Bringing together distributed learning

One of the important topics at the connectedcourses is… how to connect all the posts on the many platforms learners use.

Facilitator Alan Levine mentions on his blog cogdogblog a few ways to aggregate content, two seem particularly interesting:

  • gRSShopper by Stephen Downes, the guy who introduced me and so many others to connectivist MOOCs in 2008. It’s a personal web environment that combines resource aggregation, a personal dataspace, and personal publishing.
  • The WordPress/FeedWordPress Syndication hub approach used for connectedcourses and the digital storytelling course ds106.

At connectedcourses the aggregation looks like this:


Levine says in the above mentioned post:

It’s not the platform that matters, it’s the connected design.

I do hope to learn more about the technicalities of this design and the related tools during this course!

Learning is tinkering and narrating it

Why should you blog? Own a domain name? Because learning is so tremendously enjoyable and the web teaches us so much about what learning is. The web is not just a tool for learning, it’s an experience which allows one to experience, to live learning. In this video Jim Groom (Edupunk, ds106), Alan Levine (cogdogblog), and Howard Rheingold (social media, virtual communities) talk about the how and why of setting up your blog – in this case for Connected Courses – but what they say is valid far beyond this particular course.

My very short summary of there arguments: the web and learning are both about tinkering. There is something more though: one should narrate the tinkering. Narrating it makes you reach out to others and leads to conversation and connections. RSS-feeds, hyperlinks, blogs, social networks, forums, social bookmark services, video and audio platforms – it’s all about narrating, connecting and tinkering.

A course about connected learning

This seems to be a fun course coming up at

For Fall 2014, our major focus is on running a course for developing and teaching connected courses. The course is designed and taught by faculty from diverse institutions, some of whom are the folks behind successful connected courses such as FemTechNet>, ds106, phonar, and the National Writing Project CLMOOC. You can find the syllabus here, and the people involved here.

I have no plans for ‘developing and teaching’ connected courses, but I’d love to learn more about the principles of connected learning and the values of the open web – and this course will be very much about these topics.

Another thing I do like is the team facilitating this course. It can be interesting to participate in a more institutional MOOC, receiving the top-down knowledge from a rock star professor, but here you have a whole bunch of rock star experts who facilitate a learning process, which in my experience is almost always more fun and rewarding.

The pre-course is open now – with valuable comments about blogging – and the course runs till December.

ds106 for digital storytelling

Let’s try another MOOC. A real one, along connectivist principles: ds106 for digital storytelling. This is what it’s about, and also why I like it – because it’s free, it’s adaptable to my needs, and I’m sure there will be serendipitous encounters along the way:

Digital Storytelling (also affectionately known as ds106) is an open, online course that happens at various times throughout the year at the University of Mary Washington… but you can join in whenever you like and leave whenever you need. This course is free to anyone who wants to take it, and the only requirements are a real computer, a hardy internet connection, preferably a domain of your own and some commodity web hosting, and all the creativity you can muster.

Looking at the examples of the co-learners there, I feel a bit intimidated – these people create out of the box, and toy around with digital affordances like digital natives should. But hey, let’s give it a try.