Blog Post

ConnectedCourses: My Brain on Edu

ConnectedCourses:  My Brain on Edu
I made a Brain Map of sorts from some of my learning experiences over the last 40+ years (gasp!). I'm trying to visualize my connections with earlier key education communities and ideas, and with some of the current #ccourses facilitators.
“It’s Complicated”, so my story will have to evolve over time. 
The ongoing and evolving connections being made among the leaders and participating communities are and will be fascinating. Over the years I’ve met the majority of the #ccourses facilitators in person, and several more online. These folks are highlighted in the map. 
Alan Levine is my earliest connection to the course facilitators. We met in the early 1990s, before the World Wide Web. The only html I ever learned was in Alan’s class. We both left MCCD the same year (2006), and then reconnected as avatars at a virtual conference in 2007. At Educause around the same time, he introduced me to Gardner Campbell and Bryan Alexander. And Twitter. I became acquainted Michael Wesch and his work around that same time. Another formative experience was #CCK08. More about that in a future post.
I started blogging at HASTAC during what I think was the very first DML competition way back in 2007. While reading some of Cathy Davidson’s posts, I suddenly realized that HASTAC’s Cathy was the same person who wrote a book I read (and loved) way back in the early 1990s. The book was 36 Views of Mt. Fuji, and I was still recommending it to friends over 15 years later. So I wrote about that. With the considerable frenzy around the new DML initiative, my post got a ton of views. Cathy encouraged me, and I kept on posting for awhile. 
My blogging career waned, but I’ve kept in touch with HASTAC. I became a DML reviewer for a few years and attended some of the HASTAC and DML conferences. I love interdisciplinary communities. 
Another blast from the past came late in 2007 at my first NMC (New Media Consortium) conference in the virtual world of Second Life. Howard Rheingold was the lead-off speaker. I had almost forgotten about reading his book “The Virtual Community: Homesteading on the Electronic Frontier” at the dawn of the public internet and shortly after I got my first email address -> dorland@gc. You can find the whole text of that book on Howard’s website. Fascinating history. (
Howard in SL (note Alan Levine as the dog in the front row)
My early history with open communities began during my college years at Kansas State. The Free University movement of the late ‘60s/early ‘70s  was the initial disruption that changed my thinking about the nature of education. Ours was called UFM - University for Man. (
Some items from my Brain Map:
Johnson & Johnson’s books on cooperative and/or collaborative learning (80s/90s), the famous Barr & Tagg article in Change, Vol. 27, No. 6. (1995) ( or, my participation in interdisciplinary faculty learning communities, my time at the National Science Foundation in 2003-04 and my connections with PCAL (Project Kaleidoscope), NMC (New Media Consortium), Educause, and HASTAC.
All of these continue to challenge my thinking about the nature and purpose of education. 
My most important conclusion so far:  searching for “the right way” or even “the best way” to do education is probably the worst thing we can do. I’m not looking for #ccourses to provide any final answers, but I do expect to enjoy the ride.


I had no idea about much of your history, Liz -- and I had no idea that Alan Levine was in that group in SL in 2007! I only met him recently, through ds106, which I investigated because of the buzz around the hashtag! The mindmap is a good perspective, and I'm about to look through the articles you linked. Thanks!


Thanks for your positive comment Howard. In the early 1990s I had a Mac SE30 in my faculty office. I was learning for the first time about how campus networks worked and how they connected to the wider world. Reading your Virtual Commuities book opened my eyes to the potential. Online networks have definitely "gone viral."


I'm honored to be on your map in several locations, Liz. But without that, I like the idea of creating a map of both organizations/resources/projects and also people, that is what seems missing from all of those PLN diagrams.

It does bring to mind the saying of the map not being the territory (but an approximation thereof).

I bet this would be great activity/make to include in Connected Courses.


This is so splendid, Liz.  And the kind of experimental mapping that we hope to practice in "Mapping the Futures of Higher Education," the first course that we'll offer in our new Futures Initiative here at the Graduate Center CUNY, and that will have lots of online and public activities.     On mapping:  I just receive in the mail Hals Ulrich Obrist's very beautiful Mapping it Out:  An Alternative Atlas of Contemporary Cartographies (Thames and Hudson).  It is a scrumptiously original coffee table type book (lots of great full color photos) of eccentric, interesting, provocative ways of mapping all kinds of things.




Here's the url for the Futures Initiative group:


Thanks Cathy and Alan. I am honored to get positive feedback from two such excellent and prolific bloggers. You have set the bar very high.

I have a *passion* for network maps of lots of things, but the connectivity of friends and groups are my favorite kind. The power of networks! I look forward to seeing how this one evolves.


I second what the dog said, Liz.  Many thanks for remembering our conversations so long ago, and for including me in your fine concept map.


Thanks to you, Brian, for being the warm and friendly guy you always are. When a mass of Alan Levine's friends showed up in response to his tweet at Educause in fall 2008 (I think), I met a lot of folks whose work I still follow. But some of you were so welcoming that I never forgot your kindness. You are among that small group for sure. Cheers!


What a great idea to map out all of conferences, courses, projects, and associations that have bearing on your ConnectedCourses experience, Liz.  I particularly liked seeing the people you've met in each of those settings, and how those people led you to still other people. Having thought out all of those relationships, interdependencies, and connections will undoubtedly make the course experience that much richer for you.  Hmmm...I really like the idea of all of us in #ccourses making a similar map and, via some magic kabuki, knitting them all together.