Extending Brightspace Borders: Creating Networked Learning Experiences

My goal for my blended learning prototype is to be practical and applicable to a course I teach called Organizational Behaviour delivered to first-year diploma students in the School of Business. While I was hoping to explore the many possibilities of open source learning platforms and other types of media, instructors in my institution are required to use Brightspace offered by D2L to deliver online and blended courses. The features I have used in this learning management system (LMS) are uploading content, student discussion forums, formal and summative assessments tools, and the student gradebook. While I have some experience, which seems ideal, my initial thoughts on being restricted to using a LMS were bleak. Let me explain.

Considering the Closed Borders of a LMS

I have found most LMSs I have had experience with both as a student and educator, while useful, clunky, not entirely user-friendly and worst of all once the course was over all the evidence of learning was no longer accessible. Delivering a blended learning course strictly within a LMS closes the learners off to networked learning using the open web. As Audrey Watters from Hack Education ponders, as do I,  who really owns the learning and why is learning locked-in and locked down? Watters emphatically urges educators in higher education to move beyond the LMS and into the open web. It is unclear to me whether she is advocating for the abandonment of a LMS, or if she means that educators must expand the borders that surround the LMS to include the use of many multi-media platforms available in the open web? What is your interpretation of her closing argument?

Expanding the Borders of a LMS

Bates, in his textbook Teaching in the Digital Age, argues that while core technologies such as the Internet and LMSs are important tools for education, it is digital media (text, graphics, audio, and computing) that promotes interactions between educators, learners, and content whereby learning becomes meaningful. LMSs such as Brightspace provide opportunities for this interaction, but for me, expanding the borders of the LMS and including digital media tools available in the open web is important to facilitate networked learning. These multi-media artifacts are student created and owned and are typically housed in the open web then shared within the LMS. For example, creating a YouTube video and then embedding it in Brightspace. Another example may be blogs hosted externally and linked within the LMS. This media can create exposure to a wider networked learning experience. And, ultimately, where learning has infinite possibilities.

There is one other important issue I wanted to address regarding LMS platforms, including Brightspace. I have always found that these platforms have awkward text and visual design, do not convert well to handheld devices and are not as user-friendly as widely used social media platforms. This can sour the user experience, as it had for me while I was a student, and was a major reason I was shying away from using a LMS. However, I recently discovered that Brightspace has a new user interface called Daylight that has a more modern look and can adapt to smaller devices. It is my hope it addresses these aesthetic and functional issues.

In conclusion, I feel much more confident in using the Brightspace LMS as a central hub for my course prototype. With multi-media artifacts created and stored in the open web yet shared within Brightspace, it is my hope students will feel more of a sense of ownership and can take most, if not all, their learning artifacts beyond the course end date. In addition, the presence this will allow them in the open web can lead to a wider learning network.

My next steps in exploring the capabilities of Brightspace to create a networked learning experience that extends its borders:

  1. Are there apps compatible with Brightspace to make the learner experience more meaningful. For example, is there an app that allows access to the LMS?
  2. Look further into the capabilities of the new user interface, Daylight, with respect to sharing learning created in the open web.
  3. How can social media be linked or utilized within Brightspace? Similar to linking a Twitter feed to a blog.

Thank you for following along. I am interested in your thoughts on my plan so far. Is there anything further I could consider when using a LMS that may enhance the student experience?

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Incorporating Technology to Enhance Student Experience

Enhancing Student Learning Experience using Technology

I am excited to delve into the possibilities of creating a more dynamic and interactive learning experience for a course I teach called Organizational Behaviour using technology. As it stands now, this introductory course is content/term heavy. In my experience, more time is spent on learning (dare I say memorizing) the theories and definitions in order to prepare for two major exams. This has only left a small amount of time to concentrate on making the content applicable to the students’ experiences. However, I believe reducing the weight of these high stakes exams can shift the course from a content centered to student-centered focus. I am confident this will pave the way to find more creative ways to engage students with the content, making it more applicable to their current situations and potential future work experiences. There is a team building project in this course that is relevant but in need of a reboot! This is where I believe I can focus my project in EC&I 834.

Incorporating Technology in the Team Building Project

One of the major goals of our institution is to provide students opportunities to gain employability skills, which includes the ability to communicate and work in teams effectively. Many of the components of this course including communication, power dynamics, role expectations, personality types and conflict resolution play a significant part in how a team develops and functions within an organization. To experience these theories and concepts in action students are assigned to a static group to complete activities and assessments throughout the course. After participating in these activities, students are required to reflect on their experiences based on the concepts learned.

While I have delivered this course using a blended learning approach, technology was predominately used as a classroom aide. On Bates’ continuum of technology-based learning, I would say the class functioned more on the far left than right! Considering the use of technology is an integral part of developing employability skills as set out by The Conference Board of Canada, I believe it is time to reboot the student experience in this class, including the team building project, by incorporating a significant technological component.

I am curious, what team-building exercises have you been involved in that you found most valuable? What technologies have you used that help facilitate effective teamwork (at work, school, volunteering etc)?

Thank you for reading and I look forward to your thoughts!

Journey to Home Organization: Learning Summary

In EC&I 831, Social Media and Open Education, we were asked to embark on a major learning project that would entail acquiring new skills. We were encouraged to find online resources, as well as personal and in print, to help us along the way. I had thought of many different skills I could learn including sewing, yoga, and meditation. However, there was another important skill that I needed to develop and hone. I needed to organize my home with the view to living a more purposeful and mindful life in a very materialistic culture. My reading on the subject of disorganization and overabundance of stuff confirmed my suspicion that it can affect decision making, increase stress, and negatively impact the environment.

As I explain in my first post, I set out to create sustainable organizational systems and processes to create an efficient and healthy household while involving my toddler and preschooler and doing so with the least environmental impact.

In my second post, I share how overwhelmed I was with the plethora of resources online, and in print, to help a person become more organized. After some study, I was able to take away what I found to be most helpful in my journey. Including the questions to help decide what to keep, toss, donate, or sell.

Here are my top five takeaways I have learned throughout my journey:

Takeaway #1: Get connected!

My success this semester in getting more organized was connecting with like-minded Youtubers to keep me motivated and accountable. I loved Cassandra from Clutterbug and Kathryn from Do it on a Dime. What was especially helpful was Clutterbug’s Facebook page specifically for her followers to swap advice by posting photos of their own hot messes or reorganized spaces. This group was closed, which means posts are not shared on a member’s main social media feed. I appreciated this separation.

Takeaway #2: Declutter

I quickly learned that before you can become organized, you must let go of the things in your home that no longer serve a purpose. Items that no longer serve you will only take up valuable real estate. I followed Clutterbug’s 30-day declutter challenge on her Facebook page in October as described in my third post. It was only 15 minutes per day in various areas of my home. The best part of following along was posting photos of my progress. Also, I was able to get some great tips on how I could upcycle or repurpose some of my items. When decluttering a space, I found categorizing the items into bins labeled keep, donate, toss, sell and relocate. It is amazing how many items you will find in your bedroom closet that belong in the kitchen. Especially if you have kids who like to wander off with things.

At this point, I also started working on my do it yourself (DIY) skills by installing a garbage can under my kitchen sink. Youtube was helpful in navigating the features of my cordless drill. The old school illustrated instructions that came with the garbage can were very helpful in this DIY project. Although the instructions said it would only take 15 minutes, I believe it took me over an hour!

Takeaway #3: Recruit household members in organizing efforts

When I was organizing my clothes closet I didn’t expect my husband to tackle his clothes as well, but he was bitten by the decluttering bug. He was even motivated to reorganize his office space!

My little ones were excited when I moved their dishes to a cupboard they can reach and therefore help to set the table or put away when clean. In my fourth post, I learned the value of involving my little ones in helping unload the dishwasher. My son was able to work on his problem-solving and fine motor skills while trying to get the utensils out of the top rack. Recognizing the need to encourage my children to become more self-sufficient I also implemented a system in our front entryway they could use to store their outerwear.

In my fifth post, I take you on a tour of how I organized this space, including hanging a shelf for the first time. The tutorial I viewed on Youtube was helpful – to a point. I learned that context matters. This is also where I discovered that math is an integral part of placing a shelf on a wall correctly.

Takeaway #4: Designate a space for everything

This has been my biggest challenge in getting organized. With four people living in my household there seems to be many things that do not have a designated space – otherwise known as homeless! These items left in the open, or placed haphazardly, can suddenly sprout legs, or with the help of your little ones, even your furbabies, be transported to obscure places.

I realized early in my learning journey that items needed a designated space to not only prevent them from walking off but to make sure that they could be found easily. It was in my sixth post I share how disorganized my master bedroom closet had become. It was time to tackle it! In this space, I installed an ironing board hanger, created designated bins, and paired down my wardrobe. I found it overwhelming at first, but I had an opportunity to reflect on our culture of thinness and the impact on a mother’s body image. I also realized it takes courage to be vulnerable and share our imperfect lives on social media, but at the end of the day, this vulnerability leads to a connection with others.

I video documented my learning adventure demonstrating my ability to install the install the ironing board hanger. It wasn’t as easy as I first thought! I also give a video tour of my reorganized closet here.

Tip #5: Labels, Labels, Labels

Since my new mantra is “a place for everything and everything in its place,” I have found the suggestion of Clutterbug to label bins or baskets a key element in getting and staying organized. Before labels, a bin could house anything I wanted….. and anything anyone else wanted as well. This created chaos and the bins just contained random stuff. With a label, it is can only house one thing….. whatever the bin says is in it!

In my eighth post, I share how I reorganized my daughter’s closet. I allocated labeled bins for her clothes, toys, and accessories and placed them on the Rubbermaid FastTrack system I installed. I am becoming more and more comfortable sharing my projects on social media as I demonstrate in the closet video tour here:

With the development of my DIY skills, I am also starting to become more comfortable with the math involved to install shelves. However, I am still not the best at finding studs, which I thought would be the easiest part. Balancing the tools, the vertical standards, and a level is very tricky when doing a DIY project like this alone. Interestingly, putting the brackets in the verticals was also tricky!

These are the top five takeaways that have assisted me in becoming more organized. Decluttering really set me on my path to efficiently organize what was left. The major areas that I tackled this semester were the kitchen, entryway, my and my daughter’s closets. These areas are so easy to keep organized now!

Thoughts Regarding Online Learning Resources

I have come to appreciate the value of learning online even more as a result of this learning project. So many tutorials on Youtube and mommy bloggers were instrumental in my learning journey. However, the topics we spoke about in class helped me to take a critical view of the sources I used. In my seventh post,  I contemplated whether the home organization tips and tricks offered by the mommy bloggers I followed was less valuable if their messages were sponsored by corporations. I concluded that being aware of this possibility was enough to allow me to be a critical consumer of the advice given.

In my fifth post, I also talked about the dark side of sharing on social media. During Clutterbug’s declutter challenge she encouraged us to post on her Facebook page before and after photos of what we accomplished. Unfortunately, not all of her followers were encouraging. In fact, I witnessed the negative effects of trolls.  One post, in particular, was met by a very negative comment. My dismay of this shadow cast on our community was quickly lifted when 300+ positive comments were posted to counteract the negative one.

Although my official major learning project has come to end, my learning journey has not. With my newfound DIY and organizational skills, I am ready to tackle the other closets in my house and start labeling more bins!

Thank you all for your encouraging comments and support! Have a wonderful holiday season and enjoy your break.

ECI 831: Summary of Learning

Where did the semester go? It went by so fast, but it was certainly busy. I have really enjoyed the topics we explored in this class and the tech tools and apps we were encouraged to try out! I am looking forward to continuing using them and incorporating them into my teaching practice.

Here is my summary of learning using Powtoon.

When I sat down to create my summary of learning, I spent 2+ hours on VideoScribe.  As Steffany mentioned in her review of this animation software, it was a steep learning curve. I also did some screencasting of a live Poll Everywhere word cloud, but I decided to switch to Powtoon. I am sure glad I did! Although it took many hours to create my six-minute video, I am happy with what I accomplished. I would love to use Powtoon again. There are Christmas themes that would be perfect to send as holiday greetings!

There are many other great apps and digital tools I utilized this semester, for free! I would highly recommend the following:

Feedly – a great news aggregator 

Tweetdeck – helps to organize and view multiple hashtags, users or other timelines. If you are like me and can type faster on your keyboard than your mobile device, Tweetdeck is for you! Especially helpful for twitter chats!

Windows Movie Maker – If you are a PC user this software allows you to edit videos. I wished I would have downloaded this to my PC when I was first doing my organizational videos. It would have saved me a lot of retakes!

Chrome extensions:

MakeGIF Video Capture– very fun way to make a statement on a social media or blog post

Bit.ly – excellent tool to shorten URLs to include in social media posts

Grammarly – Excellent way to improve your grammar when writing online

AdBlock Plus – removes those annoying ads when you are browsing online

Screencastify – Excellent way to video capture a tutorial to share with others

OneTab – if you are like me and have many tabs open on your browser, this is an excellent tool to put the links on one webpage!

These are just the highlights of what I used. Thank you to my learning community in ECI831 for introducing me to these tools!

Thank you all for an excellent semester of learning and engagement!

 

Reorganizing my Toddler’s Closet – Mom win!

This last week I moved on to reorganizing my toddler’s bedroom closet. With each new project, I find a new learning experience. I knew I wanted to install a shelving system that I could adjust as my daughter’s needs change. As always, I went to the internet to look for inspiration. When I found Do it on a Dime’s Toddler Room Organization & Tour video I knew exactly what I wanted to do!

I went to the local hardware store to find something similar and found the Rubbermaid FastTrack system would fit the bill.  But I soon discovered that this was going to be an expensive project! I had to scale back on the number of uprights and shelves I wanted, but am still impressed with how it turned out.

This is the video of my toddler’s closet makeover tour! In this video I show the before and after photo of the closet. I also describe my rationale for each bin and why labels are so important.

My Process

To determine what configuration I would install in the closet I needed to find out what items I was going to store in this space. I first decluttered the closet by sorting the items into Donate, Consign, Toss, Relocate, Keep piles.  With the items I kept I determined I would only need three shelves. This was a good thing, considering the cost of the system.

I went to the hardware store and bought 2 uprights, 6 brackets, and 3 shelves. Turning to YouTube I found an excellent video from a Lowe’s representative installing a similar system. I soon found out I was missing the horizontal hang track that would provide strength to the system. Great, this project is getting very pricey! Thankfully, when I went back to the hardware store a representative told me that I wouldn’t necessarily need the additional item if I secured the vertical standards with a screw at every hole, and ensure I space the standards no more than 24 inches apart. This spacing will provide the strength I need. Perfect! Done!

Finding a Stud and Installing Vertical Standards

I am usually pretty great at finding things. But finding a wall stud has been difficult for me. The videos make it look so simple. Perhaps I have a defective stud finder? I did eventually locate a stud for the one vertical upright but needed to use plugs for the other to ensure the shelving would be able to hold weight. I posted my process for installing a plug when I reorganized my master closet, feel free to check it out.

Next, I attempted to level the vertical standards. Leveling is not easy to do while flying solo! Balancing the upright, the level and then trying to mark the wall was an awkward dance. It definitely takes some practice! After a few attempts, I was able to negotiate the steps and start to drill. I have to admit that it is not exactly level, but no one will notice. I have been learning to use the drill quite a bit this semester and I am happy that I really have gotten the hang of it.

Installing the brackets was surprisingly frustrating. At this point in the project, I was beginning to feel uncoordinated. I soon realized, though, that it was pretty dark in the closet and I needed a light. I wish I had someone to snap a picture of me with the headlamp while fitting these brackets in. However, I did a reenactment for your viewing pleasure, without the light.

This project has been completed for a couple of days now and my toddler’s room has never been so neat and tidy. A place for everything and everything in its place. This is my new mantra, my friends! My toddler is now putting her dirty clothes and toys back into their “new homes” as she calls it. I hope this enthusiasm lasts for a mom win!

We are now at the end of the semester so I may not be posting any more major projects documenting my learning on becoming more organized. The journey has not ended though. I will continue to use what I have learned these past few months and tackle some more unorganized, hot messes! I hope to post my top 5 tips on becoming more organized at the end of this week. Stay tuned.

Thank you for continuing to share in my learning journey.

Facilitating an Online Educational Group Discussion Using Facebook

This week in #ECI831 we are checking out and reviewing apps that can have educational uses. Instead of finding an app to review first, I decided to take a particular formative assessment in my post-secondary level Commercial Law 220 course that needs a new discussion forum. Let me explain. In this course, we have numerous in-class discussions around common commercial situations and how the law of torts, employment law, property law etc. would apply. The issue that arises is that some students need more time to formulate their thoughts; and therefore, typically run out of time to respond, losing out on valuable feedback from me or their classmates. Also, some discussions warrant more than class time allows. This would be perfect to move to an online format!

An online format would allow students time, say one week, to formulate answers, and comment on others’ line of thinking. We do use a learning management system (LMS) to deliver Law 220 to distance students. However, I have found that the online discussion portion to be quite limiting in that the instructions, videos, articles or any materials to support the discussion cannot be housed on one page.

Although you won’t be able to read the instructions for the Law 220 discussion on this screenshot of the LMS platform, you will note that there are two highlighted links. The first, is to a video the students must watch before engaging in the discussion topic; and the second, is a link to the discussion forum to post their answer. These are a lot of steps, and is quite cumbersome to navigate! I wanted to find another solution that is user-friendly or even perhaps something they are familiar with. I turned to TodaysMeet, but soon realized that it could not accommodate videoes or attachments, nor could students reply directly to each other. I thought of a Twitter chat, but this discussion topic needs about one week to truly engage in. Additionally, the posts will be longer than what a tweet could handle. However, I do see merit in using a Twitter chat if the objective was to have students hone their skills in being succinct.

After searching the web, an idea came to me to use a closed group on Facebook. Although I am familiar with Facebook, I have never set up or facilitated a closed group for either a personal or educational purpose. I had to see it in action, so I set up a group called Law 220 – Winter 2019. Click on the link and join the conversation about the extent of liability that Tim Hortons may have for serving hot tea. To bring you an authentic list of strengths and weaknesses, I invited a small number of my Facebook friends to try it out. Below is a list of what I discovered as I facilitated the group discussion:

Strengths
  • As a closed group, this discussion is private. Although, I would recommend changing the setting so that only the administrator can approve group members.
  • Inappropriate comments can be deleted.
  • Embedding videos directly from other websites to a closed group is very easy. As is, other documents including pdfs.
  • Students can comment on each other’s posts.
  • Most students will be familiar with operating Facebook, it is a free app and can be accessed from most mobile devices. No computer is necessary. The major downfall of the LMS we use is that there is no app.
  • When new comments are posted, students are notified.
  •  By clicking on a student’s name you can see all their posts in the group.
Weaknesses
  • Students may view Facebook as a strictly informal means of communication; and therefore, not view this as an assignment per se. Although it is important to make students aware of proper Netiquette in both formal and informal discussions, it is recommended posting guidelines for all to follow in the group.
  • If more than one question is posted in the group discussion, the most recent post will appear first. If the questions are in sequential order, like mine are, this may cause confusion. Students would need to scroll through the posts to locate the next question.
  • The description of the discussion, which provides the students will the initial instruction, is not very visible. However, this can be pinned to the top of the discussion forum. BUT only one post can be pinned at a time.
  • If you use your own personal profile to set up the group students can send you a friend request. Therefore, if you would rather your students not find you on Facebook, I would recommend using a professional/alternative profile to facilitate your discussion.

I have to admit, I was very excited at the prospect of finding a more user-friendly discussion forum like Facebook!

I am happy that my friends were able to test it out so I could come to understand some its strengths and weaknesses. I think educators can use this forum to facilitate a group discussion. The only major drawback, as I mentioned, is that multiple questions (posts) will go out of order due to the most recent being responded to rising to the top of the page. However, the big plus for me is that there is an app for this forum and it’s familiar to most students.

Do you have any suggestions for a social media app that would accommodate what I described above?

If you checked out my online discussion forum I would love to hear your feedback! Are there any strengths or weaknesses that I missed?

Thanks for stopping by!

 

Is Your Social Media Friend’s Advice Sponsored?

If you are a parent of little ones you probably have a friend you go to when you need advice. You might be looking for the toughest stain remover out there or how to get your 18-month-old to sleep through the night. Why do we rely on our friends for this how-to information? Because they have experience and we TRUST them! With social media, the ‘friends’ we can go to for this advice has grown exponentially.

Introducing the mom blog... These ladies are in the trenches, living the life of momdom and they have valuable advice! Their videos and blogs are the real deal. Want to know how to do anything on a budget? Want the inside scoop on sleeping? They have you covered!

But what if, at the end of the day, all they are trying to do is make an income while forging friendships and connections online? Does that make their advice less valuable?

When I started my learning project to get my household, and my family, more organized I didn’t turn to Martha Stewart or Tori Spelling for guidance. I wasn’t interested in trying to create the perfect Pinterest worthy home. And trust me, I know the path perfectionism leads you on… it isn’t a pretty journey! I was more interested in what was achievable, what was real, and, more importantly, who I could identify with.

I found two great mom bloggers that fit this bill. But the more I followed them online the more I started getting hints of product placement and endorsements. It only became obvious to me when I was scouring the aisles of Wal-Mart in vain looking for the exact sippy cup that Kathryn from Do It On A Dime highly recommended. Was I just following the advice of my well-intentioned friend Kathryn or had I been had by marketing geniuses! (Clearly, in this video it says “sponsored”)

Critical interactions with mom bloggers

Dr. Stephen Brookfield, a critical thinker and adult educator, poses excellent questions and methods to dig deeper when engaging in social media. One question he asked in his article Teaching Students to Think Critically About Social Media is: “Who sponsors your Communications/Devices?”. This question led me to ask myself: Who sponsors my friend’s advice? Who is behind their messages and what are they trying to sell me? Who is really benefiting from this relationship?

Is their advice any less valuable?

Ok, so now that I am aware the mom bloggers I follow might be sponsored in some capacity, do I ignore their advice? Or, have they built enough social credit with me that I am willing to overlook the potential lack of authenticity?

After considering these questions I have decided that I will continue looking to mom bloggers for advice. However, I now have a critical lens through which I can assess what is genuine and truly valuable.

Reference

Brookfield, S. D. (2015). Teaching Students to Think Critically About Social Media. New Directions For Teaching & Learning2015(144), 47-56. doi:10.1002/tl.20162

Inspired by Sharing and Openness

The Path to Sharing and Openness

Sharing Cousins

I remind my two small children every day, it seems, that they must share their toys, treats, and hugs. This week’s topic in our #ECI831 course regarding sharing and openness in education made me really think about why I want to instill the value of sharing in my children. To be honest, my first inclination to ask my children to share with each other is to preserve harmony. But it goes beyond that. I want my children to share their experience of enjoyment, love, or gifts (whatever those may be) with others. I believe this fulfills our collective need for connection as Brene Brown describes.

I have been inspired by many, both professionally and personally, with their openness. Take my learning project for example. The two main home organization bloggers I follow are ordinary women, sharing their imperfect lives with extraordinary enthusiasm. I cannot tell you how much I appreciate their willingness to demonstrate their own organizational tips and tricks while broadcasting on YouTube from their own ordinary, imperfect homes. This is so refreshing considering our culture of perfection (see: Pinterest worthy homes or features in House and Home). Who doesn’t want to connect with down to earth people?

On a professional note, Dr. Mary McGlasson, an economics professor in Arizona, has positively impacted my teaching practice and the learning of my students by posting engaging videos on economic principles. These videos were originally created to help her own students in a blended learning environment. However, many around the world have sent notes of gratitude for her contribution to their teaching and education. This story is not unlike the impact of Dan Meyer’s blog posts of his innovative math lessons, as highlighted in Dean Shareski‘s video Sharing: The Moral Imperative.

via Giphy This was our school in 2000 – We’ve come so far!

There are so many benefits to sharing our resources both in person and online. As teacher’s we often work in isolation when delivering lessons and interacting with students. But we do not need to plan our lessons in isolation or reinvent the wheel. I talk about how the culture of sharing at my educational institution has helped me enhance my pedagogy tremendously in a previous blog post. Researchers from the University of Alberta argue that the more teachers collaborate and see the positive effects on student outcomes the more they are motivated to work together. This collective motivation impacts teacher efficacy in their teaching practice.

Time and resources are always factors to consider in pursuing a  culture of openness and collaboration. However, I believe that it takes more time to reinvent the wheel then to take the opportunity to observe and learn from others’ innovative teaching practices. I believe that institutions and instructors need to work together to build this culture of collaboration to be in a position to face the diversity of student needs and evolving technology.  In my experience at the post-secondary level, this means more emphasis needs to be placed on professional development.

Sustaining the Open Educational Resource (OER) Process

Chris Reed, a fellow #ECI831 classmate, shared on Twitter the notion of not only receiving resources from others online but also providing educational resources to sustain the #OER process. As I sat contemplating this call to action, I noticed that Chris went one step further to seek advice on Twitter in how to participate in this process. I am certainly following that!

Aside from sharing with our colleagues face to face, we can certainly reach out to others through our blogs as Dan Meyer did. And as an example close to home, Jaque, another #ECI831 classmate shared her lesson plan on digital identity on her blog. This simple act of sharing is something I could definitely do with concepts I teach in my courses – especially the lesson plans that utilize open resources. Feedback beyond the borders of my school is an exciting prospect. Again, professionally inspired – Thank you Chris and Jaque!

I would like to put Chris’s question out there to you. How do other teachers share their resources and contribute to ? What platforms do you use to locate or contribute educational materials? If you do not share now, what platforms would you consider?

Thanks for stopping by!

 

 

 

 

Exploring and Evaluating Open Education – MOOCs & OERs

This week we are asked to explore and evaluate open educational resources (OER). As an educator, these freely open and readily accessible educational resources are an excellent method to expand my knowledge and skills to assist me in life and in my teaching practice.

An important concept of OERs is the potential for anyone to have open and free access to the latest information provided by experts in their field representing top universities. In particular, the United Nation Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) highlight examples of universities providing courses that help to educate individuals and professionals in regions of the world needing education on such topics as health care and water treatment processes. UNESCO poignantly sums up the importance of open education:

“Free information is a fundamental human right, and OERs make it possible for people of all ages and backgrounds to learn more about the world around them and access the tools they need to improve their lives and livelihoods.”

Exploring MOOC as an Open Educational Resource

I was intrigued by the Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) called Indigenous Canada from the University of Alberta that my EC&I 831 classmate, Jacqueline Bampi, shared on Twitter. As a citizen of Canada and as more curriculum is becoming indigenized at my school, Saskatchewan Polytechnic, I think this will be an excellent starting point for me to begin learning more about Indigenous perspectives and worldviews.

To enroll for the free course, the University redirects you to Coursera, which I found to be an easily navigated online platform that offers courses taught by instructors and professors from the world’s top universities and educational institutions. Although Indigenous Canada is a credit course offered by the University of Alberta, it is also offered by Coursera free or, for a small fee and upon completion, a course certificate is awarded. This certificate can be shared by the learner on professional networking sites and to potential employers.

The value Western culture places on formal education is well known, so I am unsure of the value prospective employers or other educational institutions would place on a course certificate at present. I am also curious about the language we use when talking about courses completed through OERs and MOOCs? If I were to share that I enrolled in the Indigenous Canada course offered by the University of Alberta, I am sure most would assume it was for credit. I am certain our way in which we express our engagement in university courses will now change to differentiate between a non-credit and credit course.

This week I successfully completed the first week’s lesson in Indigenous Canada and found it informative, engaging, and well designed. This course is mainly taught by video, with interaction via multiple choices questions throughout. These videos are presented by elders from Indigenous communities and scholars in this field, which brings legitimacy to the lessons in my view. As a visual learner, the videos worked well for me. However, for those that prefer text-based information, a full transcript is also provided.

Originally, I didn’t see how I could use any learning materials from this particular course in any courses I teach. However, as I type this, I remember that in Organizational Behaviour we discuss cultural diversity. What better way to showcase Indigenous culture and ways of knowing other than to bring in experts from the University of Alberta through its online course!

Other Online Educational Resources

I searched Khan Academy for resources I could use at the post-secondary level and found economics. After watching a few videos I have to admit I was not as enchanted with them as the Indigenous Canada course or the economics videos posted by YouTuber mjmfoodie, who is Dr. Mary McGlasson, Economics faculty at Chandler-Gilbert Community College near Phoenix, Arizona.  Here is one of her videos:

Contrast her work with a Law of Demand lesson posted on Khan Academy. (posted below). To be honest, as a learner and instructor, I would much prefer watching Dr. McGlasson’s video as it provides a sound and relatable introduction for learners. Khan Academy, on the other hand, is much more technical and the narrator relies on a lecture format.

That is not to say Khan Academy’s version is not valuable. It would be an excellent study aid for students who have a basic understanding of economics and certainly when they are completing assignments. In my view, however, it isn’t an appropriate method to use as an introductory lesson to students. Furthermore, I do not see Dr. McGlasson’s video any less valuable as an educational resource just because it is not hosted on a credible education website.

How OER and MOOCs can be Promoted

This week I have had an opportunity to dive into a pot of gold in terms of additional or alternative educational resources, and perspectives, to bring into my classroom. Now that I know more about MOOCs I am sure to share it with my colleagues in hopes it can enhance their teaching practice. I also see value in suggesting it to be a topic at our one professional development day and at one of our quarterly faculty staff meetings.

I also believe sharing interesting and valuable OERs or MOOCs on social media, as Jacqueline had done, will be an excellent way to promote open education.  It had me looking!

Thanks for stopping by!

Tackling the Master Bedroom Closet

Last month, I followed Clutterbug’s 30 Decluttering Challenge . When it came to decluttering clothes I have to confess, I skipped it. I have been putting off decluttering the two closets and three bins of my clothes for some time actually. Thankfully, this major learning project has been the answer to a lot of my procrastination with home organization. It was time to tackle the master bedroom closet!

Take the video tour of my reorganized master bedroom closet!

Before – one hot disorganized mess!                             After – Room to breathe!

                       

There were three things I learned from this part of my learning project. First, developing the skills to be ‘handy’ around the house requires a lot of troubleshooting. Second, pairing down my wardrobe led me to reflect on my own body image. Finally, sharing your imperfect life on social media takes courage.

Being Handy – Hanging the Ironing Board Hanger

I video documented my learning adventure with installing the ironing board hanger. As mentioned in the video, it was not as straightforward as I had imagined when I originally bought the hanger in the summer. My super handy mom was my videographer for this job. I was lucky I had an expert to get me over some of the snags I was running into! For example, when I started the project, I checked for studs where I wanted to install the hanger and found none. I tried to hammer in three plugs into one of the predrilled holes – none would go in and each ended up looking like an accordion. My mom was laughing the entire time she was filming my failed attempts! She finally clued me in that I was trying to drive the plug into a stud.

That wasn’t the only snag I had to troubleshoot. But each time I needed to, I learned more about operating a drill, multiple ways of using tools, and how a house is constructed. I didn’t include those snags in my video because I had originally thought I would shoot it as a “how-to” demonstration. I haven’t learned how to edit videos yet, so after each time I solved a problem, we had to start filming from the beginning. After what seemed like 20 takes, I was so excited to have successfully completed the job.

Pairing Down Clothes & a Mother’s Body Image

When I was pregnant with my first child a well-meaning friend told me that she left the hospital in her regular jeans after having her baby. What did I do? I totally packed my regular jeans to wear when I left the hospital. Naive? Completely! There was no way I fit into those jeans until 12 months later. Even then, they didn’t fit comfortably. Yet, I kept all my pre-pregnancy clothes thinking that one day I would fit them the way I once had.

I thought my only reason for putting off pairing down my wardrobe was because of its overwhelming overabundance. Although that was part of it, I don’t think I was ready to let go of the notion that I would once again fit the pre-pregnancy body image I had of myself. I do not think it was vanity, but more the expectations inherent in our culture of thinness. Perhaps it’s maturity on my part to start my own revolt against popular media’s representation of what a ‘normal’ body looks like and start to embrace the new rendition of the mom jeans!

Once I had this realization, I started to look on Pinterest for inspiration to tackle my clothes. I found a blog post from Uncluttered Simplicity and her recommendation of shock treatment. The idea of putting all my clothes in one big pile to get a visual of the amount I owned before sorting seemed overwhelming, but I wanted to try it. I really appreciated her prompting questions as well. She asks, “What is your style today – not 5 years ago and not who you hope to be in 5 years?” It took about 3-4 hours to go through the process, but it was quite liberating. Especially once I had the resolve to embrace a more positive body image! I also had motivation as I went through the purge process as I have hope that my clothes can serve someone in my local community. To my #ECI831 classmates, any suggestions of local charities in need?

Sharing our Imperfect Lives on Social Media takes Courage

I really hesitated in sharing the before photos of the hot mess my closet was in and the photo of the big mound of clothes I had. Sharing our imperfect lives on social media takes courage. And we don’t see enough of that celebrated. We see a lot of Pinterest worthy homes we aspire to have or the perfect family photo we wish we could recreate of our own. But to share our authentic lives more often, especially on social media, takes courage and vulnerability. Brene Brown has said vulnerability leads to connection. I really hope you have found some connection with what I have shared with you.

Goals for this coming week

  • Install shelving system in children’s closets
  • Create and implement processes to maintain organization
  • Continue to identify ways in which my little people can help and benefit
  • Identify environmentally and socially responsible ways in which I can “relocate” the stuff I am ready to let go

Thank you for respectfully sharing in my journey!

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