2020—The Year of Sharing!

Last Saturday evening I hosted an "In-Between" holiday party. Not wanting to compete with the myriad December gatherings folks have leading up to Christmas, and already having NYE plans, the weekend fell perfectly as an opportunity to bring together friends for an evening of eating, drinking, and bidding an early farewell to the decade that was.

I love hosting parties...and while drinks and food are in my wheelhouse, providing a great music playlist is not. It occurred to me at the very last minute I hadn't put any thought into the evening's music. So, the day of the party I texted my far more capable friend to see if I could repurpose anything he might have. 
Image of Chicago, Illinois skyline on New Year's Eve 2020
Happy New Year from Chicago—the "Fresh Coast!"

Then it dawned on me...why not build a collaborative playlist? Many tools we use in education—such as Wakelet, Padlet, and Google's entire suite of products—allow you to share access with others or "Add Collaborators" who can add their own content, and Spotify is no different. Creating a collaborative playlist would accommodate my admitted deficiency in music selection, and would have the added bonus of guests being able to listen to the music they actually want to hear.


With no direction beyond "Share your favorite song from the past decade"...I sent a message to my guests with a link to a starter Spotify playlist and the request for them to help me build it. Within just a few hours, we ended up with a playlist of 78 songs. 

What I learned from this is: when people are prompted with a specific request to share something, a clear deadline for completing it, and a vested interest in the end result, it's pretty easy to inspire collective participation. 

Sharing Is in Our DNA...and Our 2020 Focus

CrowdED Learning was founded on the belief that together—through the sharing of our collective ideas, expertise, and resources—we can provide more quality learning options to adult education learners and instructors. Our skill directories, available in 12 content areas, are entirely the result of gathering suggestions from adult educators as to what resources they use. These directories continue to be incredibly popular, and in 2020 I promise to be more active in promoting the resources within on a more regular basis.  

While today I would normally be posting my "Fantastic and Free First Friday Resource of the Month," I'm going to save that for next week when more people are back and settling back into their post-holiday reality. Instead, I will use this opportunity to share how we intend to inspire sharing in the new year (and beyond....)

Join the Crowd through Crowdsourcing Challenges 
Students love videos! Through
your sharing of great videos, YOU
are building a learning video app. 
In December, we launched a video crowdsourcing challenge that we are using to showcase January 2020's Resource of the Month—a no-code app builder that allows you to create apps with information you've gathered in Google Sheets. (Seriously....it's super cool...check back next week!) 

So far, over twenty educators have shared from a variety of sources. Through this challenge, I've learned of and/or been reminded of a number of great video providers. Many of you know sites such as Khan AcademyTED-EdMath Antics, Crash Course, and GCFLearnFree.org. But how many of you have heard of Light + Salt LearningMath SnacksThe BazillionsScratch Garden, or Minute Earth? Until starting this challenge, I had never heard of most of these...but now find them to be incredibly entertaining and informative, and I'm excited to see what others think. 

Through crowdsourcing, not only do we provide immediate access to great content aligned to specific areas of need, we also get introduced to new sources of content we've never even heard of that might prove useful to us and our learners moving forward. 

Want to see the current results of our current video crowdsourcing challenge? Check out the starter video library app that's been built. Want to contribute a video you know is effective with your learners? Go to the second tab of the app to access the submission form (<--or just click this link). 

Become a BloxBuilder
As educators, we know that providing learners with opportunities to apply what they have learned is the best way for them to demonstrate meaningful proficiency. This applies to educators-as-learners as well!!! When was the last time you learned about some cool new tech tool you were excited to try with your students, played around with it a bit, and then....well....life happened? If we aren't given immediate, meaningful opportunities to use these apps and tools with our learners, they tend to eventually fall off our radars. 

In 2020, we are going to experiment with providing tech tool trainings that not only allow you to learn about new tools that are easy to use, but allow you to practice using these tools by creating content that goes into our shared, open SkillBlox library. 

Along these lines...in December we conducted a local workshop using Quizlet and Google Forms. (We intend to run multiple virtual trainings using these tools in January and February.) The goal was not only to provide educators with initial training on these tools, but to also provide practice creating content with them using openly licensed content from the recently updated Reading Skills for Today's Adults (RSTA) library

Through this training, we were able to create a handful of Quizlet decks and Google Forms, which have been put into these Wakelet collections—Fall Is Here, Joe's Workday, and 9-1-1 Saves Lives. Each Wakelet includes the original RSTA stories, along with interactive vocabulary practice (via Quizlet) and comprehension practice (via Google Forms) created by participants in the training. And each can be shared with your students, copied by you, and adapted however you wish to meet your learners' needs/your teaching style. 

Through similar trainings and subsequent "BloxBuilder" projects aimed at specific goals (i.e., building specific, shareable interactive learning resources using approved open content), we hope to grow our library of easy-to-access, organized open education resources while helping teachers gain confidence using great, free tools!
Whether you already use tools like Wakelet, Quizlet, and Forms or are interested in
learning how to use them, you can help build open learning resources for adult education!

So, how can you help?

We are going to be announcing a number of exciting new initiatives early this year, including the aforementioned BloxBuilder trainings and our ongoing crowdsourcing challenges, which will officially kickoff next week. In the meantime, I encourage you to sign up for our newsletter, join our Facebook group, or follow us on Twitter. These are the best ways for you to get regular updates on our goings-on and opportunities for learning new tools, how to participate in projects, and other general tinkering and experimentation we look forward to doing in the coming year. 

CrowdED Learning exists because we believe there are ways for us all to contribute in getting great open education resources into the hands of adult learners. Here's to 2020 being a breakout year in finding ways we can work together to make that happen!!

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