Deploying on your WordPress Blog

I was very excited by the potential of to enrich or expand the capability of a blog to support discussion in depth. I’ll definitely be using it elsewhere, but want to help others who visit my blog to know it exists and use it.

Turns out it’s easy to add to WordPress, even the plugin is 2 years out of date, ’cause it still works.

Add the Plugin

Inside the dashboard, mouse over ‘Plugins’ and select ‘Add New’ in the main menu.
In the display that opens up of all the plugins you have installed, hit the “Add New” button
Simply select the “Search Plugins” input box, enter “hypothesis”
And it’s the first search result, so hit “add plugin”

Configure the Plugin is now installed on your blog, but actually defaults to being minimally-intrusive; that is, it’s not actually displaying anywhere. I doubt this is what most people want, so here’s how you change where and how visibly it displays:

Back on the dashboard, mouse over Settings, where you’ll now have a “Hypothesis” entry to choose.
The list of settings is relatively straightforward; you can control its default level of visibility, and can control what portions of your blog it’s active on.

I’m gonna just go ahead and open the sidebar by default, and enable it on blog posts, blog pages, and pdfs, in order to encourage joining the conversation!


If it’s not showing up even after being installed and configured, I’m guessing your browser simply cached (and is re-using) the old version of the page, without You can simply force-refresh the page (Control-Shift-R on Windows, Command-Shift-R on Mac OSx) and your browser will actually ask the web server for the newest version.

If that’s not working, feel free to scream obscenities into the abyss comment here!

Networked Learning

I personally believe that using technology for teaching is really beneficial for teachers and students. Technology (like i Clicker, online classes, Zoom, canvas, …) makes the life easier and creates a better learning environment.  However using blogging is new for me.  I am discovering how powerful it is and like Seth Godin and Tom Peters said, it is “a life changing” and “you are doing it to force yourself to be a part of a conversation”. and that’s really what I feel when writing my first blog.

On the other side, I think that technology should be consumed in moderation in order to keep the real world relationship  between people (or also between the student and the teacher). Some students will not be able to blog about a personal situation. However, if they tell the teacher about it, he could help them do better in their life and in his class. I like the TEDx talk by Michael Wesch, who each time took the lunch with one of his students, that was a life changing for them!




Contemporary Pedagogy Blog #1 – Digital Learning

 My favorite quote from the readings and Podcast came from Michael Wesch: “Real learning is about the questions you leave with.” I loved his comparison of learning with the baby attempting to navigate the stairs. Learning should be fun and not punitive. In my opinion, the punitive side is what turns individuals away. I wonder what would happen if parents made learning to walk punitive? That’s a scary thought! Most parents celebrate every attempt with the “A” praise level which in turn encourages the baby to keep trying. My husband often tells our college-age twin daughters that college is where you learn to teach yourself. If they leave with questions after a course lecture, I hope they are seeking out the answers for themselves. With the power of digital learning, they most certainly have access to answers for most any question they have. On twitter – yes – I’m on there, although I do not use it nearly enough. Right now I blame that on my full time job and full-time student status. I do love the ideas I get from other professionals in my field. I also love the PR potential for my school. We just started a school Twitter last year, so we are slowly, but surely getting there. This digital platform definitely promotes communication with the parents and school community. On blogging – I love this for students. This is a wonderful platform for authentic student voice. When students know they have real readers, they also seem to put a little more effort into it. Blogging can also serve the purpose of therapy. Some people just need to get their thoughts “off their chest” to receive the joy of being heard. Others can gain new perspectives or think about life or learning in a different way.

Embracing the Web in the University Classroom

Last week, in the Contemporary Pedagogy course, part of the dialogue that we participated in focused on the use of information collected by sites such as Canvas to catch cheaters performing an online or take home quiz. While one individual agreed that the data collected could be useful for performing tasks such as catching those breaking the honor code, I feel that this is placing too much of the responsibility and burden on the students to learn/behave in the expected system. As educators, we need to take some effort to ensure that the assignments given aren’t as heavily reliant on the honor system. The internet and online learning is a great tool for engaged learning, but us educators can take steps necessary to improve our methods of teaching. I think that because the internet has an inherent vastness, it can be daunting and worrisome for some to have assignments online. Students may be prone to cheat by working on these tasks together when it goes against the honor code, or they may use “forbidden” sources on the web to find answers. However, this is assuming our “classical” method of education must remain in tact. “Quizzes are to be done individually.” “Students can only use the sources provided.” “The gold standard for assessments only includes quizzes, tests, and essays.” This is NOT TRUE. Instead, we should be embracing these aspects and tailoring our assessments to include these aspects of the internet. The internet can serve as a place for networked learning to occur rather than just a place for sources to be found and assignments to the be submitted. Collaboration between students can be an amazing tool to both engage them and have them critically think about their assignments. The inclusion of social media, blogs, and discussion boards in assignments would foster this collaboration between students without making them feel that they have to be secretive about helping each other. If an online quiz has to be administered, expect that students may collaborate and include questions that are more opinion based/critical thinking driven. Maybe have a class blog where students post about questions they have from that week that also requires them to respond in a valuable fashion. By embracing the internet and its expansive nature when designing assessments, we can prevent the issues of students cheating and instead provide them the space to collaborate and support each other.

Week 2: Networked Learning, Open Working, and Tension

Hi y’all!

I cannot speak for others, but throughout my development as an engineer (2.5 decades) and now as an instructor (4 semesters), I’ve experienced significant tension between the externally-imposed expectations and goals I’m supposed to work toward, versus the underlying reasons I am an engineer or instructor at all.


I’m lucky to have done plenty of reflection & exploration, on my own, into my “why”s. I’ve an essay from kindergarten explaining that I want to become an “inventor-doctor” and “give people new arms or legs or stomachs”, pieces from my first undergrad about facilitating “the direct transmission of abstractions and experience” in order to “cultivate empathy”, from my second about “engineering as a liberatory endeavor”, and from grad school about “design for community autonomy”. I openly discuss the content I teach, and have accumulated a double-digit waiting list of friends, acquaintances, or friends-of-friends who I want to provide access to my lecture recordings.

But when I engineer, the focus imposed on me prioritizes markets, profit, hunting ‘whales’, intellectual property and preventing others from being able to use the fruits of my labor unless they can pay. These are not and never were *my* goals; I engineer because I want people’s lives to suck less, want to expand our capacity for interaction or self-expression, or to cultivate wonderment and empathy.

When I teach, I am told between the lines that the course is to function as a rigidly pre-prescribed, standardized content delivery vehicle of a specific list of mathematical abstractions and analyses, with an ultimate output of future laborers, labeled neatly like grades of ground beef, for their future employers’ benefit at the salary negotiation table. For engineering-education-as-a-buisness reasons, I am specifically to only teach these individuals who are able to pay (not those on the waiting list), only teach them the content of my course (not others; that’s another 3 credit hours of tuition), only discuss content deemed ‘nonpolitical’ (not the frameworks and practices they need in order for them to feel good about the role they play in the world at the end of the day). In reality, I put myself in a classroom because I want to cultivate a sense of agency and responsibility in my students as agents of change. I want to empower my students with the requisite skills, knowledge, and practices to let them look at the ways the world sucks for those around them and dive in to help. My teaching strives to be a rapturous, awe-filled celebration of the absurd complexity of the world we sentient great apes live in, and hopes to cultivate a similar sense of wonder and curiosity. Where is the SPOT question, GPA scaling factor, or undergrad resume entry for that?

My goals, as an engineer and an instructor, are best served by openness– of designs, processes, concepts, plans, abstractions, and aspirations. I’ve done enough by now that the incentive systems and expectations around me will simply have to adapt. I’ve plenty yet to learn on practices I can adopt which match and richly enact my theoretical inclinations and intent.

Open, Networked Academia

I found the readings this week on open working and networked learning, along with the in-class discussion last week around open-access education, grading, and surreptitious data gathering by for-profit web services in academic contexts all exceedingly resonant. In the class discussion, I even found myself missing established relatively non-obtrusive “that’s a good point” group discussion signals the way snapping or golf clapping are used in certain contexts.

The LSE piece, “Twitter and Blogs Are Not Just Add-Ons to Research” strongly echoes the tension I expressed, which is quite curious to me as it very much speaks from a humanities scholar’s perspective. I can easily see how the work of engineering academics would be rapidly steered by the incentives of military or industry funding sources toward closed, insular, and obfuscated endeavors; and I can see how the role of the engineering instructor would be re-oriented away from content like ethics, human-centered design, and social justice and toward producing easily-categorized replaceable-part engineers for companies. I am still early in my growing understanding that similar processes have been co-opting potentially revolutionary or hegemony-challenging work and terms and de-fanging them; I absolutely had not considered how such incentive systems can be steering education & research within humanities departments.

One particular example of a novel form of public academic via open, networked writing and engagement is Rachel Garner, whose blog “Why Animals Do The Thing” is home to both short-form explanations of animal behavior and caretaking guidelines on social media, and long-form, cited, traditional academic articles such as her recent work on the estimated big cat populations in the wild and captivity, “Fact or Fiction: Big Cat Crisis” . In a similar vein, several ‘public media creators’ routinely do work that, while in the form of a Youtube video and definitely not in the wonderfully-incoherent Formal Academic Voice of an academic publication, engage with the relevant concepts at the depth of their corresponding academic work. For some examples, feel free to look into Veritasium (physics), Smarter Every Day (physics), PBS Spacetime (astronomy and physics), Styropyro (Optics), The Brain Scoop (taxidermy and animal museum preparation), Contrapoints (anarchist and feminist thought), HBomberguy (media criticism), Healthcare Triage (public health and medical practice), Kat Blaque (feminist thought), One Yard Revolution (gardening), or former creators like ViHart (math), and PBS Idea Channel (?cultural anthropology?).

A notable upside to approaches like this is that their funding sources are often wholly divorced from existing institutions, permitting much greater freedom in research & outreach efforts as compared to the extremely limited availability of grants. To me, these individuals are living out a very new form of academic, that takes the roles of researcher and educator out of the sole domain of the university and back into direct engagement with the public.

Reinventing the Open Web

The piece Working Openly: A Manifesto, struck upon a particular struggle I’ve felt in my engineering work more recently: the very software systems and tools in which we conduct our work are structured to facilitate the locking-down of knowledge and content. A CRM platform like Canvas structures everything from their data storage to their web interface around the assumption that for each user, most courses will be inaccessible. I have that double-digit waiting list of people who want to learn my course content exclusively because for me to share the lecture videos and notes, they need access to VT’s Canvas instance, then need access to my course within that. The primary advertising point of Github for Education, for example, is that they offer unlimited private git repositories. My engineering courses were pushed to use Matlab and Mathematica by the companies selling them, who have then successfully set themselves up for market dominance outcompeting literally free, equivalent tools despite ludicrous cost and abhorrent business models. Changing our practices and what tools we use is the first part of escaping that.

Unfortunately, in its pursuit of brevity, Working Openly left undone the task of finding practical specific tools to use instead. I’d like to list a bunch of technologies that I’m aware of and building on for personal control of your data and systems; this particular piece is already PLENTY long, so that can come later.

For now, I’ll simply share that I was extremely pleasantly surprised at Reclaim Hosting’s approachability and their library of existing, integrated applications available, and especially enthused at the unparalleled value for a $2.5/month cost load. For comparison, my vanity domain costs approximately $13/yr on Namecheap on a discount, and a webserver capable of running WordPress (you’re on your own for management/support of it) on DigitalOcean’s cloud server space will run you $10/mo. I even emailed Reclaim Hosting’s support at 2am asking about self-hosting Red5 (a live-streaming service like, a personal instance (a twitter-like federated social network), and an IPFS node (a decentralized, content-addressed file storage system),

and I received a detailed, technical reply from the co-founder within an hour:


I very much look forward to continuing this course. I strongly suspect it will finally address the questions I’ve been struggling with around “How do I do, in practice, the sort of open, accessible, agency-cultivating teaching I have been struggling to even conceptualize?”

Networked Learning

I agree with Dr.Gardner Campbell on the fact that the education has become more about careers and “competencies” than learning. Most of the time we can see students are more focused on getting a good grade and finishing the course rather than actually learning the subject. I think this whole concept in education needs to be changed. Because this makes students more mechanical than creative.Because creativity or imagination is as impotent as knowledge. Creativity allows you to think out of the box. Albert Einstein, the greatest inventor of the century once said, ” knowledge is limited to all we now know and understand, while imagination embraces the entire world, and all there ever will be to know and understand”. An effective education system should comprise with both. which give students knowledge at the same time it should not suppress the creativity in the student. Humans have an extraordinary capacity for innovation. But the current validation procedures in the education system does not help to improve it rather it suppresses it. One thing which needs to be changed is to stop penalizing mistakes. If not the only message this gives is, there is no room for mistake because you should already know it. I think this destroys the whole learning process. Dr Michael Wesch makes a great point on this matter in his talk. In the process of learning how to walk, if you stopped baby George saying “you tried once you are failed” he would never learn how to walk. Therefore, the whole education system should design to promote learning and expanding it than getting good grades. I like Dr Wesch’s idea of “not yet ” rather than giving a grade. I think there are two plus points in that validation method. One thing is it makes the classroom more learning oriented than grade oriented. Another thing is students develop a skill set to challenge themselves and learn.

Education has changed massively over the past few decades. There was “traditional classrooms” which are more instructor oriented. Then there was “student centred classroom” where the students and teacher contribute equally to the learning process (most part both of these systems are still in the current education system). With the advances in technology and the internet, networking has become a part of education in the present. Hence, education does not has to be confined to a classroom anymore. You can expand your knowledge as well as you can send your own opinion through networking. Today networking has become such a powerful tool not just in education but in every field. You can gain so much knowledge by just surfing through the internet. At the same time, you can publish your own work or opinions through social media. In Seth Godin’s discussion on blogging, he states” what matters is humility comes from writing it, how do you explain it to whoever looking at it “. I think this points out a really good message. There is some technicality associated with any field of education. So when you learn a subject-oriented topic in a certain way it is not easy to explain it without any technical terms. We usually say that if you can explain what you learn (or what you do, your research, etc) to your grandparents(who considered to have no idea about what you are talking about), you really know what you are talking about. I think through blogging or any other social media you can develop that skill set, to learn how to convey your message to the audience the way they can understand. because communication is really important in expansion or development in any field. I think through networked learning on thing is you can expand your knowledge efficiently as well as you can convey your own opinion to others. Hense I believe through this learning system you can learn more effectively compared to the class centred learning system.

The Effective Learning

The method and practice of teaching, especially as an academic subject or theoretical concept, is a key element in understanding and accepting a variety of teaching approaches with the common goal of advancing the educational community. The ability to relate personal experiences and future goals as a teacher, is vital in discovering a multitude of teaching techniques that are comprehensible to any type of student. Contemporary pedagogy is explained in the given resources by highlighting the importance of online tools and public writing as a means of progressive learning.

In a live discussion with Seth Godin and Tom Peters, new perspectives of business focusing on blogging are explained as being undeniably imperative. Peters’ says, “There is not single thing in the last 15 years that has been more important to my life than blogging. It has changed my life, perspective, intellectual outlook, and emotional outlook…” Further in the discussion he is quoted: “It’s the best marketing tool I’ve ever had, and it’s free.” This begs the question: should this then not be attempted in the classroom?

From author Jon Udell, linking academia and business, is his steps to “think like the web.” In his manifesto, he describes the importance of working openly and ensuring data is readable by both human and machine. Having a large audience (a public blog post will receive more views than a private email) and unique/memorable URLs allows data to be efficiently managed and available for public use (i.e. Twitter hashtag for an event).

Focusing on academic importance of networking and online teaching tools is where Dr. Michael Wesch explains his research on the effects of social media and digital technology.  He believes that as a global society, technology and education do not always foster significant learning or establish genuine/meaningful bonds between students and professors. While this can be widely understood, it still seems such conclusions are based on students with a specific learning style, and we must keep in mind that although some students may not take with online learning, others may flourish. Opportunities should be merely that, an opportunity, not a requirement.

It is important as educators to understand the magnitude of ways students extrapolate and retain information. Gardner Campell embodies this idea well with this thoughts on higher education: “Offering students the possibility of experimental learning in personal, interactive, networked computing, provides the richest opportunity yet for integrative thinking within and beyond ‘schooling’.” We have the capability to more effectively reach the academic community and have a greater impact on the future of education being open to fundamentally different teaching methods (i.e. using twitter and online forums in the classroom) is the future of a deeply involved and interactive student.

GDEI-Week1: Networked Learning

I enjoyed exploring reading list. Several articles emphasized the importance of blogging and the open public for students, researcher and scholars. I found Dr. Michael Wesch’s video particularly interesting. I agree with him the conventional way of teaching through pure lecturing makes the students feel alienated. Unfortunately, the majority of the engineering classes that I studied were taught through pure lecturing. Such traditional lecture-based teaching approaches are based on positivism, which is a philosophical theory stating that an absolute view of knowledge exists interdependently of human perception (Prince & Felder,2006). Thus, the role of the teacher is to transmit this knowledge to students. This type of education is characterized by what Freire called “banking education.” In banking education, the relationship between the teacher and the student is hierarchical, where knowledge is transmitted through a top-down approach. As a result, “the scope of action allowed to the students extends only as far as receiving, filing and storing the deposits.” (Freire & Ramos ,2017).

Learner-centered instruction is based on a different philosophical theory called constructivism. According to Constructivism, people construct and reconstruct their own understanding and knowledge of the world through experiencing events. Constructivist teachers should start with teaching content that is relatively familiar to students, enabling them to make connections with their existing knowledge. Also, the new material should be presented in a manner that does not require students to drastically change their cognitive models. Based on constructivism, effective instruction should also require students to fill in gaps and extrapolate material presented by the instructor through collaborative and cooperative learning. (Prince& Felder, 2006).

Learner-centered approaches usually use inductive teaching, as the instructor starts by presenting a set of observations or experiential data to interpret, or a complex real-world problem to solve.  The students are then responsible for analyzing the problem that has been presented and discovering the general principles and facts behind it, in order to resolve it. Inductive teaching is the opposite of the deductive teaching used in traditional engineering education, which begins with general principles and eventually arrives at applications. (Prince& Felder, 2006).It is clear that lecture-based teaching is not highly compatible with the principles of learner-centered instruction.  However, this does not imply the total avoidance of lecturing or neglecting the role of instructors in learner-centered approaches. Instructors still have a crucial role in facilitating the learning process, and sometimes lecturing may be extremely helpful in learner-centered classes.


Freire, P., & Ramos, M. B. (2017). Pedagogy of the oppressed. London, England: Penguin Books

Prince, M. J., & Felder,R. M. (2006). Inductive teaching and learning methods: definitions,

comparisons, and research bases. Journal of Engineering Education, 132-138

The Value of Experiential Learning

It is interesting to see how the interpretation of education and learning can vary just like so many other functional areas. As research continues, and technology advances the specificity’s  and nuances to education are likely to continue. Evolving to meet the needs of yesterday seems to be a common denominator within many functional areas. It will be interesting to see how the  value of networked learning and its associated scale will be perceived a decade or two from now.  I am particularly interested how the experiential learning concept within the digitally mediated context will be able to successfully enable learners to navigate information vs. knowledge.

Week 1: Networked Learning

The way I see it…

There is no one way of learning or teaching. Students and teachers both learn, teach, explain, and process information differently depending on their backgrounds, thoughts, and perceptions.

As someone who prefers to utilize my abilities to be in a surrounding and interact with the course content, I connected strongly with Gardner Campbell’s Networked Learning as Experiential Learning article and his perspective on how experiential learning provides opportunities for learning that are beyond that of “schooling”. Experiential learning is defined as studying abroad, internships, service learning, and undergraduate research. I was afforded the opportunity as an undergraduate in Biology to do research in the current field, Food Science, that I am pursuing a doctoral degree in. Being able to integrate knowledge learned in the classroom and apply it in complex ways rather than on an exam was something I loved. The practicality of what I was doing made the concepts learned in class easier to understand.

The TedX Talk “What Baby George Taught Me About Learning”, brings an awesome and valid point on the current educational system not allowing for failure. If you don’t know the information, you might be screwed out of a class for the semester. Learning from your mistakes is something we are taught in grade school. In some classes, there is not an opportunity to learn; rather, the material you are being asked about is on one or two exams for the year. Personally, I am not a fan of exams as a way to gauge knowledge. There are many perks associated with it like time-saving and convenience. Some people, like me, are not test takers. Regurgitation of information can only go so far in the “real world”.

I am excited, yet nervous to be blogging this semester. I loved blogging in the past having had experience with blogging through writing for sports websites. Obligatory shout-out to my D.C. sports teams! (#Wizards #Redskins #Capitals #Nationals). Let’s hope that I can take some of those blogging skills and apply it to the Contemporary Pedagogy class.

My old P.I. was excellent at controlling his digital identity and developing himself on social media, specifically on Twitter and a blogging site. I want to increase my openness for what I do research-wise. My goal for this semester is to develop my writing style. I want to be able to discuss my opinions and thoughts with others while also understanding their perspective better. I hope that I can express and articulate my thoughts fluidly on the topics this semester.

Thanks for taking time to read my post. I hope that we can engage in some meaningful dialogue.


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