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Laura Gibbs

Week Zero: the Known experiment update

6 min read

So, it is just "Week Zero" (soft start for my classes, totally optional, one week before the official start of classes this Monday, August 24), but I wanted to write up something about my Known experiment here so that I can then document week by week how it goes... and thanks, as always, to for making this possible! I'll use as my hashtag for this series of posts.

Goal: I want to use Known as a GROUP space for my class to curate and share together. Right now, my classes are built on the idea of lots of freestanding blogs (the students' blogs and my own), which are networked by means of all the sharing and commenting that goes on each week. Here's our Blog Directory so far (my classes were not part of the pilot last year, but we do fine with the students just choosing their own blog platform from the options available; most choose Blogger). With this experiment, I'm hoping that students might want to choose Known as a "curate and share" option; there are other "curate and share" options each week, and I will learn a lot myself from seeing which options students choose and why.

Getting Started: I had been using this personal Known site during the summer as my own personal experiment, so setting up our class Known was easy. Here is our class Known: OnlineMythIndia. It's a shared Known for both of my classes: Myth-Folklore and Indian Epics, both of which are fully online classes. I had a few questions as I got started, and Erin Richey at WithKnown was super-helpful in explaining what features I could expect to see in the coming months, and I was able to get upgraded to the latest version of Known thanks to Tim Owens at Reclaim; I needed the latest version for the hashtag support: #OU3043 is the MythFolklore hashtag, and #OU4993 is for Indian Epics (same hashtags as at the Twitter stream I run for the classes). I also wrote up some Tech Tips for using Known, esp. for how to embed content here.

Orientation: For the Orientation Week (Week 1 of classes, which some students have already completed!), I created an overview of "Curation," which is how I am starting this semester-long "curate and share" project. I used a vintage video from Howard Rheingold (I'll share more of Howard's videos as the semester goes on!), and then I asked students to think about whether they wanted to supplement their personal curation efforts with something shared — maybe Pinterest, or Twitter (individual or in anonymous class account), or Known. Then, starting in future weeks, I'll ask students to curate and share using their blogs, but also relying on these other public spaces (I hope). Here's how that weekly option will work: Curate and Share.

My Participation: Meanwhile, I'll also be using the class Known, and that is what makes me really confident about this experiment. Known is going to be a useful tool for me as I can tell already! So, my commitment is to post at least one thing each day for each class at the Known, and that's easy to do: mostly I will just be grabbing items that go by in the Twitter flow, saving them in the Known so they don't just disappear. It will be even more fun if the students are also contributing but what makes this a good experiment is that it provides value to the class no matter what happens. There is no fail. :-)

Student RemarksAs students do that Orientation Curation post in their own blogs, you can see their responses here in the blog stream: Curation Posts (that's also where their curation posts in later weeks will show up). Here are some of the things they have said about Known so far:

  • Known seems like a cool, new way to share information and maybe I'll branch out and give it a try (growth mindset y'all!). I'm open to sharing and curation because it not only exposes one to other points of view, but it also makes yourself vulnerable to feedback and learning how you're being perceived by others.
  • Although I was not previously familiar with Known, I think it's an interesting idea! It's almost like an academic tumblr, and I am excited to explore it more as the class wears on. 
  • I am not as interested in tweeting as I am Pinterest. I will check out Known, but I am not sure it is a good fit for me.

I should add that there are some SERIOUS Pinterest users (like the student who made that last remark). And I mean REALLY SERIOUS Pinterest users (and that was something I saw last year, when I first started to experiment with Pinterest and Twitter in my classes). So, based on what I have seen with students and Pinterest, one thing I would love to see is for the "bookmark" item at Known become something more like Pinterest, where it would be possible to automatically grab an image from the bookmarked site to go with the bookmark entry. I mentioned that to Erin, and that's something they might be looking into, which I would consider a HUGE plus. (It's the lack of an image option that has resulted in me not really using the Known bookmark post option myself.)

A STUDENT ALREADY JOINED! So, of course, I was really excited when one student was already intrigued enough by the Known to join it and share a post. Even better, the post that she shared was super-useful to me, introducing me to a resource for the class that I am excited to know about. Here's a link to her post and a screenshot below: 


... and that is my report for the week, everybody! But please ask questions if there is anything I should explain, and I'll be back next week with an update on how it is going. Is there anybody else out there using Known for their classes??? If so, let me know: I would love to trade ideas and strategies! :-)