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Agentive Apprenticeship Autoethnography

I am of the web. You can not look for a bifurcated line that separates my face to face and online interactions. Every aspect of my life, including how I learn and work gets shaped by the Internet.I share the tale of how I exist as a learner in networked spaces. By sifting through links, chat logs, and reflections, I to try to tease out what it means to learn with in connected community.

Yet every story needs a point. That's my Western bias bleeding through. This tale seeks to define a model of learning we are calling agentive apprenticeship. We begin by remixing Brownn, Collins, and Duguid's cognitive apprenticeship to account for our networked society.Specifically this narrative inquiry traces my learning and teaching from 2020-02-08 until 2020-05-31 when I engaged in a series of activities around writing, sharing and teaching poetry.

The events that make up the plot drew across my professional responsibilities in teaching EDU106 New Literacies: Digital Texts ans Tools for Lifelong learning and two online communities where I hang out online: #IndieWeb and #CLMOOC. I utilize a layered approach to shape my story. In the first act we walk through the major characters and concepts. Then we take a deep dive into trying to define Innovation Systems and Agentive Apprenticeships with me as the backdrop and my reflections in the foreground. In the final act I make a pitch for a sequel by exploring what agentive apprenticeship means when building networked learning environments for schools.

This story comes to light because I blog and write a ton of poetry, loosely defined as doing weird stuff online. So I have a ton of links and blog posts to trace the plot lines of my path towards understanding and defining agentive apprenticeship. I use all of these artifacts: blog posts, poems, chat logs, tweets and more as the set pieces upon our stage. The rising action climbs through the layered narrative inquiry. First I describe whatever I think a concept to mean. Then adding on some analysis and artifacts I search my websites, chat logs, and interwebz in general for stuff to add some illustrative flare. Finally we peel back the meta layer, listening to what might be our protagonist , or a one person Greek Chorus, Really not but in this last layer of action I reflect on when I first(ish) started to explore the idea.

My commitment to building a better and more equitable world by protecting the internet as a global Commons of knowledge helped to shape this story. Today I work as an associate professor at Southern Connecticut State University teaching classes on how to teach language arts classroom and frame my work as Digitally Engaged Scholarship. I can not separate my creative and research activity from my teaching and service. none of the three exist independent of each other. It's both mission driven and survival technique of working in today's precarious Higher Education World,

I have also lived here, online, since middle school. My identity work got defined in weird corners of the web and early corporate silos like Prodigy and AOL Online. So I serve as protagonist in this story of defining agentive apprenticeship. A guild member in a covenant of digital bards who have a commitment to doing creative writing from our websites. Our protagonist, entrenched systems of racist and colonized educational apparatus and the homogenized corporate web whose algorithmicaly driven web now defines adolescents.

The Main Characters

Being an autoethnography I have no problem casting myself in the leading role. Benefit of being the script writer, director, and actos. Hopefully I am also not the only fan of this story, but that's likely. Such heavy involvement in this production could lead to a ton of bias. So I figure we open with a training montage, get the audience up to speed on how I got to where I am in defining agentive apprenticeship through autoethnography while hinting at the under currents that shape our heroes . Cue upbeat music. ==== Protagonist ===s

We would open by contrasting two different scenes. The first a swank research conference, our main character would hunch over a table, endlessly scribbling feedback on student papers, watching as peers who teach 1 maybe two classes a year, can hob nob without abandoning students. Conferences at the end of the semester, when teaching a 4-4 load add so much stress. Our main character is a failed academic. He works at a university that teaches Indigenous, Black, and People of Color, not studies them. Well actually, he is in educator preparation, he teaches the white women who will teach the children of our Indigenous, Black, and People of Color alumni. No doctoral students, no massive federal grants, but a ton of administrative bloat as teachers and their schools of education get scapegoated, often rightfully so, for society's problems.

Then as the montage music hits the first crescendo we would fade into another scene, a National Gear Up conference, where BIPOC educators make up the majority of attendees, not the majority of topics. This will trigger a scooby-doo flashback like effect into our montage to highlight the mission driven nature of our protagonist. We first see images of him running a GearUp camp and teaching 7th graders to build personal websites. This gets contrasted against the history of our protagonist, not shot in Black and White, but maybe a VHS tape to properly date the period. We would read about oiur hero's history with technology and the social pressures that drove him away from programming (what we called coding) and more into community organizing.

We would leave the not so nostalgic memories of Junior High, where our character hid, I mean honed his skills, on early commercial networking sites the preexsited the World Wide Web like prodigy. Every studyhall he would head to the library to log into the real world, not a world of false connections in middle school. His name jgmac1106, the four digits of his name following him around since those days in middle school. Then we will quickly fast forward to time where we find our antagonist at an IndieWebCamp, helping to organize a free two day conferences about taking control of the internet from your own personal websites, while also creating curriculum.The scene will cut to jgmac1106 teaching intro to edtech classes at Southern Connecticut State University.

After the second crescendo the training montage would end with a bunch of jump cuts as the main character comes together to explain how these historical forces came to shape their “Why” as a digitally engaged scholar. He has abandoned the academic conference circuit in search of a more equitable path. This journey the main plot point of the story. We always begin with a “Why?”

@jonbecker the other step is to avoid the profit generating conference circuit all together. Spent 2019 going to conference that wasn't somewhat open (eliminates all of them). Instead started going to and organizing #IndieWeb events, always free, no vendors2019-06-10
@jonbecker 100s of free events that are self organized with no need for boards or bosses: Teachers did with @EdCamp and the tech world did it with @BarCamp, time academics take back control of our narrative too. Stop feeding the beast. 2019-06-10>
As our world burns, many scholars around the world seek to lower their impact on the climate crisis. One of our biggest carbon sinks fills as we seek out conferences. Thousands of academics with the privilege and power to travel descend on cities through air, rail, and car, with each conference trip “amounting to 7% of an average individuals annual C02 emissions” according to one study (Spinellis and Louridas, 2013). Sales reps pitch consumption in vendor halls awash in wasteful swag. Is there a better way forward?Festival of Learning Proposal 2019-11-30
I believe teacher preparation programs (all fields really) have a responsibility to help candidates shape their online presence. The benefits of learning in the open go beyond skills and knowledge acquisition. If schools use job placement as a key metric of success than helping teachers build up a distributed and networked Web presence is central to our mission.Why Collaborative Inquiry Matters to Future Teachers 2015-09-15

I also agree that positivist methods of measuring learning do not capture the entire picture of the mediating affects that culture has on learning and development. Instead I would argue, using Wittgenstien’s (1980) metaphor of learning as an “immense landscape,” that measures of observable skill and strategy use are like samples on flora and fauna. Its not the entire landscape but this information sure helps put the picture in focus.

This is why I am drawn to the concept of open-source theory development. This is why I ask questions that require me to draw on both cognitive and learning as doing models of learning.

Most importantly however, wherever you stand both constructivist and situated visions of learning seem to promote the same type of inquiry based collaborative pedagogy. The theories may have different methods for measuring and observing but as educators we all want to have kids leave their digital footprints as they transverse the “immense landscape” of learning.

My Research Path and New Literacies: Following Digital Footprints"

The Funds of Identity children draw upon are algorithmically determined by corporate interest, mob mentality and millions of dollars into never published brain, computer, and human interaction research.

Who you talk to? Facebook feed. Chasing likes and clicks? Instagram envy.

I believe we need frank conversations about our avatars as they are just networked funds in the centralized bank of facebook (as in Facebook, What’s App, Instagram, Occulus).

This is why I believe we need to teach our children early on about carving out their own corner of the web. What is the point of being able to draw on funds of identity if somebody else owns the bank?

We need to discuss with children that all the research shows notifications and social media often make more people sad than happy.

Most importantly, and a lesson I too often ignore, we need to model good digital hygiene. Remove most if not all notifications from your phone. Be picky about social media apps.Get your own website. Syndicate from your place out on to the web.

To circle back to the article that is the tough part of perezhivaniyaha in school is it is a place where funds of identity are developed yet the processing of social experiences occurs through rapid APIs and machine learning.

Thus I believe as educators we have a responsibility to our students and their avatars.

#IndieWeb, Rights, Responsibility (and Some Russian) 2018-06-21

Digitally Engaged Scholar


Theoretical Perspective

I root my exploration of how I learn through agentive apprenticeship in a lens of system agent network theory rooted within innovation systems. This autoethnography will define these theories as I tell the story of learning how to build My poetry on my website while teaching

Innovation System

Agent level

Network level

System Level

Knowledge Knitting

Defining Agentive Apprenticeship

Agentive Apprenticeship in Action



I write a living autoethnography on this wiki. You can scroll through the revision history to see the final step in my analysis, the writing. If you want to get real nerdy or use machine learning, the logs are there down to the first link I dropped. This

Subjectivity Statement

Data Sources

  • bookmarked articles
  • quotes and notes from articles
  • GitHub commits
  • IRC chat logs
  • learning reflections on blogs


How do I say this is a living unfolding ethnography? That the methods and data can not be separated? Basically I read, learned, blogged, write, reflected, learned and blogged some more.Hard to say when the “ethnography” started. I began to explore theoretical models around innovation systems and agentive apprenticeships long before I decided to use them as a lens for my own learning.

Therefore the theoretical frame influenced the data and then the data collection long before the study began. I collected data not so much to “do a study” but to demonstrate to others “how I study” and to share these insights, or lack there of, openly.

Basically I blogged a lot. Reflection drives learning and this analysis tries to glean some findings to support our emerging og agentive apprenticeships.

Posts were organized around hashtags, readings were annotated and hashtagged, these data sources were then curated into a wiki page, next set of data reduction (I am not reducing I am enriching understanding never liked this idea you were shaving away data until you got to the point.). Next I laid out the structure of this document. Then I added links and summary to all my data sources. The final level of analysis involved the actual drafting of the document. I just started to drop in the artifacts under specif headings and then wrapping them in nouns and verbs.



Learning Process

Network Growth



Data Sources

Personal Reflections and Photos

IRC Logs

Adding fragment support for Granary -outside window of study, maybe include in IndieWeb case study

Note about incorrect wiki article 2020-02-23 because of my mistake the network improves as misconceptions on wiki get fixed.

Asking for feedback on layout 2020-02-17]

Note about making syndication target 2020-02-08

Announcing the Poetry Port Challenge 2020-02-01

My history of Why for learning CSS 2018-12-16 outside of date range but explores long term alignment of goals.

My history of Why for learning CSS 2018-05-01 outside of date range but explores long term alignment of goals.

autoethnography.txt · Last modified: 2020/06/15 12:23 by jgmac1106