Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Open Content Licensing for Educators

Plan to participate in Open Content Licensing for Educators! This free, online workshop is a perfect follow-on from several events hosted by BCcampus this past year:OER universityDesigning OERu CredentialsOpening Education ConferenceA Framework for Academic Volunteers InternationalIt is also a perfect way to launch our 2012 Opening Education Series at SCoPE, aimed to provide overview and 'how to' sessions to assist in the development of OER, and to share completed (or in progress) curriculum resources and experiences. More details will be posted at SCoPE in the new year.#OCL4ED
View more documents from BCcampus

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Meet Janine Hirtz

This quick interview is part of a new Educational Technology Users Group series to showcase members of the community. I am interviewing Janine Hirtz from University of British Columbia Okanagan.

About the process
The interview was done using Skype, along with an inexpensive application Call Recorder. I uploaded the .mov file that was generated from Call Recorder to but only the audio for Janine was working. So I imported the same file into iMovie, and while I was at it did one small edit where I got lost in the excitement and forgot how to speak! Somewhere along that process the audio got fixed because the exported version that I again uploaded to works fine. 

Technical overhead is always one of my biggest challenges. I admire people who can push buttons, talk, listen, adjust volume, move things around on their desktop, all while ignoring ringing phones and other distractions. If you want to see the pros in action participate in any online session with Paul Stacey, Nancy White, and Jonathan Finkelstein, to name a few. What I realized after hanging up is that there were some really big parts of Janine's story that we didn't get to. If I had been able to completely focus on what she was saying, I could have prompted more. Thankfully there are many other ways you can learn more about Janine!

My messy office in the background leaps out at me in this video. Why didn't I take the advice of Jesai Jayhmes, who taught us so much about backgrounds and lighting during the Humanizing the Online Experience series (part 1 and part 2) at SCoPE? I should have also revisited Janet Salmon's seminar at the time of the release of her book Online Interviews in Real Time, which is sitting right here on my bookshelf!

Here are my tips: 
  • If something doesn't work, just fiddle!
  • Have those interview questions handy where you can see them.
  • Do whatever you can to be completely focused on the conversation. (I did put my dogs in another room. That counts!)
  • Quick and informal is fine, but there is still a lot you can do to improve the production.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Online Course Showcase

Tannis Morgan and Karen Belfer got the ball rolling for this event in 2010, and it just keeps on rolling!  Note that this year the event will be live streamed.

Do you teach online or are interested in online teaching? You might want to consider attending the free Online Course Showcase event happening at the Justice Institute of British Columbia (JIBC) on Nov 30, 2011.

The online course showcasing event is co-hosted by JIBC and Vancouver Community College and sponsored by the Metro Vancouver Educational Developers Network, with support from BCcampus. The purpose of the event is to bring together post-secondary institutions in the lower mainland to showcase their “best” online courses. This year’s showcase focuses on design decisions that are made because of the particular needs of students in the following categories:
1.  Accessibility
2.  Mobile learning
3.  Online courses in post-secondary institutions, and beyond.

We will also have a student panel this year!

When: November 30, 2011 9am-4pm (see your time zone)
Where: JIBC Theatre. The event will also be web streamed.

How to Register:
This year you can register attend in person or via web streaming. You must register for either by November 24, 2011.  Registration at:  

How to get more details
Stay in touch with sessions, schedule, and presenters as we get closer to the event at and via Twitter #ocshowcase2011

Join us for some collaborative notetaking 

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Behind the Scenes of an Open Event

This week I participated in a debate organized by the Selkirk College Teaching and Learning Institute.: Is the internet making you smarter? An open invitation was extended to all by Theresa Southam, coordinator for the Institute. Being new to social media combined with her very part-time position at the college, Theresa requested a little help with event promotion and engagement. She is interested in opening up more events both in an effort to engage faculty and staff across the geographically distributed Selkirk campuses, but also to invite others beyond the walls of the college.

I'm so glad to see more of these open opportunities around the province! I thought I would share the experience and perhaps those institutions that would like to be more open in their professional learning activities will see some elements of what they will or will not do for their own events. 

The Selkirk Tech team took care of the live streaming, which I understand was a first for them. They did a great job, and used Ustream which conveniently captures a recording. The number of online participants went up and down but I think the average was around 18. Some high school students were participating, including a debate team. How great is that!

The day before the event I received a couple really fun posters as PDF files via email which I posted on my own blog. In hindsight I should have also uploaded these posters to Slideshare as a way to help spread the word, and also Facebook. Ideally, these posters would have been embedded on the Selkirk website. Information about the event was also sent out via the BCcampus blog, @bccampus, and added to the MicroSCoPE page

I pointed people to the Teaching and Learning Institute site, but noticed it was missing information about time zones. When I promote events through the SCoPE community I'm reaching out to educators around the world so I created an event on Time and Date. Also, our British Columbia post-secondary institutions span two time zones so I always like to answer that question before I'm asked. 

The Selkirk Teaching and Learning twitter account, @FrankenSmarter, was to be used for the debate. I suggested using a hashtag #FrankenSmarter as a way to collect tweets into one place. Listening to the debate recording I realize that the Selkirk folks thought I would be tweeting from the @FrankenSmarter account. Oh well! Lesson learned is that I should do a better job of explaining what I'm up to!

I set up a #FrankenSmarter archive using a local Twapper Keeper install on our BCcampus Sandbox but I don't think it worked. That sandbox is a fun place to play but the tools there are not meant for production. In any case, anybody out there planning an event, make sure you create an archive for the hashtag because those tweets don't stick around for long. Twapper Keeper seems to be the most popular way to do this, and it also feeds into other nifty tools to display tweets, such as Summarizr

Aside from a handful of retweets when promoting the event...

and a response from @mctoonish articulating her view on multi-tasking...

I mostly filled up the twitter stream all by myself. :-) 

I was careful not to bombard my twitter followers with too much during the hour, and obviously it would have been a better experience with more interaction, but such is the nature of twitter -- just get it out there! The Ustream chat wasn't functioning for me but I see from the recording that "Selkirk Registrar"was there...alone. Actually, during Ustreamed events the chat backchannel can be a very valuable tool; it has little technical overhead, and not being limited to 140 characters can be liberating! For anyone planning to use Ustream for more than one-off occasions, the premium account is the way to go to avoid ads during the broadcast.

All in all this approach to opening up events does not involve a huge investment in time and dollars. The facilitator/ MC might acknowledge the virtual participants, but is not expected to engage them beyond that. The debate format is ideal for a live streamed event because the focus is on the people on the stage and holding the microphones. This means the camera can stay put and there is no requirement to repeat questions and comments from the audience, or to run around the room with portable microphones.

A challenge for me was that I didn't catch the names of the debaters during the live session, and I couldn't find that information online. But apart from feeling a little removed from the details of, and people involved in, the event, it was very entertaining! It was a fun way to spend an hour. We even got a  nice thank-you from the Selkirk Prez.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Is the Internet Making Us Smarter?

Heck YES or Heck NO? Join the debate at Selkirk College!

November 15, 2011 at 11:30 (Pacific). See your time zone 


(click on posters to enlarge)

Monday, October 31, 2011


Each fall and spring a group of individuals involved in working with faculty to support public post secondary teaching and learning in British Columbia gather together to share their work experiences and expertise. UCIPD stands for University, College, and Institute, Professional Development. Not a very fancy name, and members admit to spending too much time trying to explain the acronym to their institutional administrators. One day it might change to something more catchy, but meanwhile this grassroots group continues to collaborate, share, and gather together for what always amounts to the some of the most interesting days of my professional life. I feel privileged to be a part of this Community of Practice. Yet, at the same time, I've always been a little perplexed about how it functions.

I remember my first gathering about four years ago. I was there wearing two hats: one to fill in for my dean at Nicola Valley Institute of Technology, and the other to report on SCoPE, which at that time was supported by Simon Fraser University. We started out with quick round-table reports highlighting activities and challenges at each institution. My jaw dropped. I was astounded at all of the fantastic work, as well as professional development opportunities... that very few people know about! Well I assume that's right, since I was wedged right in a faculty support role and I didn't know about all of these great things. In fact, I had worked in post secondary system for over 20 years and I had never heard of UCIPD. Why?

Having been part of this CoP for awhile now, I think I can offer a few reasons.

  1. There is no web, and no social media, presence. 
  2. The main form of communication is a listserv. I'm sure that anyone in the teaching and learning field in the British Columbia post secondary system who requests to join would be welcomed. But first you need to know that it exists. Then you need to find out how to join. It's sort of a you-need-to-know-somebody-who-knows approach. 
  3. The group has a really good thing going. All members feel supported, and grateful for the access to such a fantastic resource. There is a long, interesting history spotted with challenges, and through it all the group has held together. There seems to be a desire, especially from the long-time members, to stay the same. 
  4. The governance of UCIPD is far from complex. There is no budget and no steering or advisory committees. The leadership emerged, and consists of a handful of people interested in investing the time and energy. Fall and Spring gatherings rotate around the province and are hosted by members at their institutions. Individuals are responsible for finding their own travel funds (and are not always successful in doing so, which is another story). Program committees form to plan those gatherings, although membership of that committee does not seem to change much from one year to the next. They really are committed!
  5. This Community of Practice is not under the umbrella of an organization, and as such there is no obligation to report out on activities, and no formal monitoring or recognition of the work the group does. There is also no marketing.

At one stage (~2006) there was a request for a space in SCoPE, mainly to share and build resources together, but also to take advantage of what a forum tool has to offer such as centralized history and topic-based and threaded discussions. It started as a private space on the site, but then, with consensus among the members, was opened up for the public to read along, and even join. However, the transition to the new, open CoP space was slow. The members continued to use and prefer the listserv, no doubt because it was already part of their workflow. So we had a short period of a web presence, open sharing and dialogue, but then reverted back to earlier practices.

This group exists because of its intense willingness to share, collaborate, and learn. Members are devoted to their work, and also to sustaining the UCIPD Community of Practice. There is not a resistance to reaching out beyond the existing group, or to try new tools and activities. There is just caution, and for a good reason. When you have a rich CoP there's something to be said for staying the same. It serves the purpose of its members -- to learn from one another. The members, in turn, take that back to their own institutions.

On the other hand, it's hard not to wonder if more open practices would benefit our work across the post-secondary system. Furthermore, would the group benefit from a wider profile? And would a wider profile in turn give more attention to teaching and learning at our institutions? After all, these people are very quietly doing amazing work! Are there times when OPEN is not better? These are complex CoP questions.

This started out as a post about the UCIPD event held in Vancouver last week, but I found myself writing about the CoP itself. Thanks for listening while I write to make sense of things! And I promise, more about the event later. :-)

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

My Opening Education Conference Experience

Yesterday I participated in the Opening Education Conference organized by BCcampus. I didn't have the time to participate in person, and, in any case, I hesitate to use travel funds to experience events unless I'm presenting or one of the organizers.

At BCcampus we always attempt to offer some kind of experience for individuals or groups who are unable to attend meetings and events in person. Sometimes this is simply a shared recording of one or more selected presentations. Other times we live stream, but don't plan for other ways to engage the online participants. Occasionally the engagement just happens, initiated by participants through twitter.

The Opening Education event had some intentional planning around engaging distributed delegates, and for me it felt like a nice balance. I certainly didn't feel completely involved; my attention wandered throughout the day to other projects I'm currently working on. But in many ways, that is the advantage of participating from your office. You participate according to your own time and interest.

Here are some observations from yesterday's event:

  • A big monitor brought me closer to the activity in the room. I wouldn't have felt as connected using a mobile device. 
  • The split screen for viewing presentation slides and presenters simultaneously makes a big difference.
  • Good microphones, and remembering to use them, is a bonus!
  • Quality of the stream does matter. It's fun to watch spontaneous broadcasts from handheld devices, but it's not something you want to do all day. The live streaming done by SFU's Teaching and Learning Centre was exceptional.
  • A pre-determined and simple hashtag #opening11 helped to bring together participants on twitter quickly and efficiently.
  • Having a designated person to monitor the twitter stream (Tori Klassen - multi-tasker extraordinaire!) to respond, prompt, and also bring forward questions and comments to the place-based audience made a huge difference. 
  • When participating from a distance it does help to know some of the people in the room. 
  • Stating name/affiliation before speaking is a good practice, and especially helpful for those listening in. Sometimes the camera doesn't make it to the individual in time. 
  • The page "OPENING EDUCATION:  How do we create educator engagement with open education?" that David Porter fired up for the final session of the day was a great idea. Delegates on location formed small groups, and there were some who contributed to the sync-in page. (Designating scribes might have been better.) Online participants typed away. The real-time-ness of that activity made it especially compelling.
  • Attention to the details, like adding a time zone converter for the live webcast participants counts for a lot.
Here's a quick movie I put together to capture the experience of participating in the conference from my home office. It lingers on the final slide for way too long. Whatever! :-)


Monday, September 26, 2011

Designing and Developing an Online Course

As someone who has worked with faculty to design and develop online courses, I recognize so many steps in this book that most authors take for granted people will understand. This book is practical, detailed, thorough, well written, and very well organized. Dr. Delich has researched, and more importantly, USED the tools and techniques she recommends. Suggested resources to learn more are embedded throughout the text, and are very selective. Attention to accessibility throughout the book is very refreshing -- something that is often left out of similar course design resources. Top rating from me! I will recommend this book to faculty, and individuals involved in a support role, for years to come.

Designing and Developing an Online Course: A Guide for Educators is available for download in several formats.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Reflections on a fantastic workshop

Cross posted to Nancy White's blog. I'm honoured! Thanks Nancy!


What happened at the 2011 RosViz Graphic Facilitation Workshop? I'm not sure where to begin! It was 2 1/2 days of pure fun, intense learning, lively networking, and the occasional emotional tug. I created this little video in an attempt to capture the experience, which of course will be most meaningful to the participants but hopefully will also give others a glimpse of what the workshop is all about.

Following the introductory evening session and graphic jam we launched right into some activities aimed to, in Nancy's words, "L O O O O S E N up", create the unexpected, and most importantly, raise questions in our minds about how this all feels. I mean, how often have you started a drawing with a sopping wet tea bag? Comments after viewing our gallery: I would have never created this if you had just given me a blank piece of paper and markers.

Tea bag art
Tea Bag Drawing Exercise

Tea Bag Drawing Exercise
Tea Bag Drawing Exercise
Giving a starting point, a tea bag splotch, we started to see potential -- familiar images formed in our minds from the shapes we saw in front of us. It was a very quick exercise, and aside from some drippy canvases we were ready for a gallery walkabout within minutes.

The same principles were applied in another exercise which can best be described as musical chairs but without the chairs, and with markers and chalk. As soon as the music stops markers are lifted and on you move to the next canvas.

By the time we were finished rotating through each station we had a collection of stunning art that, in most cases, was quite different from what the original artist envisioned. Questions continued to emerge through participation: What did it feel like to draw on someone else's work?

Musical Drawing

Musical Drawing
In keeping with Nancy's approach to just dive right in, more challenging activities were interspersed throughout the workshop. Sure she was careful to lay a bit of foundation, but rather than gradually build up to the big crescendo (live graphic recording without any clues about the topic), these experiences felt more like check points. Wow, that was way more difficult than I thought it would be! And neat, look what I created in just 6 minutes! What really stood out after several practice sessions, debriefs, and plenty of opportunities to network (the power of the snack table!) was the comfort level in the room. We had evolved into quite the uninhibited group!

Looking back on the graphic recordings of Matt Cutts' Ted Talk: Try Something New for 30 days it's astonishing to think that these images emerged from a talk that was less that 3 1/2 minutes long. (Violette Clark invites you to participate in her 30-day challenge -- a portrait a day for the month of August!)

Try Something New
TED Talk Graphic Scribes

There were some surprises as well. For one of the graphic recording exercises Violette Clark told her story and for all workshop participants this proved to be the most difficult exercise. I wanted to honour Violette and her amazing story, and I was afraid that I wasn't doing it justice in my drawing.

During the debrief, Violette talked about how overwhelming it was to see her life story represented in all the the incredible drawings around the room. Through this exercise we all experienced how emotional this visual practice can be; I think most of us were fighting back tears at that point!

Another useful practice session was the icon jam. It's amazing to me how often I can think of the perfect icon while I'm listening, but the right image just won't form in my brain. Oh! The recycle symbol would go perfectly in this spot. Then my mind goes blank. Others in the workshop shared this same experience. Nancy led us through a couple icon jams to tap into both sides of our brains. Here are some creations from a "throw out, throw in" activity. Nancy also offers an open invitation to contribute to this icon collection.

We weren't holding crayons every minute of the workshop. Our circle of chairs brought several debriefing conversations, a "fish bowl" activity, a chat with Susan Stewart from California via Elluminate (recording here) about her experiences using an iPad, and a final reflection on the entire workshop experience.

Susan Stewart via Elluminate

This sounds like a lot over a 2 1/2 day period, and believe it or not I've left out quite a bit! Other reflections on the Graphic Facilitation are continuing to pop up:
Also, the RosViz10 Facebook Group is bubbling, and you're all welcome to join us. (Advance apology -- we can't seem to flip a switch to make this group public so you'll need to wait for one of the admins to approve your membership.)

Next, while the experience is fresh in my mind, I plan to write about social reporting. But for now I'd like thank Michelle and Nancy for the opportunity!

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Kick Off Graphic Jam

Welcome sign by Michelle Laurie
Our workshop agenda
Yesterday we arrived in Rossland, British Columbia from a variety of locations for the 2nd annual Graphic Facilitation workshop. A few of us did some prep work to get ready for the kick of graphic jam -- hanging paper, prepping the floor space with plastic to catch chalk dust, and throwing open the curtains to let the natural light in.

It was exciting to put names to faces and learn about the various backgrounds and reasons for coming to the 3-day workshop. The first activity was a visual introduction. In 5 minutes the 20 participants came up with drawings that gave us a lot to talk about! We toured the room and participants described what they saw. Not your traditional round robin intros!

Violette Clark creating her visual introduction
Next Nancy made sure we warmed up properly and became aware of space around us by using our whole bodies. BIG circles! Rockin' straight lines!

From there Nancy introduced participants to basic concepts around lettering, spacing, colour, and everything else that emerged from the group. One thing I really appreciate about Nancy White's teaching style is that she uses the work of participants to point out different styles, design principles, impact of colour, use of space, and so on. We don't always work through all skills and concepts systematically. By the end of the evening graphic jam we were talking about what works, what frustrates us, what we're curious about... because we had plenty of time to experiment.

Yes we can! Close up of drawing by Sara Davis
We're capturing bits and pieces that will give you a glimpse of what happens in the #rosviz graphic facilitation workshop. On to day 2!

Monday, July 11, 2011

RosViz Social Reporting

The last couple of months have been a bit of a whirlwind with planning, organizing, traveling, presenting, facilitating... It's the usual stuff that goes with my job, except lately a new, fun piece has been added to the mix. Drawing on walls! And not that I needed to have any more fun, but now something else has been added to the list: Social reporting!

I mentioned earlier that I will be participating this week in the Graphic Facilitation Workshop in Rossland, BC, facilitated be Nancy White and Michelle Laurie. I'm getting pretty good at packing supplies for these trips. This time in addition to the rolls of paper, variety of markers, coloured chalk, tape, xacto knife, etc I'll be bringing along a bag of items to support my roll as social reporter: video camera, iphone, laptop, cables, etc. I've also been reading up the role of the social reporter. Michelle pointed me to this report that has some good tips: Social Reporting from Conferences, Workshops and Other Events: A practical guide for organisers. It also has a good definition of social reporting:
Social reporting is a set of skills and tools mixing journalism, facilitation and social media to report collectively and live from an event, capture the moments of the event and develop interactive conversations.
I'm realizing that this concise sentence packs in a lot of skills and responsibility! I'm not a particularly fast writer, nor a brilliant multi-tasker. My photography could use some help, too. Hmmm, right person for the job? We'll see!

We have a few of the basics in place:
Photo by Nancy White, taken at RosViz 2010
What else do we need? So many questions are beginning to whirl around in my head. Should I set up a separate ROSVIZ blog? What about possibilities for using Google+?
Getting ready for a road trip to Rossland, BC for a graphic facilitation workshop with +Nancy White and Michelle Laurie and thinking about how G+ might fit into the social reporting equation
Do you have experience with social reporting? Any advice to share? Whatever happens I plan to keep Nancy's concern in mind:
My worry? Distraction across too many media. So how do we keep it simple?
Oh, and more about my drawing on walls adventures will be posted soon!

Monday, July 4, 2011

Merging Blogs

There's a bit of a history to this move, but the What's New blog, previously and also better known as Pink Flamingo Resources, is now here at Webbed Feat. It took me awhile to get up the courage to press that import button. Blogger Help has the basics of how to export and import xml fies, but I still had a lot of questions:

  • Will the post dates be maintained? 
  • What about the tags (labels)? 
  • How will this impact RSS feeds, both from What's New and Webbed Feat? 
  • Will places like the ETUG community suddenly have over 800 blog posts dating back to 2005 showing up in the activity stream? 

The one-and-only Pink Flamingo
After some research I was confident that merging the two blogs would be quick and easy. I even found a very clever workaround for moving away from the What's New blog without impacting the current subscribers (which is different from "followers", but there are very few readers using that option).

So after sitting on the edge of my seat waiting for the import to finish, I checked my blog and was so impressed that everything worked. Oh but wait! Here's the question I forgot to ask: Will the blog post authors stay intact? Turns out the answer is NO! Now it appears as if I wrote all of these imported posts, when in fact Kate Britt (aka Pink Flamingo) should be showing up as author for everything prior to April, 2009. Then after that we had a few posts from ETUG members, such as Amanda Coolidge and Leva Lee. Oh well, if you want to check those details you can always go back to the What's New blog. I'll leave everything intact over there. Meanwhile, thanks for reading the newly-merged blog!

Thursday, June 23, 2011


Now this is fresh. Someone who spammed SCoPE is concerned that he is receiving too much email from the site and is asking for my help. 

Fortunately, spam is rare on the SCoPE site. One reason is that it takes time, energy, and a working email address for someone to create an account. The other is that I'm usually monitoring the site and am very quick to hit the delete button if anything suspicious pops up. 

In this case I must have missed deleting the spammer's account so I'm grateful for the head's up! Maybe I should send him a few hundred email messages to let him know I've taken care of his inbox issue. :-)

ROSVIZ Graphic Facilitation Workshop

Sylvia Currie here! Social Reporter for the upcoming Graphic Facilitation Workshop in beautiful Rossland, British Columbia. This will be my second time attending the workshop facilitated by Nancy White and Michelle Laurie. This year I was hesitating about attending, not for lack of interest, but for all the usual reasons that never seem important after a missed opportunity: time and budget challenges, too many projects, summer plans, etc etc. Earlier this month Nancy and Michelle crowned me with the title of "social reporter". How could I resist that! I'll be working hard to get the word (and of course visuals) out about what we're up to over the 3-day workshop.

This is what I had to say about last year's workshop (written to someone inquiring about the event, then posted as a testimonial
I have so many good things to say about the workshop I don’t know where to begin! Nancy White, who will be leading this workshop, is the best facilitator I know. She is so much fun, and really knows how to keep everybody engaged. She really knows how to observe, and shift activities according to the needs of the group. 
I don’t know if you already know Michelle Laurie, but one thing I love about her is that she is ready and willing to jump in and take risks. We both tippy-toed into the last Rossland workshop because we felt a little weak on, well, talent! But we found others in the same situation, and Nancy encouraged us to toss all inhibitions out the door. 
I think this workshop would be AMAZING for someone with artistic ability because your focus would be on facilitation, and how to best capture dialogue. I came to the workshop with facilitation experience, but focussed in on the basics of how to draw — create space, convey ideas, use icons, add depth, etc etc. 

Last year we gathered some photos in Flickr and we've kept in touch in Facebook.

I just heard that there were 2 cancellations, so if this workshop is of interest to you (and why wouldn't it be?!!) please join us!

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Preparing for the ETUG Spring Workshop

I'm heading to Nelson, BC tomorrow for the annual ETUG Spring Workshop. I'm excited about this event for a number of reasons -- too many to list so I'll start with a few.
  1. I really like the theme Open4Learning (I mentioned earlier how the theme came about). I've been organizing and facilitating open learning activities for learning professionals since the first graphical web browser became available, and in my work with faculty over the years I have always encouraged open sharing and collaboration. Some people are more willing to open up their learning opportunities than others, but we've sure made a lot of progress in recent years!
  2. I'm in touch with ETUG members on a regular basis, but I rarely get to see folks in person. I really enjoy the energy, enthusiasm, and belly laughs at these events.
  3. A few of us are planning to do some graphic recording. Michelle Laurie and Rachael Roussin are driving up from Rossland to record Alan Levine's keynote with me. Plus we'll be recording Scott Leslie and David Porter's session on Open Educational Resources. For other sessions I plan to provide the paper and supplies, and hope others will decide to pick up a marker
  4. We get t-shirts! I just hope they're bigger than the ones we got last year. I gave that one to my teddy bear.
  5. The workshop is in Nelson, a very special part of the world.
After the Northern Voice conference (my blog about that is still in the draft folder!) I was hoping we would do something with QR codes, like use them for posting session descriptions, schedules, or maps. I don't think that's happening so I decided to generate my own to slide into my lanyard. Following Grant Potter's suggestion, it points to my profile in the ETUG community.

My session on Friday is called Facilitating in the Open, a title I'd like to use for a book on the same topic if I ever get around to it, and if you're interested in that topic please get in touch. The ETUG workshop program refers to my session as a "presentation" and to me as a "presenter". Everything but! This is one of my peeves about conference lingo.

Here's the description: 
The increase in opportunities to participate in open, online workshops, courses, and events, calls for a unique set of skills and considerations for facilitators. What are the implications of open invitations? How do you design for the unknown? How do you plan for the unexpected? What facilitation strategies do you toss out the window? How does the facilitator’s role change? How do you spread the word? What do you need in your toolkit? That’s a lot of question! During this session we will look at examples of open, online learning activities (MOOCS, webinars, seminars, twitter chats…), collect our experiences as participants and facilitators, and work toward a new set of guiding principles to assist those who will be facilitating in the open in the future.
In the spirit of openness we'll be streaming and recording ETUG workshop sessions. 

Monday, May 9, 2011

What makes effective community events?

From the CPsquare blog...

Image by LaDonna Coy and Susan Stewart
 CPsquare, SCoPE, and Online Community Enthusiasts are sponsoring a share fair on Thursday May 12 from 20:00 to 22:00 GMT about planning and running excellent online events for communities. (An event about designing events! How recursive!) It’s a great opportunity to share some of what we’ve learned about what works in our communities. Would you like to share?

The agenda and a launch pad to participate is here: Here’s how the agenda stands at this moment:
  • 1:00 p Introduction and welcome
    • Event logistics review: balancing broadcast & interaction,
    • Platform & technology components
    • Fall-back positions
  • 1:10 p Morning Fish bowl report-out (format & conclusions)
  • 1:20 p Planning an online symposium to launch a community with Linda Blong, Connie Silva-Broussard, George Triest, and Percy Young.
  • 1:40 p LaDonna Coy and Susan Stewart: increasing participation by diversifying tools (See the diagram on the right.)
  • OCE Elluminate room (continued)
    • 2:00 p #KMers chat report-out on excellent events
    • 2:20 p Breakout # 2
    • 2:40 p Breakout # 3
  • CPsquare Elluminate room
    • 2:00 p Breakout # 1
    • 2:20 p Breakout # 2
    • 2:40 p Breakout # 3
We’re also having a Twitter chat at 18:00 GMT on Thursday May 12 on “Effective online vents from a KMer perspective”

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Demystifying the Student Perspective

Hilda Anggraeni and Diana Chan, two very talented co-op students from Simon Fraser University, have come up with a great idea. They have created the Demystifying the Student Perspective discussion space in SCoPE to bring together undergraduate students and post-secondary faculty to discuss issues around social media and educational technology. They are doing the planning from beginning to end, which has involved learning the ins and outs of Moodle and Elluminate, creating this excellent logo, experimenting with various ways to promote the event, designing the learning space.... the list goes on.

Here is their description and invitation:
Demystifying the Student Perspective was created to bridge the gap between post secondary instructors and undergraduate students. This was first established in response to the call for a better understanding between instructors and students to share their experiences to better teaching and learning.
Does feedback through in class evaluations improve teaching? How do educators accommodate students with different learning habits? Will social media help teachers reach students? What are the best ways to evolve teaching as social media progresses in everyday life? There are some of the questions that will be answered in this seminar.

By participating in our online discussion and seminar, this will strengthen collaborations between educators and students to enhance the teaching and learning experience.
They are kicking off with an event this week, April 26-29, 2011, that combines 4 days of asynchronous discussion with an interactive web conference.

Also, a couple polls are waiting for your response, and a glossary that we will build together. 

Hope to see you there!

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Get Your Moose On!

Michelle Laurie and I will be attempting to 'fly the visual flag' so to speak by carrying on the tradition started by Nancy White and Rachel Smith at previous Northern Voice conferences. We're rookies in comparison but really enthusiastic about sharing what we have learned! We hope you'll come to our Drawing on Walls session and get your hands dirty.

We'll also be setting up a sandbox at Moosecamp. We will bring supplies and provide a little coaching (and lots of enthusiasm) for participants to practice graphic recording during Moosecamp sessions.

Here's the description for our session. The schedule is TBA:
Sometimes our imaginations are sparked by a visual where words fail us. Think about when communities plan and imagine their futures, when teams consider the possible outcomes for their projects, when groups create maps to track their progress. These are all opportunities to use visuals to engage and deepen community dialogue. In this session we’ll touch the paper, play with the pens, and loosen up our drawing muscles. Warning: You will stretch beyond the confines of typing on a keyboard! Learn the basics and practice with us at Moose Camp!

Friday, April 8, 2011

Two events about events

This is an open invitation to two upcoming events related to planning events (cross-posted at CP2)

1) SCoPE seminar (online)

Online Conferences: Professional Development for a Networked Era, a 2-week online seminar at SCoPE, begins on Monday, April 11, 2011. During this event we will share experiences and advice on how to plan or participate effectively in an online professional development conference. Our facilitators, Lynn Anderson and Terry Anderson, have written a book based on their research and experiences. It will be of interest to anyone who has participated in an online conference of any kind, which is just about everybody! As with all SCoPE activities, you are welcome to participate according to your own time and interests, and there is no registration required. Just show up! Please join the dialogue; together we can improve the online conference experience.
We will kick off the seminar with a Web Conference in Elluminate - Monday, April 11, 10:00 PDT, 17:00 GMT

2) Gathering of Online Community Enthusiasts
problems The second event is the 3rd annual Gathering of Online Community Enthusiasts, (OCE2011) May 12, 2011 in Vancouver, British Columbia. The theme this year is planning excellent community events and will be a full day of talking about and experiencing various event formats, strategies, and technologies. There will be an opportunity to participate from a distance as well, so watch the OCE2011 space in SCoPE. If you plan to attend, RSVP here.

Monday, April 4, 2011

MicroSCoPE: April 2011 Issue

This newsletter is cross-posted from SCoPE.

MicroSCoPE: A Close Look at What's Happening in the SCoPE Community
April, 2011

In This Issue
1. Open Learning & Open Collaboration
2. Online Conferences: Professional Developemnt for a Networked Era
3. Engaging Students in Inquiry Learning
4. Moodle 2.0 Workshop
5. Demystifying the Student Perspective
6. Quarterly Field Trip
7. Online Community Enthusiasts
8. SCoPE Improvements
9. Follow up from #LAK11
10 Cases in Online Interview Research
11. PeriSCoPE
12. About SCoPE
13. About MicroSCoPE

1. Open Learning & Open Collaboration
April 5, 2011, 20:30 GMT
Facilitators: Randy LaBonte
Join the 2011 Canada Moodle Moot program team for an interactive session about the upcoming conference May 1-5 online and in Edmonton, Alberta. Explore the panel topics, and find out more about what is in store for the closing plenary.

2. Online Conferences: Professional Development for a Networked Era
April 11-22, 2011
Web Conference: April 11 @ 17:00 GMT
Facilitators: Lynn Anderson and Terry Anderson
What contributes to the success of an online conference? How can we improve the experience for all participants? We will kick off this 2-week seminar with a 1-hour overview and discussion in Elluminate. This seminar is part of SCoPE's Professional Reading Group Series. Buy the book or download excerpts and related reading, and if you don't have time to do the background reading, join is anyway!

3. Engaging Students in Inquiry Learning
This seminar and video series was originally scheduled March 21 - April 8 2011. We are postponing this seminar with Neil Smith until a later date. Meanwhile, SCoPE members were keen to get started! As Nicholas Bowskill put it: "In the spirit of open education we could always examine the issue amongst ourselves".

4. Moodle 2.0 Workshop
Curious about Moodle 2.0? Plan to participate in a free, open, online workshop April 18 - May 13, with a 1-week hiatus for the Canada Moodle Moot conference. The workshop will be hosted at the KnowMoodle Sandbox, part of the Knowplace family of sites. More details will be posted on the sandbox site in the next week.

5. Demystifying the Student Perspective
April 26-29, 2011
Facilitators: Hilda Anggraeni and Diana Chan
This event is organized by students, for faculty! The first topic in this series will explore social media and educational technology. A 2-day asynchronous discussion will be followed by an interactive web conference in Elluminate, and a 1-day wrap-up discussion.

6. Quarterly Field Trip
For our next field trip we will visit KM4Dev, a community of international development practitioners who are interested in knowledge management and knowledge sharing issues and approaches. Field Trips are visits to living communities organized in collaboration with CPSquare, the community of practice on communities of practice. Check the wiki for a date and time later in April.

7. Online Community Enthusiasts
The third annual gathering of online community enthusiasts will take place in Vancouver May 12, 2011. This year's theme is 'planning excellent community event'. Check the special interest group for details, ask questions and offer suggestions in the forum, and be sure to RSVP.

8. SCoPE Improvements
Thanks to Diana Chan and Hilda Anggraeni, our talented co-op students from Simon Fraser University, we have a new background for the SCoPE twitter page and a SCoPE badge for you to place on your own blog or website.

9. Follow up from #LAK11
Calling all participants in the Learning and Knowledge Analytics course! Your involvement in this research on the use of the Student Activity Meter is much appreciated.

10. Cases in Online Interview Research
In preparation for an upcoming book and SCoPE seminar scheduled for fall, 2011, Janet Salmons extends this invitation to individuals who a) teach qualitative research methods, b) sever on doctoral committees, or 3) are on IRB or other review boards.

11. PeriSCoPE
* The Flexible Learning Network (#FLNchat) hosts bi-weekly chats in Twitter to share resources and provide support to a learning community of higher education professionals. The next chat is scheduled for April 12 at 23:00 GMT.

* Registration for Canada Moodle Moot 2010! Participate online or on location in Edmonton, Alberta.
* MobiMOOC runs April 2 - May 14, 2011

* The next CIDER Session is 'The Chinese Top Level Courses: Improving the quality of online courses in a new educational climate', April 6, 2011. CIDER sessions are targeted at distance education researchers, graduate students, and practitioners. Each session features an active researcher talking about their project, methodologies used, and their results. Are you a Distance Education Researchers interested in sharing your research? Contact Lynn Anderson,, with a brief description of your proposed presentation.
* Just published: Special IRRODL issue on Connectivism.
* Keep up-to-date on the OER university planning.
* The next WikiEducator Learning4Content Online Workshop runs April 27-May 11, 2011.
* Space is available in the 2011 Graphic Facilitation Workshop located in Rossland, British Columbia, July 13-15, 2011.

12. About SCoPE
*SCoPE brings together individuals who share an interest in educational research and practice, and offers opportunities for dialogue across disciplines, geographical borders, professions, levels of expertise, and education sectors. Our activities are facilitated by volunteers in the community, and membership is free and open to everyone. Past SCoPE seminar discussions and other open events are always available for reading and afterthoughts. We welcome requests to host or promote professional development activities related to teaching and learning.

SCoPE forms collaborating partnerships with many organizations to implement and promote community activities and products. This is a mutual exchange of support and services.

Self-register at
Join the SCoPE group at Linkedin to connect with others who are interested in employment in education or in connecting professionally on projects, follow SCoPE on Twitter and check out the SCoPE Facebook Page to keep in the loop. We gather our seminar resources in Diigo, and maintain a list of upcoming events in the Learn Together Collaboratory.

13. About MicroSCoPE
SCoPE members receive MicroSCoPE issues automatically. If you prefer to read MicroSCoPE on the website or via RSS, login to SCoPE and manage your subscription here:

MicroSCoPE is prepared by Sylvia Currie (

Please spread the word about SCoPE activities. Distribute this newsletter!

BC Healthy Minds, Healthy Campuses Summit

In preparation for our 3rd annual Gathering of Online Community Enthusiasts (OCE2011) to be held in Vancouver on May 12, 2011, I am revisiting examples of community events that I've been collecting. The theme for OCE2011 is Planning Excellent Community Events.

The "Healthy Minds, Healthy Campuses" Dialogue for Change held on October 1-2, 2010 is a fantastic example of how to run an event. This 2-day Summit used an Open Space format, and was a huge success. There were 75 participants, of which 25 were students.

A few things that stand out:
  • Well organized website
  • Graphic recording, which became part of the proceedings
  • Opportunities for dialogue before, during, and after the event
  • Advanced organizer in the form of four themes to catalyze discussion at the summit
  • Use of Eventbrite, which makes it easy to register AND help to promote the event through Facebook and Twitter


I came across Scrumblr last week just as I was getting my head into ways to bridge online and on location participants for the upcoming Online Community Enthusiasts event. I gave it a quick test drive, then during a meeting with Susan Stewart and LaDonna Coy, two colleagues with whom I am exploring ways to design venue-challenged learning activities (for lack of a better way to describe it!), we played around with Scrumblr some more. The verdict: this simple little tool has heaps of potential! Click on the image to see some of the notes we made on advantages and tips for implementation.

Scrumblr is designed by Ali Asaria from Ottawa. As a side note, I got a kick out of his website

Thursday, March 31, 2011

My Practice Series

There is an interesting activity that takes place during the first 10 days of each month at CPsquare called My Practice Series. The idea for the series emerged during a conversation between John Smith and Sue Wolff. Sue was chatting with John about some of the interesting challenges in her own practice. They realized that, while there are many conversations and types of events at CPsquare, there really weren't many opportunities to give attention to individual practice and experience.

The series has been running for about 18 months now, and there have been some fascinating conversations. In fact, the practice of sharing a practice has emerged with some guidelines of its own. For example, it's human nature to jump in to offer advice. But that really isn't the point of this activity (unless the person in the hot seat asks for advice). Instead, if participants ask questions and make observations (much like an interview), they articulate what they are curious about, and at the same time this provides an opportunity for the individuals in the hot seat to reflect on their own practice. So it becomes more about discovering what participants are curious about, rather than predicting what they might be interested in.

I was honoured to be invited to share my practice this month April 1 - 10. My hosts, Lotte Krisper-Ullyett and LaDonna Coy, suggested I begin by posting a brief introduction -- "perhaps something about the path that’s brought you where you are or where you contemplate going". They also provided a bit of a template to offer some consistency from one My Practice session to the next. Here's what I wrote:

Sylvia's Practice

Job: I support leaders of several Communities of Practice, steward two communities for educational practitioners: SCoPE and ETUG, and coordinate online and on ground workshops, conferences, and a variety of other events.
Organisation: BCcampus
Location: Lac Le Jeune, British Columbia, Canada
Links: My mish mash profile

To be sharing my practice like this I feel that I should have a good story about how I came to do what I do, like maybe that I stood up in my grade 2 class alongside all the wanna-be nurses and fire fighters and and shouted "I want to be a community steward!" But none of my work life has been very well planned. Quite the opposite. My formula is this: I do what I find interesting and feels right at the time, get energized by people I meet along the way, take risks, and always have faith that if my current situation isn't keeping me on the edge of my seat then there is something new and exciting around the corner. And guess what? There IS always is something around the corner!

I started down the path of working with communities of practice (it's only in hindsight I know what to call them) through software research and development projects at Simon Fraser University. The first was in 1997 working with a group of teachers to integrate project-based learning into the curriculum using an online wiki-like platform called Zebu. As a fresh graduate student, escaping from my job in university administration where I was no longer sitting on the edge of my seat :-), I was handed a project called EEP (empowering educators program). So many of the elements and design principles that emerged through participation in EEP are still priorities in my world today: open sharing and reusing resources, reflective practice, teacher as researcher, participatory design, collaborative professional development, and distributed expertise. I will be forever grateful for the mentorship, trust, and wisdom of the two professors who took me under their wings. It not only resulted in a complete career path change, but also introduced me to new ways of working and what it really means to collaborate.

This story has sort of repeated itself a few times over the past 15 years. Around each corner I encountered new and exciting projects and connected with fantastic people who have had a profound influence on my work life.

Fast forward to today... Someone challenged me to write a bio in twitter-style 140 characters or less. This is what I came up with:

I am client services manager for BCcampus online communities and spend my days working with people who want to learn from other people.

What I like about this description is that it puts me right in the middle of a flurry of activity. Nothing is more rewarding than watching others around you take on a leadership role. I've been working with BCcampus  for 3 years and I have to say, this is my dream job. I support several Communities of Practice, steward two communities for educational practitioners: SCoPE and ETUG, and coordinate online and on ground workshops, conferences, and a variety of events.

My bad habits:
  • Jumping to do something because I know it's faster and easier than explaining, planning, consulting, getting consensus, etc etc
  • Ignoring the dust bunnies (I work from home)
Things that make me squirm:
  • When people seek advice without first investing time themselves to think through the issues and solutions
  • When colleagues give me credit without including the many other people around us who have contributed
Some of the things I'm thinking about these days:
  • Various CoP governance models and ways of communicating
  • Facilitating in the open
  • How to improve conferences and other events
  • Writing more about my practice
  • Slowing down