Feedforward in the Garden of Your Mind

One of the projects I have started the year with is a Google Form survey. I have asked students to fill out this form.  Tomorrow we will look at the data in this spreadsheet that the form above generated. There is an amazing cache of data in there and I have asked my students to find stuff of interest.  I am looking forward to their observations with keenness.

Here is the last question I asked them: “We will end the semester at some point. May 15, in point of fact.. The Ides of May (if there is such a thing). Write for me what you imagine you might have done in your semester in English 300.”

My response to this question below is an example of feedforward as far as I understand it.  Or as some folks call it,  ‘presencing‘. I am trying to use my fervid imagination as a way to pull both myself and my class toward a more valued future, a previously unopened door to a more potent adjacent possible.

“OK, relax. Turn on the time machine. Set it for May 15, 2015. On.

What a glorious spring is has been! I smell cut grass and the beginnings of a cool morning breeze.

I am waiting for the last projects of the semester. It worked. My fellow learners bought into the idea that what they value and what they need to know is critical to learning, their learning. We did a lot of stuff. Some of it very unexpected. Who could have predicted that the Google+ community would have produced so much collaborative work. I said at the beginning that collaborative work was allowed and boy did they take me up on it. Some of it ended up as conference papers and presentations but others were epubs and even service learning projects.

Speaking of presentations. I have never know so much variety and such quality. When I invited my department head in to watch he insisted that he only had ten minutes to watch. He stayed the whole hour and then he started pounding on the doors of other faculty to tell them they had to come watch. It was so crowded that I was really glad someone had the idea to stream them. I had a couple of colleagues, one in Egypt and one in France tell me that they had never been so excited about teaching and learning afterwards. We had pechacuchas and ignite talks and incredible demonstrations and even someone who did theirs on a Google Hangout from Saudi Arabia. Thank God for all those adhoc Google Hangout everybody started doing when one of us needed to be gone for a week for surgery.

I always say half joking that the great and happy secret of my job is that I get paid to learn. I think I really am getting paid this semester. The podcasts that we started doing on a regular basis throughout the semester have really taken off in the edtech community especially the ones that were led by students.

And this says nothing of how I have gotten so much help on my MOOC project–MOOC HOSTEL. I don’t think it would have happened without the class’s help. First, they helped me with the user experience. Second, they became active users of the site. Third, they began to spin off projects for blogs, podcasts, YouTube Channels.

Don’t get me started on YouTube. Our channel rocks. I don’t know whose idea it was to make that work or the class internet radio station. In fact the sheer volume of fun and useful stuff generated blows my mind: memes, videos, multigenre, pix …just astonishing.

Everyone had something they took pride in creating and will take with them into the future. Apps, series of posts, a research blog, a twitter account with 500K followers–that was a huge surprise for everybody. “

Some folks might think that this is hyperbole.  In fact it needed to be even more embellished than I managed.  I wonder what my students will think when I read this to them tomorrow, this missive from the future.

6 thoughts on “Feedforward in the Garden of Your Mind

  1. I like this idea of imagining the future, it is something that I have used in research on teacher relationships to connected learning/tech and students motivation for language learning.

    I can share the article with you if you like 🙂

    Have been partially inspired by Zoltan Dornyei’s work on imagined future selves

    This website was also an interesting find:


    Students were surprisingly motivated by this task.

  2. Love it! My mom used to have this saying she’d chirp at us when we were young, “What you think about, you bring about!” Drove me nuts. But…I believe now. I think there is a real power to “mind over matter” and positive thinking–or “feedforwarding.” A tip that often comes to mind from my mountain biking days: to avoid bailing on the trail, always focus on where you want to go rather than where you don’t. Looking forward to seeing what your class thought of this.

  3. I love the way that you have started this class!! I thought we did it cool this year – getting the students to ask us questions – and then to start answering their own questions – but this has vision and joy and life!!
    How can I hack your quiz?

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