Monday, July 6, 2015

Getting Started: How Is This Learning Experience Supposed to Work?

Rob: Power of Connections is designed as a collaborative experience, right?

Stacy: Absolutely. Our goal is to help participants do three things: 1) explore strategies for facilitating student engagement in face-to-face, hybrid, and online learning environments; 2) connect with a larger community of education practitioners (teachers, trainers, earning designers, administrators) interested in student engagement; 3) find and/or contribute resources for student engagement to a shared portfolio.

Rob: That’s right. We’ve designed the experience to be as flexible and easy as possible. As part of that goal. we’ve organized it loosely under four themes: 1) The Power of Connections; 2) The Power of Openness; 3) The Power of Creation; 4) The Power of Imagination.

Stacy: Each theme is represented by a different unit, and we’ve designed them so that they are separate experiences so that participants can pick and choose from based on their interests.

Rob: We’d love for everyone to join us for the entire experience, but we know people have different interests.

Stacy: And they’re busy.

Rob: That’s a good point. We’ve designed the units so that there isn’t necessarily a required pathway. While we offer default sequences for progression, participants shouldn’t feel compelled to work through the content in any particular order.

Stacy: About the only thing we strongly recommend is collaboration.

Rob: That’s what we’ve designed for more than anything else.

Stacy: The activities, examples, and resources are really meant as a point of departure, not as a destination. In other words, we’ll all benefit most if everyone “gives back” to the community by participating in conversations and engaging in activities.

Rob: Anything else?

Stacy: Well, now that you ask, here is some additional information that participants should find useful for their experience.
  • Length of the Experience — In a traditional sense, we have designed each of the four modules to cover approximately one week. You can take longer or jump in later, even after we have moved on. We expect the community to move at a variety of different paces.

  • Access to Course Content — The primary site for this experience here at In order to explore a learning model that supports both “closed” and “open” communities, however, we are also posting all course resources to our blog, This will allow anyone to view our portfolio of ideas and activities, and to share and discuss those openly across the Web.

  • Communication and Sharing Ideas — We will be using a variety of tools and channels to facilitate conversations and collaboration throughout this experience. And, in case there is any doubt, our overall goal is to facilitate as broad a network for conversations as possible. This means that we encourage conversations within NextThought, but also on blogs, G+, and Twitter. In order to help us aggregate all community conversations and information, all we ask is that you use our Power of Connections hashtag — #NTPoC. We will create a feed of all activity and make that available so that you can see everything that is happening. Finally, we (the facilitators) will post regular announcements and blog communication to ensure that everyone remains as coordinated as they want.

  • Taking Part in Conversations — There are several different kinds of conversations that will take place in this community. First, participants can initiate conversations at any time and on any activity or content within the NextThought platform. In addition, we have designed specific discussions for each module. We will also be providing an aggregated list of all chants, blog posts, and conversations happening outside the platform, and you can join these as well. It all depends on what is most comfortable for you.

  • When the Course Ends — Even after we have covered the planned four weeks of collaboration and activities, the experience will remain open in NextThought, and the blog will continue to be active. Our goal is to support the community as long as it remains active.
For additional information about the Power of Connections experience, community, or specific ideas about how to interact with others effectively, take a look at our community blog –

1 comment:

  1. Trying to figure out how to bridge traditional LMS and open communities

    In addition to the formal course platform here at NextThought, we are also posting much of the course content on this course blog -- There are several reasons for this, the primary one being that both NextThought and the course facilitators are exploring how to best use the formal learning environment space (generally a “closed” community), while not losing out on other conversations that may be happening outside the formal environment. We’re aware that, if our goal is to connect learners to each other and to relevant information, many of the possible connections currently lie outside the confines of the formal learning environment. In addition, we realize that many course participants already have their own personal learning networks. How can/should we connect those? For this course, we’ve set up a separate, publicly accessible site and are seeding conversations on the open Web. It does not have the same functionality as the course platform but it will allow people outside our cohort to engage with the same ideas. As part of our exploration, Stacy Zemke, Laura Gibbs, and I will be blending conversations from this platform, Twitter, G+, and blogs so that anyone interested can get a sense of the global conversation going on. For NextThought, this is an important step in understanding how to support open and external conversations/participation in a platform like this one. It will also help us understand how we can/should allow participants in a course to connect to all of their pre-existing online communities without having to leave the platform.