Monday, July 2, 2012

21st Century Learning

Dear E and C,

I was not looking forward to teaching this course in a directed study, but in these days it is to be expected. Like it or not, we are in a new culture of learning. Today we have the resources to teach and take this class without seeing much of each other.

I'm sure you are happy that you are still able to get the class into your schedule, for I know you are in an accelerated program. You are busy with responsibilities at home and work, and still going to school year-round and what any university would consider full-time. I commend you for that!

Because we have this course to practice some new skills, I would like to invite you to join me in this 21st century adventure.

I am offering two options for you as you take this course through directed study. I'll call them traditional and 21st century.

Traditional Learning

Actually, traditional is a bit of a misnomer; the traditional class will still be online and use technology. The course will be delivered and managed through the university's learning management system, ANGEL. Assignments will be emailed to the instructor. Discussions will happen on the online discussion board. The audience for your assignments will be me, and sometimes each other. But mostly, me.

21st Century Learning

The second option is a more 21st century approach to learning. According to Steve Hargadon,  "Learning has shifted from information to conversation." In this option, we will join the conversation, while we learn and talk about children's literature. I'll still use ANGEL to share some resources, but the assignments you do and the conversations you have will potentially have a much larger audience. We'll read and write on this blog, posting assignments (when you want to) and commenting here. We'll write our reading response logs on a social media site for readers called GoodReads. We can communicate through email, but also in other ways, including Twitter and maybe Skype.

Teachers worldwide have joined this conversation, and I would love to carry it to this course as well. If you haven't already started, I would love to walk with you and help you get comfortable here in this conversational learning environment.

I am convinced that you will be more of a learner (and later more of an educator) when you realize that the classroom walls have flattened. Education is a conversation.

Join us!


Quote by Angela Maiers. Image by mrsdkrebs


  1. Denise,
    So happy that you are differentiating for your adult learners. For those who are not yet comfortable with Social Media, the Angel platform is a great alternative. I am hoping that your students choose to respond to and join the conversation via Twitter, this blog, (maybe their own!) and GoodReads. You have given many viable options.

    I have been a great proponent of Skype, especially in the classroom. However, recently, I have discovered Google+ Hangout which offers videoconferencing for 10 people. It might be nice to connect (somewhat) face to face with your students in this way. I especially love that you can create Google Docs together while talking.

    Perhaps you will build some time into your first class to review how to access and use the different options you have suggested. Taking time in the beginning, as we know, often pays off in the long run. Allowing time to explore and feel comfortable using the various platforms which also help your students gain confidence (and the desire to try something new).

    Good luck to you and your students for a wonderful semester! I can't wait to follow the conversation as I just LOVE children's literature!

    Wishing you the best,

  2. Nancy,
    I think a blog of their own would be great too! You and I have come to see the benefit of that. I hope they can too.

    I think a Google+ hangout is a great idea. Unfortunately, we are not going to have very much face-to-face time, so maybe Google+ would be great. The by-product objective of being ready for a classroom without walls would be a great one to reach too.

    Thank you so much, friend, for joining in this conversation!


  3. Denise and others...
    Oooh, Oooh! Go the 21st Century route, and start blogs of your own, reviewing books! This could be the note-taking I was thinking of! Keeping your books logged on Goodreads will be excellent, too, as you can share them with many people, and easily tweet them out (thus knowing what NOT to read, too, as there are so many books being published these days)! Keeping some sort of online journal to share with us (put me on the list!) would benefit you and everyone who reads it.

    One more time... Have FUN - whichever way you choose!

    1. Thanks, Joy, for sharing your enthusiasm with this way of learning! So, so true! You are one of the reasons I stay motivated to continue learning and growing professionally during the summer!

  4. Hi Denise,

    I loved my children's literature class; it's actually where I met my husband, so I am slightly biased. Just now I walked right over to my bookcase for the course text, Through the Eyes of a Child: An Introduction to Children's Literature by Donna E. Norton (1983). I remembered its lovely cover before I took it from the shelf. It's filled with my underlines, stars, and notations. The text reviews thousands of books, provides author interviews, and suggests uses in the classroom as well as categorizes the books in many ways. I can imagine the clicking online I would do if it were web-based today!

    My Bookcase

    Through the Eyes of a Child by Donna Norton

    But what made the class interesting and memorable (besides my future husband), were the conversations we had in class about the books, the styles, the formats, the values, the lessons. Our book talks were practical applications for our future classrooms.

    But I had to be there in person, and once the class was over, only my notes and my own work. Imagine, if I could just go to my teacher's blog and re-read how Kathy suggested to use Knee-knock Rise by Natalie Babbitt in the fall around Halloween.

    Knee-knock Rise by Natalie Babbitt

    If you choose to share online, you'll have that opportunity to discuss and share the wonders of reading and teaching reading, and you'll be able to refer to that particular idea whenever you need; it'll be there.

    And just maybe, you'll want to post your excellent suggestions and reviews about the great writing in the book you read, which would inspire readers to become writers. How about writing it here:

    Wordsmith Agora: A place for reading and writing teachers to share

    I hope you see how sharing the conversation online will create a more robust and useful experience than the lost ideas from my "in class" course so many years ago.

    Or, maybe you'll meet a certain someone... like I did :) Or both!

    Enjoy !

    1. Wow, Sheri, this is incredible! What a wealth of ideas and musings! I'm lost in the possibilities right now.

      Last night while meeting with my two students, I was surprised to see yours and Joy's comments. I didn't know they were there yet, and I was delighted to see them. I just now had a chance to read them.

      I love the idea of having a blog to re-read abou their learnings. I hope they will take your thoughtful and wonderful advice!


  5. Hi Denise,

    I agree with Nancy, I love how you are differentiating for your teachers based on their readiness and comfort level with social media.

    This reminds me of the book I'm currently reading called, A New Culture of Learning - Cultivating the Imagination for a World of Constant Change, by Douglas Thomas & John Seely Brown. It's about recognizing the changes in the world, and the empowerment of the new learning culture. Have you read this book?

    Kind regards,

  6. Hi Tracy,
    Thanks so much for joining the conversation here! I love it because now I have yet another book on my to-read list! I will be reading that book. Thanks so much for sharing it here!


  7. Denise,

    I'm sure your students will thoroughly enjoy your class - wish I was taking it! I've taken a few online courses and really get the most out of it when we comment back and forth on each other's work. I get to know my "classmates" and learn from them as well as the course!

    Have fun!


    1. Thanks, Theresa,
      Yes, you are right about online courses. I had a great one last semester. I hardly ever saw the facilitator, but the "room" was full of middle school science teachers from Iowa. We had much in common and much to talk about. I learned so much from them!

      Thanks for commenting here!

  8. As I continue to dive into the realm of educational technology and what it means to 5th graders, I'm always struck by what it means to adult learners! This is a prime example of how edtech is truly changing the face of how we as adults can learn. No more of the "face time" when we can email, Skype, blog, and even Google+ (though I've never tried that before). I love the idea of blogging about books read as we teach that passion comes from writing, talking, having a conversation about those things which light that fire in us! This certainly would be that!

    On top of that, the fact, Denise, you are offering these options speaks volumes to what you see in edtech too! No matter this is a children's literature class, this is exactly what we need, the ability to be learners when and where it suits us best!

    I look forward to seeing, as time goes on, how this class moving and changes with all your needs! Like you said, " you will be more of a learner (and later more of an educator) when you realize that the classroom walls have flattened." Never a more true statement has been said!



  9. Thanks, Darin! I am enthused about their initial response. They have each posted a comment on a discussion on this blog, so they are starting. I am just so happy that they have veterans, like you, to converse with!

    I love the idea of the flat classroom. So many, many options are open to us.

    Thanks for commenting here, Darin,