My Guiding Principles

Greg McVerry
Oct 1, 2015 · 6 min read

Four words capture the spirit I bring to my teaching, creative activity, service and professional development. Make. Hack. Play. Learn.

I believe learning works best when it is interest driven and production based. We must design and redesign our possible futures. Make tomorrow happen.

We also have to iterate on our past. Where we have been shapes our trajectories. We need to take what has come before and try to make it a little bit better. You can not succeed without failure. Hack away at what you tried yesterday.

Learning is an embodied experience that cuts across the affordances of tools and meaning. We need to play with words and the tools that allow us to decode and encode meaning on the world. Students need the opportunity. to try different professional identities. Play in the moment

Make. Hack. Play. Learn. These elements of my digitally networked scholarship can not be separated from my journey at Southern Connecticut State University.

Digitally Networked Scholarship

In this portfolio you will see the guiding principle of Make. Hack. Play. Learn play out across my teaching, creative activity, service, and professional development.

In fact it is hard for me to separate the four elements of my tenure file from each other. I define what I do as digitally networked scholarship.

Community Engaged Scholarship

Digitally networked scholarship borrows heavily from the lens of community engaged scholarship (Boyer 1990). Community engaged scholarship is a continuum that recognizes faculty for doing work within the communities it serves. It gets to the heart of Southern’s mission as a Institution dedicated to social justice. Research isn’t just about variance. Its about values.

Connected Learning

I also borrow heavily from the emerging framework of Connected Learning in my definition of digitally networked scholarship. This work grows on socio-cultural constructivism and cultural historical activity theory to posit new pedagogies for a pixel driven world. Learning, from this lens, is best when it is equitable, social and participatory. These values are best reached when you design spaces that allow peer culture, interest driven, and academically valued through production based, openly networked learning around a shared purpose.

Principles of Digitally Networked Scholarship

Leadership as Learning

Leadership also does not depend on being right. As Thomas Kuhn points out, in a period of constantly changing paradigms most of the very distinguished leaders are bound to be proven wrong by the test of hindsight. Intellectual leadership does depend on superior intellectual discipline and imagination and the willingness to associate with others in their exercise. Ivan Illich’s Deschooling Society

I came across this quote reading Gardner Campbell’s (2007)work on leadership and learning. Which of course made me dig out my bookmark to Deschooling Society. I thought on this quote for some time.

Illich used intellectual as an adjective. Not a noun. It was not about being superior over others but in your discipline; in thinking about serving and leading others. I used to subscribe to Tom Sawyer’s school of leadership. I could get others to whitewash the fence for me. No more.

What if Tom took his leadership ability further? What if he displayed not just the imagination but the intellectual discipline to help others? Could he have built a painting empire. That is what I strive to do: build a collective knowledge base in the service of others (In Tom’s defense the world needs travelers).

I do my best teaching when I am leading as a digital scholar, and I do my best learning when I am teaching.

Leadership is learning.

Empower Learners

Digitally networked scholars seek to empower students. A a teacher I try to unlock the pathways, privacy, and potential of my students and those I interact with on the Web. They do the same for me.

In my teaching I try to recognize and build in multiple pathways for learners. This is often out of necessity (teaching graduate classes with veteran teachers and teacher candidates) but is more from a committed sense to build agency. Studnets need to be able to shape their own learning.

In my classes, across my networks, and in my professional development I empower people to develop their own pathway to mastery. In #edu106 for example students can hack the syllabus and design their own final.

I also empower learners to take control of their data. In all of my recent research and teaching I have used open classrooms. Instead of students hiding and losing their data behind an LMS I encourage them to publish content in a way where they can own what they make long after class is over.

This control of data also gives students control over privacy. I firmly believe learners in digital spaces have a fundamental right to privacy. While I use Open tools every student gets to decide what they want to share with the class and what they want to share with the world.

Empowerment is learning.

Build What You Want

Digitally networked scholars build the tools and spaces they use. For me this begins with creating a classroom culture that recognizes the value of design thinking. We are always iterating on the future.

Creating a class culture that values growth over GPA is difficult. I want students to excel not in search of an A but in the hunt for humanity. I want them to be committed to doing their best in order to improve themselves and their world.

In order to create this culture I work hard to model expectations for my class. This means I complete the assignments I ask of students. I model what it means to learn in the open. I dedicate countless hours each week across many online networks.

I also help design the open source tools. I am an educator advisor to and a recognized leader within Mozilla Learning Networks. I help build the tools we use in class.

Designing is learning.

Distributed Cognition and Federated Classrooms

Digitally networked scholarship relies on both distributed cognition and a federated classroom. I am as smart as my network and we off load and share knowledge across our tools and spaces.

To allow this to happen I use, build, and support a variety of federated classrooms. In my teaching this means having every student publishing a blog and syndicating our classroom through RSS.

As research I create open online experiences such as #walkmyworld and #teachtheweb. These classes have brought together thousands of people from across the globe who want to learn with others like me.

In my service and professional development I take part in endless number of Twitter chats, podcasts, Slack channels, Facebook groups and MOOCs such as #clmooc, #ccourses, and #rhizo15. I have created a network full of social capital that I harness while a faculty member at SCSU.

Learning is better together.

Open Scholarship

The last tenant of digitally engaged scholar is moving our research away from effect sizes and trying to affect the world around you. Everything I do try to do in the open.

Published research, of the peer reviewed flavor, reflects a committment to open scholarship. Everything I write is drafted and edited in the public. I also conduct my research in the open. My two latest research projects #walkmyworld and #questiontheweb all use open data and analysis. Everything is out there for anyone to use.

My creative activity is also reflected in my work with Mozilla Learning Networks. For the last two years we have worked to define what it means to read, write, and participate on the web. Most recently we worked to develop Thimble. Our current mission is nothing short of universal web literacy.

My open scholarship is also reflected in my teaching and service. Most specifically Gear Up, Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Programs. I am the literacy and technology coordinator for Gear Up. The project is dear to me. It is the kind of scholarship comprehensive universities of Southern need to be engaged in.

I help to ensure the class of 2018 is not only college and career ready but community and civic ready. I want the students of New Haven Public Schools to change the world.

An open world learns better.

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