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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.


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Greg McVerry

Follow the hashtag from now until Wednesday as I will be live blogging my instructional design..BTW instructional design is fancy pants way of saying writing lesson plans.

Greg McVerry

Greg McVerry

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

In my last edition of the #edu106 newsletter, Albatross News, I detailed how I was going to open up our private class stream. I flipped the

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

The Problem with List Servs and #ConnectedLearning

List servs work, and work well. That's there major drawback. It is hard to move academics off of a tool that has functioned long before

4 min read

List servs work, and work well. That's there major drawback. It is hard to move academics off of a tool that has functioned long before the Web. 

 Yes it comes with the baggage of bad email practices we suffer through at work: Unecessary reply-alls, threads being hijacked, threads getting too long and complex, people replying to older threads with totally new topics, and different formatting.

This is all before we consider the complexity of different levels of learners steeped within varying discourses and even languages.

Even with these major drawbacks learning gets done.

List servs work because distribution discourse works better than destination discourse.

Instead of trying to get people to come to your site or join your network the content just comes to you. You decide to reply. As Gina Tripani notes email is truly one of the original federated systems.

I want to help move folks off of list servs and on to other more open distribution channels. While it is hard to move people off of tools that work I would like to see groups try new methods.


As e-editor of the Literacy Research Association we are trying to encourage people to publsih their own content and push through our new websites. Mainly by using the forums. These can be set up just like list servs, your inbox can be flooded as much as you want. So could your RSS feed.


The Extended Mind Culture and Activity theory was a MOOC long before that was even a thing. There have been people arguing and seeking consensus over  Russian and German translations of words for over a decade. It is the home of Open scholarship on Cultural Historical Activity Theory, Vygotsky, Hegel, Marx and a wonderful group of scholars.

It is ripe for a tool like Discourse or Known. 

I fall in and out of XMCA. It is a list serv that works too well. So I have to hide it in my email client if inbox zero were ever to be reached. I recently bundled XMCA in Google's new inbox tool which means I can see the messages and quickly dismiss them.

Its when I need to find an idea again that XMCA gets difficult.

It also reads like a Novel. The brilliant thought, often outside of my wheelhouse, makes casual reading impossible. The problem of course is it is email. Searching through email for threads of logic gets hard quick.


I have been playing a bit in discourse with and with Mozilla's webmaker (now Mozilla Learning...I think). At first I was hesitant. Not a fan of stackable forums. I like threaded discussions. Showing my age here.

But the social, the tagging, and the categories make it ideal for a complex learning space like XMCA. This would be a little more of a closed off space but would resemble the list serv without all of the baggage (until we discover the new luggage that folks travel with in new spaces).

I threw together a quick example (using recent emails as an example) on my own site (not sure if log-in required).

XMCA is already installed on a university server. Discourse would be no different. Except better.


I am just starting to play with Known but I could easily see it be used for distributed discourse. You can quickly push it out to everywhere.

If Wordpress is chess, than Known is Othello. Both allow for endless learning but one can begin playing Othello almsot immediatley.

Basically as community of academics, in places like XMCA and Listserv, we should encourage people to publish on their own sites and syndicate everything to a common hub or space.

Known would be just one example. This can be done with any blogging plaform. The goal should be to own you own content in a federated web.

Greg McVerry

Greg McVerry

@googleguacomole I was originally suggesting the Documenting and Assessing Learning in Informal
and Media-Rich Environments as a possible article for but then you made me think when asking what are we assessing...

and that got me was my meaning misconstrued? What does Laura mean...

....then I thought maybe Laura means what she means and that would be fun....

In the article they suggest three level of activity that must be examined for informal or media rich environment

What if as we read we picked some informal space we are involved in (#thoughtvectors, , , etf) and we applied what we were reading to that space.

Greg McVerry

My Nerdiest #CCourses Twitter Discussion

Teach w/ Twitter? Do networks look like this? privileged inner circle #mandatedtweets on outside? #ccourses — Greg McVerry (@jgmac1106) March 16, 2015 I also wonder if

2 min read

Greg McVerry

how well do work with n00bs? Did it work because we were used to networked spaces:

Greg McVerry

Thanks to @GoogleGuacomole I discovered a great new blog K-Log added to

Greg McVerry

Quick Thoughts on the #teachtheweb "Club Call"

I enjoy the club calls as much as the web literacy calls. Whereas the web lit calls invogorate my mind the club calls spark my

3 min read

I enjoy the club calls as much as the web literacy calls. Whereas the web lit calls invogorate my mind the club calls spark my passion for teaching. Today was no different. We had a lot of fun taking stock of where the curriculum has come.

The Mozilla Learning team does fantastic work at a tough pace. It helps when you draw on the experience of MOUSE and other great partners and have such wonderful minds.

I was most fascinated by the discussion of the new "hub" or space that was mentioned in the  webmaker club roll out plan and the discussions of tools we use to tell our stories.

We turned to reactionary gifs as the current currency of meaning and this discussion (d)evovles of course into a gif showdown in order to drop the mic on the way out the door.

The Tools

Email sign on remains a contant barrier for many clubs, especially younger clubs and those in formal educational settings. 

I wonder if a system could be set up where a verified "club leader" could receive X number of authorization codes via SMS. Then club members could use these codes to set up profiles.

I have no idea what that means in terms of security or complying with laws like COPA but  email registration is a constant struggle for educators.

I played with the webmaker mobile tool. I really like it. When I think about a broswer experienced on making and remixing I salivate. 

The Hub

Follow the  and model. Build the hub on a backbone of RSS. Every strategic plan I have read mentions stories as a unique component to Mozilla Learning. Make the hub the home of these stories. Provide links to the materials folks need to start telling and writing their own stories.

I remember something about wanting to see a map of all the clubs. What if the map was animated so circles grew as new items cames into the feed? There could be a curated set of posts by regional coordinators and other staff. 

Then you have the links to the curriculum, the tools, and the discourse forum.

If the team of crack coders and designers could build and encouraged the use of a common RSS reader among clubs that might be pretty cool. 

I just read the draft of the Clubs Best Practices and we are suggesting mentors blog, and set up websites. I know I put in a small  grant for my clubs. Going to spend it on hosting if funded, but we list plenty of existing tools folks can use.

We just need a decent RSS reader. I really like the Planet Webmaker feed and design. Can we bake similar features into the overall hub and provide an RSS reader to club leaders and members? It must be hard. The options are limited. I use Feedly others have great success with inoreader. If some crack squad could develop an RSS reader that could go from the hub>country>state province>city>club name it would be awesome. 

You combine that with Discourse, the new tools coming out, and we would have a cool hub.


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