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Social Media School. A remix by jgmac1106 of flickr photo by mkhmarketing shared under a Creative Commons (BY) license, flickr photo by webtreats shared under a Creative Commons (BY) license, and flickr photo by mkhmarketing shared under a Creative Commons (BY) license

Story of EDU 106

Greg McVerry
Oct 4, 2015 · 5 min read

New Literacies: Digital Text and Tools for Lifelong Learning

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A reflection on #edu1o6

How we make meaning evolves, and the rate of change began to accelerate the moment writing recorded its first memory. With each new tool came new affordances and a shorter upgrade window.

The cuneiform lasted centuries. The printing press had a good run. Typewriters were nice. Now the computers in our pockets dwarf those that flew to the moon.

Except the Web isn’t one tool or one technology. Core libraries and languages, which evolve quickly (they call em nightlies for a reason), may provide a backbone. Yet think of all the new reading and writing apps that have come and gone. In the age of print new more efficient tools supplanted older tools. Now in the age of Web the new supplements and forks with the old.

This constant ebbing and flowing of new tools has fundamentally shifted the social practices of literacy. If the book opened the world to reading, the Web has opened up the world to writing.

Such an explosion of discourse has the potential to drive equity. The Web can be an engine of democracy. Yet at the same time traditional power structures that lead to gaps in literacy rates are emerging.

As a school committed to social justice Southern Connecticut State University must strive to ensure our students can read, write, and participate on the Web. More importantly, as a school of education we have a responsibility to ensure our students have the skills, strategies, and dispositions to train tomorrow’s tinkerers.

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A quote from:


So much of technological fluency has so little to do with a checklist of skills. Students in #edu106 know they will never pass my class if they do not fail.

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img: flickr photo by joansorolla Creative Commons site shared under a Creative Commons (BY) license quote:

I give students the opportunity to apply design and computational thinking to issues that matter to them. We think critically on the impact technology and social media has on education and the lives of teens. It isn’t just mastery of tech, but being critical of tech.

The class runs as a hybrid. It meets every Monday and Wednesday. The Monday is required. We begin with a #MakerMonday challenge. These are production based tasks that require students to create something using new skills or course content. For example they have created postcards using javascript, made memes, used CSS to design About Me pages, and hacked the credibility of websites.

Wednesday is optional, I host a drop-in design studio where students can seek help from me, meet with their peers, or just hang out and make cool stuff.

The class is built on iterative design. The syllabus, a living document, invites authors into our class. Using annotation tools and social media students constantly interact with texts and the authors that publish them.

Students revise their work until it works. Learning HTML is like learning any other writing. We examine text structures, find patterns, and remix. Here are some previously published portfolios:


We, as both a university and a School of Education, had a moral responsibility to level up the technological fluency of the students who walked our halls.

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Img flickr photo by photophile2012 shared under a Creative Commons (BY-NC) license quote:

My greatest innovation in #edu106 probably has very little to do with tech. Over the two sections I have taught I have tried to allow the course to align with a learning pathway determined by the students. Most students, as educaton majors, choose to develop an #edtech portfolio.

Yet this year I also have students exploring the economics, politics, and joy of coffee. Another student is developing web resources to help swim teachers. A group of your writers got together and explored the difficulties of applying connected learning on a commuter campus.

The class is taught using a “Publish on Your Own Site and Syndicate Everywhere” model. I give students full control over both their content and their privacy. For example, with our annotations they can do them in the open, under a pseudonym, or offline. Every post they share they can set to share only with the class or make it open on the Web.

Students are not only introduced to new technology but they have to think critically about its application. Twitter, while not required (I don’t feel right forcing social media membership) is analyzed in class. Students are encouraged to take part in the professional #edutwitter universe. They also analyze a Twitter chat to see if and how learning occurs in the wild.

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Next Steps

I also want to push students to try and create their own domain. Most bloggers and teachers start off on a platform like blogspot or Wordpress. it took me three years to transition to my own…..but I want to get teacher candidates there earlier.

This class can catch on. In fact it is really derivative of course design that is happening across many wonderful courses on the Web. The 106 is in the title is a homage to #ds106 and the other open courses that have influenced my thinking. I would like to expand the class beyond the borders of Southern. Not just offer enrollment at other CSU colleges but across the globe.

The Binder

My Narratives for the Promotion and Tenure File

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