Author: Todd Conaway

There Once was a Learning Community…..

We don’t recall how it got started, but the email thread was long with limericks. Even some haiku from Gavin.

So many in fact, we share them here for your reading pleasure.

There once was a learning community
Who zoomed due to lack of immunity
It wasn’t that grueling
When applied to their schooling
So they polished the new opportunity.


There was a group at UWB,
they were into the web and wanted to see,
just how much they could do,
to show off their web fu,
and finally to get others to be.


The spider web and open web share
A special connection for those who dare.
Each enlarges their world
As the web is unfurled,
But one creates while the other ensnares.


There once was a learning community
That was digital with impunity.
A flip-book they decided
Would keep them united
And show off a great opportunity.


The tools that I use made by Google
Reflect my desire to be frugal.
Students shouldn’t pay
When they’re making their way
Through the expensive endeavor of U-school.


There once was a group at UWB,
They needed help with designing so others could see,
The cool stuff they were doing, to elicit “aahings” and “ooings,”
So they hired a student from IMD.


3 Haiku From Gavin

Sailing open seas
There be danger and dragons
But songs and mates, too


The light is off now
But suns and stars still shine bright
Lighting our new paths


Answers in the book
But turn the page to find that
The book is the world


I’ve been teaching a lot via zoom
From safety and comfort–my room.
My students take notes
And I am the host
While outside the damn virus brings doom.


Once day, a nonparticipating member of the crew was called out for not having a clue!

We’re missing a limerick from Todd,
Which really does feel kind of odd.
“I’ll share one next week.
From my brain they will leak,
Some lines for the Limerick Squad.”

But the forlorn former poet could not let it stand!

With a mere twenty sunrises till glorious St. Patrick’s Day,
Sadly, it seemed poor poet Todd, had very little to say.
“But I used to be a Poet!” Todd loudly exclaimed,
To the others he still seemed, just a bit deranged,
Though with much hesitancy, they allowed poor Todd into the limerick fray.

And to that end he added is limerick! And once again became a member of the clan.

For three years the valiant comrades – through the interwebs they scrambled,
With many ideas, and tools, places and purposes they rambled.
At some places they all shouted, Oh, this is silly!”
While at others they all concurred, “We need this! Really!”
And they were happy as ever and learned lots of lessons wherever they ambled.

Let Me Express Myself

I am going to choose to represent what I am trying to convey in some text, a couple of images, and in a video.

Why three things you might ask? Well, I just don’t want to have to type all the sentences it may take to express this thought. That could take a long time and I am lazy. I am adding the images because they illustrate one of the more visually interesting parts of the expression and do so in a way I could not “write” into existence. And the video is perhaps just my normal way of trying to share some ideas. It feels more accurate that my usually terse and kinda poetic written expressions of stuff.

So that is why.

But what is your point Todd?

As an educator you are given the option of sharing “content” with students in a variety of mediums. As an example, you might share the amazing text to Martin Luther King’s “I Have a Dream” speech. Or, you could share the broadcast video of the event. Or, you could share just the audio of the speech. In all three cases the words are exactly the same, but the experiences are all very different. With the text version you can easily reread sections. In the video you hear the ambient noise, the amazing crowd, and the crackling of the speakers. You see how vast the audience is and feel the passion and concern. With the audio clip, you get to imagine the time and space.

As an educator, you can share multiple expressions of the content you share.

But how do you allow students to share their learning, their ideas, in multiple mediums?

Often, we don’t.

And that brings us to the point.

You can offer students options for sharing the way they understand the work they are doing. That does not mean you have to forgo APA style papers or written math equations. It does not mean you have to forgo your multiple-choice questions or final exam essays. It does mean that along the path for each student they can be presented with other ways of expressing what it is they are learning.


Here is share two ways to look at what the “assignment” expectations are. One is around allowing them to choose between a few mediums and the other is a way to push them further with both options and some points toward their grade. Both offer options. They have a choice to make. They are in charge. At least a little. Depending on how you grade the assignments, it is possible that doing these types of things will cause you more effort. More work.

The image below shares a look at how a single assignment might offer students five ways of submitting the work. And, it offers them the opportunity to do the work individually or as a group.

example in Camvs of

This option shares what it might look like if you give students a few options for submitting the work. The lowest option is sort of the bare minimum. What they can do just to get a passing grade. Of course, this is about length, not necessarily quality, so it would be assumed that to receive credit, the work would need to meet certain requirements. There are some variations between the first and the last, but in general, as the student choses to do more to get more points, the expectations increase as well.

Here, finally, is the video explanation of all the stuff above. If you made it all the way here you get five points. If you watch the video you can complete a short quiz and get both ten points and a twenty-five-dollar Amazon gift card. Good luck.

Some Websites & Stuff

I have had this website since 2011 and iterations of this one since 1998. They have helped me express my work and the work of my students, my ideas, my successes and failures. They have helped me get jobs by sharing the work I have done. And, like a drawer full of pictures, the sites keep some fond memories of work I have been involved with. From hiking trips in the Grand Canyon to conference presentations and a portfolio of work, the sites have shared a good vision of what I am capable of doing. They document my learning.

I could stop right there with that last sentence. As a teacher, I am after experiences and the documentation of them.

navigation of website

Being a part of the Open Web Learning Community here at Bothell has been wonderful. It has helped me form some relationships with the faculty here. That is important to my work. Jane Van Galen started the community four years ago and we have shared many ideas, had many coffees, and most importantly, taken some of the things we learned and placed them in our courses. Some worked. Some did not. That is how learning goes.

For me, as the “leader” of the LC this year, it has been challenging. Not only has COVID been challenging, but I tend to be pretty loose with rules and regulations. Both in following them and in making them. And I know, some people work better with clear guidelines and some do not. I suppose, looking back, I did not give the LC as many clearly defined goals and time tables as I might have. So, our team had some great moments and some not so amazing. And that is how learning goes.

I do think that our goal for the year was noble and is very relevant. More than ever today with the move to more online content, and more online experiences. I am reminded of Stephen Downes noting that, “Your next LMS won’t be yours, it will be your students.” He was referring to spaces for learning that were more student centered. Literally. Learning spaces the students control rather than a faculty or university or LMS provider. That may be a way off, but for today, faculty can maintain, and role model controlling, more of the work they do and the experiences they offer students. Tightly controlled classrooms with little coming in our out is not in the nature of the web.

Mike Wesch and the anth101.com is a wonderful example of where things may go. Where things already are. The book if free and available to anyone. The student work is shared and owned by the students, not confined to an LMS that no one else can see. Take a look. Try a Challenge. I dare you. www.anth101.com

Posts by students on instagram and youtube.

In our LC we have wondered about what it means to put our ideas out there on the web. We have wondered how it feels to have our ideas out there on the web. Much like many of us learned about being “on camera” here with the COVID events, putting your writing, your failures and successes on the open web makes you vulnerable. It also allows others to learn from your experiences. And that is of course, just what schools are for.

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