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

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.

Might as Well Get Weird With It

This past weekend saw Toronto host, for the second year in a row, the 2018 Creative Commons Global Summit.

I attended last year as a participant but this year I wanted to do a little more by submitting a proposal to run a session about The Open Patchbooks. Rumour has it that my proposal arrived to CC as the very first submission. Fact has it that my session was accepted (YAY!) and slotted in as the very last presentation. Sunday evening at 5 p.m. (LOL!)

I’d been having fun throughout the weekend claiming that, technically, I am one of the headliners of the event. Like Beyonce at Coachella.

On the other hand I realized that in reality most people would be on their way home when my session occurred. Not to mention that the weather outside was utter nonsense.

Anyway, I figured I might as well get a little weird with it. I very much appreciate the eight of you who did attend. You are my heroes. You’re weird too, though.

The 31 embedded tweets below should explain things

image credit: “Warning Strange Dog” flickr photo by bixentro https://flickr.com/photos/bixentro/319724127 shared under a Creative Commons (BY) license

Did I happen to mention I’m imPRESSED?

The PressEd Conference (still going as I’m putting this together) was today. It’s a conference on Twitter, about WordPress in education. No travel. No expenses. No fees. Maybe not even pants.

THERE WAS SO MUCH COOL STUFF. Take the rest of the year off and sort through #pressedconf18.

What better way to collect the stuff from my presentation than on WordPress (good suggestion, fellow #pressedconf18 presenter, Alan Levine!)

Here’s my collection of tweets about Ontario Extend.

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

-Insight

-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

Notes

-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”

Summary

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