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Light My Fire!

Meeting Jack Matson

When I first met Jack Matson, back in April on Maui, I never realized that I would be embarking on such an amazing creative journey.  Six months later, I am reminded of the metaphor I used to describe my experience in connectivist MOOCs and why I was enrolling in Creativity, Innovation and Change:  “Light matches in the minds of the students, and they will become match lighters.”  This metaphor has formed the basis of the project that I started in the course, and with a team of like minded individuals, we are committed to moving forward to make this idea a reality.

I keep thinking our idea is no different and then every day, someone else writes or blogs or tweets that we are one the right track.  We just need to bring together all the efforts that seem disparate into one movement, to change the culture of education by encouraging the use of connectivist MOOCs as professional development for K-12 teachers.

Barbara Bray echoes this in her blog Rethinking Learning…

This is an exciting time where all the efforts I’ve taken for years to change education are starting to come together. I can taste it, smell it, and feel it. I’m working with schools around the world and the issue seems to be the same.  There are a few pockets of excellence but we tend to still be embedded and entangled in a system of traditional education.

Tom Whitby has the same sentiment from his Island View:

The real answer for change is not just in changing the way we teach kids, but rather in the way we teach their teachers as well. The model for professional development used by most schools was developed for another time. If we are looking for a paradigm shift in education, we need to start with the educators. A great deal happens and moves forward in our world in a short period of time. Staying relevant today is not a passive exercise. It requires some amount of participation, involvement, or mental exercise. Technology offers the tools and opportunities to those educators willing to learn and use them.”

And while the world is focussed on MOOCs in general,  Jenny Mackness points out the power of the Connectivist MOOCs (cMOOCs)  – “Diversity is more than broadcasting the same message to thousands of people, i.e. the model of a centralized network. It involves diversity of approach and resources, i.e. participants are involved in determining the approach and creating the resources that connect participants and resources through immersion. They are intended to be disruptive, and to overwhelm participants.”

The 3 pillars of this course were Center, Creative Diversity, and Intelligent Fast Failure.  While we understand  that creativity manifests itself differently for every individual, and we recognize that we will probably fail many times before we succeed, the concept of CENTER is often missing from the equation.  Our center is too often based on the almighty dollar, or in the case of education, high test scores, but too often we fail to realize that our true values and those of the team that we are working with are what brings us together to make change.

One of the first exercises during the course, was the creation of our Life Ring.  By focusing in on what was important to us, we were able to develop our creative ideas from this CENTER.  In retrospect, comparison of our team’s Life Rings shows how our values intersect in many different ways.  It is the glue that holds our team together.

Robert Wong, Director, Google Creative Lab said in an interview:

“Do good things that matter.”

“The commercials we create exist to remind the world what it is they love about Google. That phrase actually came out of Eric Schmidt’s mouth one day and we all jotted it down quickly. I think everyone who works here has a mission: to do good things that matter. The computer scientists, designers, writers and creative coders are all about, ‘How can I impact the world as positively as I possibly can with the skills I have?’ That’s in the DNA of the culture at Google.”

That is the key to our idea.  We are connecting via our creative synergy based on our similar values — a desire to change the culture of education.   Everyone is trying to figure out the magic that brings people together in a MOOC.  Creative work among like minded individuals with similar values could be the match.  But how do we bring them together in the first place?  How are those connections made? Teach them the tools to connect and create relationships.  Then get on with the business at hand.

“It is about synergy and the weaving of a broader cloth/tapestry to create something where there was nothing before other than strands (some vibrant, some muted but strands non the less with a part to play in the overall strength and design).”(Strawberry-Blue Olive, team member)

Joan Erickson Life Cycle Weaving

Joan Erickson “Life Cycle Weaving”

On a final note, tomorrow is the last day of Connected Educator’s Month.

Greg McVerry posted the “Wrap Up” events, for CEM I posed the question, why does it have to end?”  To which Greg replied, ” While the scope and speed of events will curtail I do no think it will end. In fact for many #ce13 participants it never is a month…many educators will still reach out via Twitter and Google+. We will still strive to include the principles of connected learning into our teaching ( a topic I felt was missing from #ce13 ).  I just hope we are taking a few more folks along with us for the ride.

I also received this email:

Keep It Moving Forward
Wouldn’t it be fantastic if Connected Educator Month (CEM) was every month? It is up to all of us (this means YOU!) to keep the momentum going throughout the year, to make CEM a beginning, a kickoff, not an end in itself. We want to move you to action to continue the excitement, the learning, and the reflection on connecting and collaborating in your classroom, school, district, and beyond. And keep bringing more and more of the great teachers who aren’t yet connected into the conversation (despite our collective best efforts, and we know you tried, we couldn’t get them all connected in one month).

Steps to make every month Connected Educator Month

Are you along for the ride?  What will light your fire?  How will you connect with other like minded educators to make a difference?


7 comments on “Light My Fire!

  1. Jack Thompson
    October 30, 2013

    Cathleen, How did you know that I was at the Doors Concert in 1967 at The Fillmore Center in Haight Ashberry District…Thanks for the flash back…
    Great synergistic vision…
    Being way out of my comfort zone, but in correlation with CIC, I am applying for a position in Teach For America (TFA). If it happens, you will be the first one I contact to ask, What do I do now? And what was I thinking? I have no background in teaching, but what the heck…IFF, CD and CENTER baby!!!
    Thanks for the ride Cathleen…Jack (the other one)…

    • cathleennardi
      October 30, 2013

      It’s the synergy, Jack! I started out my teaching career as a recruit from corporate America through the Alternative Route to certification program. Connecticut was experiencing a shortage of teachers and this was their brilliant idea. Being in the classroom is definitely different, but creative types like ourselves just seek to awaken the creativity in those kids.

  2. Jack Thompson
    October 31, 2013

    Thanks for the boost Cathleen…A day with no CIC is a day with a void…

  3. Jack Matson
    October 31, 2013

    Yes, that was quite a fateful, transformational afternoon we spent together in Maui. Your assistance in taking the Coursera xMOOC platform and blending it into a cMOOC experience was invaluable. We hopefully will remain in touch through this lifelong search for online edutopia. Elizabeth and I will be returning to Maui for our annual “do as little as possible” vacation sometime in 2014 and hopefully will get to see you again.


    • cathleennardi
      October 31, 2013

      Look forward to that continued search as well. See you in Maui 2014!

  4. mtmaher
    November 2, 2013

    Great synthesis Cathleen. I truly appreciate the energy that arises from your connected leadership and vision. Funny that your theme song for this post is from the Doors. Interesting that they named their band after Huxley’s book “The Doors of Perception” who took the phrase from Blake’s poem which is something to the effect of ‘we cleanse the doors of perception, then everything will appear infinite.’ This project too is about changing perceptions and being open to infinite possibilities. Thanks for being a spark in that process.

    • cathleennardi
      November 4, 2013

      Only you would pick up the subtleness of the title/music choice. I am inspired by our team and our work. I loved Tracee’s comment this weekend, “so, will this ever end?” Not until we’ve made a difference. So glad you are along for the ride.

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This entry was posted on October 30, 2013 by .

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