Dispatching The Patchbook

Patches the cat almost did me in. We’ve been conceptualizing our Open Faculty Development Textbook for a few months now and were searching for a foundational idea to build the project around.

The other day, on a not-directly-related search, I was trying to find an image for a badge or patch for faculty to wear once they’d agreed to contribute to the text, so I CC Flickr searched for ‘patch’. I was inundated with images of Patches the Cat, sometimes with his owner, sometimes not. I’m glad you love your cat, buddy, but it wasn’t helping me.

I thought it was funny to see so many pictures of Patches, but was disheartened that I wasn’t finding what I was really looking for. And in the back of my mind that this project didn’t have a hook yet. I don’t remember exactly the mental steps it took to go from Patches the Cat, to The Faculty Patchbook, but it happened, and here we are with our hook.

Patchwork. A community quilt. This is what we’re trying to make. A community built collection of ‘chapters’ or whatever you want to call it. Each individual telling the story of one pedagogical skill in order to build an entire quilt. Tales about pedagogy for teaching in-class, online, designing/redesigning lessons and courses. Whatever the community quilt needs to cover our teaching and learning needs.

It seems serendipitous that in further searches for ‘quilts’ and ‘patchwork’, I came across a very fitting image by the cogdog himself, whom I take a great deal of open learning inspiration from. This image is now the feature image on the About this Project page for The Patchbook. The link is coming, don’t worry! 🙂

Farm Quilt flickr photo by cogdogblog shared under a Creative Commons (BY) license

Check out the quilt in progress here. There you’ll see a description of what we want to do and how you can get involved, too. Fleming College’s main campus is in Peterborough, Ontario, (also known as The Patch!) and we are dispatching The Patchbook out to you and with you.

Maybe it should be dedicated to Patches the Cat.

Feature photo: “Patches” flickr photo by Steam Pipe Trunk Distribution Venue https://flickr.com/photos/waffleboy/8918477914 shared under a Creative Commons (BY) license

 

A Spartan LMS

Spartans flickr photo by Masked Builder shared under a Creative Commons (BY) license

I am currently in an in-between phase of figuring out what is wrong with the traditional way we use Learning Management Systems and how to move along. Although I do like to refer to them as Learning Constrainment Systems. What would you put in a basic, spartan learning management system? You know, the things that are actually pedagogically helpful, but so you still end up with no bloat. The current LMS that I work with, which I do not desire to reveal at this time, has a huge whack of tools, most of which don’t get much use. What can an LMS do better than just a Domain of One’s Own system? What can we get rid of to finish with something more SPLOTy that would actually be really helpful? Is the ideal a combo package of the two? I’d like to know what people think.

I’m thinking, if anything, include in the LMS:

  • A class roster. Basically a tool to show which students are in which courses with which instructors.
  • A grade book with good feedback functionality
  • Assignment dropbox (where students submit links to the assignments actually housed in their own domains that they wish to submit for feedback). Possibly it could also be used for submitting sensitive type work that really shouldn’t be out on the Web.
  • A ‘journal’ type discussion thing for sensitive discussions that only certain people should be involved in like instructors or tutors with the students. Certain subjects like Counselling would find this more useful maybe.
  • A quiz tool (just a ‘grandfathered’ tool to get the masses to come there and then slowly make it fade away)

I’m thinking the things that should not be housed inside the LMS, but outside in the World Wild Web include:

  • Syllabus and week by week instructions for what is going on.
  • Assignment instructions. Ideally a place that allows students and others to also submit assignment ideas. Students are then able to choose the ones they want to do.
  • A central list of URLs to classmate’s domains
  • Any content delivery including instructional videos of talks with lecturers and guest speakers and slide decks, set up instructions, readings
  • Any live video chats or collaborative annotation exercises
  • Collaborative notes produced by students
  • Obviously all posts and pages students create for their domains (in a central flow as well as on individual domains)
  • A general discussion board.
  • A social media layer like Twitter for students to informally share and discuss things they are working on and connect throughout the course

Housing these tools outside the LMS invites openness, collaboration, riffing, remixing and generally (hopefully) bootstrapping everyone to a higher level of performance and creativity.

So, we’re left with 5 tools in the Spartan LMS (one of which has an expiry date) instead of the 42 in my current LMS. That means there are 37 tools I don’t really desire 2 use. 

So, do we need any of these LMS tools at all or should we leave the LMS to head off into the sunset? Throw out the bathwater, the baby and then smash the tub while we’re at it? I’d be interested to hear about anyone who uses both by choice (or if they have to). Comment below to let me know!

Sunset flickr photo by Jason O’Halloran shared under a Creative Commons (BY-SA) license

Terry Greene

@greeneterry