Author Archives: Cheryl Burris

Creating Communities

  • From Brazil: Kids Using Digital Media to Teach Each Other, Change Culture
    By R. Recuero – “…the ‘small steps’ craze is an example of how youth can be protagonists in creating and changing culture.”
  • From Making projects, making friends: Online community as catalyst for interactive media creation By Brennan, Monroy-Hernández, and Resnick – “…it is important for creators to be situated in and supported by a community of practice that connects them to other people, resources, routines, and goals.”
  • From Affordances of a scaffolded-social learning network By Zywica, Richards, and Gomez – “…youth participatory practices are characterized as interactive and creative (Greenhow et al., 2009), where youth can take on leadership roles and engage in identity development and knowledge construction around issues that matter to them (Ito et al., 2008; Greenhow et al., 2009).”

The thing that each of these articles brings to the conversation is how the youth of today are creating a space to share with those within the community as well as the community at large.  Although the medium has changed (digital interaction instead of face-to-face interaction) and the geographical reach has increased, the desire to connect with others who share common interests, provide information, and share feedback has not changed.  When I think back to the days of my youth in the ’80s, I saw the same thing with the a variety of groups within my community.  Those interested in skateboards, surfing, dressage riding, etc. read magazines, watched each other, attended competitions, and talked with friends in an effort to learn and grow their interests.  I see the same thing here with these articles except the rapidity and expansiveness of information exchange has increased.


I am new to the idea of earning badges online so my commentary and thoughts are basic and not yet well developed.  However, I am not new to the idea of earning badges.  When I was in the military, I earned badges for jumping out of airplanes and proficiency with a variety of weapons from several countries.  It was an icon/graphic that instantly told others about your skills.  In that regard, I can see the benefit for earning badges in the educational system.

While I understand the need to display specialized abilities and don’t question the validity of that need, there is another aspect that I question.  What is the value in me earning a badge that tells others I am a great listener?  Wouldn’t my employer know if I was a good listener by the work I produced at my job?  Is this the new version of everyone getting a trophy for doing the intrinsic part of the job that is expected?

ADDITIONAL THOUGHT:  Could the badge system be an attempt to graphically display the resume much like how smart phones transitioned from the text-based, menu-driven Blackberry to the graphically-displayed, app-driven iPhone (which looks like badges to me)?

Week 8: Learning Networks II

What is your perspective on the notion of a ‘fluid’ epistemology as proposed by Dede–that is, that knowledge is collectively negotiated and ratified as opposed to being ‘given’?

In some way, all knowledge is “given” (teachers, friends, siblings, parents, community members, the government, etc) and it is up to us to negotiate how we interpret its meaning and integrate it into our thought processes and actions.  Often as a child, I was given information only to question it in some other manner.  For example, once in 4th grade, my teacher stated that heat makes germs grow.  As I was assisting my mother in the kitchen, I discussed this with her since we were cooking and using heat.  Confused by the teacher’s earlier statement, I connected it to the task at hand in order to connect to my question, “will dinner make us sick because all of the germs were growing in the heat?”  My mother assisted me with understanding what the teacher was discussing past her statement.  But that happens all around us throughout our lives.  The connectivist theory is not a new action but a title given to an old action that is based in human nature.  Today, we continue to do this with a wider audience, at faster speeds, and with greater amounts of both valid and invalid information currently available. Just as the student who taught himself how to create a video from social networking, it is the social part that has not changed but rather the mode and media that we use to construct knowledge.

How does connectivism relate to the epistemological shift described by Dede?

After reading the comments below Dede’s article, A Seismic Shift Epistemology, one statement really stood out to me, “The claim of the article is not that adults trained in classical knowledge view knowledge differently when they interact with sites like wikipedia, but instead that kids raised in a Web 2.0 culture view knowledge differently.”  When viewed in this light, I think having to turn the topic of connectivism on its head and understand how students are collaboratively driven from an early age to determine the validity of a topic instead of relying on the “sage on the stage” to determine it for them (that was/is prevelant in classically derived knowledge) is a huge shift in epistemology.  We as educators are attempting to use old “methods” with new technology to investigate what is a legitimate belief from opinion.  As I read this statement by Dede, it is not the end result we are attempting to renew or revise for we want to arrive at at legitimate belief, but it is how that investigation is conducted that is the shift.  Maybe what this shift affords us is the space to challenge what may have always been challenged (even if it was just in casual conversation) before but lack the forum/platform to do so.

Burris – Week 7: Learning Networks

  • What types of trends do you see in the ways audio and still/video media are being used to support learning?

As I review my own materials in grad school, discuss various topics on technology with my daughter, and read assignments in and out of this class, I am amazed at how fast those within and out of the classroom learn from audio and video.  For me, I know watching someone model or demonstrate for my is my preferred learning method.  It is like if a picture is worth a thousand words, then a video is worth a thousand pictures.  Because audio and video have the power to bring alive a subject, teach a subject at a faster pace, and teach those who may not be able to learn via reading, it is a powerful tool to expand the base of knowledge and increase rate of knowledge gain.  Audio and video have the power to inject emotion, situational context, and and energy that may not come from reading.  Additionally, it can reach the learner who does not have the ability, confidence, or knowledge to reach out to someone in order to seek assistance.

  • Specifically, how do you see these media enhancing participatory learning within the Web 2.0 context beyond that possible by text media?

The funny thing about watching or hearing other people is you (the viewer) are drawn into the conversation.  There is a need to interact and make contact with the other person – even if it is just a recording.  Having audio or video can draw the learner into the process in a different way through the type of engagement that is required by the medium.  It changes the motivation in the interaction, which can in turn, change the motivation to learn.

  • Richardson & Mancabelli describe six new literacies for 21st century learning environments. Which of the six measure of literacy do you see as the most challenging? Why? Are there any you would add?

“Managing, analyzing, and synthesizing multiple streams of simultaneous information” has to be one of the toughest to implement at this moment in education just due to the infrastructure, hardware, and software that is needed.  While it is recognized and valued, it is expensive to purchase and include.  As the article states, this cannot happen unless every child has a device and that has not happened in our schools yet.

I would add “Develop a mental/psychological flexibility for embracing change” since technology improves/changes so rapidly.

Week 6: Wikis

What type of knowledge building activities do you see going on in these different sites?

First, I see wikis as offering an opportunity to collectively and collaboratively work on an assignment that lends both an sense of individual responsibility and achievement as well as a sense of belonging to a community or something larger than what they are.  To gain a sense of “what I say matters” and can be acted upon by someone else/impacts someone else is a large lesson to learn.  This really hit home with me in the Davis site, The Art of Using Wiki Pages to Teach.  Additionally, I also see Wikis as being another tool to lend a voice to the student regardless of their geographical location, level of social interaction, or time zone.  The Flat Classroom Project is a really interesting site to explore for it shows in a real and practical way how to connect past the four walls of the classroom.  Finally, I see a wiki as becoming a resource of class creation but also as an archival tool for previous wikis created…may be a good example of what to show later classes for how to do a wiki or share information about what the wiki was about.

How do you see the quality of knowledge building being monitored in large public wikis and the smaller wikis?

According to the McCrea discussion in The Journal: Wiki-Centric Learning was the fact that simultaneous editing was hard for large groups and could not accommodate multiple users at once but did recommend GoogleDocs instead.  However, with a smaller group, wikis were easy to manage and edit with accommodate simultaneous users.

Miscellaneous thoughts…..

One of the interesting thoughts I read in The Journal: Wiki-Centric Learning was the discussion of wikis vs GoogleDocs.  As a result, I look around on the internet and found this interesting wiki about this very topic,  Blogs, Wikis, and Google Docs: Which one is right for your lesson?, and a comparative table for types of lessons, Blogs, Wikis, Docs: Which is right for your lesson? A Comparison Table.

Week 5 Summary – Group 1

It was an interesting week reading blogs, reviewing articles, and listening to the podcasts.  Across all of the resources this week, it was easy to find encouragement, strategies, and tips for integrating technology in the classroom today.

From the articles and blogs…

Courtney does a nice job summarizing the overall key points the Tech Trends article, “Educational Blog Management Strategies and Tools”, for any educators who want to start a blog, “For a blog to be successful, the educator must: 
1) …set up strategies
 2) …give strong examples
 [and] 3) …foster extended conversations through heavy teacher engagement early-on.”

Cheryl found commonalities between the formal and informal blogs with her observations that blogs permit a space to a journal of thoughts, ideas, and reflections; offer a method to exchange information; create the ability to build connections to others through collaboration; remove isolation by encouraging socialization; and sanctions a reflective environment for consideration of the information.

Marie’s takeaways from the blogs are particularly relevant for all teachers looking towards the application of blogs in the classroom with their students.  She states, “these technologies may be new to students; …it is important to teach the idea of proper posts and comments; …we need to spend time teaching students how to disagree with other views in a respectful way; …[and] we need to remember to reinforce the idea that what they write on public blogs will be seen by many, which will require careful monitoring on our part!”

Jordan offers his most important observation when he discusses that for those teachers who are pondering the use of blogs for learning in their classrooms, they should consider encouraging the free expression of ideas, create an environment for students to express their opinions in a public forum and still feel safe enough to express an opinion that may be unconventional or unpopular, and urge “commentary that is point-counterpoint rather than criticism”.

From the podcasts…

Courtney’s interview with Beth Wilmus, a foreign language teacher at her school, offers an enlightening perspective on using students’ own devices within the classroom for those who are interested in BYOD.

Cheryl’s interview with Jennifer Wiley, a 7th grade teacher at her daughter’s middle school, reminds us as educators that we must remember to consider scaffolding and differentiation “even with technology”.

Marie’s interview with Mike Hammel, one of her district’s technology integration coaches, reminds and challenges to teachers to create “…more opportunities for students to take content to a higher level…” (around 5:30).

Jordan’s interview with Dara Wheeler Ford, who teaches a few Nutrition courses at Penn State, does some pretty interesting stuff with Web 2.0 in her classes and has learned that technological tools often place permit a real-world context for what they were learning in class, facilitate a quicker application of their lessons, inspire personal motivation, and create connections with both the community and learning process.

All of the advice from the articles, blogs, and podcasts is an opportunity to learn from the experience and wisdom of others that is valuable to anyone who takes the moment to explore, question, and investigate.

Week 5: Blogs and Learning

What do you see as the role of blogs for learning as integrated in formal learning environments?  What do you see as the role of blogs when self-initiated and informal (i.e., outside bounds of any institution/formal classroom), especially in the context of learning?

I see these two questions being one in the same in that the blog seem to be able to function for both formal and informal in much the same ways.  They can serve to act as the following:

  • a journal of thoughts, ideas, and reflections
  • a mode of exchanging information
  • build connections to others through collaboration
  • removes isolation and encourages socialization
  • reflective environment for consideration of the information

What do you see as the most important aspects to consider in using blogs for learning?

  • establishing protocols for proper use in the classroom
  • teaching how to create a proper post
  • assisting students in understanding how to have a proper discussion with others
  • give a focus for students to consider while writing their blogs
  • teach accountability for their thoughts and actions

My Podcast:  BURRIS – Podcast Interview with Jennifer Wiley

I chose to interview my daughter’s 7th grade teacher, Mrs. Jennifer Wiley.  She has done a good job introducing the class to Web 2.0 this past year.  I appreciate how she started it from day 1 of school so it became part of their rhythm this year as well as established the expectations from the beginning.


Week 4: Educational Applications of Web 2.0

First, let me say that since I have been out of the classroom for about five years (a lot has changed since then), I was really glad to see Table 1, page 357, that graphically displays the cognitive process that Web 2.0 can support.  For me, this is extremely helpful because I had not created a blog or even posted a comment to a blog until a class last semester.  Although I have not used a lot of Web 2.0 tools out of and none within the classroom, this chart spoke my “teacher” language and paired my prior understanding of the cognitive processes used in teaching with the tools I am learning about here as well as provided me examples of which tools to use.  That is valuable for a Web 2.0 novice like me.  Given my limited knowledge of Web 2.0 tools but using the discussion, scenarios, and prior experiences, I think the classifications and corresponding applications are fairly aligned.

As for the significant insights about application, I appreciate the five recommendations listed on pages 367-368.  Combined with the table discussed above, this list prevents that overwhelming feeling that I have to employee all of this immediately in my next class.  Also, I would have to say gaining an understanding about the relationship between Web 2.0 tools and the cognitive learning was the most significant insight for me.  It is easy to see the collaborative aspect and appreciate how Web 2.0 tools can foster that interaction.  But it was not until after reading this article, especially the scenarios, that I gained an understanding about the cognitive cultivation that can occur with Web 2.0 tools.

Week 3: Learning Philosophy

Learning Philosophy 1.0

(This assignment is a late posting for me due to a medical emergency in the family.)

What constitutes learning for you?

Interestingly, my mind separates what is learning to me for me and what is learning for those that I teach.

For me, learning is gaining, refining, amending, or creating knowledge.  Personally, I like to have useful information and find that I eliminate information that either I do not need (like welding, where I would hire someone to do it for me) or file it away to some recess in my mind only to be called forth later when I infrequently need it (like making biscuits).  Since I am a “practical knowledge consumer”, I tend to like to learn things that involved my hands or some type of action that will yield something.  As illustrated by attendance to culinary school, I want to learn something and then demonstrate it.  I use the theoretical as a springboard for the useful but do not spend a lot of time with the theoretical once I gain the useful direction that I needed.

For those that I teach, I lean on the philosophy that it has to be personal and desired for the other person to learn.  If it is personal, then there is a connection of some sort for the learner that is going to feed their passion and drive their motivation.  If it is desired, then there is fertile soil for the development of knowledge.

How should learning happen?

I think learning should happen in the means that makes the most sense for the learner.  For example, I am not a good auditory learner.  I have to see it, say it, read it, and do it.  Telling me how to do something, I will miss it unless I write it down.  Have me do it once and explain “why” afterwards and I will know it forever.  For anyone, learning should happen in a personally understandable way that is going to anchor the theoretical to the practical and cement the “what could be” to “what is”.  By doing this, the learner finds their voice, constructs the meaning, and connects that new knowledge to prior knowledge to build a connection.

How do you know when learning takes place?  What visible indicators or signs demonstrate that learning has taken place?

For me these two questions seem to fit together as part of one conversation.  For the most part, I want to say when it can be demonstrated but I qualify that statement by saying when it can be taught to someone else.  I have seen students who have mimicked what I have done but unable to explain it to others and teach the subject to them.  However, when a student can teach another student the subject/topic/lesson, then I feel more assured learning has occurred because the concepts have been digested in a way that can be discussed and extended past the rotely memorized quote into a discussion and demonstration.

How would one differentiate between learners and teachers/facilitators in the context of participatory learning and Web 2.0?

I would see Learning 1.0 being one-way in direction, static, and didactic.  Where Learning 2.0 is a collaboration of thoughts, ideas, and knowledge to determine a direction that reaches past the traditional barriers of access, geography, and language.  While teachers may assist in guiding the student and scaffolding information for consumption by the students, the students determine their own direction, interests, and depths of investigation into the topic.

What do you see as your role in 2025? (For example how do you see your role in your professional context adapting to differences in  information/content access, directed vs. self-learning, and the notion of learning as mobilizing networks.)

I see myself teaching, but more as an advising facilitator than a “sage on the stage”.  I want to meet my students where they are but not leave them there.  I want to challenge their thoughts but create a space to for them to determine the direction of their thoughts.  I see myself as the person who assists in sustaining the students’ interests but not determining the requirements of the interests.

BURRIS - Wordle #2