Hark! An #OpenEd18 Reflection

Last week the Open Education Conference was held in Niagara Falls, New York. I am going to hark back on my experience there for my third post of the Ontario Extend 9x9x25 Reflective Writing Challenge.

I had a barrel of fun, but I am going to reflect on things I wish I did differently while there. I’ve been lucky enough to attend the last three Open Education Conferences. I’ve also been lucky enough to meet and become friends with many people in the community. I get excited to see them and eager to catch up.

So here is the first thing I wish I did differently: I wish I did not skip the speed networking that followed Jess Mitchell’s very, very wonderful keynote on the opening day. And I wasn’t the only OpenEd “veteran” to do so. In my haste to see some people I already knew, I missed the chance to connect and help people newer to the movement. I could be a helpful node in your Open Education network, and I missed a chance to offer that help. Maybe it’s not too late though, if you’re reading this and want to connect, please do!

OpenEd is truly full of people who would LOVE to chat with anyone interested, would LOVE to bring more people in to the fold. It’s been billed as the family reunion of Open Education. Which can be great, but can also seem like a club that is hard to get in to. And “club members” may say that you just need to say hi and we are happy to get to know you, but that is intimidating, and frankly kind of hard to pick the right time when someone you want to meet is deeply engrossed with catching up with an old friend. I will do better to offer up my network connectivity status to others in the future.

Another thing I wish I’d done differently is a more long-term missing out. I can’t believe it has taken me this long to truly recognize the importance of Wikipedia in Open Education. I got the opportunity to try to contribute a little bit to Wikipedia in an edit-a-thon run by Bonnie Stewart and Amy Collier. The prep work that went in to this was unbelievable.

The simplest (simple, but not easy) way to introduce a non-disposable assignment to your class was sitting right there the whole time! Add to Wikipedia. Believe me, the process is academic as heck. As Robert Cummings said in his session on teaching with Wikipedia: (paraphrasing here) Academic writing is too often writing what you think and then finding things to support that. Wikipedia writing flips that so that you are working  with nothing but truth. This is probably so obvious to most, but I’ve been busy looking at other ways to embed open in our teaching and learning. Wikipedia was just too “already there” for me to think hard enough about. Not anymore. So what I wish I did differently at #OpenEd18 is to learn more directly from Amy Collier and Bonnie Stewart about how to Wikipedia while I was in the same room as them. Luckily though, Daniel Lynds is hard core and has already pushed me to meet with him on a regular basis going forward to finish what we started.

Which takes me to the final thing that I wish I did differently while there.  I wish I thought and acted more directly about what to do next. Make not just connections, but plans to connect and take action. It all comes at you so fast, but making solid plans to do something with someone holds more weight when you make those plans in person. I saw others taking action. Ken Bauer and Joe Murphy promised to complete their patches of The Open Faculty Patchbook for me (woot woot!). It’s not like I have no plans, I just wish I made more direct plans with people while I was there. A couple things I did nail down is that I will be interviewing Billy Meinke for my podcast and helping Ken Bauer with the Virtually Connecting podcast! NICE.

We can make a huge impact with each other. Maybe it would be cool to try to have a daily theme at a future conference. Day One, helping newcomers feel welcome and connected, Day Two: normal conference day stuff, Day three: plan for action together. And sprinkled all throughout, making connections to those who couldn’t be there a la Virtually Connecting.

We’re going to need a really big barrel to fit us all in together as we go over the falls.

Photo by Elevate on Unsplash

The Ghost of Questions Not Asked

This is IDIGOntario‘s 2nd post of the #9x9x25 Challenge

When I signed up to be on the IDIG team I very vaguely said that I would like to write something about the “Front End Analysis” phase of Instructional Design. Also known as the “what are we doing and why” part.

If you do this part well you can avoid making big mistakes down the road. You might even realize that you shouldn’t even do it at all. You also tend have that “come on, come on, let’s get going!” feeling buzzing around you. I am feeling that right now as we prepare to try a new way of delivering Ontario Extend in January. But no matter how many angles you try to anticipate, something will surprise you when you implement it.

A good example of this came from the scholarly project I worked on to complete my Master’s of Instructional Design. I created an instructional Alternate Reality Game (ARG). It was designed to help youth identify problem gambling behaviours and to know how to reduce their harm. I completed a lengthy front-end analysis in which I tried to anticipate who the learners would be and what needs I should meet to help them complete the game. I never considered that some kids might not be up for suspending their disbelief in what was meant to be a fun way to learn.

Tyra aka Chance the “missing” dog

The first test went great, with a group of ninth grade students who were asked to participate and agreed of their own accord. They had fun and were successful in taking the story to its conclusion. The final test run, however, was a different story. In working with the program facilitator for the gambling awareness group, we chose to bring the game to test it out on an entire class of (I think) 11th grade students at an “alternative” high school. I don’t recall too much about the make up of the class or the reasons they had enrolled in a “different” kind of high school. In general you could say that the students were rightfully kind of pissed off about how their education was going so far.

They didn’t want to pretend. They didn’t want to suspend disbelief. They didn’t give a damn about rescuing a fake dog. They completed the game activities, but it would have probably served them better to give them a handout describing the harm reduction strategies and to just have a frank discussion about how these things have affected their lives. I remember clearly the look one student gave me when he realized I was trying to trick him into playing along. That’s when I knew that this program was not even close to the right thing to bring to them. It was utterly deflating.

The results of the test run were that yes, students reached the objectives. Learning was measured to have happened. But the feeling in the room was not the fun buzz I was working toward in the back of my mind. It was a stark opposite.

I’m going way over 25 sentences by digging in to that anecdote. My point is that I did not anticipate, at all, that this idea of learning via a game would resonate so poorly with these students. I didn’t ask the right, or enough, questions in my front-end analysis. JR Dingwall’s post in which he did ask the right questions to help bring about a great result, is what got me thinking about what questions to ask in the beginning.

So I ask you, what are the big questions you ask yourself and others when you first sit down to analyze a potential ID project? How can you avoid making something that leaves students feeling flat and misunderstood?

“Question?” flickr photo by spi516 https://flickr.com/photos/spi/2113651310 shared under a Creative Commons (BY-SA) license

Like Driving a Minivan

This is my second 9X9X25 Challenge post for Ontario Extend.

The challenge asks you to reflectively write on the open Web about your teaching. For this post, I want to step back and write a bit about writing itself. Especially writing in the open. It can be scary. Maybe it doesn’t need to be quite so. I think it’s like driving. You are free to drive no matter what kind of car you have access to.

I drive a minivan. I’m sure lots of people dream of driving a Ferrari or some other fancy, luxury vehicle. I don’t at all. I wouldn’t enjoy it very much. I’d worry about scratching it or grinding the gears. No thanks, Ferrari. It’s all a bit much.

No joke, I’ve never enjoyed a vehicle more than our van. It does all the things. It goes around corners. Stops after it starts, starts after it stops. And I do it all feeling great about it because I don’t need to worry too much about getting hung up on a speed bump or if enough people are looking at me. It grinds no gears of mine. All the vehicles I’ve ever owned have been in this same non-luxury class, but this is the first time I’m really leaning in and enjoying the benefits.

It can fit my whole family in it. That family is then able to easily provide feedback/Q & A on where we are, where we’re going, why we’re going this way, and if, perchance, we are going somewhere where we can get a toy. Try doing that in a Ferrari. There’s definitely no feedback about the vehicle itself. As long as it’s going, no one cares.

I feel the same about my writing. It’s minivan-esque . I don’t have all the features like semi-colons, non-dangling prepositions, deep thoughts, or big words. But I can write. I can take people places with it. It might be a bit bumpy. I used to worry if my writing is good enough to be out here. I don’t any more because I realized it’s not about my writing skill, it’s about offering up what I have to say in the hopes that someone else can gain from it.

I sure enjoy writing now despite the lack of luxury features. I’m glad it allows me to get out there in a way that maybe lets me bring some people along or convinces others to join in. I never thought of myself as a writer, just as I’ve never thought of myself as a driver. I think I can and I should. I don’t wonder if my driving skill is good enough before I drive and I only had that one short driving course like 25 years ago. Let’s apply that moxie to our writing.

All this is to say that I hope that you are not too worried about how polished and supercharged your writing skills are to get out there on the road sharing your journey. This challenge is all about hearing some fresh takes on pedagogy. I hope that how you feel about your writing doesn’t stop you from getting in here and sharing your thoughts. Don’t worry about the Ferrari drivers. We’re all allowed on the same roads. You have something important to say and we would love to read about it.

Season 14 Abc GIF by The Bachelorette - Find & Share on GIPHY

Featured image: “Dude, You’re Driving a Minivan” flickr photo by happyskrappy https://flickr.com/photos/happyskrappy/4608104244 shared under a Creative Commons (BY) license


The Plan

This is my first post for the Ontario Extend 9x9x25 reflective writing about teaching and learning challenge. What I have, teaching and learning-wise, to be reflective about right now is Ontario Extend itself. So my 9x9x25 posts will either be meta-Extend, or Extend-ception. Not sure yet.

This post’s outline was provided by the band Built to Spill, in the lyrics to their song The Plan. I can legally share the live version of the song here. Well, the first 30 seconds anyway! Press play and read on.

The plan keeps coming up again.

The chance to try again doesn’t always come when designing and delivering some instructional thing or another. Ontario Extend, thankfully, is one of the lucky ones. We have delivered it in a couple different ways and gotten some feedback. We listened to it, grimaced a little, smiled more than we grimaced, and made some tweaks each time we launched a cohort.

And the plan means nothing stays the same.

Oh come on, Built to Spill, some things will stay the same! But yes now we’re lucky enough to be able to take some time to make some bigger tweaks and fill some gaps. Based on the numbers of those who have really engaged with Extend and the feedback received from those who have and have not fully engaged, we know that something is missing.

But the plan won’t accomplish anything.


If it’s not implemented.

Oh yes. Good point. As I said above, something is missing. Extend’s implementation is a little too radical for the masses. I certainly take the blame for that as it has been implemented just the way I wanted. People do all their work in the open, in a few different places. It’s a little too chaotic for some (is it chaotic good at least?) I can certainly see that and I would love for as many people as possible to feel comfortable experiencing Extend.

So we are building a new piece to slot in the middle and connect it all. A one-stop shop that you can stay inside the whole way through, if you’d like. Or you can come and go as you please if and when you’re up for it. It will likely look a little more traditional. Maybe a little like this. All the other Extend pieces remain: The Daily, The Activity Bank, and the Domains Hub (where all the great 9x9x25 posts will appear!). I think of it like this; After creating the Extend modules themselves we built its playground, skate park, and splash pad. Now we’re building the community centre in the middle of it all.

We will be implementing and relaunching for (hopefully) the greatest Extend Cohort yet in January. But hey, it gave us the downtime we needed to run this awesome 9x9x25 Challenge. It’s almost like it was all part of the plan.

Photo by Med Badr Chemmaoui on Unsplash


At The Trail Head

This one doesn’t count as one of my nine posts. I’m just warming up for the Ontario Extend 9 X 9 X 25 Reflective Writing Challenge. I’m just at the trail head, getting my hiking boots on, stretching, and wondering where the trail will go. I also want to see what 25 sentences looks like. I want to see if I’ll need to write like this to get there. Maybe. Maybe not.

This post could be a good opportunity for me to figure out where to go and what to write about nine more times. The gist of the challenge is to write reflectively about your teaching. I am not teaching anything in the traditional way right now, but I am working to help enable a learning community. It’s the Ontario Extend community for technology-enabled learning experiences! Have you heard of it? It’s pretty fun IMHO. This challenge is a new sub-division of that community.

So, I think I will need to embrace the meta-life and write about Ontario Extend work for this Ontario Extend challenge.  Here are some of my thoughts for finding prompts that will get me writing:

  • Scour the Activity Bank for something that could count as a challenge post AND get me one step closer to an Ontario Extend Badge. Like maybe the Empathy Map activity.
  • Take one of the Daily Extends way too far and, rather than the usual 10-15 minutes of work they should take, give us a 25 sentence response. Maybe, for example, #oext105 What Can You Say Except… in which you are asked to showcase some learning thing you made and then say “You’re Welcome!”
  • Reflect on the process of planning a workshop or class, delivering said workshop, and how I might collect feedback and revise for the next time.
  • Write about the 9X9X25ing of another challenger and how/what has inspired me to do something different.

Hold on, just going to check where I stand sentence-wise…

I’m already there! I’ll use the rest of my space here just to say that I really hope this challenge serves its purpose to simply get as much writing about teaching and learning out there for everyone to see. I hope we’ll see a beautiful new view and places to go when we get there.

“Diamond Head Stairs” flickr photo by Edmund Garman https://flickr.com/photos/3cl/16088006721 shared under a Creative Commons (BY) license

Missing Open Online Corpse

This post is a response to Ontario Extend Daily #293 Invent a MOOC

#oext293 #oextend Invent-a-MOOC

As is my wont, I like to do these wrong on occasion, I am not inventing a MOOC. I am re-branding the acronym MOOC.

A MOOC, or Missing Open Online Corpse, is the term for what’s left behind when you start a Massive Open Online Course, only to abandon it along the way. It’s your MOOC ghost. I myself have left a few of these behind. If you see one, don’t be scared. They mean no harm and had all the best intentions.

Photo by Tao Yuan on Unsplash

Pitter Patter

Soon you’ll be hearing the pitter-patter of little feet is a bit of a weird saying when anticipating the birth of a child. You hear a lot of other stuff for months before any footfalls. Maybe it should be the screamy- shouty of little lungs.

Speaking of pitter-patter, it’s time for me to get back at ‘er. I’ve been off on parental leave since early June with our third daughter, Hattie. It’s been a fantastic, sleep-deprived, caffeine-fueled, tear-and-some-giggles-filled summer. But today I return to the team of Program Managers at eCampusOntario which is also wonderful and caffeine-fueled with some giggles (less tears, for sure).

This post is written for me to get my head around where to go from here. Below I will list the challenges I put to myself for the foreseeable future. If you have any thoughts or would like to wrestle any of these challenges with me, let me know.

Ontario Extend

Ontario Extend is a program designed to help educators better use technology to enable learning experiences. It has a set of modules as well as a suite of websites designed to connect Extend community members together to share what they are learning. It’s good fun and it requires daily care to keep it growing.

So, two fun challenges for me here:

One is that Extend had Alan Levine running the show all summer, showing Extenders how to take it to the next level with weekly meet ups and a Domain Camp. A series of weekly posts Alan made has left us with some fantastic fundamental resources for educators who want to stake their claim to  their digital teaching and learning spaces. I plan to catch up on all that he has done and keep building from here. The GIF below represents what I hope not to do here.

A second challenge with Extend is that David Porter and Valerie Lopes are zeroing in on completing some research about the Extend Community. Which means we will learn about what works and what doesn’t. Which means we will get the chance to do some revising to make it better. A great opportunity.

Gettin’ Air

This is my podcast on voicEd Radio. It’s time to kick off Season 2! On the show I chat with those working in open and technology-enabled learning. The idea is for people to ‘get some air’ time to share what they do in the hopes that some people listen and get inspired to try new things or even share what they do as well. I challenge myself to increase the diversity of the voices coming on the show. The show has focused mostly on chatting with those working in Ontario, since we are here to serve Ontario Post-Secondary. But now I think that hearing what is happening outside of Ontario will serve us well to hear, too. Look for a mix of Ontario educators as well as some more global voices this season. If you want to chat with me on air, I want to chat with you! Let me know by commenting below.

The Catch & The Pitch

These two blogs are designed to regularly share quick snippets of goings-on in open and technology-enabled learning in Ontario. The Catch is focused on things from an educator’s perspective while The Pitch will collect the stories of learning with technology.  The Catch ran all last year, but The Pitch is yet to throw its first post out there into the great wide open. Stay tuned for posts from both soon. The challenge is to get these two working off of each other and connecting the stories and people from both perspectives.

The Open Patchbooks

The Open Learner Patchbook and The Open Faculty Patchbook are ongoing projects to collect stories/how-to advice for teaching and learning and putting them together into something resembling a bigger picture. My challenge is to get more contributions, especially for the Learner Patchbook, and put them together and publish it as an open book in Pressbooks (or maybe the sequel for the faculty one!) If you have any thoughts or know anyone who might want to contribute, let me know in the comments below! I am very excited to get to speak on this topic at OpenEd18 next month. Maybe I will see you there!

Now, time to dig in to these challenges.

featured image: Hattie’s itty-bitty feet.

We’re All Richer – A #WhyDomain Post

I’m late to the Interviewing Your Domain game that Cogdog asked us to play, but I have a good excuse.

Gord Downie sums up why I feel it is so very worth it to have a domain of my own to share my thoughts and ideas about technology in pedagogy in the opening moments of The Tragically Hip’s live album “Live Between Us”. Listen to the first minute, then let the music play as you read if you want.

“This is for The Rheostatics. We’re all richer for having seen them tonight.”

The Rheostatics were the opening act. They are a fantastic band, but with a far smaller following than the Tragically Hip. Gord’s words must have put countless people on to The Rheostatics, myself included.

It’s a simple fact: We’re all richer for having seen each other’s work. I’d count myself lucky if something you have read or seen on my domain makes you feel enriched, but the fact is I am enriched by the sharing of so many educators in Ontario and way beyond and I want to do my part to share anything I think I have to offer.

Now, on to CogDog’s interviewing-your-own-domain queries.

CD: What is your domain name and what is the story, meaning behind your choice of that as a name?

TG: My domain is learningnuggets.ca. I got a domain because, as a hopeful open participant in ds106, I was told to grab one. I thought I’d be putting some little nuggets of my learning up there, so I called it Learning Nuggets. The movie rights to this origin story are still available.

CD: What was your understanding, experience with domains before you got one? Where were you publishing online before having one of your own?

TG: I was not publishing anything online myself beforehand. I hadn’t thought much of what it might mean to have your own domain for personal learning reasons. I knew the Web had Netflix on it, so that was cool.

CD: What was a compelling feature, reason, motivation for you to get and use a domain? When you started what did you think you would put there?

TG: The ds106.us site included looks at other participants’ work all over the place. I thought, hey cool, this ds106 thing will show me how to make something good enough to see my own work on here. And seeing everyone else’s stuff gave me great ideas and made me feel like I wanted to be a part of it. I wouldn’t be surprised if my first 100+ posts were responses to ds106 Daily Creates and assignments.

CD: What kinds of sites have you set up one your domain since then? How are you using them? Please share URLs!

TG: I’ve kept my domain pretty simple with nothing but sporadic blog posts, but learning how to run my own WordPress domain definitely helped me know how to make a couple other domains happen: The Open Faculty Patchbook and the Open Learner Patchbook. These are domains with multiple authors who share stories of teaching and learning in an attempt to cover much of what one might need to know. Want to add to them? Let me know @greeneterry!

CD: What helped you or would have helped you more when you started using your domain? What do you still struggle with?

TG: As always, the community was the biggest help. As I shared I gained more connections to a professional learning network that I can rely on for help. I still struggle with cPanel, but I know who to go to for help!

CD: What kind of future plans to you have for your domain?

TG: To keep on trucking. To keep sharing my thoughts and ideas about technology-enabled learning as they come up, to be a part of a much larger shlamozzle of people sharing ideas that spark new ideas. I want it to be some of the wood that keeps the fire going.

CD: What would you say to other educators about the value, reason why to have a domain of your own? What will it take them to get going with their own domain?

TG: You don’t need to post to your domain all the time and it doesn’t have to take a tonne of your time, but it can become a central piece of your work, can allow you the space to solidify ideas and plans and to get and give inspiration. Do a thing like ds106 or Ontario Extend that asks you to have your own domain to give you a reason and some practice with running a domain and take it from there. It’s not a race. It’s the long game.

It will make us all richer for having seen it.

RIP Gord Downie. Thank you for leaving behind so much amazing art for us to chew on for a long time.

featured image “hip crowd” flickr photo by radiobread https://flickr.com/photos/bcjams/292560789 shared under a Creative Commons (BY-SA) license

Who’s Driving This Playground?

As a Program Manager at eCampusOntario, the program I’ve been managing the most is the Ontario Extend faculty development/enrichment experience. It has been a delight. But something even more delightful (and screamy) is on its way to our house soon, so I will be going Extend silent for June to September as my family prepares to welcome our third daughter to the mix.

What I have been doing in Extend is a lot of behind the scenes connecting and in front of the scenes cajoling of educators to join in on the Extend community. It’s not that hard really, because Extend is just too much fun and truly beneficial to educators. It’s not something to do so much as something to be a part of.  Something that will help you grow as a technology-enabled educator without you really noticing that you are, in fact, growing. I look forward to being a part of it again, but we have a hell of a replacement for you.

This feels a little bit like when I was learning to drive. I got to take over the wheel to drive around town a little, but after a while it was time to hand the wheel back to the real driver, who would take us to the next destination.

Soon I expect you will see a post on Alan Levine’s blog (cogdogblog.com) with not only some thoughts for what Extenders can do next, but also a way for you to get your hands on the steering wheel a bit, too, to help us decide where to go. Extend West will continue through the modules for the next few weeks and then, together, you can all decide where to go next. I look forward to seeing where it goes.

As a bonus for you for making it this far into my post, I want to point you to something that Alan made that may help convince you to hop on the Extend big toy this summer if you’re not already: Edupunk. It’s a mockumentary in the vein of Hard Core Logo or Spinal Tap. Some day I hope the ultimate Extend Activity is us all getting together to make the Extend Mockumentary.

I’ll be here for another week or so and then back in September, probably deeply in sleep debt, but raring to jump back on the ride. Have fun!

image: “Steering” flickr photo by icathing https://flickr.com/photos/icathing/11715638 shared under a Creative Commons (BY-SA) license

Does Helen get a Badge?

Yes. Yes of course she does.

I sat down this morning to check on Helen’s Ontario Extend work to see if I could award her a badge. I have now completed checking her work in the Teacher for Learning module. There was never any doubt in my mind.

Here was my process:

Navigate through the Teacher for Learning module until I get to an “Extend Activity”. Click “Take it To the Bank”. Scroll through the responses. Has Helen submitted one? YUP!

There you will see a link to a post on her blog which is a response to the activity. Repeat this process 8 times. Each time, it’s a yes. All of them wonderful responses. Here’s the evidence:

  1. Identifying a concept that is often misunderstood in a discipline and created an analogy to help make sense of it


  1. Creating a concept map of a syllabus for a course


  1. Practicing note taking skills


  1. Brainstorming a list of “What’s in it for me?” from a student perspective


  1. Identifying a concept in a discipline that is like driving a car and specified the component skills that are required to master this concept of skill


  1. Creating an introductory activity, connected to a discipline, to get to know learners


  1. Finding a nugget and making it as meaningful as possible


  1. Articulating a metaphor to describe their teaching philosophy


Take your badge, Helen! More to come!

Who’s next? Apply for your badges at the end of each module, like here for example.