title? Why keep ones she’s already read? “She believes in some form of immortality by having books around,” says Mr. Fallon, 39, a systems technician. Continue reading “When Couples Fight Over Books | WSJ”
Bill Gates shares his list of best books he read in 2016. The list includes “String Theory” by David Foster Wallace, “Shoe Dog” by Phil Knight, “The Gene” by Siddhartha Mukherjee, “The Myth of the Strong Leader” by Archie Brown, and “The Grid” by Gretchen Bakke.
“The Gene” by Siddhartha Mukherjee, “The Myth of the Strong Leader” by Archie Brown, and “The Grid” by Gretchen Bakke all sound the most interesting.
I’ve heard there was a lot of dubious science discussed in Mukherjee’s book when it came out, but Gates doesn’t mention any of the controversy in his review. The last two books I listed above are lesser known, and I hadn’t heard about them previously. I’ll have to take a look at them over the coming holidays.
About two years ago, I registered Little Free Library #8424 and a year and three months ago it opened up with a just a few books to serve the Adams Hill neighborhood in Glendale, CA. Along the way during the intervening time, we’ve had almost 500 donated books go through our humble metal doors. In addition to our local library, some of our donated books also go to help seed several dozen similar libraries in surrounding communities, many of which are considered book deserts, meaning that there are few outlets (public libraries, school libraries, or bookstores, etc.) for books or reading available to people in those communities. As a result, and unsurprisingly, the literacy rates in these neighborhoods are not as high as they should be.
A Surprise Invitation
Several weeks ago I was pleasantly surprised to receive an invitation from Little Free Library stewards and founders of The Literacy Club, Doug and Jean Chadwick, who said they would be hosting a steward meet-up for people running Little Free Libraries in the Los Angeles area.
Little Free Library & The Literacy Club Presents: An evening with Todd Bol
Come meet Todd and your fellow stewards for an evening of fun! You’ll get to talk Little Libraries and books, enjoy snacks, beer, wine and soft drinks, and swap stories with everyone in attendance.
Part of the motivation for the event was because Todd Bol, co-founder and executive director of the Little Free Library movement was coming to Los Angeles on Thursday, November 3rd.
It seemed like a great excuse to meet some of my fellow library stewards in the area and swap stories, and exchange advice.
Little Free Library #50,000
At the time I didn’t know that Todd was coming out to the West coast from Wisconsin in part to celebrate the unveiling of Little Free Library charter number 50,000 in Santa Ana, California, the day after he met with us. To help put the growth of the movement into perspective, remember that I registered library #8424 about two years ago.
The Literacy Club
As I was to discover when I arrived, Todd came not only to meet several library stewards in the Los Angeles area but to help honor all our efforts. In particular to honor the efforts of the Literacy Club which has helped to set up and run over 50 Little Free Libraries in the Los Angeles area including in hospitals, various neighborhoods, and every police station in the city (except two, which are on their to-do list). They’ve also built and host libraries in Ohio and Wisconsin as well.
I was very impressed with their efforts and even a tad jealous that I hadn’t thought to set up dozens of libraries like this, though trust me, the amount of work involved is no small potatoes–it’s obviously a full time hobby and then some.
As a small comparison, I opened up Little Free Library charter #8424 a year and three months ago, and we’ve had almost 500 books move through our library; the Literacy Club is moving thousands of books a month!
Paul Krekorian, Councilmember of the Second District of the City of Los Angeles, had sent a Certificate of Appreciation to present to The Literacy Club for all of their fantastic work in the city. Our little soiree included a lovely presentation by Field Deputy Sahag Yedalian (who was representing Krekorian’s office) to the Chadwicks for their work on The Literacy Club’s behalf.
After catching my breath, I was a bit sad that the certificate wasn’t made out to the Little Free Library #8424, which is really the true recipient of the honor. While I did do a good bit of work to put the library together and erect it in front of my house, it really is the neighborhood and community that do all of the work in supporting and using our Adams Hill treasure. So I’ll take a moment to say thank you to all my neighbors and friends in and beyond Adams Hill in Glendale for supporting our neighborhood Little Free Library.
Many other LFL stewards in attendance were also presented with certificates of appreciation for their help in seeding book deserts in the surrounding Los Angeles areas.
During the evening it was great hearing some stories and ideas from many in the room. In particular it was nice to hear the story of Little Free Library #1 that Todd built and thereby started the growing movement of book exchanges.
It was also interesting to hear his philosophy of treating the Little Free Library organization as a “reverse franchise” set up. Most franchise operations perfect the concept of their business before spinning it out into thousands of locations. He prefers to have a few interesting ideas to put out into the community, which is likely to be wildly more creative and perfect those ideas or come up with incarnations and offshoots that the small staff at headquarters couldn’t have possibly created. Then, once perfected, headquarters can help disseminate the ideas to everyone and everywhere else. I though this was great advice for non-profit organizations like this.
Also at the party, I also got to meet the President of the Burbank noon Kiwanis Charles Chavoor who was present to show support for The Literacy Club and their efforts. The Kiwanis there are funding a large Little Free Library to be dedicated shortly.
We also got to hear advance news about a major pending announcement for which we were all embargoed until November 14th, so you’ll have to wait until then for more details.
Todd also shared some of his work in growing the Little Free Library movement in Indonesia as well as several partnerships including the U.S. Army which is stewarding a large number of libraries.
Doug Chadwick shared a somewhat heartbreaking story based on his volunteer experience. He said that an unintended consequence and benefit of putting Little Free Libraries into police stations around the city is that police stations are often the site of court mandated child exchanges between divorced parents who don’t always get along or respect each other. At least while waiting during drop offs and pick ups, the children who are caught in the middle are able to sit down and not only read a book or two while they wait, but they can take them home with them as well.
Doug also shared a previous story of receiving the Little Free Library’s “Master Builder Award” and Todd indicated how rare these original Amish planes were to be able to establish such an award.
The Book Room
When I came to the party, I thought it would be a nice gesture to bring a book or two from my own library for the hosts or to swap with some of the other stewards. I noticed that a few other attendees did the same. Our gracious hosts also had the same idea, but, like the Literacy Club with its grand mission, they managed to pull their version off in even grander style.
As I was leaving, I was invited into The Book Room. Now, I’ll preface this with the fact that I’ve been into the offices and stock rooms over more than a dozen nice sized specialty book shops. The book room in the Chadwick’s home handily put most of them to shame. I was immediately surrounded by shelves with hundreds of stacks of books each with a dozen or more copies of the same book all waiting to be pulled off to create restocking boxes for any of the various Little Free Libraries around town that The Literacy Club stewards.
While I often try to have lightly worn or like new books in my library, every book in this room was brand new and sure to make a proud treasure for the thousands of children who were soon to receive them. It’s exactly the kind of room every library steward dreams of having in their own house.
I was thrilled to be sent home with not just one box full of books, but three boxes. Thus Little Free Library #8424 will soon have some new children’s selections, and, much like an early Santa Claus, I’ll be dropping off many books at some of the surrounding LFLs in the Eagle Rock, Glendale, South Pasadena, and Pasadena areas to spread the wealth and cheer and help continue seeding libraries nearby.
In the meanwhile, I’m dreaming about how I might be able to add on an additional room to the house for books…
Thanks again to The Literacy Club and to Doug and Jean Chadwick, who have impossibly edged me out as the #2 most enthusiastic Little Free Library steward after Todd Bol. And thanks again for hosting such a lovely little party to bring us all closer together. I’m glad to know I’m not alone in my love for what we’re all doing. I’ll be in touch shortly about volunteering some of my time to The Literacy Club’s efforts.
Thanks also to The Little Free Library organization which provided guests with lots of great items like The Little Free Library book, buttons, book marks and more.
And finally, thanks yet again to all my friends, family, and neighbors who help to support Little Free Library #8424.
Little Free Library enthusiasts swap stories and experiences.
You too can make a donation to The Literacy Club. On the table: bookmarks, pins, and magnets supporting the Little Free Library movement.
A close up of the text of the certificates
A close up of the beautiful header on the certificates of appreciation.
Would you like to help?
You can help in a variety of ways from donating your lightly used books, volunteering your time, starting your own library, or even making a financial contribution. We welcome your help and know that it will help make our communities better one book at a time. After seeing some of the excellent work that The Literacy Club is doing, you could also help support their GoFundMe campaign.