Tuesday, September 4, 2012

System Conveners in Education

System Conveners in Education

Last week I was invited to participate in the Connected Educators event: Systems Convening in a Complex Landscape. This all came about following the Cutting Edge BEtreat workshop in Grass Valley California. More about the workshop itself when I get to my backlog of draft blog posts!

I offered to prepare a bit of a summary of the session. I thought it would be a good way for me to dig in a little further on this topic because the draft chapter shared by Bev Wenger-Trayner during the workshop completely grabbed my attention.

The above image is my first attempt at graphic recording on an iPad. I've doodled here and there, but never actually created a summary, saved it, then shared it. Any other graphic recording work I've done was with paper, markers and pastels. For this I used Sketchbook Pro. I need lots more practice, but was happy that I managed figure out a few things! Layers are now my friend, and I'm about to purchase a new pen. :-) 


Panelists and Facilitators 


  • 90-minutes, WebEx
  • Conversational style, maximize time for Q&A
  • Open invitation, no cost


  • Overview: learning landscapes of practice 
  • Overview: system conveners in landscapes of practice
  • Panelists: briefly discuss one thing that resonates in own context
  • Concluding summary


There were approximately 19 participants. As with any open web conference the numbers went up and down.

Roles and interests of participants included:
  • Technical Assistance Provider/ Consultant 
  • researchers, consultant, learner …(I'm not entirely sure!) 
  • Technical Assistant provider working with states and national organizations 
  • Learning theorists and learning consultants 
  • Education Marketing Manager with Cisco 
  • director of professional learning - higher ed in BC
  • high school teacher director of a dropout prevention initiative for the Office of Special Education in the Michigan Department of Education 
  • WestEd, working at schoolsmovingup 
  • 21st Century Digital Learning Environments (a design consultancy) - Narrative Design 
  • Curator for the NROC Project's Connected PD 
  • Senior Associate w Natoma Group, consult on Future of Learning, Participatory design 
  • build designs that link Education to Real World participatory designs (Michigan) 
  • developing National Center for Literacy Education
  • convener 
Participants wanted to learn more about:
  • the characteristics of 'boundary spanners' 
  • presenters' and participants' real-life experiences sustaining communities of practice
  • system convening how we might benefit from mutual sharing of our experiences and stories

What popped?

Word used most frequently during session:

Can the open source way help nurture passion in classrooms?

Characteristics of a system convener:
  • strategic
  • upbeat
  • patient
  • W I D E  vision
  • passionate
What is REALLY important to keep in mind?:
  • Find ways to have meaningful encounters across boundaries
  • Trust in what we know
  • Keep message consistent but adaptable
  • Focus on the students (not on the organizations)
  • Honour the work that came before
  • See how to continue to the work TOGETHER
  • The convener is often the only one seeing the vision
  • What is consequential or relevant is open for negotiation
  • Go at other people's pace
  • Never give up!
Our work/challenges
  • Helping people to reframe what they are already doing/ have invested in in terms of the vision you have for how the system could look in the future
  • Negotiating and understanding the different viewpoints
  • Telling the stories - aspirational narratives --  robust and also emergent
  • Reconfiguring spaces across the landscape (rather than creating something new)
  • Developing leadership among different groups (rather than being the leader)


We need a community of systems conveners!

Thursday, July 26, 2012

BC Healthy Minds/Healthy Campuses Community

At BCcampus we support communities of practice as a key component in professional learning and sharing across the BC post-secondary sector. The range of support we offer in these partnerships is tailored to specific needs, and includes consultation services, workshops, and online infrastructure for collaboration and sharing.

The BC Healthy Minds/Healthy Campuses community is an example of a multi-institutional community that not only spans colleges, universities, and institutes in British Columbia and beyond, but also many roles are represented in the dialogue to promote healthier post-secondary environments -- from presidents to student service professionals to students who have many challenging stories to share. 

In this video I interview Jonny Morris. We chat about the community growth and success, his experience in the community steward role, and the many activities that help to shape the community. Special thanks to our talented co-op student, Heather Kincaid, for her editing work!

Cross-posted on the BCcampus blog.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Cutting Edge BEtreat

I'm in Grass Valley, California this week for the "Cutting Edge" BEtreat, a workshop that I've had on my wish list since it started in 2010. 

To prepare for this 4-day workshop we were asked to:

1. Introduce ourselves. We're using Wikispaces so the bios are collecting on one page. So nice to see the growing list of friendly faces and interesting backgrounds. 

2. Think about our challenges and questions. During the flight, a meandering drive from Sacramento, a couple relaxing walks around the town, and breakfast I've been jotting down notes in Evernote and on napkins. It seems I have a few challenges and questions.

3. Bring some artefacts that represent my work. From what I gather, these pieces will become part of our booths which we are creating this afternoon. We'll each be building an online "booth" in wikispaces as well so I'll share some of that out. 

4. Read a couple draft articles written by Etienne and Bev Wenger-Trayner. One was about the role of the systems conveners, and woah could I ever relate to that one. I think this is prime time for me to be engaged in these conversations.

5. Choose a leadership role. I decided to pair up with another workshop participant to take on the role of Social Reporter. This is something I did during the 2011 Graphic Facilitation Workshop in Rossland, and feel I could freshen up my tool list and see what else is possible. 

Heading out the door of my room at the historic Holbrooke Hotel to walk up to the Wenger-Trayner residence with my knapsack full of hardware, sunblock, and a blank notebook. More as it happens!

Friday, July 13, 2012

Interview with Jonny Morris

I sat down with Jonny Morris via Skype for a chat about the Healthy Minds / Healthy Campuses Community. They do incredible work and I continue to learn so much from Jonny.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Notes from the Learning Content Strategies gathering

This is a copy of the notes I took at the BCcampus Learning Content Strategies event, facilitated by Scott Leslie. Pardon the formatting!

SOLR:Content Strategies Notes
From BCcampus Mediawiki Back to session homepage
1 Learning Content Strategies
2 Introduction
3 Opening Discussion
4 Morning Presentations - LMS-Oriented Solutions

4.1 UVic - Katy Chan
4.2 Enid McCauley: Curriculum Development at Thompson Rivers University 4.3 Robert Peregoodoff: VIU Online

5 Afternoon Presentations - Open Content and other more Loosely Coupled Approaches 5.1 UBC Brian Lamb and Novak Rogic: Loosely Coupled Content
5.2 SFU Richard Smith: Loosely Coupled Instruction
5.3 UNBC Grant Potter: Out in the Open

6 Final Discussions, Wrap Up, and Next Steps 6.1 Institutional Level
6.2 Single Sign On
6.3 Open Education and the Future
6.4 Copyright
6.5 Biggest Takeaway
6.6 What could have been done to improve the day? 6.7 What would you like to see happen next?
6.8 Announcements
Learning Content Strategies
Notes from "Learning Content Strategies" gathering
taken by Sylvia Currie October 24, 2008
Scott opened the day with an overview of content strategies and expectations for our gathering. While there is a lot of information about learning content and open educational resources and new tools and trends, Scott stressed that we need to put it all into the context of specific issues WE are facing at our own institutions.
By hearing from a cross section of institutions and sharing our experiences we can identify some common issues and needs (goal #1) and demonstrate possible solutions -- within a LMS and also outside a LMS (goal #2). Together we can look for different ways to get around various problems.
Scott asked that throughout the day we think about the closing session and how it best works for us. Format can change!
Opening Discussion
Using clickers the participants responded to 12 questions aimed to get a sense of where institutions are with some of the issues. Several questions prompted an open discussion. The clicker responses and discussion notes have been summarized here.
Morning Presentations - LMS-Oriented Solutions UVic - Katy Chan
(PowerPoint slides (http://solr.bccampus.ca/wiki/images/c/c2/LCS.ppt) 412 KB) The first presenter was Katy Chan from University of Victoria. Katy presented a very decentralized model of learning content development and support at UVic. There are 4 different units that provide services:
  1. Learning & Teaching Centre (http://www.ltc.uvic.ca/) (Support for faculty who teach on campus. This unit is not involved in content development.)
  2. [http://www.distance.uvic.ca/ Distance Education Services] (This unit provides comprehensive development support.)
  3. [http://elearning.uvic.ca/ UVic Online Learning Systems]
  4. Humanities Computing and Media Centre (http://hcmc.uvic.ca/) (This unit is concerned only with
    faculty members within Humanities.)
At UVic several LMSs and communication technologies are supported:
WebCT (several versions) Blackboard

W ebboard list servs wikis blogs
There is essentially no learning content management strategy. The DE Services unit works with faculty and sessionals to put content online. In some cases faculty are unable to do this work themselves (time, skill, etc) so it is done by staff in the centre.
Katy provided a history of the development and support process in 3 stages:
1. The Beginning ~1996 All content developed as word processed files. Some static HTML pages were then created. This was a useful model because the content could easily be reused and repurposed. Print material was provided in addition to the online content. Discussion tools were used for interaction.
2. Middle Ages 2000- 2003 During this time there were many conversations about what they should we be doing. Some faculty were not happy with WebCT so D2L was introduced. Discussion tools, chat, desktop video conferencing and a homegrown activity tool were also used.
3. Present Faculty are free to choose a platform. Staff work with individuals to make it work for them. There are more linkages to LMSs. For example, HTML content is copied or linked to an LMS, the homegrown tools are used for activities and this is linked to an LMS, and audio and video teaching content is linked to an LMS. Because instructors frequently change platforms there is an ongoing process of copying content from one LMS to another.
Problems/Needs Identified
Content is developed first and then used by sessionals. They don't feel ownership of the courses. Constantly migraing content from one LMS to another.
Because instructors have so much flexibility there is a need to develop content in a way that can be moved aroudn easily.

It is difficult to track changes and keep content current. Constant redevelopment comes at a cost.
Supporing 240 courses, and only 6 people in (DE) unit.

Some Current Practices:
Started having sessions with instructors who want to add to the static content.
Creating learning objects (in SOL*R) as standalone. These are then used in a number of courses. Some instructors create their own HTML pages. It is the instructor's choice.
Templates are created in Dreamweaver for each program area.

There were several questions from the participants:
How do learners feel about consistency?
Students are asked that question in the course evaluations. They don't seem to have issues with using a variety of LMSs. There is a well supported help desk that uses an efficient ticket system. Also there are comprehensive start up kits for students. How do students authenticate?
UVic uses U-Portal and there is a centralized authentication system for all of the major LMSs that are in use. However, this took approximately 10 years to get fully functional. There is a problems with Banner (student record system) not accounting for people outside of the system. Because of this Continuing Education runs a separate registration system to handle certain transactions that are not supported by Banner.
How do you keep LMS independent?
In the DE division HTML copies of all content are organized outside of the LMSs. Media and images files are kept separately. Changes to HTML files can be across all courses. The LMS is pointing to HTML files. A homegrown tool is used to create exercises, quizzes, etc. It generates independent URLs for these
activities so it is easy to link to them from within the LMS. Students responses are stored in a database; this is not associated with the LMS gradebooks.
Is it desirable to expose learners to a proliferation of technologies and support them?
On response is that it becomes part of the students' core learning experiences in terms of becoming digital citizens. It may be easy for students to just use one system but is this a valid reason for not exposing them to a variety of options for learning and communication?
How is it possible to support all of this?
CE runs 35 servers related to DE courses. This is much easier than trying to organize hosting and server support through a central location in the university. Essentially the support unit is maxed out. There are licensing fees for all LMSs to consider. But does allowing choices for instructors lead to a problem with support? Trying to get everybody on board with one LMS can also be difficult and require a lot of support. By allowing instructors to try out different tools the process of experimentation and innovation is supported and there is less attention to organized group training.
What are the key indicators that you watch for to learn if a particular approach is working?
There are no major research projects underway but but each course has a formative an summative evaluation process. There are questions related t the tools students are using. So far there hasn't been feedback from students to indicate that they are not happy with having to use so many tools.
With the variety of tools including the homegrown solution, quiz tool, etc are LMSs used primarily for organizing the content and activities?
There are several different combinations. For example some instructors may choose to use the quiz tool that is part of the LMS. Very flexible!
Enid McCauley: Curriculum Development at Thompson Rivers University
(PowerPoint slides (http://solr.bccampus.ca/wiki/images/4/42/TRU_presentation.ppt) 1 MB)
Enid is the Director of Instructional Development and Research in the Open Learning Division at TRU. In that the division there are no faculty so all courses need to be developed to the point that tutors can run with it.
There are 6 groups involved in course development and implementation:
1. Instructional Design
2. Production
3. Educational Applied Research 4. Media
5. Training
6. Intellectual Property Office
The development of content is team-based. A lot of the work is done on a contract basis, i.e. course writers.
There is a separate IP office
The curriculum approval process is quite rigorous. There are several quality checks, and each division is involved Programs and courses all go through a series of program review and approval committees. After the courses/programs are approved the development begins.

Each summer the Tech It Up conference is held at TRU as part of the professional development for tutors.
Logistics around course delivery is a handled by a different unit
Tutors are distributed province-wide (approximately 150)

Content in stored in a database and can be output in various ways, for example to the TRU website for course descriptions, information packages for students, etc.
The database is proprietary software. The company is Vancouver-based and the software is not too expensive.
Over next few months the plan to set up a shared repository for faculty to find content that they can use in their own courses
3rd party copyright clearance is all done centrally. A database is maintained for OL and TRU.
Some tools/content developed for use in a number of different courses. For example, the microscope application demonstrated is distributed through the bookstore on CD.

Course Models
There is not very much interactivity in the courses -- very much an "educational publisher" model. Model produces high quality content but courses are designed to accommodate the tutor model. One barrier for flexibility and change is the faculty agreement.
They are looking to reduce text and increase use of media.

There is a very clear separation between content production and teaching.
Quality Control
Feedback from students: They respond to questions part way through course then at end of course. This is managed by Banner student record system.
Feedback from tutors: Informally receive feedback on an ongoing basis.

Before only had tutors. Now have faculty. Need to evolve It is necessary to get TRU faculty involved.
Course Delivery
Teams of people are involved in delivery.
All courses are on a development server. There are series of forms to get courses moved to the production server and put into the registration system. Delivery division handles registration, tutor hiring, exchange of contracts and support materials, and they mail out course packages, etc.
Robert Peregoodoff: VIU Online
(Power Point slides 328 KB (http://solr.bccampus.ca/wiki/images/6/6b/VIU_Online_Oct24_Preso.ppt))
Robert is Manager of Vancouver Island University Online
Content Development
Adobe Contribute web content management software is used for all online courses
Faculty can edit content on the Contribute server
Once edits are completed, a read-it tool downloads to scorm, then it can be used in Moodle or WebCT The plan to eliminate export-to-scorm part of the process. The content is handled too much.

Course Management Systems
There are many instances of Moodle used at VIU
Plans are to decomission WebCT. Currently they are paying for a full license but only have 300 students.

These are the main themes and comments that emerged through the discussion following a short presentation:
Indicators of success
Robert discussed the underuse of activity data (how often students log in, how much time they spend, which files they access, etc). He sees that data as and important component when looking at key indicators for successful implementation. There was a comment that some faculty do not want staff or others who are not part fo the course to have access to these data.
Faculty resistance to sharing
One instructor told a story about her earlier years of teaching. She was surprised at lack fo sharing. Now she is in a position where new instructors are approaching her for resources and content and she is able to relate to the resistance she experienced when she began teaching.
Another instructor shared a story about some last minute changes to course assignments. She handed her materials to the new instructor hired to teach the course and he was so grateful (and shocked!). The medium makes it very easy to share. It's a discussion among colleagues that's important. It's also about more than just content. Conversations about teaching styles and comparing notes are also important. * It is important to distinguish between course content and teaching. The course is one thing, but what is happening inside those courses is something else altogether. Unfortunately, people consider writing content as the equivalent to teaching. That is their job security. They think if soemone gets their content then they are out of a job.
There is a lot of history and a lot of dynamics around sharing. There needs to be general recognition that change is going to happen. And this change is not going to happen if groups of people continue to work in their distinct silos.
There is a demographic shift in the faculty. Are they becoming more accustomed to sharing? Unfortunately, younger faculty tend to be more economically vulnerable. Older faculty tend to ses it as a legacy issue.
Current practices and observations
Faculty agreements have clear information about classroom-based materials and print-based distance education but there is nothing dealing with online content.
One institution has a memorandum of understanding regarding content. Essentially the position is that all work is collaborative and is created as part work load. If you are sitting at home and write something completely original with a pencil then bring that written piece to work then perhaps that is your stuff. But in almost all situations there are many departments involved teaching (support desk, etc) This should all be taken into consideration.

How do we facilitate change? How can we address these issues at our own institutions? What are the structural changes that would help with this process?
There is no recognition for sharing and exchange. It needs to be built into the structure.
Make the content part easy so we can do more important things
Hug your faculty :-)
Move to a pyramid model of support instead of central support system where all queries to to selected support staff.

Afternoon Presentations - Open Content and other more Loosely Coupled Approaches
UBC Brian Lamb and Novak Rogic: Loosely Coupled Content
Brian and Rogic explained that blogs are a content management system and showed several "flavours" of blogs created in Wordpress that are used for everything from a department web site to a student portfolio or project portal. Access the sites mentioned in this presentation.
There are many uses for blogs and features to consider. Several tool development projects have been completed by UBC to improve the blogging experience.
One set of lessons can apply across all sites
The Digital Tatoo Project is hosted by the UBC library and is a student authored resource.
Private RSS option, a feature that may be desirable for some student communities.
Folksonomy tagging - this becomes a representation of how the students think their work should be categorized.
Managed tagging - this will create a more structured navigation which is useful in some circumstances.
Group blogging can be accomplished by creating a "case" blog to pull together the individual blogs into one place.
An option is to create a single blog and give all students authoring access.
Students can take their wordpress sites with them when they graduate. It is a straight xml file.
There are no extra steps to make wordpress mobile. This is a huge job to do in a LMS. (Brian showed an example using iPhone)
You can create a web page with NO content. All the content is fed in from other places (Novak showed an example of a site with all content generated from Flickr)
Rather than copy/paste content, you can copy/paste dynamic code for wiki content. It is then redisplayed elsewhere and whenever the information is updated in the original source it is updated on
your web site.
You can add a special form for students to fill out to allow them to become a blog author. This eliminates tedious administration of user accounts.
Students can use any blog they choose, and the content is fed into a single site with a database. This way the content is archived.
There are options for different skins to display the content in different ways.

Sometimes people have difficulty with so many variations on way content is found and displayed. Management of RSS feeds
Misunderstandings about copyright. It is not the same as access. Just because you post on the Web doesn't mean that anybody can use it by default. The default is that if you contribute the content then you own it.

SFU Richard Smith: Loosely Coupled Instruction
(slides online) (http://app.sliderocket.com/app/FullPlayer.aspx?id=BA947D25-AAE2-5139-9AB2- DACEE8C85900)
Richard presented an instructor's version of "hybrid" teaching. He teaches communication f2f at SFU and is constantly experimenting with technologies that will help him to reach out to his students, increase interaction, and improve access (time, place, and space) to course content and activities. Richard calls this a "loosely coupled" approach, stressing that the tools are there if instructors want to use them.
During the presentation itself Richard demonstrated how he might accomplish hybrid teaching in the classroom. The presentation was created using Skyrocket, a tool he was using for the first time. Skyrocket allows you to create your presentation and make it immediately available online. Richard used a number of different Skyrocket features to demonstrate the tool while using it. He also set up his laptop with a built in webcam to record the presentation using uStream (http://www.ustream.tv/). Some participants logged in to watch on their laptops. Also, other participants were invited via Twitter to participate. This spontaneous sequence of events using various tools nicely illustrated what is possible in the classroom!
Some examples of what Richard does:
Uses uStream to schedule office hours (http://www.ustream.tv/channel/richard-smith-office-hours) Uses SFU's ePresence services (http://sc-epresence.surrey.sfu.ca/epresenceserver/) to live stream lectures and interactions in the classroom so students can participate from home, in groups at other campuses, or at a different time for review or to catch up on sessions missed.
Overbooks his courses because he knows there will be enough seats in the physical classroom. He creates "shadow sections" and runs at about 120% capacity.
Encourages backchannel discussions (using text chat)
Creates archives of course activities

Makes content available through iTunesU
Creates screencasts using Screen Flow for Mac (http://www.flip4mac.com/screenflow.ht) and various other screencasting tools.
Uses Profcast (http://www.profcast.com/public/index.php) to create podcasts.
Incorporates a number of different social tools for authoring and sharing (wikis, blogs, delicious.com, etc)
Doesn't necessarily get "approval" to use anything :-)
Richard also noted that easy copy-paste of course materials is not always an advantage. It is a useful exercise to review course materials carefully and pay attention to what you are including in a course.
UNBC Grant Potter: Out in the Open
(slides online) (http://docs.google.com/Present?docid=d4js5kt_18f44psjdz&skipauth=true)
Grant described the distributed nature of UNBC and how project meetings are supported across the northern region of the province. UNBC is using a number of tools and strategies to reduce travel costs and also to encourage collaboration and interaction between meetings. Grant showed 2 main tools they are experimenting with: DocuWiki and Blip.tv. To begin they are using dokuwiki but plan to move to WordPress which has a database and is more robust. Even though UNBC has a media streaming server they find blip.tv has more functionality. However, there are some concerns with storing data on a server elsewhere.
Grant also outlined some successful collaborative projects and course implementations that are underway:
A support FAQ that is authored collaboratively
Wordpress multi-use installation used in a variety of ways
Course blogs where all students have access to post on a single blog. Currently 3 courses are using blogs, with 10 requests already for next semester.
In one course students were taken aback to see that the author of their course readings had commented on the students' contribution to the course blog. Some felt uneasy about having their work critiqued out in the open. It was like having a guest in the classroom, but with the world to see.
Some course development is done in private wikis at the request of the instructor.
Final Discussions, Wrap Up, and Next Steps
It was decided by the participants to continue with a full group discussion rather than form round table discussion groups as originally proposed. Scott facilitated the session.
Specific issues and many ideas were raised throughout the day. It was suggested that we need to think about how to take further action. Here are the main topics and comments by participants:
Institutional Level
Some institutions have a more challenging starting point. There are many missing services, such single sign on. (It was noted that in some cases this is not a bad thing; there are new technologies to help us. And we don't all need to start from scratch.)
There are assumptions that we have buy in from our institutions to move forward.
Often there is not a clear mandate from senior administration.
At some institutions the IT department is resistant to IT work being done by other departments. Historically when those departments were established we needed them to do even the most basic tasks, like putting up a web page. Now for $7/month we can host unlimited domains elsewhere. There are certainly skill sets involved but soemtimes having to deal with a separate IT department slows progress.
Single Sign On
What are we trying to protect?
There was a conversation around the merits of single sign on. One institution reported that 50% of calls to help desk were related to sign on! Open ID was discussed as an option. It isn't necessarily recommended for course registration, but it may be perfectly appropriate to use for discussion forums, etc. The advantage of Open ID is that it isn't education specific. It becomes part of student's life outside of the institutions.
Open Education and the Future
Where do we see education 2-4 years from now? Are we heading toward open content?
A few people have been involved in open content at their campuses. Examples: opening up lectures, opening up a few courses, etc.
What are the reasons for not doing it? There is a precedence set by faculty members don't want to share. There is concern that people will be critical of the work. It is one thing to put up content for students, but another to show it to colleagues. Also, there are issues around time, lack of skills, and the fact that so much of the content used in a course is from textbooks.

We wish we could be more assertive in making the case for open education. What are some approaches?
We need to become accustomed to having our work analyzed by others. This is the only way to advance our work.

Outside of education open sharing seems to be a viable marketing option. For example authors who wish to promote themselves will share some work.
There are complications and confusion around digital copyright
Bill C-61 makes it legal to use 3rd party copyright online. However it is completely counter to open education because the use is time limited (i.e. after 2 months needs to be taken down).
It does take time to go through the process of requesting copyright permission. However, it is rare that the permission is denied.
If we encourage the use of open resources at institutions we avoid high costs and uncertainty. Wikieducator is an example. See what's available for free. Incorporate these resources into our courses.
We need to push the boundaries in education. Strict copyright laws should not apply to education.

Biggest Takeaway
Freelearning website http://freelearning.bccampus.ca/
Learning about a modularity option - don't have to think in terms of an entire course Educational culture - how much we have moved away from sage on the stage
There are many new tools to explore
What could have been done to improve the day?

A description that better reflects the purpose for the gathering More breathing room to ask questions and digest
What would you like to see happen next?
Smaller and more targeted conversations about selected topics
A longer session -- perhaps several days
A traveling road show to institutions to meet with faculty unions and other groups Develop a way to show administration that this is normal stuff
Bring in experts
Hear from those who are already using open education practices in their institutions

August 12-14 the Open Education 2009 conference will be held in Vancouver at the UBC downtown campus (Robson Square). This is the annual meeting for open courseware consortium.
This book is highly recommended: Open Educational Resources (OER): Educator Handbook

Web version: http://www.wikieducator.org/OER_Handbook/educator Purchase or download PDF http://www.lulu.com/content/3597933
It was noted that the real benefit of the gathering was to be able to meeting with colleagues and to discuss important issues. This is the first time since the early conversations about metadata that representatives from BC post-secondary institutions have gotten together to talk about open content.

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Monday, June 4, 2012

2012 Gathering of Online Community Enthusiasts

Logo design by Diana Chan
The 4th Annual Gathering of Online Community Enthusiasts, hosted by BCcampus, is next week! As in previous years, we have lined this event up with Northern Voice since there is considerable overlap in participants. Once again we are blessed to have many helping hands to make this day happen. This year John Smith, Michelle Laurie, Nancy White, Dave Pollard, and Alice MacGillivray have all volunteered their time to plan and facilitate.

The theme this year is facilitation. It's a huge topic, so we narrowed it down to focus on facilitating scheduled activities. The idea is to use a variety of facilitation techniques, provide plenty of opportunities for the participants to guide the selection of topics, and include a lot of meta-conversation about the techniques themselves. Being a group of online community enthusiasts a common thread throughout the day will be to think about if and how each activity could be implemented online.

We're using etherpad for our rough planning notes, then organizing everything in the OCE2012 wiki. Here'a a wordle of today's meeting.

Are you interested in community of practice work and are able to get to Vancouver, BC? You should join us! There's no cost but you should sign up soon so we know for catering.

What: The 4th Annual Gathering of Online Community Enthusiasts
When: June 14, 2012, 9am - 4pm, then we'll head out for eats and drinks
Where: SFU Woodward's, 149 E. Hastings Street, room 2555

Tag: OCE2012

Update! Join the 1-hour Twitter Un-chat: Facilitating Scheduled Online Activities.

Monday, May 14, 2012

What a team!

Recently at a BCcampus all staff meeting in Sidney, BC I was called upon to say a few words about our outgoing co-op students, Diana Chan and Hilda Anggraeni. I stood up and blurted out "They have changed our lives" then went on to try to explain, which was impossible in a short couple of minutes.

Hilda came to work for BCcampus in fall, 2010 and Diana followed the next semester. Then we latched on to them and wouldn't let them go. :-)

Skype Team Meeting: L to R - Leva, Diana, Hilda, Heather
These co-op students brought so much to the workplace -- talent, enthusiasm, humour, energy, and everything else you can think of when imagining a perfect employee.

But employee is altogether the wrong word; it just wasn't that kind of relationship. As a team we absolutely gelled. We all shared this desire to try out new things, and take risks. We also seemed to be able to thrive in the middle of chaos and uncertainty. But most important, we each had something unique to bring to the table, and we all listened to, and appreciated, all contributions.

It sounds pretty straightforward, but this kind of collaboration is really quite rare. What is even more impressive is that I can probably count the number of times we met face-to-face on one hand. I work from my home office. Leva Lee, Client Services Manager, works from a school district office in New Westminster. Diana and Hilda worked from the Vancouver BCcampus office some days, and other days from their homes or Simon Fraser University. Yet we felt very connected. And we had so much FUN!

Diana has already written a blog post where she shares her experiences working at BCcampus, and also showcases some of her work. Hilda is working on one as well. One thing I'm sure they'll neglect to say as they modestly display the many artefacts they produced --  logos, websites, prototypes, videos, blog posts, help documentation, guides, and on an on -- is the break neck speed in which they worked. They were able to make sense of complex issues and needs, sometimes requiring a lot of digging into the history of communities or earlier conversations and decisions. Then they would come back with brilliant, clear proposals, or the perfect logo, or website design solution, or whatever. WOW. All I could say, everyday, was WOW.

Lately I've been reflecting on why our experiences with working with co-op students was so successful. Obviously what Hilda and Diana each brought to the workplace was outstanding, but there was also something about the team dynamics, and our use of technology to support our work.

From the beginning we agreed that email should be used only when necessary. It's too easy to default to email, and then regret it when you lose track of the history of conversations and decisions. For several months we combined Beluga group messaging (since acquired by Facebook then shut down) with Skype voice meetings. In addition we used Confluence wiki where Hilda and Diana each had their own "job jar" space to keep track of projects and progress, as well as store sample work and files. We also used Dropbox for many of our shared files, and Google Docs for some work-in-progress. We experimented a lot, and the conversations around what worked and why was part of the fun.

Eventually we settled on Skype as our main venue for communication, and set up a "perpetual chat". The result is that in a single space we have a record of all of our conversations for the past 15 months. If you go back to the beginning of our history, it takes a long time to load! And every Friday we scheduled a check-in (also Skype, and combined with our perpetual chat) for an hour or so for project updates and to brainstorm / problem-solve. If, at any time, the text conversation was getting hard to follow or we need to quickly reach a consensus, we'd just switch to audio.

When it came time to hire a co-op student for the summer semester, it only made sense for Hilda and Diana to be involved in the interviews. In fact, they took charge of the entire process -- resume reviews, short list, interviews, welcoming committee, and training. Enter Heather Kincaid, the new, energetic member of our team. It has been such a smooth transition.

Last week I smiled when Diana popped into the perpetual Skype chat to offer some WordPress expertise. It made me realize that the team was still connected after all.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

The Impact of Open Practices

Cross-posted from BCcampus Opening Education

At the spring meeting of  University College and Institute Professional Developers (UCIPD) hosted by University of Victoria's Learning and Teaching Centre, Karen Belfer shared a story that exemplifies the impact of community of practice engagement and open practices.

Karen is Dean of the Centre for Instructional Development at Vancouver Community College. She attended the fall workshop of the Educational Technology Users Group in Vancouver where Mary Burgess, Director, and BJ Eib, Instructional Designer, at the Centre for Teaching and Educational Technologies, shared a colour-coded poster type resource they use at Royal Roads University for communicating the professional development opportunities available to faculty.

Karen decided to adopt the idea at her own institution, and implemented a modified, online version. It was easy for her to find the original resource because it was located on the Royal Roads University Open Educational Resources site, a project made possible through funding support from BCcampus. The results are quite remarkable. Here, I'll let them tell the story...

  Incidentally, I was also inspired Mary and BJ's presentation, and used their ideas for a similar resource to outline BCcampus Professional Learning opportunities. Here's a sneak preview of the draft created by our talented co-op students, Hilda Anggraeni and Diana Chan.
  BCcampus Professional Learning Diagram

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Opening Up Events: Technology Trends and Courage to Adapt

This 2-hour event, Technology Trends and Courage to Adapt, facilitated by Tony Bates and Gary Poole was held yesterday at Vancouver Community College in Vancouver, British Columbia. The organizers connected with the Professional Learning team at BCcampus to see about helping to open up the event to the outside world. We jump at any chance to experiment, so of course we said yes!

We looked into costs for streaming the event -- the high quality route -- and decided we weren't able to go down that path. The VCC Centre for Instructional Development would be video recording the event for later viewing, but we wanted something to do something LIVE. Robin Popow, Leva Lee, along with (amazing) SFU co-op students Diana Chan, Hilda Anggraeni, and Heather Kincaid, came up with a plan:

Before the event

  1. Announce the event on the Opening Education blog
  2. Circulate the announcement using a variety of channels (email, Twitter)
  3. Decide on a hashtag that is not currently being used #techcourage
  4. Contact people with DS106radio experience to see what steps we need to take to broadcast the event
  5. Determine what equipment/software to use and where it will be placed (Ask: Will the speakers be moving around a lot? Can you monitor the broadcast where it is placed? )

During the event

  1. Have one person responsible for broadcasting the event via DS106radio 
  2. Take photographs and post them via Twitter, or later somewhere else
  3. Designate a couple people to tweet, using #techcourage and also #openinged and #ds106radio as appropriate
  4. Follow the twitter stream for any alerts that the broadcast isn't working, or links are broken, and all the other usual stuff that goes awry!

After the event

  1. Storify the event
  2. Blog about it
I participated from my home office and the others were on site. From my end I had difficulties with the broadcast. Others reported that they shared my "chipmunk" experience, yet it seemed to work fine for the rest. Overall I think a radio broadcast combined with sharing of images and highlights through twitter is an excellent low budget way to open up an event to the rest of the world. Better than low quality streaming? Probably! 

Diana Chan created this storify and wrote this blog post (to come soon!) from the participant's perspective.  I gathered together the artefacts into a different storify below because I wanted to include everything so it could be reviewed as a process. 

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Professional Learning - that's what we do

spiral staircaseWhat do we call ourselves? How do we describe what we do?

 For individuals involved in supporting faculty and staff in higher education, these question never seems to go away. Over time, as we refine our goals and teaching and learning philosophies, the nomenclature becomes mismatched, or outdated. In teaching and learning centres across the province we hear people talk about faculty development, faculty developers, professional development, academic growth, educational developers, and so on. We coach, mentor, facilitate workshops, encourage reflective practice, and even train (ahhh! the "t" word!). We all know what we do, but seem to be challenged by which labels to apply.

At BCcampus our work around curriculum and professional development has always been closely integrated, and for good reason. Although curriculum is often thought of as a set of courses and content, it embraces much more than that. Curriculum is what educators are immersed in, and they require professional knowledge and skills to do this work effectively. Over the years we have cycled through names for this service area, such as Online Communities and Academic Growth and Curriculum Development and Academic Growth. In this profession, there is a tendency to think of where one activity ends, the other begins -- you develop something here, you learn something there. In practice, we are all doing this thing called curriculum and learning how to do it better. Hmmm, so that's what we do. But still, what do we call it?

For my first three years at BCcampus my job title situated me squarely in the online communities service area, again a label that was too narrow for the nature of the work. While supporting learning through communities of practice is a major focus, we are also involved in cultivating learning networks and organizing and hosting events -- both face to face and online. So when I began my role as Acting Director last year, I wanted to find a label that aligned more closely with the full suite of educator services, and stated more clearly our ultimate goal -- to support learning. What better way to figure this out than to ask the twitterverse! The winner? Professional Learning (Thanks @bill_world!).

After settling into this new Professional Learning job title, it made sense to also modify the name for our service area. It is now called Curriculum Development and Professional Learning. Do you find it encompassing and meaningful? We hope so!

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Let's write an ebook!

This is a seminar I've been looking forward to for a long time! The idea started back in June at the STLHE conference in Saskatoon, where I met Richard Schwier in person for the first time. I was so excited to meet him that I ran off mid sentence to a session that wasn't due to begin for another hour. That was after the confusion of the lunch tent collapsing from an accumulation of rain water. But enough about natural disasters and me not being able to control my emotions.

We were sitting in the lunch tent trying to catch up on years of what we knew about one another form our online relationship. Richard told me about the experience of writing his ebook, Connections: Virtual Learning Communities, while on sabbatical in New Zealand. I had read the book (probably the same day it was released!) and asked if he might be interested in facilitating a SCoPE seminar. His response was something like "I think that's been done. But what was really interesting was what I learned about writing, and how it's so different when the final product is not print-based".

So there you go, that's the topic of the current seminar at SCoPE, only with a bit of a twist: Writing an ebook about ebooks for fun and no profit". We're discussing the ins and outs of writing an ebook, and from that we are creating an ebook. You and everyone else who participates will be authors.

We have a great team assembled to help to make this all happen. We partnered up with eCampusAlberta Professional Learning to organize the event. Scott Leslie will be helping us to understand the strategies and technologies around e-book authoring. Randy LaBonte will be moderating our web conference with Scott. Hilda Anggraeni and Diana Chan, co-op students from Simon Fraser University, will be helping us to turn this seminar into an e-book. (I say helping, but let's face it, they have the energy and skills to do it all!)

Richard explains it so well in his welcome video:


Sound like an adventure? You bet! Please join us!

Where: SCoPE -- direct link to the seminar discussion
When: February 1 - 14, 2012

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Hanging out and watching videos

If I don't say this all the time I should because I sure think it a lot! I'm so grateful for my membership in  CPsquare, and especially the partnership between SCoPE and CP2 to organize quarterly field trips together. Well, after I typed that I immediately wanted to add also especially the monthly "my practice" series where I learn so much from other community of practice leaders.

Normally for the quarterly field trips John Smith and I invite community stewards to talk about their CoPs and sometimes walk us through their online spaces. This time we did something a little different; we watched videos about communities. John describes it well and has captured the experience on the CP2 blog:
The idea is that our field trips have tended to focus on communities that are formed intentionally, often looking at them through the eyes of someone who's leading or trying to cultivate them. The videos we select would be of communities that are "found" and observed from the outside but are interesting to us for one reason or another.
This turned out to be a very interesting experiment, and valuable exercise in thinking about what we can learn about CoPs from the outside, and useful and meaningful ways to look at CoPs together. It was also an opportunity to explore new technologies and processes for organizing online activities.

The planning phase
The videos (and presentations in other formats) were prepared by Pepperdine University students for a course facilitated by Margaret Riel. John initiated a discussion in the CP2 community asking members to watch a handful of videos to narrow down our choices. We ended up with a shortlist of 3 videos, one that was from an earlier collection of interviews done by John because it provided a nice contrast of listening to one person's perspective rather than looking in and making sense of a CoP from the outside.

The shortlist:
 Ice Skating Sensations
 Joseph Sikeku talks about the technologies he uses at FADECO radio to reach Tanzanian farmers.
 The Gym

The next step was to find a way to view and discuss these videos as a group. I've had some experience doing this in Elluminate, but it wasn't without challenges! We decided to try Google Hangout, and were quite impressed with our trial run -- especially the 'reindeer' button! Check out John's nose! :-)

Next we worked out the logistics of how to gather people together. 

Before Event 
  • Create a Google account 
  • Add Sylvia to your network (http://google.com/profiles/sylviacurrie) and send her a note to say you want to join the Field Trip (sylviacurrie@gmail.com) 
  • Sylvia will add you to her circle "Field Trip" 
  • Install Google voice and video plugin http://www.google.com/tools/dlpage/res/talkvideo/hangouts/ 
  • Test your audio and video: http://plus.google.com/hangouts/ 

Time of Event 
  • Sylvia will create a hangout and invite everyone in the Field Trip circle. 
  • Go to G+ to see a post in your stream letting you know there's a hangout going on. (If you're signed into Google chat you'll receive an IM with a link to the hangout.) 
  • Note only 10 people can be in the hangout at one time, so be quick! 

During Event 
  • Click on the YouTube button, but do not press the play or pause buttons (John Smith is the pilot!) 

Because the room is limited to 10 people, we didn't go beyond sending out a notice to the CP2 and SCoPE community members. We had 8 people RSVP that they would be joining in, so the numbers worked out well!

The Actual Event

After creating the hangout, and sending out the invitation to members of my "Field Trip" circle, folks started to roll in. This, by the way, is a pretty dangerous way to operate! If for some reason I wasn't able to connect then it would not be an easy task for somebody else to round people up into the room. I'm sure there's an easier way, and the enhanced version of hangout may address this but for now it doesn't support YouTube integration.

Once we were all in the Hangout we were able to just get started -- none of the usual audio checks or fumbling with webcams. Everything just worked!

I recorded much of the session using Jing Pro, not realizing that it would only run for 5 minutes at a time. I had to save and restart the recording MANY times, but I don't think I missed too much. One odd thing about Hangout is that you never see yourself in the top section when you are speaking, but others do. So my recording isn't exactly what other participants experienced.

I pieced together the questions and some sections in an effort to keep the video under 10 minutes, but hopefully also captured the essence of our field trip. At the end we have a debrief on the experience (again, an edited version).

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Student Panel: How I/We Like to Learn

The Teaching and Learning Institute at Selkirk College has put together another event that will be live streamed and you're all invited!

What: Student Panel
Topic: How I/We Like to Learn
Where: Live streamed here: http://tiny.cc/3z9xa
When: January 19, 2012 (Pacific time zone)

(see your time zone)
11:30 a.m. Panel Begins - Harry Pringle Moderating
12:00-12:15 p.m. Discussion - instructors may ask for clarification (not rebuttal : . )
12:30 p.m. Adjourn

Modified from Stephen Brookfield's Critical Incident Questionnaire:

  1. At what moments in classes do you feel the most engaged?
  2. At what moments are you the most distant from class?
  3. What actions that instructors or classmates take in class do you find the most affirming or helpful?
  4. What is not working or could be improved" 5) What about your classes surprised you the most?

Thursday, January 12, 2012

MicroSCoPE News

Cross-posted from SCoPE:

MicroSCoPE: A closer look at what's happening in SCoPE

January Activities

Use of Video in Education
January 11-24, 2012
Facilitator: Amy Severson
"As video gets easier to record and publish, it's valuable to step back and ask ourselves a few questions." What are your questions? How have you used video in your teaching? We've already started so come on in!

Open Content Licensing for Educators
January 23-27, 2012
A special invitation is extended by the OER Foundation to this free, open, online workshop designed for educators and students who want to learn more about open education resources, copyright, and creative commons licenses.

Demystifying the Student Perspective Part 2
January 25-28, 2012
Facilitators: Hilda Anggraeni and Diana Chan
This series is organized by students, for faculty. During Part 2 we will focus on the online environment. A 2-day asynchronous discussion will be followed by an interactive web conference, and a 1-day wrap-up discussion.

Quarterly Field Trips
January 23, 20:00 UTC
Our next field trip is an exploration of Communities of Practice that were "found" and observed from the outside and documented by Pepperdine graduate students -- organized in collaboration with CPSquare, the community of practice on communities of practice.

February Activities
Writing an e-book about e-books for fun and no profit
February 1-14, 2012
Facilitators: Richard Schwier and Scott Leslie

Cases in Online Interview Research
February 20 - March 3, 2012
Facilitator: Janet Salmons

New Groups
Shared Services: Adobe Connect is a group of British Columbia educational practitioners using Adobe Connect in teaching and learning who are interested in sharing and improving practices.

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.

SCoPE members receive email updates automatically. If you prefer to read MicroSCoPE on the web or via RSS, login and manage your subscription here. Professional learning events, resources, and member highlights are captured via Scoop.it.

We welcome requests to host or promote professional development activities and projects related to teaching and learning. SCoPE is supported by BCcampus. Contact: Sylvia Currie (scurrie@bccampus.ca)
Please spread the word about SCoPE!

Communicating Online: Email Signatures

It was such a refreshing change to see this email signature from Phil O'Hara, Dalhousie University:
The information in this e-mail is NOT privileged or confidential. This information is intended for your use and any other distribution, copying or disclosure is strongly encouraged. Thank you.
after seeing these:
This communication is privileged and contains confidential information intended only for the person(s) to whom it is addressed. Any unauthorized disclosure, copying, other distribution of this communication or taking any action on its contents is strictly prohibited. If you have received this message in error, please notify us immediately and delete this message without reading, copying or forwarding it to anyone.
This communication is intended for the use of the recipient to whom it is addressed, and may contain confidential, personal, and or privileged information. Please contact us immediately if you are not the intended recipient of this communication, and do not copy, distribute, or take action relying on it. Any communications received in error, or subsequent reply, should be deleted or destroyed.
Please consider the environment before printing this email. This e-mail may contain confidential or privileged information. If you are not the intended recipient, please notify the sender immediately. Any review, dissemination, copying, printing or other use of this email by persons or entities other than the addressee is prohibited, unless permission is granted by the sender. If you have received this email in error, please contact the sender immediately and delete the material from any computer.
This email and any attachments are intended only for use by the addressees named in this email and may contain legally privileged and/or confidential information. If you are not the intended recipient of this email, you are hereby notified that any use, dissemination, distribution or copying of this e-mail or any attachments is strictly prohibited. If you have received this email in error, please immediately notify me by return email and by phone at xxxxx, permanently delete the original and any copy of this email and any attachments from your systems and destroy any printouts of them.
I actually have a bigger collection of signatures that I've saved over the past year or so. But you get the idea!

I've noticed signatures from different people/organizations that have identical wording. Are they plagiarized? ;-)

PrivateI get a kick out of reading these. I'm curious about WHY people use email signatures that reveal such paranoia about how others might use those words in the message.

Do you add an email signature to your correspondence. Why? Is it a requirement of the organization you work for? Are you really concerned that someone will forward your email to others?

Have you noticed that nobody pays attention to these disclaimers? I've received hundreds of cc'd and forwarded messages containing information clearly stating that I should never have received them!