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My quick thoughts, back stage, and rants as I try to Teach kids about the Web while learning how to help others build a better Web.

Greg McVerry

What is interesting about this year's class is for the first time people are joining the communities they study. Many have done groups where they were members before, but this is first time students are documenting their journey into communities like and

Greg McVerry

In my class we do an analysis of communities. I need to revise the assignment and include an analysis of codes of conduct or make this a different assignment altogether.

Greg McVerry

Its Not Social Media or Branding: Its Just You

2 min read

EDU106 is a great class. I work with students on recognizing how literacy shapes our lives. In this week's maker party, which is really a drop in design studio time, I had a wonderful discussion with Joe Freer  about personal brand and identiy.

What I want students to realize: It is isn't about social media marketing or branding its really about living and learning socially.

Its a construction of your digital identity. Personas sprinkled over the web as you leave footprints everywhere.

Basically the easiest way to build a following is to contribute back to a community of people. We will get to it later in the semester but I think Ian O'Byrne wrote a great guide to building digital identies..

Ian is a professor at Charleston College and also a digital coach working with people who want to learn to build up an online presence. 

Basically no matter your field the easiest way to get meaningful engagement is by being part of the audience. Learn together. Whether  you are a gardener, musician, or activist go online and find the placdes people connect to learn.

As you learn new things share your struggles and achievements. As you teach others share what you make openly.

The first step as Doug Belshaw notes, is to get your own domain. From here you take the indieweb model of POSSE publishing on your own site, syndicating elsewehre...more likely everywhere. 

A domain of your own is also fundemental to being open, and more as a philosophy than a product. You are not commodifying yourself but joining a community. Live and learn out loud.


Greg McVerry

Had our first Maker Party in #EDU106

2 min read

Announcement: Due to Labor Holiday We Will Move Mandatory Class to Wednesday

Every Wednesday in we throw a maker party. Today marked the first event for this semesters class.

EDU106 New Literacies: Digital Texts and Tools is set up for hybrid delivery. It  succeeeds when a community emerges to support each other no matter where we gather.

We meet for a face to face class every Monday. There we begin with a maker challenge. For example during the first class we started by using pipe cleaners and come up with something "that meant you."

We will then  discuss the readings and work on our projects.

The students then gather online for the rest of the week. We meet "in the texts" as  we read that module using Students then share their writing on a class stream. Throughout the semester they hone blogging and multimodal authoring skills.

On every Wednesday we hold a basic design studio. These are drop in and out class spaces where we gather to share progress and get feedback. 

The Wednesday class is an optional affair I like to call Maker Parties. The stuff we will do this semester is hard. It takes practice and thought. The content we read will spark thoughts and push against perspectives.That does not mean it can not be fun.

Today five people showed up. We had a good time.

Each person who dropped by class left knowing they had completed this week's tasks.  After twenty or thirty minutes of one on one help and feedback everyone was off on their way.

Remember for Next Wednesday you need to:

-Have a blog created

-Share a link to the blog on the class stream.

-Create a Account



Greg McVerry

Choosing Course Delivery #OpenEd #EdChat #HigherEd #Literacies #Edtechchat

2 min read

Over the last few years I have explored a variety of tools for open course development. Asa refresher I design my online learing space with three elements: a hub with materials, an individual site for each learner, and a class stream.

I am debating how I want to present my hubs. I orginally created a Wordpress site with multiple courses.

Last year I tried building a class in HTML/CSS and Javascript using a bootsptrap framework. I could host all of this in my GitHub repo.

I am not sure which method I prefer: Wordpress or a blank HTML page as a canvas.

Over the summer I got back to Wordpress course design. I was hired by a client to develop a learning managament system. I went with Wordpress and the Sensei plug-in from Woocommerce. We added a paid theme Guru and topped it off with a Discourse with SSO integration. We also added Buddypress and BadgeOS for good measure. 

The platform came out great.

Yet I am still drawn to trying to develop class Hubs in the most basic HTML possible (while getting some design love). I imagine a future where other professors openly share their coursework. Where a new teacher  can fork a repo rather start from scratch.

Still the Wordpress page looks prettier (for now).

I think for this semester I will keep with the dual approach. EDU106 will remain a hub in Wordpress and EDU307 will go through a round of iterative development.

Greg McVerry

@humphd @soapdog @chadsansig @flukeout the final:

Many of my students were using the Three things project for their final but I wanted to create another multipage portfolio option. I kept the pic of East Haddam in there for @chadsansig.

I was watching my students yesterday complete the final and thinking about looking for growth. I think for now I am most interested in how far a deviation it is from the template.

I probably should have moved the menu into the main content div and made it a horizontal table but when working with people marking up pages for the first I have learned to try and keep it simple. My stylesheet is already far too long.

I also could not get the JS to work properly as the menu was meant for a single page website that jumped between divs.

Now it is on to finishing my portfolio so my students have a mentor text.

Greg McVerry

Teaching with Ignite Talks to develop #digped #edu106

4 min read

I asked by students to approach the edge. To find that balance o fear fear and enjoyment that gathers around our personal precipice. Its Ignite Talk time.

flickr photo shared by kirtapatrik under a Creative Commons ( BY-NC-ND ) license

These 20 slide presentations are image driven and the slides advanced every fifteen seconds.

Within the panic and passion students have we learn important lessons.  Mainly I want us to learn how to make slide decks not suck. Most do.

flickr photo shared by scragz under a Creative Commons ( BY ) license

My general rule: If I can print out your powerpoint and follow along I know your talk will drain the moisutre from my eyeballs leaving me with the desire to scratch my sockets with a rusty spoon.

In short: It will be awful.

Short Talks. Long Learning

Short concise talks are also key to digital teaching and learning. The only thing worse than sitting through an hour long lecture in collge is staring at your monitor held prisoner by a forty minute screencapture of a Powerpoint.

flickr photo shared by Lex Photographic under a Creative Commons ( BY-NC ) license

No one will learn. Few will finish the video.

Instead we need to focus on short concise series of video. I build this mantra through the use of ignite talks. Even the most complex topics would benefit from being broken into a series of talks with production based activities that follow.

In terms of tutorials (learning a concrete skill in a well defined domain) I have moved away from video entirely and use gifs.

flickr photo shared by plaisanter~ under a Creative Commons ( BY-SA ) license

Image Driven

Visual metaphors help with meaning making.  Through this process I have taught students how to look for images they can use under creative commons licenses.

They learn some basics of design.

Passion Based

The only caveat students were given (beyond the text structure of Ingite talks) was to teach me something. Allowing students to develop their own pathways has helped us learn to read, write and participate on the web.

Students in the class have shared personal stories, presented a photgrpahic essay on , educated us on the dangers of sun exposure, and so much more.

flickr photo shared by stevie.gill under a Creative Commons ( BY-NC-ND ) license

Teaching and Time


15 seconds. That is all the students get per slide. It is important to  recnize that time is relative. During an ignite talk fifteeen seconds can feel like a fleeting moment or an eternity. It comes down to improv. Can you think on your feet. In many ways teaching is improv.

Next Steps

I was hoping to record all of the Ignite talks. Our Dean has just built an amazing multimedia classroom. I just couldn't get launched in time. Then  our classroom was in complete dissary. The IT departmnet has been working around the clock to update the umlimdeia classrooms. The problem , the clock moved too fast.

I could then record them in the classroom but then I have to worry about media releases. 

Students could have just recorded their screen, but a narrated slide deck, while shorter and more visually appealing still sucks.

In the end I am settling on offering a special design studio focused on recording and editing their ignite talks. Some people may want to include their Ignite talk in their final.

Plus this makes terms in balancing as Cathy noted being open with privacy and care. Ignite talks, foget the first, on the hundredth time leave you vunerable as a speaker and writer.

By not fiming a first run I am allowing my students to feel safe in class. Its a Maslow thing I guess. Safety has to come before care.

Now students who want to record their talks, plus learn some basic video editing skills, can come to design studio so we can learn together.


Greg McVerry

Opening My Class Has Damaged my Workflow #ccourses #clmooc #edu106

2 min read

In my last edition of the newsletter, Albatross News, I detailed how I was going to open up our private class stream.

I flipped the switch

And I might have ruined my workflow.

In the class students have their own blogs. I use an RSS feed and the class stream to aggregate our work. I would leave comments on both their blog and the private stream.

On a students blog I would interact with content and try (withouth success) to start a wider conversation. On the private stream I would offer critical writing feedback.

Being a writer means being vunerable. I think some feedback is better behind closed doors. I am not comfortable explaining to someone they need to include topic sentences and the letter "I" is capitalized. Many of my students have not developed strong academic blogging or writing skills yet.

Calling them out may hurt my pedagogical goal and may not allow students to see the benefit of learning in the open.

I liked leaving the comments on the private stream, however, so they were semi-public. Many of the mistakes students made fell in predictable patterns. Calling out a few examples of misconception had a waterfall effect on improving the writing of others. 

So I have a few options:

  • I can make the class stream private again.
  • I could leave critical feedback through email.
  • I could just leave it in the open and encouarage a process of revision.

I also need to explore how private notifications work in Known.

Greg McVerry

Hey #Indieweb Help me find sources? Is the mobile web dead

2 min read

As part of  we are learning about collaborative writing.So I decided to ask a bunch of people I don't know about something I know nothing about. 

Basically to help me collect source. This was the orgininal post on Medium:

I keep reading hints that there is a debate brewing among technologists that the mobile web is dead and should die. Read recently that some believe the “app” is just a placeholder for what is next.

In many ways the voices that seemed to want to focus on the mobile web seem to be dimmer. Advocates believe this leads to a loss of privacy and a rise in privatization.

Much of this debate is arising as facebook introduced instant articles, Apple allows ad blocking, and every app I own is designed to keep me off my mobile browser.

I want to try a new kind of piece and write an annotated bibliography in the open. Problem is I don’t have the sources. Figured it would be a good model for my  class. We are exploring web literacy, identity, and digital texts and tools.

I am looking for current blog posts or articles exploring the idea of the mobile web dying. Especially from those who say it is either inevitable or a good idea.

My thinking is you add them below. I can then summarize, and then revise this article as my thinking evolves.

Greg McVerry

Joining @PualAllison and others to talk @hypothes_is #edu106

1 min read

If you have a second I am joining a discussion on social reading. This is what collaborative inquiry means. We as teachers are exploring problems and designing solutions together.

We are talking about