Education Opinion

Walking the Talk

By LeaderTalk Contributor — October 08, 2009 3 min read
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I have been advocating for changes in education to improve the quality of life for teachers, students and administrators for my whole career. Over the last three years I have added using Web 2.0 technologies to communicate, create, and collaborate on the Internet to my list of what needs to change and what holds promise. The PLN (Personal Learning Network) I have developed inspired me to return to teaching after many years as an administrator, most recently as a superintendent of a seven school district. No words can express how grateful I am for all that this Twitter community of educators has done and continues to do 24/ 7 to support my learning.

My First Class

Two weeks ago I had my first class with thirty K-12 teachers in a local school district. The course is titled “The Three Cs of 21st Century Teaching and Learning,” affectionately referred to as i3cs21. Another similar class begins in another school district begins next week. I spent a long time gathering resources and planning the way I would teach the course.

The class has a closed home wiki embedded within my innovation3 creative commons open wiki that I created on Wikispaces.com. There is a “Class Commons” blog for general communications I want to send out, and each class has a “Learning Commons” blog for practicing “blogging” and for sharing reflections about the class resources. Each class also has a “Learning Commons” wiki for practicing with a wiki. Teachers will also use the wiki as a place where they can present elements of the ePortfolio they are developing. The ePortfolio will include four elements: evidence of active engagement with the course, evidence of a personal/professional digital footprint, a summary of their personal learning in the course and a major creative digital sharing project.

The Learners

These teacher are incredible. Fearlessly, some with confusion and higher than normal levels of anxiety, they are venturing onto the digital landscape to learn for themselves what is possible for their own learning and for that of their students. I only hope I can meet their expectations. Visit our Learning Commons blog now and in the future to see what they have to say as they their journey continues. Leave a comment, all advice and encouragement accepted. They will appreciate it, and it will help sustain them through any moments of frustration they feel as they are learning within this new digital culture.


I want to acknowledge three people for their work in this area. I am participating in two open, online courses this fall that are unlike any courses I have ever experienced. Each is stretching my communication, collaboration and creation skills. Without direct involvement in my work, nonetheless, the teachers of these open, online courses are helping to shape my understanding of the nature of Internet enabled learning and the pedagogy appropriate to this kind of instruction.

Two Free Open Online Courses

I highly recommend you visit if not participate in either or both of these courses, which are running now through December. Dr. Alec Couros, University of Regina, Saschatewan, Canada teaches the Social Media and Open Education course, which is free and online for anyone interested in participating. Dr. George Siemens and Dr. Stephen Downes, University of Manitoba, Manitoba, Canada teach the Connectivism and Connective Knowledge course, which is also free and online for anyone interested in participating.

i3cs21 Course Artifacts

To illustrate aspects of the i3cs21 course I am teaching, I want to share with you two artifacts that I created. One is my experiment with a new presentation tool called Prezi. It is an introduction to the course’s components.

Animated Gettysburg Address

The other, which you can link to on my innovation3.edublogs.org blog, is my experiment with a animated video creation tool/web site called Xtranormal. It is one example I will use to illustrate options for communication, creation, and collaboration. For the fun of it, I created an animated version of Abraham Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address. I hope you enjoy both artifacts.

Dennis Richards
Retired, but still a Learning, Creating, Teaching
dennisar at gmail dot com

The opinions expressed in LeaderTalk are strictly those of the author(s) and do not reflect the opinions or endorsement of Editorial Projects in Education, or any of its publications.