Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Connected Courses as Catalyst: So Many Good Things!

I just finish writing up a post at my Anatomy of an Online Course blog about something huge that will happen in summer 2015: just as I was able to build a public domain UnTextbook for my Myth-Folklore class last summer, I now see how it will be possible to build a public domain UnTextbook for Indian Epics next summer. I am super-ultra-extra-excited about this, and the blog post already contains an outline of how that will work: An UnTextbook for Indian Epics!

So, what I wanted to talk about in this post is how Connected Courses was a catalyst for this next UnTextbook, both in a very specific way, but also in a more general way too. First, the specific thing that happened yesterday:

Because of Connected Courses I have ended up rebuilding my Twitter and blog networks, with the result that I am reading so much more and getting great new ideas all the time. One of the blogs I have been learning a lot from is David Wiley's blog at Iterating Towards Openness. There was a post there yesterday — Evolving Open Pedagogy — which invited people to comment, and I left a long comment there, focusing on how I had been able to create the public domain UnTextbook for my Myth-Folklore class with all kinds of great benefits to the pedagogy of the class overall, using the constraints of public domain to actually get me to think more creatively and deeply about the class than I might have done otherwise. I also remarked that I was still using copyrighted books for my Indian Epics class, although I would far prefer to be using openly licensed materials, public domain being the easiest of all to use of course.

And that comment nagged at me all day.

So, when evening rolled around, I decided to take a look through what I could find at Internet Archive and Hathi Trust, just to see what options might be available for Indian epic reading materials. And... it was INCREDIBLE. I posted book after book over at Google+, and then realized I was probably driving everybody crazy, ha ha. By the end of the evening, I had over 100 books bookmarked in Diigo, and I tossed and turned all night pondering just how I could present this material to the students in a way that would give us a sense of reading the epics together while also letting each person go their own way. You can read the results in the blog post. Happy.

And now, the general observation:

Thanks both to the beautiful serendipity of the Internet and also to the special role that Connected Courses has played for me this semester, I have become way more connected than I was before. In some ways, I have been a very bad student in this course because I really have not treated Connected Courses as a course at all (no, I don't do all the readings; no, I don't make all the makes)... instead, it has been an occasion for connecting — connecting with new people, connecting in new ways, and thinking about "connected courses" and "connected learning" as concepts that have finally given names to what I had always done but had never been able to label.

And so, it is true: the more I connect, the luckier I get, as in this graphic from Terry Elliott's blog:

What seems like a very long time ago, back on September 10, I posted my first blog post in this blog with the label Connected Courses. Below are the LatinLOLcats who graced that first #ccourses post with their presence. In the intervening two months, those blog posts, now numbering 58 (!), document a whole series of discoveries and breakthroughs, of which this new UnTextbook is definitely the most exciting.

So, I don't know what to say except THANK YOU, CONNECTED COURSES!!! All of you, the people who made this happen, have given me what feels like the best semester I have ever had as a teacher: I am so grateful.

Plurimum possumus:
Together we can do so much!!!

~ ~ ~

Unus nihil, duo plurimum possunt.
One can do nothing; two can do many things.


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