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Weaving a Dream

In his book Mable McKay: Weaving the Dream (1994) Greg Saris tells an ethnohistorical story about Mabel, a Pomo basket maker while also discovering his own heritage in the process.  At the end of the book Saris asks Mabel why she allowed him into her oral history which so few outside the Pomo knew.  Her response….”because you kept coming back”.

In our education circles we are very busy dodging, planning, creating, and dealing seemingly “against” a system that is hell bent on making the corporate and managerial school a model for reform that is palatable to our communities. I see in your tweets, blog posts and videos that education innovators are struggling and letting it be known.  It is a rough and emotional road.

In a recent blog post and Monika Hardy forwarded to me along with some sage advice coupled with my last few days at PFUNC 11 I am reminded that all of our wranglings in education need not loose site of our learning communities, and the humans behind them. We need to come back, consistently to young people.  Do you remember beyond the banter of struggle what the noise of young people learning sounds like, looks like….?  Do you remember the feeling you had; the heartache of happiness,  body and mind full of  hope…..hope.  Do not loose these feelings, even in your radical reform work to help, political struggles and battles in education. But do not rest in your classrooms, learning centers and other space of education either.

Keep coming back to the learner: not the standard, model, curriculum….Weave your dream with learners as a learner, and never forget that they are there, watching, waiting, worried and hopeful.  Listen to young people and they will do more than follow your lead, idea, design….they will lead, ideate, and design.  Your dream will be successful, inspirational and world altering precisely because you kept coming back….to what matters to us all.

A nLearning Ecology Core Design

A Networked Learning Ecology (NLE) Core Design

Image: Wiki|Networked Learning Ecology

This Core  design  exists within a framework of socially driven integrated curriculum, and at a nexus  between place based and international learning.

A Vision:

Building a Networked Civic Culture for an interdependent world.

A Strategy:

An integrative and integrated curriculum enabled through eLearning in a series of new spaces for learning .  The NLE is a powerful answer to the myriad of questions that face the failing infrastructure of the traditional school in the twenty-first century.


A Nexus of Curriculum Integration and Networked Learning (nLearning)

Curriculum Integration

Building on work and scholarship since 1904, NLE will seat its core design in the frameworks of curriculum integration.  Most recently, the clearest voice for this visionary approach to learning is Dr. James Beane (retired Professor of Integrated Studies, National Lewis University). The following sections on curriculum integration weave the work of Beane (1997) and specifically his salient discourse in Curriculum Integration: Designing the Core of Democratic Education  into the overall discussion. This approach to learning will be inherently learner centric.

Integrated Curriculum: Young people involved and engaged in an enormous range of knowledge, from information to values clarification, and including content and skills from several disciplines of knowledge integrated in the context of themes and activities within them.  Organizing centers are are significant problems or issues that connect the curriculum to the larger world. These centers serve as a context for unifying knowledge.  Knowledge in turn is developed as it is instrumentally applied to exploring the organizing centers (Beane,1997).

Integrative learning: Collaboratively planning a curriculum with young people (Beane, 1997).

An integrative integrated core curriculum with problem[/passion] based central themes, and meaningful concepts to drive authentic activities where ideas are explored and acted on (Beane,1997).

Personal Knowledge:
Addressing self concerns and ways of knowing about self (Beane, 1997).

Social Knowledge:
Addressing social and world issues, from peer to global relationships, and ways of critically examining these (Beane, 1997).

Explanatory Knowledge:
Content that names, describes, explains, and interprets, including that involved in the disciplines of knowledge as well as commonsense or popular knowledge, (Beane, 1997)

Technical/Twenty First Century Knowledge:
Ways of investigating, communicating, analyzing, and expressing. Finding,Validating, Leveraging, and Synthesizing Information; Communicating, collaboration and problem solving in a technologically rich environment (Beane, 1997).

 nLearning: From Curriculum Integration to Learning Ecology

The approach to learning embodied in an integrated and integrative curricular core will be intensified through nLearning.  This nexus between highly student based curriculum and  nLearning will provide the learning community with a new learning ecology. This ecology will embody the NLE vision as it allows young people and their communities both local and around the world to connect in authentic, effective and exciting ways.

nLearning systems

Project based and collaboration rich software will enable our learning spaces to have a flexible web 2.0 enabled system to work within the NLE’s many project based learning endeavors.  Throughout our first year of operations and then on a continual basis, the whole community at NLE will find and validate new nLearning tools for the proliferation of our learning spaces. This integrative process will allow for young people to use and develop the technologies they see as integral to their learning.

Mobile Learning (mLearning)

NLE learning ecologies will provide the frameworks necessary to utilize mLearning in expansive ways.  Mobile Learning using, iPhones, netbooks, and other portable tools will offer the learning community a chance to take learning in highly dynamic situations to a new level.


Networked ePortfolio (nPortfolio) assessment will be a way to weave assessment into the learning ecology as a learning tool.  The design and flexible structures offered through the use of nPortfolios will enhance the learning spaces of NLE by allowing the whole community access to research and learning outcomes while at the same time providing a personal and learner centric environment for growth.  NLE nPortfolio’s will provide the community with an in-depth look at student passion, interests, intelligences, growth, and accomplishment.

NLE  Learning Ecology

Foundations for Learning: The Learning Community and Space

Learners working via nLearning in project pods locally and internationally in blended learning settings.

A learning Mesh that inspires and houses the NLE learning community

Organizing Centers Core Curricular Design: IGCC Whole Learning Ecology Programs

The core design of NLE organizing centers will emerge out of learner outcomes in Whole Learning Ecology (WLE) programs.  WLE programs will be both integrative and integrated and serve as methods investigations in learning how to learn.

Twenty First Century Literacies (TCL)

Learning how to find, validate, synthesize, leverage, communicate, collaborate and problem solve.  What is essential about the TCL’s is that the investigations will engage learners through a practice of relationship building.  How to approach an interdependent world will be the focus of these sessions.  Learners may be involved in active listening workshops, architectures of empathy workshops, or design and research methods courses. The goal of these investigations will be to ready IGCC participants for the innovative and world changing work they will do in their learning spaces and toward their organizing centers.

Integrated Learning Center (ILC)

ILC programming will emerge out of the special needs or interests of learners.
This program is currently being created as a space for intensive individual study, travel, or invention/business creation outside of the organizing centers that will drive most of the learning spaces in the IGCC core.

Organizing Centers Core Curricular Design: NLE Organizing Centers

NLE will offer learners a chance to create their own authentic experiences through fully integrated organizational centers (OC’s).  These OC’s will blend all of the NLE learning ecology together for projects that have lasting impact on the world. All of the OC’s designed will have real world application and deal with the issues of living in an interdependent world. The outcomes of these projects will meet not only the curricular needs of knowledge acquisition but apply all learning to the real world.  The goal of all organizing centers is focused on integration of self into interdependent world systems for a sustainable future.

Related Posts: A Networked Learning Project: The Connected Day

A new blog site.

Well, Tumblr was getting more action than my old WordPress blog and steelemaley.net needed to become what it was meant to be….a network aggregation space for me.  So here’s to Blogger for inspiring me to move my writings and networked learning.  I look forward to it. 

Networked Learning Ecologies Part 1

A Vision: Networked Learning Ecology: A mesh of open, free and participatory media (ICT’s+) and situated learning that liberate humans to create networks for social, economic and ecological resilience. Voices: (Please add more in comments)

Leigh Blackall:

Stephen Downes:

  • Slideshare: Groups vs Networks: The Class Struggle Continues

  • Stephen Downes identifies significant differences between networks and groups, along four major axes. Drawn but not discussed at the Future of Learning in a Networked World event in Aukland, New Zealand. This short video explains the drawing at http://www.flickr.com/photos/stephen_downes/252157734


Florian Schneider:

Roberto Greco:

More to come….

On Networked Learning

Leigh Blackall presents a new view of learning that is critical, open, networked and participatory through his research.  In a recent twitter stream and blog post he is asks for collective and open deliberation for a definition of networked learning.  As a participant involved in networked learning research and praxis I will offer the following as an entry into the collective imaging and deliberation.


Open: Learning is free from institutions or understood to be actively participating in non-institutional learning.

Critical: learning does no harm or actively works for social, economic, and environmental sustainability and resilience.

Participatory: learning is integrative and inclusive of participants regardless of skill level or pre-determined social hierarchy.

Networked: learning happens in a blended mesh. Learners, pedagogues, and others are nodes that exchange information to different degrees, depths and forms both online and in the field.

The best defense of these definitions I have found is presented here by Steven Downes:

Image above: Watts and Strogatz model/small world network graph, credit: Arpad Horvath

Kenai Fjoirds National Park, AK….Pep Talk

Found this picture today of a conservation work crew of amazing young people I Co-Led with my wife in Alaska.  Everyone was quite uncertain about our pending 1500 foot assent in 1 mile with this 20 foot plank (to fix a bridge damaged in spring melt)….Que pep talk.

24/7 with young people in the back country of AK=ubiquitous learning.

Readings: UNESCO

UNESCO-Earth Charter Initiative

Hersch, J (1969) The Birthright of Man

A razor’s edge

Listen closely to the “lesson I want to get across” at minute 6:31….”There is no opting out of new media….it changes a society as a whole….media mediates relationships….the whole structure of society can change….we are on a razor’s edge between hopeful possibilities and more ominous futures….”

At min 8:14 Wesch describes what we need people to “be” to make our networked mediated culture work, and the barriers we are facing in schools.  Wesch is right on. Corporate curriculum, schedules, bells, borders, and “teaching/classroom management” are easily assisted by technology. Yet to open learning and deschool our educational system represents the hopeful possibilities Wesch imagines and has acted on.  What we accept from industrial schooling, how we proceed in our educational endeavors, and what we do, facilitate, witness, and promote in our actions in education mean so much to learners of today and the interconnected and interdependent systems we are all a part of.

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Young People, Action and Education

I was moved today by a video of young people taking action in support of indigenous rights, cultural rights and self determination:

This example of student driven action goes well beyond adult organized marches, or adult driven activity for social justice. Many of these young people show an enduring understanding of their interdependence and interconnection with a nation and the world. For example, at minute 11:00 in the video a young woman articulates a distinct article of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (More on the declaration and UNPFII here!)

For all of us who see open and free learning as a fundamental human right, it’s important to recognize that there is global deliberation and decision making on issues well beyond neoliberalism happening in the UN and in other spaces….How we participate in these movements and with others around the world on these issues will shape the common bond we have as humans in the 21st century. As ecological and economic overshoot continues, understanding how to participate and network for education and global civic culture will increase in importance.


Since [UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples] adoption, Australia, New Zealand, Canada and the United States have all reversed their positions and now endorse the Declaration.