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Posts tagged ‘risk’

The question of connection

(2 min read) In learning,

there is not always an equal anything.

Give, Take-

Maybe there is…

but I don’t think it comes in predefined, easy to see values. If someone is in a class for x minutes it doesn’t mean they will have learned y, or even close to y. It doesn’t mean they haven’t learned, but it is possible to be involved in a learning experience, a communication interchange of and to learn ‘orange’.


Not even in the same ball park as the question and not the expected answer. (Image by Steluma CC BY-NC-ND)

As teachers we don’t get to decide exactly how people take in, interact with, or even use what they learn, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t something passed on, accomplished, or learned. It can be like that on a grand scale, but also on the most small scale- with communication. It can be a whole module that is tricky to communicate, or a single tutorial. (I’m talking from the teacher’s point of view.)

The scenario for this post comes from Day 2 of the #BYOD4L project, questions how to connect, and it involves the unknown, doubt, and just wondering how to change and adopt new methods. The whole idea of having a few people to talk with or not knowing how to ‘find out’, is realistic, and even a commonly sentiment among academics. Let’s turn it on it’s head and think of it like you were being asked that question by a student – the student comes to you about a project and says, I don’t know how to find out about it… The first response might be to suggest they look it up, or ask for help and then maybe they could exchange ideas with someone else. All of these apply exactly to the teacher too.

However, there is still that initial inquiry; there are few who share in the same specialist area, and so it doesn’t always seem easy. That is where the wider community is so useful and amazing. It is surprising how much we can learn both from those in our areas of specialism and across the globe doing completely different things across walks of life.

Taking that step to reach out, and metaphorically ‘look up’ like minded people or ask for help or even just say something about what you do can feel like a risk, but how can we learn if we don’t ask and do? It does take that effort and once you do find a few like minded people, then the collaboration can begin. Sometimes it will be fruitful and other times it may feel less so, but in doing you (we) can learn. It is necessary to be brave and go for it. Then you’ll find the other side of the equation. There is an equal sign somewhere, but be prepared for the ‘answer’ to be open – it might be more than you expect or less, or come in a different form. As long as you take that step, you can begin the process…


Image shared by Olivier Gillet CC BY-NC-ND

Featured Image by PROMartin LaBar CC BY-NC


When you dare to ask…

#Musiquality is one big adventure:

Me, 5 students, 5,000 miles, raising a whole load of money to cover costs and make this collaboration completely awesome. However, if you look at it with a level-headed approach – there is a lot of risk. Why risk? Well because I bought the plane tickets, and as my wonderful husband reminded me yesterday, we start paying interest on that credit card bill in 20 days…. We had some fundraising advice that was hugely helpful, but also included the reality check warning that the amount of money we needed to raise within the timeframe was perhaps unrealistic for us. (we’re going in May)

So what?? should we give up? Ditch the idea – like I am going to say to the students… oh, this collaboration, the idea of making an album with students from America while we spend time learning and working together, um, well maybe not this time…

I don’t think so.


You know that saying ‘where there’s a will there’s a way’? I am willing to work – hard and carefully. At university in America I got given a car for being the one who learned the most in a competition amongst my teacher’s students. A CAR. (admittedly, that 1981 Chevy Malibu Classic didn’t last too long, especially as that was in 1994, but MAN was it awesome.) I wrote a PhD on self-efficacy – that’s a person’s belief in their capability to carry out a task. I believe in this and I believe in my students. I don’t spend money on airline tickets (that we don’t actually have) lightly. Have I completely lost it? No. I really really do believe that there is a lot of good out there, and people are capable of a heck of a lot more than they may think.

So how are we doing? Well since buying the tickets on Feb 13th we have:

£500 and $2500 in corporate donations

£93 from our first bake sale

There are fundraisers in the pipeline, like another bake sale this week, a raffle this weekend (with donated prizes), a club night at the Uni Student Union, and I have just written an article for my village magazine offering whatever we can do in return for donations – gardening, dinner music (we are musicians after all), cleaning… and that ‘we’ includes me – this isn’t a ‘teacher stands by and watches’ type initiative.

What’s the goal? £10,000 (which is a lot of money!) That covers all the costs for us for a week and allows my 5 students to make sure they each have some sort of working laptop or phone to help with the recording project, and it also leaves a few hundred pounds that each of these 5 students can leave as a scholarship fund to ‘pay it forward’ toward a future student’s costs toward another collaboration – it may be to the same place and it may be with entirely different people.

The idea is that through #Musiquality we can bring something unique to others – we can create with others, can share our skills, make, tell stories, and laugh through music. All of my students study aspects of Instrumental / Vocal Teaching and this collaboration is the sort of real world application that goes way beyond any classroom’s walls. -and you know, life is like that. Working in music now means that you have to adapt. I love that my Mac has no ‘CD hole’ (as I bluntly tell the students). Music is changing. We are changing. Society is changing. And I want to be on the crest of the wave.

I’ve been reading Cory Doctorow’s new book Information Doesn’t Want to Be Free and it has a LOT of great stuff in it, and I can’t put the book down. SO much resonates with what we are doing, and how I live. – the biggest lessons so far are 1. People have to know about you, and 2. People have to care.

Well we are spreading the word however we can, and we believe in what we are doing. As Pete (one of the students going on the trip) said:

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He’s right, you know. It is about reaching out and connecting with people – going beyond school or university, beyond age, beyond race or gender – to make music and learn together – and about living for right now with all the gusto and the capability that we can each muster. I love it. As Leonard Nimoy said in “Star Trek: TNG” Unification II:

One can begin to reshape the landscape with a single flower, Captain.

I can’t pay for my students to do this – and neither can they, and oh my there is still a long way to go, but it will happen. I must say that we have all been working at it incredibly hard at getting there- and we know that hard work will continue, but you know what – just tonight two of the students approached their landlord for help and he said, ‘girls, you deserve it because you are so lovely’ and gave them £700 toward the project! My heart nearly burst. There is a lot of good out there.

We aren’t afraid to ask for help along the way.

We can’t do it alone, and

We completely welcome your support- whether that is through a donation or by spreading the word about the project.

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Bloggin it for #CCourses

Yes, it’s Sunday. In England for us that means a traditional roast lunch with all the trimmings (think Thanksgiving, but every Sunday and smaller portions) and as much family as is around. This weekend we were with our three children, grandparents, auntie and partner in for a flying visit from Switzerland… labradors cavorting around hoping for attention or scraps of lunch – you get the picture. And in a post-lunch moment of quietness, I thought about connected courses, and Alan’s blog post about the ‘do’  came to mind. I watched the videos, and after bit of a busy week and felt a bit out of touch – what was I supposed to be doing? Was there something??

I went to the course page and read. Sure enough at the bottom of the page there were ‘makes’! I haven’t done any yet, and I’m not quite sure if I can fir those exact tasks into the week to come, but thought at least I could write about some recent experiments and connections with connected learning.

Last week marked a number of connections for me and my students.

1. I posted the last content-based session (Interlinking issues) of the first iteration of my music course online. MUS654 has been an experiment for me – throwing myself and my students in the deep end and overall they have really taken to it. I am not sure that running a course on creating a curriculum is necessarily the best choice if the course is to be appealing to a wide audience, but it has made the first inroads to reach a wider community and it has certainly encouraged my students to get out there and think wider. Having replies to things like this inspired reply from California and a tweet of a drawing from Kevin have cast their eyes well beyond the city walls to new possibilities.

2. on the back of that, I told someone about connecting. I had been just kind of getting on with it and unless you knew me or my students or were on twitter, you wouldn’t particularly know about my class. So I told the student’s union about it, just in case other students wanted to have a nose around. Heck, the idea of connecting and open sourcing things might appeal and then they might go to their teachers and ask for something along those lines.  –  you never know what might come from sharing an idea, and if nothing else comes of it, that’s ok. I’ll keep on truckin’.

3. Last week another class of mine connected with David Preston’s high school class. We all learned ukulele as an initial hello activity so we could play with one of his students and some of my students came in one evening to make the link. We certainly had a few challenges to negotiate with live cross-continental communication, and how it all changes when you try to play music collaboratively. I had my youngest son with me because it was in the evening for us… and not all the students could make it because of various other commitments. The fact that it wasn’t a particularly neatly orchestrated exchange didn’t particularly matter because that wasn’t the point. The students got the message that we believe in connections: they can do things, they can dream things, and it may take work, but so much is possible.

4. Some really neat face to face 3D (as Maha would say) connections have been born over the past week. Some of Jonathan Worth’s #Phonar students are working with a cello piece that I recorded, and one contacted me:

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and I arranged to take her to meet the maker of my cello, Malcolm Combes. How cool is that!? This guy is a legend to me and I love that part of his story is now going to be connected and told through another medium. I love that connections don’t always have to remain online.

I’m enjoying the ride. I love pushing out in new directions and the challenges are completely yummy – I know I’m learning at least as much as the students. Even if these specific connections weren’t born directly out of connected courses, the people involved in ccourses have certainly instilled me with a big dose of inspiration and confidence.

Here’s to the week ahead!

over and out.