I’d Like This Better If It Looked Like That

This tiny post is a response to the Ontario Extend Technologist module activity “Tell a Tiny Tech Tale” where you share a little software thing that you find helpful.

Mine is not new and likely widely known, but I just use it so much and it is a very satisfying tool to use:

The Format Painter aka Make This Look Like That.

Select some stuff that you like the look of for something else, click on the format painter, and then select your target. It will automatically change the format allowing you to remain blissfully unaware of what font/size/heading etc. it even is.

You can find the format painter in any of the Office products and all the Google Drive thingies. Look for a little paintbrush.

“painter” flickr photo by tinou bao https://flickr.com/photos/tinou/453593446 shared under a Creative Commons (BY) license


Enter Stage Right

This post is a response to the What’s In It For Me? activity in the Ontario Extend Teacher for Learning Module.

Brainstorm a list of WIIFM (what’s in it for me?) from a student perspective.

If you can’t think of more than “because you should know it,” then you need to talk to your students and get a better sense of where they are in their learning and where they are going.

So I will WIIFM from the perspective of someone who might be thinking of starting (or continuing) through the Extend modules, in what I think is screenplay form:

(YTQE – You, the Questioning Extender; OEP- Ontario Extend, personified)

Two figures enter stage right, dressed to the nines and looking quite dashing.

YTQE: Why should I do this Ontario Extend thing?

OEP: Well, since it’s an open and shared experience, you have the opportunity to expand your professional learning network.

YTQE: Hmm, that’s nice. What else?

OEP: You get to be a part of investing in and growing a bank of teaching and learning activities that anyone can use. Including you, obviously.

YTQE: And then?

OEP: Also, there’s the benefit of working with a whole bunch of tools and technologies, like running your own domain, hopefully expanding your own personal “toolkit”.

YTQE: Please give me more.

OEP: Well, no matter how much time and effort (or lack thereof) you put in to it, we still consider you a part of the community so… membership in a community like the East Cohort, for example.

YTQE: More.

OEP: The opportunity to have some simple fun by interacting with your new professional learning network by trying out the short and sweet Daily Extend activities on a semi-regular basis.

YTQE: I’m gonna need more than that.

OEP: Well, to go back to the basics, we’ve posted the six modules with an open licence (CC-BY-NC-SA) so you can take them and use them in your own conext in your own institution if you’d like.

YTQE: Cool, cool. You got anything else?

OEP: Umm… Oh! If you do all the activities in the module, we can give you a badge! And if you do them all, you get the Super Extend badge!

YTQE: Okay yes, these are all cool. But what about socks?

OEP: (mumbles) The socks are all gone.

One figure exits stage left, the other reaches out as the lights dim. 


image credit: “Theater” flickr photo by Hitchster https://flickr.com/photos/hitchster/8754280878 shared under a Creative Commons (BY) license





It’s the Tortoise, Not the Hare

I was just sitting there making my way through the Ontario Extend Teacher for Learning module, and lo and behold! I see a link that says “Take it to The Bank”. What’s this then? I put my take on the activity right there? Ok! This is my response!


Identify a concept that is often misunderstood in your discipline. Can you think of an analogy that can help make the concept make sense to students?

My discipline is educational technology so the first thing that comes to mind is more like a misconceived idea than a singular concept that is misunderstood. That idea is the pervasive thought that technology is progressing faster and faster than ever and that we MUST KEEP UP!

That’s just stress inducing. Let’s chill out. We’re still finding out wonderful, fun, cutting-edge uses of trailing-edge technologies. The Extend program itself is kind of doing that. We’re blogging and tweeting! That’s not new! But it can be so engaging and extending, so let’s start doing that afresh together, in the open.

Have a look at this talk by Audrey Watters from the Digital Pedagogy Lab in PEI from 2016 where she makes it clear that, no, technology is not advancing faster than ever and taking a step back and thinking about why were are using it is a pretty stellar idea.

The tortoise beats the hare, all the time. See it happen in real life.

p.s. is that a turtle, or a tortoise in the image above?

“IMG_20130616_132818_v2” flickr photo by Chasing Light Photography (Chris Martin) https://flickr.com/photos/14798455@N06/9066171055 shared under a Creative Commons (BY-SA) license

Let’s Squiggle

This is just a quick follow up post to thank everyone for coming along for a squiggly ride in the Extend East cohort! Can’t wait to see what we see!

Watch for tomorrow’s Daily Extend on our Twitter

And the Teacher for Learning Module intro post by Valerie Lopes

Or maybe you want to read a little about how to get and give help.

See you out there!

“Gummy Worms 7” flickr photo by digipam https://flickr.com/photos/digipam/3956388234 shared under a Creative Commons (BY) license

We Go Down East

The University of Alberta Ski Team put on a fundraising party in the fall of 2002-ish. Being of the “drinking team with a skiing problem” mentality, they had themselves a fun slogan to print on the tickets.

We Go Down Fast

The only reason I still remember this is because the ticket printers made a little mistake and printed something else.

We Go Down East

Why did they think “we go down east” was a ticket-worthy slogan? They must have thought the fundraising was for a ski race in Quebec or something. Who’s to say? All I know is, as far as misprinted ticket stories go, it’s my all time favorite.

In another story of going “east”, a group of intrepid Ontario post-secondary educators are about to kick off the Ontario Extend East Cohort on March 6th. Together we’ll experiment, curate, and collaborate with technology for teaching and learning. We’ll do it all in the open.

It works a little (maybe a lot) differently than most P.D. events you may have come across. There are four pieces. One of them stays still and the others are on the move. The one piece that stays still are the modules themselves. Six of them: teacher for learning, curator, collaborator, technologist, experimenter, scholar.

The moving parts are where the fun happens.

  • The Activity Bank – A place to add your response to all of the various module activities. You get to see what your peers do with it rather than everyone hiding their work in a dropbox. For example, the “Please Allow Me to Introduce My Field” activity already has a few responses. You also get to add more activities. It’s a bank where any deposit one person makes can be withdrawn by anyone and everyone.
  • The Daily Extend – A place for short and sweet daily activities. Why? Two good reasons are that it allows us to easily connect with each other on a regular basis and gives us all low stakes opportunities to dabble with new tools and ideas. This is the Experimenter module reaching full actualization. And it tries to be fun. Like this one: Taylor Swift Curriculum Design
  • The Domains – This is the flow. Maybe sometimes a trickle, sometimes a babble, sometimes a flood. A central place where all of everyone’s work will appear. You’ll see blog posts that are responses to module activities, posts that are new activities, reflections, calls to action, new ideas and new plans. Hopefully even stories about misprinted fundraiser tickets. See the “East Cohort” central flow here. You’ll see this post there, because I threw my blog into the mix. We’ll show you how to do it.

What I hope and believe the Extend community can be is a slightly informal and loose yet strong and lively connection of faculty members engaged in teaching and learning with technology in the open. If you’ve ever felt lonely in your pursuit of providing great learning experiences to your students, you can say goodbye to that. It’s going to be awesome.

So far there are approximately 60 people from across Ontario signed up to participate. As in the misprinted ticket story, “east” doesn’t really mean much. Everyone is invited. And if March doesn’t work for you. We’re running the “West” cohort in May. We’ve even got a couple of current students lined up to join in and keep us on our toes.

If you want to join in, add your name here: http://bit.ly/ExtendEast

Comment below if you have any questions or comments. See you “down east”!

image credit: “No Fast Skiing” flickr photo by Joe Shlabotnik https://flickr.com/photos/joeshlabotnik/349939582 shared under a Creative Commons (BY) license

Take Note

I am currently in the process of collecting exemplars of the Ontario Extend module activities for an in-development activity bank. It’s looking pretty slick thanks to the Internet construction machine that is Alan Levine (aka cogdog). Stay tuned for that!

I thought it couldn’t hurt to do a couple myself. This is the last one, I swear! I did one yesterday, too.

This is my take on the Extend activity at the bottom of this page in the Teacher for Learning module. See the module itself for the ol’ how-to do it stuff.

Try watching a TED talk or conference keynote video yourself to practice your own note-taking skills using Cornell Notes.

I took this opportunity to revisit one of the most wonderful keynotes I’ve ever had the pleasure of experiencing. Thank so much to Robin DeRosa for Periscoping it so that I was able to relive this!

Gardner Campbell from the 2016 Open Education Conference in Richmond, Virginia. Gardner discusses insight and how we might be able to stop stifling it so much in higher ed. My Cornell notes are below, but ignore those and watch the periscope. I still think about it often, 15 months later. Layers upon layers!

Date/Subject: Nov 2016, Keynote at OpenEd Conference by Gardner Campbell

Key Points


-The Eureka Hunt New Yorker Article

-The Insight experience

-alpha, beta,gamma waves

-gamma rhythm is when the insights happen

-brain cells can be restructured often an insight

-you have to wait for it the insight

-A summary and response to the eureka hunt-

-clenched state of mind

-these insight killing activities even spawn industry like Course Hero

Deadly Mantras of student success


-Opens with footage of Bob Dylan in Sweden answering questions from reporters… being cagey about his answers

-Gardner introduces smokejumper story. Robert Wag survived a forest fire bc of insight. The others perished because they couldn’t believe it.

-insight was to start another fire before he jumped into it. it would burn out before he landed and he would be ok. it worked. others didn’t believe him so they died.

-etymology of insight. synonyms of insight… all would be on the banned ‘sinister 16 verbs in your learning outcomes. don’t dare put them on there

-but insights are obviously deep learning experiences

-The Eureka Hunt- new yorker article

-The INsight experience: concentrate, search, mental block/impasse, walk away/relax……… problem solved. what’s in the gap? gamma rhythm…

“students will have made distant and unprecedented connections”

neurons in the right hemisphere are less precise but better connected.

maybe an apple watch could let you know when you’re having a gamma wave

“you may now say OMG!”

-let yourself/students prepare for an experience when they can make a connection. you have to wait for it

-showed a student response to the eureka hunt. boring and uninsightful. not the students fault as it was what was asked. it was the asking that did not allow for insight. summary and response and insight maybe don’t mix.

-“insight into insights” we could be getting Watson to produce this stuff algorithmically

‘flash cards on the eureka hunt’

“get the answer to YOUR response to the Eureka Hunt”

Deadly Mantras of student success: students don’t do optional, define more pathways, we need to graduate more students (students graduate we don’t do that to them), our students are our products.

-The Aha moment is well within the competence of the average person

-will it scale? if we want it to.

-The blog is where the insights occur

-how about an opportunity to write without a rubric

-“i don’t even know how I would put that in a rubric”

“I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, my favorite thing about blogging for school is being encouraged to take an active role in my own education.”

-“I just wanted something real to happen in the room”


Insight, and the experiences that may lead to insight learning is amazing and addicting. Typical and traditional outcomes/activities/assessments, so lock step, may be counter- productive to and prevent actual insights

See, my note taking is suspect. But in the Cornell note-taking style, it’s easier to find out that you should take your own, better notes!

OH and if YOU would like to add an exemplar of your own to any of the Ontario Extend module activities, even if it’s something you’ve already done, please let me know by commenting below!

image: “… is taking notes” flickr photo by Jon Åslund https://flickr.com/photos/jooon/2712042772 shared under a Creative Commons (BY) license




And We All Dine On

This page of the Ontario Extend Collaborator Module includes words that, when you read them, make your brain think that you might want to create an image of a dining table representing a project that you’ve worked on.

“Okay” my brain thought upon reading these words. “I’ll do that.”

Using the latest of bare bones basic visual editing software (Microsoft Paint for Windows 10) and the wonderful people of the world who openly licence their photography, I was able to piece together the dinner table for those involved in the making of The Open Faculty Patchbook. In reality, this meal would cost a bit over my budget since I’d have to fly people in from Tennessee, Ohio, and Cairo.

Oh and hey! Check out The Open Learner Patchbook and let me know if you know anyone who’d like to be at that dinner table by commenting below.

Who’s at your collaborative dining table?

(“lauren’s mermaid party” flickr photo by mom2sofia https://flickr.com/photos/mom2sofia/15479145327 shared under a Creative Commons (BY) license)

Interrupt Yourself

Yesterday morning I had a moment where I realized I wasn’t too sure what to do next, work-wise. So I decided to take the moment to check in on Benjamin Doxdator‘s writing, because that stuff will fill you right up with things you maybe need to think about. It’s so good.

I think I was drawn to click on a post called “What Should Give Educators Pause in 2018” because I was kind of taking a little pause from just constantly trying to “do stuff” and taking a moment to read a few things. I mean, obviously I check out and read things often enough, but I haven’t been consciously telling myself to stop and take in rather than just trying to keep putting things out there. As a self-described open educator, I want to remind myself to take and take as well as give from the commons that we have. And by take, mostly I mean take in more the openly shared thoughts, ideas and plans that open educators tend to share on their blogs or podcasts.

Benjamin’s post was a two phase thing in which he originally asked people to contribute audio about “what should give them pause” and he then put it all together into a podcast and updated the post with the final product. It’s a wonderful, peaceful piece with eight responses from around the world. I especially enjoyed joining Alan Levine on a walk with Felix.

It just so happens that later that day I was chatting with Helen DeWaard and she brought up something that fell together with Benjamin’s “productive interruptions”, for me. That was the #OneWordONT challenge in which you choose a word to focus on for the year. Helen chose “frames” so she will spend the year being cognizant of the frames she sees the world through and see if she needs to do something about it.

I am going to take a simpler route and choose “pause”. I’ll take a cue from the cows above and look at the vista views. I’m going to interrupt myself when I feel the wheels are spinning, stop, and just take in what’s around me. I guess I don’t have an answer to Benjamin’s question “what should give educator’s pause?” other than to say, “Good idea! Let’s pause.” Maybe I’ll even pause the pause to track what I’ve read during these little pit stops so I can see how productive my interruptions have been.

Featured image: “pause” flickr photo by amysphere https://flickr.com/photos/amymichon/2482489038 shared under a Creative Commons (BY) license

Overjoyed – A Ghost of Ed-Tech Past

If there were an ed-tech museum, there would likely be a whole wing dedicated to the overhead projector. In its day, it was used and abused like it was going out of style. You know, like PowerPoint.

Also like PowerPoint, it had its moments. One of my all time favorite school moments is owed partly to the overhead projector. And human error of course.

It was the typical elementary school assembly, holiday edition. Everyone sitting cross-legged in lines on the gymnasium floor. The biggest overhead projector they had in the centre, spraying its light on the big, white screen. Christmas carols playing on the speaker, an acetate with hand written lyrics to each song. I remember the handwriting and little doodles of sleighs and holly in colour around the words. “Deck the Halls”, “Santa Claus in Coming to Town”, “Jingle Bells”. Me sitting there, mouthing the words and not actually voicing them.

And then it happened. Time for “Joy To The World”. (play the song below to get the tune in your head now)

I remember the doodles. A frog. What the heck did a frog have to do with Christmas?

And then we all started to read/sing the words we saw:

Jeremiah was a bullfrog!

He was a good friend of mine.

Whoever had taken such care to lovingly write out the lyrics and add doodles to the acetates, had written out the lyrics to the Three Dog Night rock song version of Joy to the World. The music and the kids screaming “Joy to the fishies in the deep blue sea!” did not quite match up harmoniously.

They had meant to bring us closer to Bethlehem, but we ended up closer to bedlam. And it was amazing.

And it wouldn’t have happened without the overhead projector.


Gettin’ Bigger Air

A ways back I told you how I was getting a little bit of air time on voicEd.ca. In that post was a link to the pilot episode of Gettin’ Air.

Now we are up and running with 7 episodes!  Using the analogy of getting some air on our bmx bikes, we are now at the point where we are not petrified to ride up to the jump. And we will do it with a little more speed. That means we get a little more air time, which is more exhilarating. We are also at the point where we don’t crash land so much and do not need too many stitches in the aftermath.

But definitely when we are in the air/on the air, it’s nothing but fun. Well, fun for me anyways. You’ll have to ask the guest stars if they had a good time or not.

So far it has been fantastic to host the likes of Giulia Forsythe, Jenni Hayman, Joanne Kehoe (and to in turn be hosted by Joanne), Peg French, Ali Versluis, Claire Coulter, Sean Kheraj, Tom Peace and Aaron Langille.

We’ve chatted about open and technology enabled learning with all of these fine people and we can’t wait to do it again! Add a comment if you want to get some air with us and listen to an episode or two if you’d like.

Photo by Pamela Saunders on Unsplash