Social Learning w/ 5 Examples from ECMP 355


social learningphoto flicker


Lyndsay lyndsay with mittons

As the ECMP355 activities began, I admit I regularly read Lyndsay’s posts because I knew her from the previous year when we both sat on the executive of the Education Students Society.  It was no surprise then, after our intrutor’s tech task to break down the camera shots in a short clip from any YouTube video, that after I posted my video, I check in to see what Lyndsay had to say

Although her writing didn’t prompt me to write another post, the images on her post did prompt a response.  Upon viewing her video, another video clip popped up as suggestion of other videos I might be interested in viewing. 

Lyndsay ended her post with these little words, (Oh, and for all you bloggers who do not take the time to hyperlink, please make this note, none of following would have happened had Lyndsay not taken the time for that one little hyperlink), “P.S. If anyone is interested, this video is also by Dove. And this one REALLY DISTURBED ME!” 

I thought, “Disturbed you?  How, why, really?  What parts? What connections does this have to the first video you posted?”  These question were running in my mind as I watched the second video and then saw the video to it’s right.  Lyndsay’s excellent inquiry question already had me searching for my own answers. 

I was instantly shocked by Greenpeace’s video that brought to light of the environmental destruction that happens because of the making of palm oil, the main ingredient found in Dove cosmetic.  Maybe it is the Faculty of Education’s social justice theme that has been molding me these last four years, but I now tend to see the world through a socially just lens.  I did not see social justice in the two Dove videos.  I saw a teachable moment however and I posted about that.

I met Karen when she introduced herself the first night of ECMP355.  I’ve come to know her through her cut-to-the-chase, arts-supporting, beautifully written, roller-derby-loving posts.  I enjoy reading Karen’s blog, not only for the content but for the style with which she writes.  Her prose is effortless, and her writing makes me smile. 

She responded to my post about the Dove videos with these comments, “These films are made for the benefit of getting women to think about their relationship to media, and how beauty is packaged and sold to women as though women are imperfect.” 

All I could think was, “Yes, but dig deeper.  Once kids are able to go deeper and discover the ugly nature of this message, students will really learn how ‘produced beauty’ is superficial”.  There is so much scope and depth in this one little example.  And as my mentoring teacher, Bill Ferriter reflects, and as my teacher of Reading, Dr. Meredith Chereland, often shares, kids become engaged with content when its message centers on questions of fairness.  The same holds true for me, on my blog, in my teaching, with my daughter, in my learning, and in my personal life.  I needed to look closer at the underlying issue of equity.  I believe that the real question regarding Dove’s use of an ethical message to further their unethical goals is does the end justify the means?

Dean said in the June 6th class that if we were going to be critical of others in our reflections than we needed to email these reflections to him and not post them.  I wonder if Dean is of the Thumper mentality that “If you can’t say anything nice, than don’t say anything at all.”  Conversely, Dean has repeatedly spoken of the need for us to strive for a transparency with our social learning.  My transparency sometimes manifests itself as a criticism or a need to stand up for what I believe in. 

I understand this contradiction to mean that a great deal of my current social learning in my blogging belongs to the ever-present System, and not to me.  This is the very description of opaque.  I’m not so silly to think that the system will ever go ‘away.’  Look back at my post about my becoming a teacher.  I deliberately bit my tongue holding for non-tenured reasons…  


Back to my point:  When Larrisa stated in her post that she was engaged in a “battle against the “divorce” label that she described as a label of “hate, bitterness, anger, injustice, deception, pain, agony, shame or any other destructive word” she hit my trigger.  I loath the off-handed divorce label.  People wield it with little understanding of the negative stereotypes it carries.  Children are classified by this label and if you, blog reader, do not believe me, than ponder this: for every box you check off stating you are single, married or common-law, I check off a similar box for my child declaring that her parents are divorced.  I am forced to place her into a stereotype that I believe to be riddled with the destructive labels of hate, bitterness, anger, injustice, deception, pain, agony, and shame.  Now let’s talk about digital identity. 

I loath that my daughter is considered “at-risk” because she comes from a single-parent home.  The supposed risks for children of divorce are much misunderstood.  The truth is that the real risk for youth comes from those who are not shown consistent bonds of trust from the adults in their lives, (Reclaiming our Prodigal Sons’ and Daughters, Brentro).  I have no doubt that my daughter knows bonding and trust, and that she understands these key behaviors better than most of her peers.  And she is child of a single parent.  Have your children learned trust from your behaviors? 

I read to her every night.  I go to all her practices and games.  I am here to negotiate her boundaries with her, and I will never leave.  One night as I held the puke bucket for another of her seemingly endless bouts of nausea through a long night, she looked up at me and said gratefully, “You are my Pukey Mom!”  Yes, this is my label.  Divorce is not our label, and children are worth more than labels.  My daughter is Jessy Lee, and because her home is filled with bonding, mastery, independence and generosity, she is resilient.  Now, this is my understanding of divorce.


 Bill Ferriter advised me the other day to make sure to stay on top of the VT comments, to go ahead and delete the ones that are not classroom appropriate.  He said kids will comment about almost anything, and part of my role in this digital world is to teach kids the difference between an educational environment and a social environment like Facebook.  Bill says that by deleting students’ comments, we give kids that message.  Social learning can lead to a desire to engage in cruelty or futile discussion.  Sometimes, not all posts even need a response.  Sometimes the best response is no further engagement.


As with Karen, I didn’t know Lance prior to this course.  I remember that first night when he shared that this course did not intimidate him.  I remember when he posted his tech task on Google Maps, he was finished so quickly!  That first weekend I was having trouble hyper-linking so I thought, “Hey, email Lance.” 

He replied right away.  That he had cats, was a great conversation starter, like being able to discuss children (Lance loves his cats).  I don’t think a week (other than that week I was teaching) has gone by when I haven’t emailed him.

To Lance:

“2009/6/10 … “OK, for the life of my I cannot remember or find my way through to posting flickr pics…  think of it this way… you can write all about all the good stuff you’ve taught me!!” 

Of course he replied, talked me through it, and I’m fine with Flickr pictures now.  Thanks be to Lance 🙂

What I like best about the ebbs and flows of Lance’s work falls into two specific categories: his knowledge of technology and his calmness with which he engages with the content. 

When we first started, I was certain Lance was this super digital hero and that I would never be as technologically literate as he is.  Look at what he is teaching in the fall .  I’m teaching Middle-Years (5-9), so I was feeling then, that in most cases, the kids would teach me.  Yet, Lance never made me feel diminished as he offered suggestions to me and to others as well.  I was peeking in on his blog and read about how he had responded to Tammy regarding how to add a Cluster Map.  Well, my digital resiliency was through the roof as I persevered Wednesday and got this widget to work.  I have a big red S on my back, I’m sure.  I also think that someday, I’ll be a tech giant too, well, how about this: I be one of the people that Dean invites back to mentor or perhaps someone he’ll invite to an Ellumiate session.  It’s a nifty goal.  Lance helped with that. 

I recall the darn picture of a tree that Lance posted, saying, “I’ve found an old picture of the house taken last year.”  Lance’s posts are gentle.  They are not filled with erudite mumbo-jumbo.  They are real and about him and make you feel like one of his friends, stopping in to sit around his kitchen table and chat.  With Lance’s blog I feel he offers so much of himself because of the way I’m pulled in and later find myself lost in my own memories.  Lance’s May-long-weekend post tweaked something, and even though I’ve read hundreds of posts in the last month, I’ve kept his marked ‘unread’ and returned to it often.  In reply, I had things to say about my first home, the home where I became a mom, the home where, for the first time, I returned this spring.  Memories are very powerful, and this one I savoured.  His posts aren’t critical, but in a way, I feel they make me think more than a lot of posts that blog only the debatable issues.


I’ve known Karie for a few years.  We met through a mutual friend who is now finished her Early Childhood degree and subbing in Moose Jaw.  Karie replied to my post, “Me in 4.”  Karie was reflecting on what she saw in one of the images.  I purposefully had not included words with my images, but after Lyndsay referred to one of the images, the one of grandpa’s grass, as “feathers,” I thought I had better make a brief comment.  I responded to Karie’s comment because I felt she had spend a lot of time with the images, that she was not simply a passerby, “Is that you walking with someone or is that a photo that you took?”  I then, gave back to “her.” I shared part of the meaning found in the photo, but then I stopped explaining the images.  The images in Cori in 4 were done to stand as a work of art.  I have no desire to provide an Artist’s Statement.  Once my work is public, the work changes, this is what I believe.  If Lyndsay thinks she sees feathers in my photo them perhaps she does.  Perhaps I should spend some time and think about how she might see feathers in my silent prairie grass.  I think there has to be space in our social learning not to be keen to reply, but to let some posts stand alone. 

I posted two items like this recently, one about my daughter’s soccer team because I’m a super proud Soccer mom  and she had earned the game ball that night, running into the house to get my camera saying, “Mom, hey, you can blog about us.”  So I did blog.  For me, for her and for all of you who should share in these wonderful girls.  I also posted a Rick Mercer Rant.  It’s a neat upper level teaching tool and if I have to explain the rationale of posting a solid piece of humour on our government’s antics, and expect others to comment on it.  Wow, I’m tired!  Let it stand, please.  Leave it to Rick.  My musings can be likened to Bert’s recent post on digital identity.  You know, it’s only a precious few who are going to change the way they think about me by what I ‘put’ out there.  What you think of me, most likely, is already set.  Most of you already see the ‘feather,’ right?   Hmm.  Though, I like that what is out there I can create and can be a smothering of positive authentic Cori stuff.  Feathers nowhere to be seen.  

Karie’s posts this last while have been a dialogue between herself and her mentor, and her emerging comfort with new teaching tools.  She posts about Skyping and using VT and finding the time to fit in all the projects.  Karie writes “I was so nervous about all of this and you have made it such a wonderful experience. I noticed while watching the post you put on your blog, I may have been speaking a bit loud. Maybe yelling in hopes that you can hear me all the way over there in New Zealand…. I am hoping to have my voicethread done by the end of the weekend. I also would love to send up some answers to the questions that your class has asked me.” And her mentor replied “Here’s the great thing about Voicethread- we don’t have to send things to add to them…No worries about your voice at all- we just shout at the computer as well.”  This is the beauty of social learning.  I’m learning alongside the two of them and they do not even know I am there.  Karie sent this note to me, “I will be careful not to swat at any flies on the wall… lol.”  I adored the mentor’s comment about VT that the beauty in them is that they can be created together while Karie and the teacher are completely apart.  They create it where they want, if they want to, and when they are ready.  Isn’t that what we’ve been doing with our thoughts these last five weeks? … creating our own learning from each other’s spaces?

8 thoughts on “Social Learning w/ 5 Examples from ECMP 355

  1. What a thorough reflection. While it’s sometimes tough to determine, can you think of some times when you provided support or learning to others? I know you’d have lots of examples.

  2. Well done, Cori. That’s an intensely thorough reflection, something that as a teacher is absolutely essential to do well. I’m glad I was able to help throughout the course and if you have any questions in the future feel free to fire me an email; collegiality is what we do best, isn’t it?

  3. Dean asks for examples of times when I provided suppport or learning to others…

    At first I couldn’t think of any example. Karen writes that I’m her “blog hero!” Such fine words of praise from such a terrific writer and blogger. I have been an avid journaller journal keeper everyday since I was twelve. It’s in my blood. I love to story. Reading her comments made me realise that she is reading my blog, following it, just as I have been following certain blogs I find compelling. Wow! Makes me feel kinda needed. There isn’t time to post a reply to everyone’s blog, but I do read them all (ECMP355). I’m pleased that Karen’s found something she can relate to in my writing. Blogging has been the hardest part of the course. I’ve no desire to blog about most current events, and often when others do, I am some what turned, only because this is not my style. I love my mentor’s blog. He blogs about the issues affecting his teaching and learning, and I like that a lot. I like too, that every once in a while something whimsical will appear on my blog, cause that’s me too.

    So this supporting and learning thing… as Dean said, it is difficulty to determine. I understand learning this way: I want to learn as much from those who teach me so I can give as much as I can to those I will someday teach. I do see other’s success as a mark of my own success, my own learning.

    As with Lance and the cats. His post about the cats was the first blog post I read. It was cat banter really. I don’t want cats to be leashed. The difference came the second class when we were in Ellumiate for the first time and all nervous. Lance and I started chatting about cats. The chat was just good natured banter but it served to set us at ease as a class. The subjects of the chat were the simple lived things that create the instant connections in our lives, the things that bond us, things like cats.

    Karie asked if I would be on ‘email call’ if she needed help with her voicethread. And though I stated that it wasn’t likely she would need help, promised that sure I’d be here. I also made a point of stopping in at the blogs of a few of the ECMP cohort’s who are in their first year and offering comments. My first year was tough enough without hanging around a bunch of outspoken, out-of-the-box thinking, forth-years-I-think-I-am-but-I’m-not-greater-than’s… I shared with Lyndsay the night we made movies that I had bought a Flip Camera and she asked me a few questions about cost and how it worked. She emailed before she bought it and shared that with her next pay check she was buying one, and that she was excited. Her Flip Camera post made me smile. I was Burt’s biggest cheer leader behind the scenes this course. Listening to his opinionated-take-no-bull-banter, believing that he is a dynamic arts teacher, I not only signed a request for funding but I encouraged one of my best and brightest art students to attend one of Burt’s arts programs this summer. With Christina, our running blog banter has been both a common language of trust built as mature moms and students first in EPS this past winter and now supporting each other as we reflected on never having enough time to give as much to our classes, specifically our mentorships, as we would have liked.

    I remember the Ellumiate class when a few of the cohorts were feeling frustrated. I chimed in. They needed to feel that they were not alone and that they too could be successful in this course. I think too, I was always there to share about the successes and not about the negatives. And I didn’t save the negatives for the blog. I saved them for hiking and personal reflection. I came into the class to grow and I did this alongside my cohort. I hope I helped them understand how dynamic social learning can be if you simply keep diving in.


    End note: (this blog could be a book by now) Here’s a neat thing: My friend, Sarah, a Middle-Years cohort member who finished her 8th semester in an exchange program in Malaysia, sent me a facebook message on June 3.

    “Guess what?? I have a job teaching in Thailand for the next year… I teach English, Reading Writing, Speaking Listening, and Social Studies to Grade 7s and 8s….it’s awesome! Although sometimes a little daunting…

    I also have a quick question for you… I believe you had a large paper copied book that was totally pictures with small captions on them…good for writing prompts I think…what’s the title of it?? …Drop me a line!!!”

    Talk about social learning! Sarah and I had chatted about that book in Denise Morstad’s EAES Class more than a year ago, wild! I love that my middle-year connections are going global. I love that I can shoot off a message and share with my Thailand teaching friend about the virtues of “The Mysteries of Harris Burdick”, portfolio edition, all the way from the Jaw.

    Support and learning is not only about offering advice on tools and mentorship, it’s about reading the blogs, listing when others are sharing, being here when others ask for support, and begin here even when they might not be able to ask for support 🙂

  4. Chelsey, thanks for your kind words. I think we’ve grown a lot from each other this semester.

    Lance, I will take you up on that offer, like the email today 🙂 Sometimes I wonder if we do collegiality to well… Thanks for everything!

  5. What a great post Cori! I had no idea when I made that post that it would have such an influence on you. And isn’t that the beauty of blogging and social networking?

    – Lyndsay

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