Something Brewing Out of #OpenEd16

I’m involved in a weekly blog that my department puts out for faculty. We provide short excerpts in set categories meant to give some tips and distill the things faculty need to know about our college. We try to put them out at the right time and in a bit of a ‘gateway drug’ format. As in, get a taste for the topic, get hooked, and click the links to learn more; go down the rabbit hole. Drugs are bad, mmkay, but they have a heck of an on-boarding process. We try to mimic that, but for good!

We call it the Teaching Hub. Here are the categories.

teac-hing-iconEngaging Teaching: A pedagogical skill. We try to enlist ‘guest speakers’ from faculty to provide these tips and examples for how you can use them.

tech-icon1Learning Technology: The default setting for ed-tech articles is to provide a list of no less than 60 new tools that you should feel bad for not using yet. We try to show one or two uses of one tool.

polci-iconPolicies & Procedures: This is where the timely thing comes in. For example, hey, it’s week 10, you might start to get some appeals… here’s how our appeals procedure works.

dept-iconCollege Departments: Every department does something for faculty so we pick one each week to show faculty exactly what that is. The bonus here is that we make up a fake department-competition-of-the-week like rap-battles, the ska battle of the bands and an extreme skipping 24 Hours of Adrenaline race. We then award a department member the championship. I think they feel strangely proud of their accomplishments when they win.

student-service-iconServices for Students: we’re hoping for trickle down with this one: Hey did you know your students have access to _____? Tell them about it! An example is our co-curricular record

pdiconProfessional Development: In this category we show a thing we think might be helpful, and also take suggestions from the audience like ‘Who’s Line Is It, Anyway’.

communicate-iconChatter: Here is where we round up any discussion from the previous week and bounce ideas around.

Why am I telling you this? Well, we think it’s been going well and it’s been a good way to reach a larger amount of our audience so maybe you want to try some of the ideas in your department?

But more importantly, and hence the title of this post, I wanted to report back to those involved in Open Ed about a project we plan to do. We are using Monday’s edition of the Teaching Hub as a call for help edition to ask for buy-in on the project. The idea came from #OpenEd16, specifically, Robin De Rosa’s (@actualham) Open Textbook Project which has inspired us to try something similar to create open faculty and student manuals for our college.

This link to our call for help edition is scheduled for Monday morning. So please sit where you are and wait until then to click this link: or I can tweet it out again when it is live.

But in the meantime, if you’re so inclined, check out past episodes here


And please, let me know if you have any comments, ideas or suggestions. Thanks for reading.



This post was originally published here, but I am cross-posting it here for maximum blowhardiness.

I am currently reading, as a little bit of professional learning, The Monsters of Educational Technology, by Audrey Watters. I’m convinced you couldn’t find a better person to have a critical eye on your field than her.

Her analysis of the history, present and future of Ed-Tech in this book and on her blog  reveals cycles of excitement and abandonment of ideas for using technology in education. Over and over. History repeating itself. Over and over. It’s very easy to get excited about new technology. It’s harder to figure out how to use it to the best of its potential for helping us teach and learn.

What’s better? Someone using PowerPoint 2007 to create a beautiful visual complement of slides for a passionate talk, or using brand new Virtual Reality goggles to ‘explore’ a scene that you could reasonably go and actually explore in real life? I’m not saying VR does not have exciting potential, but it should be used for what it could be best for: immersion into scenarios in which you could not actually be immersed IRL. Like say the past, or the inside of a circulatory system, or floating above a city. Not some environment to which you can actually go. Just like PowerPoint should be used what it is best for: creating slides that are a visualcomplement to an exciting talk, not as the whole lecture itself. Cutting-edge is not better than trailing-edge unless you are using it meaningfully.

Does anybody remember trying to move the little turtle around the screen in elementary school? This was the The LOGO programming language for children

Image Source

Forty years ago, researchers developed a programming language that would become a brilliant educational tool.

Maybe it was a brilliant educational tool. I wouldn’t know because the way it was used in my school, as far as I can recall, was a few times over a couple of months. I got mildly excited when I first made the turtle create a square. But really I didn’t know why we needed to make it make a square. It just disappeared from our computer activities when the shine wore off. Perhaps if they stuck to it a little longer, I could have experienced the real brilliance of it. They were excited to get us coding… for a little while and then it went away. Ultimately it’s my own fault to not yet have the skills I wish I had. I just wish now that they went a little further with it.

I’m guessing you can recall hearing reports or seeing articles in your recent past about the need to teach our children coding and programming. Ads for coding bootcamps for kids maybe? History Image result for symbol for repeat. I do think it’s a great idea. I hope we can stick to it a little longer this time.

I don’t want to say that I think it would have been better if they never gave us the LOGO opportunity at all. I think of that little turtle fondly. I just wish I had the chance to get to know it better. What I’m trying to say is this: take the time to think about how you can meaningfully use the new technology that you are excited about before you begin working with it. And if you decide to use it, keep pushing through a little more once the excitement fades. Revise and re-implement and only abandon when you truly have found something else that works better, not just another new shiny thing.