Make Cycle #4: All Systems Go! Reflections and Connections

As we moved from games and the systems inherent within them into a more general and deep dive into All Systems Go, we wondered how CLMOOCers would bridge the similarities.  Would you find the topics too much alike, would you elaborate on your games, would this topic take you in serious or playful directions (or both)?

Imagine our surprise (and delight) when we woke on Tuesday morning to find not one, but two posts pushing back on our example of a pile of tires (tyres) as “not a system” with explanations of why a pile of tires is, in fact, a system (or parts of many other systems that hadn’t previously been considered).  

Simon Ensor explained that piles of stuff are never just that in his aptly named Piles of Stuff blog post, and Sarah Honeychurch’s Piles of Tyres reflection reminded us that “some piles can tell a story or remind one of our shared history.”


We knew from that moment to hold on tight and that this week was going to be a wild ride filled with thought-provoking makes and challenges to the thinking of this collective that is CLMOOC.

The actual makes came in slowly at first with you posting examples of systems (we did ask you to document after all!) that you came into contact with or discovered as a result of this week’s invitation. We had examples of papercutting artistry posted by Sheri Edwards, natural systems including mangroves shared by Ida Brandão, and fractals shared by Monica Multer.


During Tuesday’s Make With Me, we found ourselves wishing for more playful interaction with our CLMOOC colleagues on air (in coming weeks, be sure to join a Make With Me session in the Google Hangout!) and the synergy that comes from bouncing ideas from lots of different people and places. We pushed ourselves and imagined the outer limits of playful systems…systems of stories, summer vacations, Pluto’s appearance, and always more bicycles and more tires.  (Thanks to KQED’s #domorebike prompt…a convenient allusion to the tires and bicycle metaphor used in the original All Systems Go invitation.)

Melvina Kurashige #donowbike image

Melvina Kurashige #donowbike image

The lively Twitter chat on Thursday expanded our thinking even further as we discussed how our understanding of systems has developed this week while exploring the posts and makes shared by the CLMOOC community. 





There was plenty of talk about the challenges of systems too.




And the ways that thinking about systems pushed us into deep and troubling territory.



And then the making…

We have enjoyed the wide variety of playful projects posted, including Rube Goldberg machines such as Kevin Hodgson’s Get the Treat, Dawg made using Contraption Engine and Susan Watson’s detailed design that ultimately releases happiness into the universe!

rube sketch

We have also been challenged by the thoughtful reflections on teaching practices including the Passion Project posted by Christy Ball, which was annotated and discussed at even deeper levels as the community engaged with the Piktochart about Project Based Learning design. 

Untitled Infographic (2)

Other contributors encouraged us to reflect upon the systems used for teaching writing. Deanna Mascle shared a reflection from her blog post on A Systems Approach to Teaching …


and Jamie Jackson shared her process for creating Indelible Moments with her kindergarten students.

indelible moments

Through Connected Learning we hope to bring critical spheres of learning together, including school but also our communities, networks, and beyond. Connected learning honors you as the learneryou know what is relevant and interesting to you and when others jump in to provoke and support, new ideas and understanding develop and grow.  And what is so cool when we are connected in these ways is that our interests get shared and adopted by others as well.  We have plenty of projects posted this week to inspire further play and exploration. 

It’s interesting to think about Connected Learning as a system too.  How do the principles come together to support us as learners?  Which principles do you find yourself interacting with?  Do you lean most on interest driven?  Or is it peer supported that gets your ideas flowing?  How does the principle of being opening networked add to the conversations? Consider the principles individually…and as a system, how is the Connected Learning system at work for you during CLMOOC make cycles? What are the implications of these principles alongside the values of equitable, social and participatory learning?


There is so much more we could say about the makes that are still in progress and all that happened during this make cycle, but you may have stopped reading already as a new make was inspired as you considered the makes of others. So at this point, we want you to know that we are grateful to everyone who decided to take a risk this week and dive deeply into systems and system thinking with us. Your contributions have made the conversation richer and have deepened our understanding of systems…and we hope yours too!

What’s Ahead

Next week, we will enjoy an exciting collaboration with KQED as we think about public spaces. We might even discover more about systems as we make with them!

Until then, we at the San Diego Area Writing Project (SDAWP) challenge you to keep making, reflecting, and sharing your thoughts and experiences, and we encourage you to further connect by commenting on the projects and reflections shared by others. Our aim is to motivate and inspire each other as we explore, discuss, and continue to make All Systems Go!

Thank you for playing with us! 
Kim Douillard, Janet Ilko, Janis Jones, and Abby Robles
San Diego Area Writing Project

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