Connected Learning Professional Learning Teacher Inquiry

Making How-to Guides: Reflections and Connections from #clmooc


These reflections and connections come from a Make Cycle focused on creation of How-to Guides by Chris Butts and Rachel Bear of the Boise State University Writing Project for the 2014 Connected Learning Massive Open Online Collaboration (CLMOOC). Originally published on July 24, 2014

What people made and shared during this cycle illustrated their fascinations and expertise. We connected this to the Connected Learning principle of being Interest-Powered. We wanted people to share something that interests them and, in turn, share something about who they are. You could share something simple but inspiring from your daily life, like Dana Cansian did when she shared how to create a handy budget at your fingertips. You can also try making something no-tech and new to you, like Lauren Goldberg’s first cartoon ever. You can even make multiple makes, like JoLynne Martinez who jumped in the first day with how to be a novice teacher, and then was inspired by all the other makes to also make with How to Go Dancing When You’re Lesson Planning Late at Night. Or, if you feel so inclined, you can take on a complicated tool that inspires people to try it out, like Michael Buist’s fascinating revelation about a new use for Koolaid, which inspired Suzanne Linder and many others to try out ThingLink. These are just a few examples of how people’s interests expanded as they shared and connected.

The Power of the list

“The list is the origin of the culture. It’s part of the history of art and literature. What does a culture want? To make infinity comprehensible. It also wants to create order—not always, but often. And how, as a human being, does one face infinity? How does one attempt to grasp the incomprehensible? Through lists, through catalogs, through collections in museums and through encyclopedias and dictionaries.” Umberto Eco

One means of reflection we want to suggest this week is to write list(s).

This idea is derived from the Make a Case portion of CLMOOC and mentioned by Anna Smith at the tailend of our Make With Me Google Hangout. We invite you to check it out and remind you that this example is one iteration of endless possibilities. Do not feel like you need to stick to our script. In fact here are some other ones: Clarissa’s Make Log, Peter’s list of tools, and Kevin’s Flipboard about the How To Make Cycle.

Chris’s List

What I’ve Made So Far:

What I’m Working On:

  • How To Enjoy Boise Remix – Zeega
  • Curation of How To’s – Flipboard
  • Wrapping up #F5F

What I Want to Work On in the Future:

  • Curate a Twitter Chat for a Future Make Cycle – Storify
  • Co-Making something with someone like Michael Buist? – Padlet?
  • My Very Own Blog/Webspace – WordPress
  • ???? – Canva

It’s as simple as that. Three lists. I’ll admit it’s a little scary to share it with everyone. While I wrote it I kept thinking: What if I don’t get to the things I want to work on? What if I don’t finish the things I started? What if people make way more awesome stuff than me or they think what I made is lame? What will people think!?! Each doubt had the same reply: There are no scorekeepers or judges in CLMOOC. It’s about making, connecting, and learning. Like Mary Ellen B sharing the finer points of repurposing fishing rods or an exchange about how to address audience members that are hearing impaired.

You don’t have to share your list(s) with everyone or compare with mine, but we invite you to write and reflect on where you’re at in the CLMOOC universe at this particular moment in time and space. Whether you’re looking back, like Mrs. Shroeder, or onto the next Make Cycle, like Kim Douillard, we encourage you to share your musings by including your blog in the Blog Hub. Reflection is another means to apply the Connected Learning principles of being Interest-Powered and Production Centered by considering what you’re making and interests are now, and what your orientation is for the immediate future.


The list is a powerful tool that also prompted some reflection questions. The Maker’s Notes document has some strong reflection questions as well. Questions are at the heart of reflection and embody the academically oriented part of Connected Learning, naming what’s taking place and why.

What did you learn from what you’ve already made?

Making with the help of others is so much easier! (Make: How to Be a Dad) Thanks Michael and Sheri for your help in the Hangout and sharing makes that inspired me to use ThingLink in the first place. Makes don’t occur in vacuums. Hypothesis: There is a positive correlation between collaboration and creation. Creation leads to learning. Therefore more collaboration will lead to more learning. Seems so obvious when it’s on the screen, but learning it through my make is that reminder I need when I hesitate to post a question. Looks like the power of being Peer Supported in action. We saw many people who were inspired by others, like Ann Chen who was inspired to use Piktochart to introduce herself. What makes inspired you to try a new tool or to explore a topic you hadn’t thought of?

What do you see as the purpose of making this week?

One thing that was at the center of our planning was sharing our Funds of Knowledge. How Tos right out of the gate showcased that we all have expertise, and through our open network that expertise is shared, making everyone smarter and more capable. It also gently showed me where I want to invest (couldn’t resist) my time and energy in the future, projects like Flipboard, Zeega, and Storify. More importantly, I want to continue connecting with the people that inspired me to use them in the first place: Kevin, Terry, and Karen respectively. Now I know who to turn to for Peer Support, and conversely maybe some people will turn to me in the future. What were your purposes did you have in mind for making and sharing at the beginning of the week? How have they changed or remained constant?

This is just a snippet of our reflections on the week along with a smattering of what others in this community are up to. We invite you to write some lists, respond to some questions, and share them…if you dare.

What’s Ahead

We look forward to what you continue to share in Make Cycle #2. (Nor is it too late to share a How To Guide from Make Cycle #1, if that’s what has you occupied). The second Make Cycle begins on Monday and facilitators Kim Jaxon, Jarret Krone, and Peter Kittle from the Northern California Writing Project will help us “make” our way through the Connected Learning values: production, shared, open. We’re anxious to make and learn with you some more.

This post is part of the Connections and Reflections from CLMOOC 2014 collection.