Friday, November 18, 2011

Big Questions & Collaborative Working Groups

This year we will be conducting research in two ways.  First we will master the traditional MLA research paper by refining your Big Questions and mapping out writing/search/documentation plans over the next two weeks.  Second, we will develop and complete action research projects in teams.  As we discussed yesterday in class, there is growing awareness that our economic future is difficult to predict.  In addition to traditional academic training, 21st century students need entrepreneurial project management skills that will enable them to succeed in any business environment (even ones that don't exist yet).  Many of you have come forward with innovative ways to apply the technology we're using to extend our learning opportunities and develop your skills/portfolio in the process.  Because of this and the fact that you have demonstrated the intrinsic motivation that can bring those ideas to life-- [a class that organizes without a teacher to conduct a Socratic seminar on Plato's "Allegory of the Cave" = AWESOME]-- we are now forming collaborative working groups to implement these plans.

Let's begin the conversation with the following menu from students' suggestions/efforts so far.  If you see something you like, join up; if you see something that's "sorta kinda but not quite" what you want to do, hack it and then join up; if you don't see something that gets your attention, invent an idea that does (Your partner, colleagues and I are all available for brainstorming support).  We will refine this list over the next three weeks and confirm the working groups before the end of the semester.

Here are the groups that have already formed or are in the process:
  • Mentors (using online platforms to learn from, teach, and collaborate with other learners around the world)
  • Designers (graphic art; QRt; web design)
  • Entrepreneurs (Peace Club; microfinance; business development)
  • Documentarians (YouTube channel; film; new journalism; mash-up/remix/transmedia)
  • Builders (creating hardware and software solutions for students in need)
  • Curators (searching out and presenting information that supports the coursework)
  • Broadcasters (social mediators who build awareness & extend opportunity)
  • Programmers (writing code for RPGs and other courseware)
  • Facilitators (presenters for tech awareness events)


  1. Hey Dr. Preston,
    I am interested in both the Mentor and Broadcaster category. However, I am finding them similar. So, I was wondering if you could elaborate more on both so I can have a better understanding of them to help me make my decision on which one I would like to be a part of.

    Thank you,
    Kayla McCallie from 2nd period

  2. The two roles are similar in the sense that they both share information, but the broadcaster is curating/sending out information for the purpose of building a large and/or enthusiastic audience, and the mentor is creating relationships with learners for the purpose of increasing their understanding.

  3. Dibs on broadcaster and documentarian! Maybe programmer.

  4. I think we should discuss a little more in class, though, to get ideas out there... Quicker.