The Power of Virtual Connections

Remix. Evolve. Connect. Collaborate.

These words, drawn from our course 2 topics and themes certainly speak to the power of global, online connections. This week’s resources focus on Social Media and participatory culture. There are many opinions about this topic and what the readings showcase is the power of social media, which can be both positive and negative. As I reflect upon my own experiences, I have numerous positive examples and some that were not so positive. As an advocate of evolving digital tools, I am always reflecting on how we can ensure positive iteration, ensure responsible and safe use, and ensure we are flourishing with the media that surrounds us.

Inspired by my own COETAIl journey in Online 12-13, I designed a model titled Consume to Create. The model shifts from connections via social media to learning and reflection with online content to collaboration and communication, or what is now being termed participatory culture. Essentially, I wanted to highlight that if we engage with consumption that inspires creation, we are harnessing the power of online connections. COETAIL inspired numerous positive online collaborations for me, and I engaged in deep work with people I have not met in person (or at least have never worked and lived with in the same country). Some of these collaborations are small and some have culminated in projects like the Compassion Summit

As we engage in the course 2 final project, it is our hope that you will develop meaningful global collaborations and connections that inspire your work forward. 



Course 2, Week 1: With the End in Mind

(by Tara Waudby)

Welcome to Course 2!

You are now well into your COETAIL journey and we are excited to walk along the path with you. As you peruse the final project guidelines for Course 2, you will notice that Global Collaboration is the central component of this project. There are multiple options to choose from, with the primary goal serving global collaboration.

As we embark upon this course, we encourage you to begin planning your collaboration now. What does global collaboration mean to you? How might you collaborate and with whom? Which project excites you? 

Model by Tara Waudby

In January of this year, I co-hosted an Online Design Summit with the goal of global co-creation. Our schools are too busy, we are too busy, to create or recreate everything, especially when we are working on similar challenges. We shared a phased model of collaboration moving from sharing to re-creation to co-creation. Ultimately, our goal is co-creation and cross-pollination so that we end the cycle of sharing and recreating in individual schools. As you think ahead to your final project, how might this model serve you? What could you co-create together that would serve you and your school?

If you are interested in more information about the Online Design Summit, check out our Playbook here

In course 2, we will be focused on the ISTE Standard of Citizen. ISTE defines this standard as our ability as educators to “inspire students to positively contribute and responsibly participate in the digital world” ( In order to do this well, we need to tap into our own curiosity and skills of critical examination so that we can contribute positively, build community and model digital citizenship.

Respect the Remix

Week one calls on us to respect the remix. Picasso famously stated, “Bad artists copy. Good artists steal.” While he was not advocating intellectual property theft, he was advocating what many creatives advocate, and that is the idea that nothing is truly original and that we build upon the influences that inspire us, or as Steve Jobs stated, “Originality depends on new and striking combinations of ideas.” 

Creativity and innovation is the evolution of ideas. Gloria Ladson-Billings, who proposed a culturally relevant pedagogy in 1995, wrote a version 2.0 in 2014 after scholars had expanded upon her work. The following reflection offered by her perfectly defines the need for respecting the remix.

“Scholarship, like culture, is fluid… The notion of a remix means that there was an original version and that there may be more versions to come, taking previously developed ideas and synthesizing them to create new and exciting forms. Similarly, in the world of technology, change is both inevitable and expected: we are unsurprised when version 2.0 is succeeded by version 3.0, and so on. Such revisions do not imply that the original was deficient; rather, they speak to the changing and evolving needs of dynamic systems. Remixing is vital to innovation in art, science, and pedagogy, and it is crucial that we are willing to remix what we created and/or inherited” (Ladson-Billings, 2014).

As we delve into Course 2, we will be focusing on connections, creative evolution and innovation. The remix is the ultimate creation and we look forward to seeing what you remix as you become a global collaborator and creator!


Week 6: Finishing Up Course 1

(by Diana Beabout)

One of the benefits of the cohort model we use for COETAIL is the variety of experiences, perspectives, and voices all of our participants bring. And although you are all addressing the same “big idea” and exploring and working through some of the same resources, you all make connections, analyze and synthesize ideas and information, and reflect on and apply your learning in unique ways. 

Image by ptra from Pixabay

Online 13 Blog Posts: Planning for Tech-Rich Learning

For the unit on Planning for Tech-Rich Learning regarding planning for authentic, purposeful learning experiences, we again gain more insight into each others’ experiences and the impact their current context plays in addressing the use of technology for teaching and learning. 

In her post Planning for Tech-Rich Learning in Early Childhood, Amy asks “How can I effectively, practically, and authentically embed technology into my program in a developmentally appropriate way with 3-5-year-olds?” Acknowledging the research on screen time for young children, she uses four guiding principles to reflect on how she is using technology authentically with her young learners (and their parents). 

Kimberly shares how she has seen herself as an Old School Augmenting Relic in her recent post and her consideration of moving her use of mentor text and picture books into the digital world. Her realization is that “With blended learning models, Zoom and the inconsistency of face to face instruction, leaning on my core beliefs is no longer an option. I have to find a way to engage learners and provide agency through integrating technology.” She explains how she is now ready to transform an inquiry and literacy unit using technology. 

Reflecting how her view of the use of technology in education has changed over the past year, Coleton shares her learning and goals for Moving Past Using Technology as a Substitution. Coleton shares how she plans to refocus and refine how her students use technology in an upcoming unit. She concludes, “by providing my students with more choice and a real audience for their work, I can make their use of technology, and their learning, in general, more authentic.”

Comments and Connections

I’ve been really impressed with the amount of interaction that has been taking place via comments on your blog posts. Within the first few weeks, you were sharing your connections, insight, experiences, advice, wonderings, etc. with each other and building those relationships that are core to the COETAIL experience. Tara and I are looking to set up some other opportunities for community building during Course 2 via Flipgrid and online meetings. Stay tuned for more information! 

Image by Hebi B. from Pixabay

Finishing up Course 1 

A reminder of our timeline for the next few weeks. Course 1 officially ends April 4 which gives you approximately two weeks to complete your coursework (blog posts and comments) including your Course 1 Final Project and accompanying blog post. (More details in this week’s email) 

We know there’s been a lot going on with starting COETAIL and adjusting to the weekly blog posts and commenting in addition to everything else going on professionally and personally, but hope you can look at how much you’ve already accomplished these past weeks. Tara and I will be assessing your final projects and look forward to seeing how you apply your learning and expertise in transforming a unit to share.


Week 5: From Theory into Practice

(by Diana Beabout)

Image by Alexandra from Pixabay

This Week: From Theory into Practice

Big Idea: Evolving research impacts teaching & learning.

Since Plato, many theories of learning have been developed, researched, applied, and modified, each one with a different take on how students learn. Learning theories describe “how students absorb, process, and retain knowledge during learning.” The number of different theories can be a bit overwhelming but we’re going to focus on a few of them, especially in relation to learning in the ‘digital age’ (If you’d like to see the expanse of learning theories over time, check out this graphic created by Richard Millwood from his blog)

Today there are new ideas, remixed ideas, old ideas that have been re-packaged or tweaked to address learning, particularly in this ‘digital age’. This week our focus turns to some of these learning theories as we reflect on the question “How might we utilize learning theories to engage and motivate our students and colleagues?”

Resources on Learning Theories
Some of the resources for this week on learning theories are academic research papers that are important to educational research but can be a bit dense and lengthy. Here are some supplemental resources you can explore including videos and articles…

Image by athree23 from Pixabay

Online 13 Blog Posts: Connected Learning

This unit prompted reflection and discussion on personal learning experiences. A few perspectives from our Online 13 cohort…

Justin: “Connected learning”
Justin questions Josh Kaufman’s theory of 20 hours to get “good enough” at anything relating his own learning experiences. Justin shares, “When I think about three of my passions (tennis, climbing and photography)…and have spent well over 20 dedicated hours, “good enough” would not be even close to a label/level of comfort I would be satisfied with. All three are lifelong and enduring. They continually challenge me, empower me to persevere and have enough varying degrees of challenge…Essentially, all three continually ask me to step out of my comfort zone.”

David: “Scared of Learning”
David provides honest and reflective insight into his own challenges with learning, specifically learning Icelandic. He then applies this to student learning sharing, “So, how can I ensure moving forward that students are not as afraid of making a mistake when they start to learn a new skill? This is where the idea of connected learning comes in, both digitally and face-to-face. Connected learning is the intersection of a student’s interests, school work, and life at home. If students are given dedicated time to work on their own interest, such as with Genius Hour,and time to work on a skill, they can gain practice at the 20 hour rule brought up by Kaufman.”

Brandon: “Learning: Do You See the Connection?”
Brandon explores an action plan framework to learn more about self-paced learning to implement in his classroom. Brandon shares his inspiration, “Now that I am a teacher and help to facilitate the learning of tiny individuals, I give a lot more thought to what it means to be a learner and someone who actively seeks out new information and tries new things. …I  recently read a book titled Atomic Habits by James Clear and it has really transformed my life. In the book, Clear states that in order to make anything a practice, we must have a plan in place. He also states that by “stacking habits” we can create a whole slew of healthy habits that become second nature to us. It also changes the way that we think about ourselves and how we identify.”

Reminder: The Course 1 Project

Each course has a final project that is posted as your week 6 blog post (with a project reflection). For course one, you will be uploading a unit plan that incorporates the essential understandings from this course. Ideally, you will be either designing a new unit that you hope to use soon or perhaps tweaking a unit you recently finished so that it’s ready to go for next year. You can find the details, examples, and templates needed here. Feel free to use whatever unit planner layout that you use in your school (just be sure it includes the same key elements in some shape or form). Please note that you will provide two pieces to be assessed: the unit planner and a reflective blog post. If you have any questions, please ask.


Week 4: Planning for Tech-Rich Learning

(by Diana Beabout)

Image by Pezibear from Pixabay

Online 13 Blog Posts: Research 

Week 2 topic on research led to interesting connections between research (beyond finding resources for an assignment) and learning (inquiry/independent learning) for teachers and students in addressing the essential question: What role does research play in my daily practice as an educator?

“Adult educators must empower children by giving them the skills to research and evaluate their findings in order to benefit from the normal richness of the internet….Therefore, in my practice, this has challenged me to think about whether I teach dependent or independent learners”
Abigail, in her post Becoming a Researcher

“I began sharing how I was learning [with my students], instead of what I was learning.  When asked a question, I would take it as an opportunity to share a strategy on how to find the answer instead of just give the answer.  I started to openly share my journey as a learner: the failures, the frustrations, the iterations, the successes, the whole part and parcel.”
Danielle, in her post Going from Sage on the Stage to Active Co-Learner

“Educators are the coaches and facilitators that guide students to have agency in their learning. Educators are there to help students hone their skills so that they can guide their own learning journey. This is why I believe research and digital citizenship skills are so important. I want students to be able to have the agency to navigate any resource they need with confidence to find the information they need.”
-Megan, in her post Research & Experiential Learning

Upcoming: The Course 1 Project

Already?! Not quite as it’s still a few weeks out and not due until April 4, but we want you to be aware of what’s coming up. This also gives you time to ask questions and get clarification. Each course has a final project that is posted as your week 6 blog post (with a project reflection). For Course 1, you will be uploading a unit plan that incorporates the essential understandings from this course. Ideally, you will be either designing a new unit that you hope to use soon or perhaps tweaking a unit you recently finished so that it’s ready to go for next year. You can find the details, examples, and templates needed here. We will have more information and support over the next few weeks as needed. 

This Week: Technology to support meaningful learning

Technology has the ability to transform the learning experiences in our classrooms and schools so that it redefines the learning that takes place. But, how do we plan for tech-rich learning to take place? How do we make the tech-rich learning authentic and purposeful? How can we embed technology seamlessly into our curricular areas?

When we choose to use technology as part of the learning experience then there are implications in the classroom and we need to support our thinking & understanding about how we can responsibly and authentically embed technology within our curriculum. With the extenuating circumstances of the past year with the pandemic and the move for many of us to distance and hybrid learning, many educators have had to adjust their teaching to use more technology –  with a variety of successes and challenges. And many in the education community are reflecting on and assessing how the accelerated use of technology could be harnessed to purposefully use technology so that it deepens the learning. 

 (Check out the YouTube Live series Silver Lining for Learning: Conversations on the Future of Learning)

This week’s readings will help you dive a little deeper into the topic and reflect on your own practices in the classroom. As you delve deeper into this concept you may find other articles, blogs, links, and videos that interest you and that you want to read and share. Please do! 

Here are a few others to consider..

Consider our essential question for the week: How can we effectively, practically, and authentically embed technology within our curricular areas?

Look forward to reading about your learning, connections, experiences, and ‘a-ha’ moments on this topic!