November 5

#AltCV and #DigiWriMo

Phew. That’s all I can say. When the #DigiWriMo folks issued the call to create an “alternative CV,” “based not on degrees and position and peer-reviewed publications, but on what we think is most important about who we are and what we are genuinely most proud to have accomplished,” I decided to make the exercise a challenge. More of a challenge than I anticipated, really.

Animaker is a tool I have barely glanced at, but which has fascinated me for some time. So, I decided to use it to create my #AltCV. Thus the adventure began. Animaker has an eleven-and-a-half minute tutorial. I watched it once. Fumbled through assembling a few “scenes.” Several things did not come together as I wanted them to. Went through the tutorial again, to find the explanation for the nuances I was missing. Like all good learning experiences, the process was iterative. I would make some modifications, replay the video, identify the improvements I needed to make. Again and again.

In my work as a PBL (project-based learning) coach, this is an aspect I impress upon teachers. Students need to be given feedback on their work, and the time to revise. Not only once, but multiple times. My all-time favorite example of this is Ron Berger’s video of  Austin’s Butterfly:

It is all too common for educators to get caught up in the but-I-have-all-this-content-to-cover mindset, so students don’t have the occasion to delve deeply into any given topic, nor do they have the opportunity to reflect on their work, and to make improvements.

This year in our Meliora group, we are studying World History. To some, I will sound like a heretic, but I care little about what these students carry away in knowledge and facts about World History (well, I do hope they remember “les grandes lignes,” the major points). What I mostly care about is that they develop deeper thinking and analytic skills. We spend significant time discussing events in history, and making connections to today, to my students’ reality. By using open-ended questions, “why?” and “how do you know?” being perhaps my favorites, the students are required to think, and to defend their rationale.

I also care that the students learn to reflect on their work, and to actively find ways to improve it. As they develop projects, I offer feedback throughout the process. They also conduct peer reviews of each other’s work, so they can learn to critique using “kind, helpful and specific” (a phrase coined by Ron Berger) feedback.

As I went through the development of my #AltCV, I was also applying Standford’s d. school ideology of “iterative generation of artifacts intended to answer questions that get you closer to your final solution.” As they further explain in the excerpt below, iteration is fundamental to good design. Interestingly, they discuss iterations within a process, in my case the complete video, and then within a step, in my case a single scene. That is exactly how I tackled it, narrowing my focus as the flow began to take shape.

d school design thinking excerpt

I would argue this design process can be applied to many, if not all, academic disciplines. When I work with Meliora students on their history projects, we first look at the big picture, their overall argument/thesis, then over time narrow the focus to particular details that need fleshed out and refined. Likewise, when solving a math problem students need to learn to determine the process to be used, then drill down to the detail. And so forth.

And, now, for my #AltCV:


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Posted November 5, 2015 by inspirepassion in category clmooc, design thinking

About the Author

I am a process-focused leader who uses collaboration, authenticity, and mentoring as key skills to inspire passion among learners of all ages. Aggregate eclectic professional experiences have honed my ability to coach others in designing and implementing courses of study using inquiry-/project-based learning (PBL).

5 thoughts on “#AltCV and #DigiWriMo

  1. Jackie

    Hi, Charlene.
    Great AltCV! I might have to try Animaker. It looks like fun. I loved your post. I agree that iterations are important in anything that I do well. I had never viewed the Austin’s Butterfly video before but I will definitely use it with my students when I have an opportunity. It is an excellent example of how feedback can help students to improve the quality of their work.

    1. inspirepassion (Post author)

      Thanks, Jackie! Animaker IS fun, once you get the hang of it. My next attempt will take far less time, and will hopefully also be more polished. Yes, Austin’s Butterfly is a MUST for all educators, and useful as a mentor “text” for students.

  2. Maureen Crawford

    Charlene, this is a great post!
    I like the familiar tone and your willingness to tackle a new platform (Animaker) in order to accomplish your AltCV. Your process matches my experience and it always so tempting to feel pressured by content to the point where we do not take the time to fully involve ourselves in the process. Your learning process certainly mirrors mine when I am trying to fully learn something new. I like the way (in true PBL fashion) you highlight how iterative the process is. I think the dschool materials from Standford are so strong and so clear. Your post has encouraged me to circle back and take a fresh look at them.
    I have really enjoyed the variety of alternative cvs that have been generated as part of #DigiWriMo

    1. inspirepassion (Post author)

      Thanks, Maureen. Tackling new platforms is always a challenge. If only I were 12 again :-). But, I love mental challenges, and being able to add to my repertoire of tools I can knowledgeably talk about with students and other educators.

      And, yes, it is all about the process in PBL. That’s my mantra when working with teachers. Some of them have a REALLY hard time embracing this. It is so rewarding when they plunge in and take the risk, and the students create “beautiful work.”


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