Community of Practice Orientation

Community of Practice Orientation

Table of Contents


We are on a mission! You have been invited to participate in this Pilot Project called DART: Datacasting Action Research Teams. Together, we will discover possibilities for solving the lack of connectivity throughout New Mexico. In cooperation with the New Mexico Public Education Department (NMPED), we are piloting datacasting as a method of improving learning in the home, especially for families whose internet access is not strong enough to support online learning. Under the terms of the Martinez/Yazzie v. State of New Mexico lawsuit, every family must have a computing device available for learning with a connection that lets learners stream a video, upload/download files, and participate in online learning using the systems it provides.

To accomplish these goals, the Datacasting Pilot is seeking parents and teachers to join DART – Datacasting Action Research Teams – who together will produce a final product called the “Datacasting Family Cookbook: Recipes for Improving Learning @ Home”. This “Cookbook” will contain the key ingredients we discover along the way that make datacasting work. It will come together like a “recipe” that others will be able to “cook” once they “taste” what works best for them when learning with their family at home.

Deep Dive of the Pilot Project

Five districts are participating to discover the best possible pathways for achieving digital equity for their families, so learning can happen at home with technology adaptations. Each district is receiving 100 datacasting receivers which will be placed with families who have access to a hotspot. The receivers will be able to store digital resources (videos, documents) from Google Classroom or Canvas which will support the students to do homework or further study what had been covered in their classes.

The receivers will also have bilingual learning software that will provide opportunities for the family to learn together. The research we do throughout this program will also address how improved connectivity impacts social-emotional learning in ways that improve engagement when families have what they need to learn from home. Integrating the 21st Century Teaching and Learning Skills (21CTLs) as a framework will reveal how the teams work together to accomplish the desired outcomes and objectives. These skills include communication, collaboration, critical thinking skills and innovation, self-directed learning, local and global connections, as well as learning with technology.

There are teams of people from each district that will include students, parents, teachers, and IT support who will be participating by giving feedback on how the datacasting is working and what needs to be improved. A team of students from Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) and the New Mexico Supercomputing Challenge will be part of the research team as they complete their own academic capstone by working to improve digital connectivity in New Mexico. WPI sends junior engineering students to New Mexico each fall. Last year’s team worked on digital equity projects with the Public Education Department, leading to this fall’s Digital Sovereignty Project. Specifically, the students will measure connectivity in student homes and evaluate strategies to improve learning at home. Several students from the Supercomputing Challenge will also be collaborating with this project in ways that will support the implementation moving forward after the pilot project.

A key issue the teams will be addressing is the “return path,” the method of sending data rather than just receiving it via datacasting, which is a critical factor in determining whether the datacasting solution will improve:

  1. Connecting students, teachers, and parents/caretakers
  2. Asking questions
  3. Giving feedback
  4. Submitting work

We want a community in which all stakeholders are co-creators of knowledge that leads all to take wise action, so we can answer these questions: 

  • How do we best engage the wisdom of indigenous communities as essential for the new pathways for meaningful connection with technology? 
  • How do we best engage our youth learners to be seen and heard in meaningful connection with technology? 
  • How will parents/grandparents/caretakers be engaged in supporting learning at home? 
  • How will this project support school learning engagement?

Learners: Students, Parents, Grandparents, Caretakers, Teachers, Guides, Facilitators, and Administrators

Learning Together happens best in a Community of Practice.

WHAT is a Community of Practice?

A Community of Practice (CoP) is a set of relationships and ongoing interactions among a group of individuals with common interests. Together, we co-generate a safe, welcoming, and supportive environment in which learners of all ages and facilitators collaborate to problem-solve challenges and complete projects. In this space, we will discover insights related to work-based learning, as it will naturally develop the 21st Century Teaching and Learning Skills needed for problem-solving including Communication, Collaboration, Critical Thinking/Innovation, Self-Direction, Using Technology for Learning, and Making Local and Global connections. We will have the opportunity to play and learn with learning software and other tools to support connection and learning.

WHY a Community of Practice?

  1. They connect people who may never come into contact otherwise.
  2. They provide a shared context for people to communicate and share information.
  3. They enable dialogue between people who have an interest in solving the same or similar problems.
  4. They stimulate learning by serving as a vehicle for communication, mentoring, coaching, or self-reflection.
  5. They capture and diffuse existing knowledge.
  6. They introduce collaborative processes and encourage the free flow of ideas and information. 
  7. They help people organize around purposeful actions.
  8. They generate new knowledge.

CoPs enable people doing related work, or facing similar challenges, to share their knowledge and solutions and, as a result, achieve the greatest good for the greatest number (Margaret Wheatley).

The Challenge We Are Addressing

How can we best meet the demand for technology in remote areas in order to best bolster learning from home through datacasting receivers while simultaneously creating new pathways for engaging connection with new technology?

Supportive Environment

This is the location of our online meeting space, the Community of Practice. You can always get back here by typing into your browser. We recommend you bookmark the website.

Each district has its own pages that include spaces for learning together in:

  • A Discussion Forum
  • Social Groups: Students, Families, Teachers, DART Team (researchers), and more.
  • Activity Timeline: Keep up with what’s happening in the community by viewing, liking, commenting on new posts and activity.

How Will We Learn Together in the CoP?

  • Participants will get connected via Zoom or phone.
  • There will be some new tools to try: family learning software and Flipgrid will help us test connection and connectivity.
  • The receivers actually perform like a cable TV channel in which the CoP will engage the Learners to place videos and content that is related to their learning from homework or through interviews with family members who have a story to tell. Perhaps there is a song to sing, a dance to perform, or a story to read?
  • There will be conversations that happen on a weekly basis over 8-10 weeks related to observations around connecting and learning at home with datacasting, questions, and ideas from the various groups. 
  • There will be action research groups and social groups based on districts. There will be interest groups based on key areas of focus. Participants will be able to choose where they want to relay the information they have to share.
  • Participants will have tools for sharing their ideas. Creating videos will be encouraged using Flipgrid and cell phones. 
  • Students will have access to Supercomputing Challengers who have a keen interest in working with the DART Team, along with an engineering student from the Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI).
  • There will be Activities that people can join. These ideas will emerge from the students, their caretakers, or the teachers who are involved, demonstrating critical thinking and innovation. One Key Activity: developing recipes for the DART Cookbook.
  • Pods or smaller groups will naturally form. A Pod is a small group interested in collaborating together. It could include students, their parent(s) or grandparent(s), a teacher, facilitator, and a guide; or a group with similar roles. The focus could be related to a theme or special idea to be developed further for the Cookbook.


Organic learning happens when we remember what nature has to teach us and that we are all in this together. We learn to trust our seeds of potential, and how to best cultivate the learning; we then cross-pollinate, or collaborate with others who have different roles to play as we learn to appreciate diversity; we learn to regenerate system capacity for positive growth; and we discover the higher purpose of technology. 

In the Pods, we are learning to Trust the Seeds of Potential, by observing and being present to different points of view and by listening to each other as we share what we are learning.

Weekly Conversations for the Mission

  • Week 1 | Welcome and Overview
  • Week 2 | Discovery: Learning with Inquiries Guiding the Way: What elements are needed most?
  • Week 3 | Discovery: Learning Together: Looking for key ingredients for the Recipes: Trusting the Process
  • Week 4 | Discovery: Discovering the Eight 21st Century Teaching & Learning Skills for Life (and this Pilot)
  • Week 5 | Cross-pollinating the Pod ideas: Collaborating with Social Emotional Learning Awareness
  • Week 6 | Brainstorming Possibilities for and Insights-Solutions/Best Practice Recipes
  • Week 7 | Cultivating the Best Practice/Recipe Possibilities
  • Week 8 | Regenerative Capacity: Datacasting and Learning with Technology
  • Week 9 | Cookbook – Bringing together the Recipes for Success
  • Week 10 | Pilot Update: Technology Solutions with Datacasting and Next steps

Guiding Principles

Trust: is the foundation of any online community. It is built over time by interactions when members believe they can depend on each other to achieve a common purpose or goal.

Respect: Community members practice respectful listening of the opinions, values, and beliefs of other members.

Communication: Members engage in clear, honest, and respectful communication

Equity: All members of the community, students, family members, teachers, administrators, and guides are equally important and make equally significant contributions to our online community

Expectations for this Pilot Program

  • We are Datacasting Scouts, discovering new territory
  • We expect to find things that don’t work.
  • We expect to discover and deal with problems throughout the pilot.
  • We expect frustration at first while learning new tools.
  • We expect discomfort at first when stretching outside of our “comfort zones.”
  • We expect some impatience with the process.
  • We expect that we are all co-creators in the circle

We also believe that: 

  • Youth appreciate being valued by both parents and teachers who are aligned for their success in learning with technology.
  • People appreciate being able to say what they have to say.
  • Making the time to do this project will bring many rewards for all those who participate.
  • Great things can happen when parents/grandparents/caretakers experience being equal partners in the circle.
  • Everyone will build confidence when they witness themselves applying any one and/or all of the skills and co-generating a recipe book.
  • Patience is needed in the discovery phase;  solutions will come together as we continue to communicate possibilities from multiple perspectives.
  • Learning in community is joy-filled and fun.

Setting Up Your Account

It’s always nice to see who the people behind the screens are in an online community. Now that you have your account, you can upload a profile picture of yourself and even a cover photo!

To do this, follow these steps:

  1. Click your name at the top right of the page and a dropdown will appear.
  2. Hover your mouse over the first option labeled “Profile” and another window with more options will appear.
  3. Click on either “Profile Photo” or “Cover Photo”, depending on which you’d like to add or modify. (If you selected “Cover Photo,” there is a tab titled “Take Photo” that will allow you to take a photo of your face using your computer’s built-in camera. If you don’t want to use this feature, continue to the next step.)
  4. Make sure you have the photo you want to use saved to your computer and know where it’s located. The minimum image dimensions for your profile photo are 170×170 pixels, while the minimum image dimensions for your cover photo are 1300×255 pixels.
  5. Click the “Select your file” button.
  6. In the file exploration window that appears, find and “open” the file that you’d like to set as your profile or cover photo.
  7. If you’d like to view the results, click your name again at the top right of the page, and instead of just hovering over “Profile,” click it.

Email Notifications & Preferences

We know that email notifications can be annoying at times, which is why we’ve made sure that you can change your email preferences at any time.

Follow these steps to customize which email notifications you receive:

  1. Click your name at the top right of the page and a dropdown will appear.
  2. Hover your mouse over the second option labeled “Account” and another window with more options will appear.
  3. Click “Email Preferences” from that window.
  4. Select “Yes” or “No” to the right of the corresponding email notification types according to your personal preferences.
  5. When you’re done customizing your preferences, scroll down to the bottom of the page and click the “Save Changes” button.

Participation Tips

It’s important to stay involved in an online community because participation is essential to its continued relevance, our connection to one-another, and more importantly, the success of its goals. We recommend that you put the following suggestions into practice so that you support your fellow community members and get the most out of our community:

  • Stay in the conversation. If you feel so inclined, consider offering others feedback on what they post via comments and replies.
  • Check your notifications. You can do this by clicking the bell icon at the top right of your page. This will tell you about any relevant occurrences like when you receive a message, reply, etc. You will know when you have unread notifications when there’s a number next to the bell icon.
  • Stop by frequently and make a habit of it. We suggest checking in at least once every weekday, even if you don’t have any activities to complete or replies to read. Doing a quick scan of the Activity Timeline (which you can access by clicking “Activity” in the left menu) can keep you up-to-date on important happenings in the community.
  • Show your face. Whenever possible, we ask that you turn on your camera during Zoom meetings. It’s hard to connect with someone behind a blank screen!
  • Do the activities. For our community to reach its goals and for you to get the most out of what we’re doing here, doing the activities is a must! Whether that be making a video on Flipgrid, replying to a discussion, or otherwise, doing the work is an important part of everybody’s learning in this space.