CC and ME

I’m a Creative Commons teacher. I’ve got a growing relationship with the ideas and people behind the Creative Commons movement. I’ve stepped over the licensing line and made a conscious choice to be a teacher, advocate, and connector for openly sharing  creative works. I’ve blogged about building connections with the Creative Commons (CC) organization (Remixing Recipes, April 19, 2017) and I’m working on building my own awareness of CC licensing in education.

My work as an instructor and teacher puts me squarely in the middle of the copyright and licensing mess where it’s tricky to untangle the ‘fair use’ from the copyright protected and the CC licensed. I’ve been slowly threading through the maze with the help of others. After attending the CC Global Summit last spring, I’ve joined the open CC Slack space where the conversations about CC licenses and global copyright issues spill into awareness. This recent announcement about Termination of Transfer caught my attention. I learn more about Canadian copyright issues by listening to folks within this openly accessible space.

Original Open Ed MOOCAfter viewing the conversations between David Wiley and George Siemens for the #OpenEdMOOC (Week 2 Part 1, Part 2 and Part 3) it becomes clear as mud that copyright and Creative Commons licensing has an impact on my work as an educator. I know there are rules and best practice when dealing with ‘fair use’ but those lines are blurred and fuzzy – no wonder teachers have a hard time understanding them. I know that when I create something, it’s copyright mine, and I can choose to share it freely under a CC license, as I did with the #OpenEdMOOC graphic I created and shared on Twitter.

The challenge in the tangle of copyright and fair use arise when the ideas for my lessons or the resources I plan to use in my teaching really belong to someone else – I’m remixing them, or a bit of them, for a particular teaching activity. The flip side to this idea is that my students are also creating interesting items that are then copyright to them. How do I manage that issue as well or should I have to?

I’ve included teaching about Creative Commons (CC) in my courses to raise awareness and I advocate for the use of the CC licenses with creative works produced as a result of learning events. I’ve come to realize that my own creative productions need to have a CC license attached cc licensed BYin order to model for my students how CC licensing works as well as communicating to others how my creative artifacts can be shared. I’m trying to remember that when I write, draw, talk, or present, I need to tag my work with a CC license. I’m trying to make this an important consideration for those I teach and others in the educational community.

I am part of a grassroots organization supporting K-8 children across Canada called A Kids Guide to Canada. Students are creating and teachers are sharing unique artifacts about the country. To build understanding about copyright and Creative Commons, I’ve crafted a video (AKGTC and CC) to encourage teachers and students to use and apply CC attribution and licensing to their creative works. It’s a small step in shifting the copyright conversations into the open. It’s part of a bigger conversation about digital citizenship that is also becoming increasingly important in educational contexts. We need to step out from behind the ‘fair use’ screen and talk about how copyright and CC licensing will impact our work as educators and our student’s work as learners.

Now is as good a time as any to spread this message and work to untangle this mess together. We can unravel this mess a little bit more if we share what we’re thinking and why it matters.

  • How do you attribute the works of others that you include in your own creative works?
  • How do you license your creative work to let others know how they can use or share these artifacts?
  • How do you teach your students about copyright, fair use and the Creative Commons?

Watch the video for the A Kids Guide to Canada participants, then add a comment below and let’s talk!

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Open to Opportunity

image with inspirational statement


Today, on World Teacher Day, I’m reflecting on what it means to be a life-long educator. I’m sure that many others out there, like me, didn’t set out to be a teacher, but certainly became more aware of teaching as a career choice as I engaged with great teachers. Stephen Downes, in his introductory video to the Open Ed MOOC, mentions that education is sharing. That, at a granular level is what it’s all about for me.


Teachers around the globe share! Every day teachers share what they have, what they know, what they are passionate about and what they fear. Teachers share ideas, images, text, activities, words of wisdom, cultural norms and so much more. Educators across the globe share what little they may have available to them with their students in an effort to bring the world to a better place. Some teachers may not be sharing with such lofty visions of world peace, but they wouldn’t be doing what they are doing without a passion for sharing. So today, I give thanks to all those teachers who have touched my life by sharing their gifts and talents with others. I remember and honour all those teachers who are no longer able to share and those who have left a lasting legacy in their schools, faculties and communities. I am humbled by the hard work of sharing done by teachers the world over, especially through troubling times and catastrophic events.

Open education matters to every teacher! Opening our hearts to accept every child or student into the classroom, be it physical or digital. Opening student’s minds to wonder and inquiry. Opening our hands to sharing with those who may need our help in our schools, communities and global contexts. Opening our emotions so our students can see the power of empathy and trust. It’s more than open educational resources (OER) since this is one part of the teaching/learning dynamic – the what of teaching. It’s more than open pedagogy or open educational practices since this is as individual as the teacher doing the teaching – the how of teaching. Open education is about being fully open to opportunities that arise in the classroom, in the context and in the learning moments. It’s about bringing your whole self into engagement with your students, the subject matter, the moments that matter.

Today, on World Teacher Day, celebrate and share your educational experiences, not just those that haunt you, but those when someone shared openly and freely, giving of themselves to make your world, your life a better place.

Today, be OPEN to OPPORTUNITIES to continue your learning journey and share it with a teacher. Education is sharing – not for sale and no strings attached.


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Doodling in the Open & Thinking About Basics

I’m doodling around again. It’s habit forming as I build some basic skills. I’m doodling in the open. I received the invitation to the #21DoodleDays through an email from a friend (thanks @beachcat!) and got hooked, for the second time this year, on some daily doodling time. My first attempts at a daily doodling routine happened in March with Royan Lee’s #DoodleADay. With a daily prompt coming through Twitter, I’d sit down with my morning coffee and doodle for a while. You can see some of my first doodle attempts in this Flickr collection. I continued to lurk in doodling affinity spaces to learn more – CLMOOC Make With Me Cycle 3 helped me dip back into doodling this past summer. With this current doodling experience, these #21DoodleDays are bringing home the idea that knowing the basics in doodling is an essential step to becoming a better doodler.

#101OpenStoriesWith the #21DoodleDays doodle work, the focus for each day has been on developing basics – lines, shapes, borders, frames, banners and more. With each day of practice, I become more confident and adept at thinking visually and applying basics into combinations to communicate ideas. I’m noticing myself slipping into a ‘doodling mindset’ where images are becoming attached to text and ideas. Knowing the basics is removing a barrier to my visual thinking. Doodling is opening new ways for me to communicate, collaborate and reflect. Some recent doodles about open education (#101OpenStories – Four Hours of Open Storytelling and Open Education – Ethos & Practice) resulted from my participation in the 101OpenStories project. It’s becoming an alternative to thinking in text only formats.

Yesterday I attended a session presented by two colleagues at the University where I teach. The focus was on professional reflective practice. The students in the audience were in their first days of a two-year faculty of education program, just getting started in their studies to becoming accredited teachers in Ontario. Thanks to doodling inspiration from educators like Sylvia Duckworth, Giulia ForsytheJen Giffen and Debbie Donsky,  a supportive network of doodlers (@grammasherri, @wentale), and my growing aptitude with doodling basics, I put pen to paper as the presentation occurred. This was the first time I’d done this form of sketching-as-notetaking. Knowing some doodling basics sure came in handy. Since the session was about professional reflective practice I reflected on how the students in the audience, who are new to teaching, are beginning to learn the basics of the craft. Reflective practice is one of those basic skills for educators.

linesKnowing the basics helps break down barriers for participation within an affinity group, such as education.

Knowing the basics builds understanding of the tacit knowledge within an area of endeavour.

Knowing the basics doesn’t make you an expert, but it helps you recognize expertise.

I’m not a whiz at the video game Minecraft, but knowing the basics of building, mining and avoiding creepers helps me enjoy Minecraft-ing experiences when engaging with a Minecraft affinity group. I’m not a martial arts expert but thanks to many years of watching my son develop his skills, I can recognize basic stances and katas. This helps me understand the intricacies of a masterful karate performance when engaging within a martial arts affinity group. With a better understanding of doodling basics, I was able to integrate images and icons into the ideas and think differently within a listening stance. Knowing the basics of how to teach doesn’t make you a teacher. That comes through reflective practice.

Not knowing the basics can become a barrier or even a health or safety hazard. Those who don’t know the basics of swimming for example are at risk of drowning when they venture out on that new paddleboard. Those who don’t know the basics of fire safety when out camping are at risk of serious burns or starting a forest fire. We’ve seen on the news that those who don’t know the basics of driving a car are in danger of a serious accident with a vehicle. I recognize and appreciate the skill my husband has in basic home repair as he replaces a kitchen faucet. Not knowing the basics of plumbing would be a barrier when completing this type of work. Knowing the basics helped him resolve and problem solve when issues arise. Having a grounded knowledge of the basics lets your mind build connections where none existed or make leaps into new areas that weren’t previously evident.

As a new sketchnoting doodler, I know that repetition and work will develop my skills and this will require practice and reflection. Seeing how others sketch and doodle can help. Sharing my work with others and seeking feedback will hone my basic skills. Doodling the basics (bullets, arrows, faces, letters, people) will shape my expertise. A gymnast who performs a stellar floor routine is recognized for their expertise without anyone knowing the hours they’ve spent working on the basics. A pilot who successfully navigates a plane to a safe landing doesn’t show or tell the passengers about the hours of working on the basics in a flight simulator. Integrating the basics into how you perform your skills sometimes makes it look easy. Sometimes it is easy because you’ve mastered the basics.

As an educator, building a core set of basic skills is foundational to becoming a teacher. This doesn’t happen overnight and it doesn’t happen easily. Those who become master teachers work on the basics until these skills become part of who they are as an educator. Reflective practice is one of those basic skills – others may not see it but it’s evident in how they perform their craft in the classroom.

Doodling got me thinking about the basics, not just about drawing, but about teaching. What are the basics of teaching practice? How do master teachers share, model and build on the basics to make their teaching look easy? Maybe there’s a YouTube video to help? Becoming a teacher requires more than the basics, just as becoming an electrician requires more than basic knowledge of circuits or, becoming a surgeon requires more than basic knowledge of anatomy. But knowing the basics is an essential part of the craft. I wouldn’t hire an electrician who doesn’t demonstrate a basic knowledge of the electrical systems in my house. Nor would I trust a surgeon to operate on my heart who can’t demonstrate the basics of the surgery. Do we recognize teachers who practice the basics to perfect their practice or recognize their expertise without seeing the hours they’ve spent working on the basics?


IMG_9289What do you think?

How are ‘basics’ manifest in your day?

Doodle around with the idea of ‘back to the basics’ for the work you do. Can you identify the basics that make your work look easy? Thanks Diane Bleck for openly sharing your 21 Doodle Days basics.

Here’s the sketchnote doodle from the Professional Reflective Practice session. It’s my basics in action. Definitely room for reflection!


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What’s Your Story?

robyn-budlender-112521Any time someone asks this question, it requires some deep thinking and honest reflection. It’s not always an easy question to answer. My students struggle with this question each year in the course that I teach. It’s dependant, in part, on what story your listener is looking forward to hearing. Some stories come easily because there is a recognizable sequence of events. Some stories are easier to tell because there is a memorable beginning, middle and end. The plot line is logical. Some stories are not so easy because the storyline doesn’t really start or end, and the plot is mired in mist. So when you ask someone to tell their story, it’s truly an individual thing. My story is not your story and my efforts to tell the story are uniquely mine.

finn-hackshaw-131930So asking me what my story is about how I became an open educator really sent me on a reflective journey. I’ve been traversing some murky thoughts these past few days, spiralling down the rabbit hole. I’ve come to realize that this story doesn’t have a distinct beginning or end. This story doesn’t begin with a specific event or a catalytic moment. This story doesn’t have an ending since I’m still pondering my next steps toward openness, as the due date for next year’s course syllabus looms ahead. My openness as an educator just IS…… it’s my default mode. My story, then, needs to focus on the steps I’ve taken toward being ‘open by default’ and how it has transformed the ethos of my teaching practice.


I’m a farm girl, born and raised in the open – fields, forest, times, and spaces. Not to say there weren’t clear boundaries, but openness was an inherent quality of my upbringing. Hard work and strict requirements bounded the times of free play and open roaming. Seasons and weather dictated the schedule – planting, harvesting, sun and snow – each determined whether it was time for open exploration or closed to get the job done. Open times to engage in dreaming, imagineering (engineering ideas with imagination), alone or with my siblings was always dependent on getting the work done first.

03.09.17.V2 copyOPEN THINKING:

As I started teaching, it was never about the materials or methods found in textbooks. I would fill my classroom with  resources and methodologies that would reach and engage the children. The text was only one way to accomplish the learning tasks. Looking back, it was student centered pedagogy that was open to multiple means of expression, representation, and engagement; UDL at heart (Universal Design for Learning). My default way of teaching was open right from the start (open pedagogy & content) but I was not necessarily confident to open my classroom door to share with others. Becoming open in education is not like flipping a switch on/off. It’s shades of open, variations on open and stepping forward toward open. (Pomerantz & Peek, 2016)


With an increase in the integration of computers, I could open the classroom to contexts and people that enhanced learning opportunities for my students. Technology became the open window to a wider world for the small school communities in which I taught. I see now that the ideas of open access, opportunity, transparency and entry were part of my motivation to open access education (Weller, 2014). Open became a mission and responsibility for me as an educator. Building doors into the brick walls of administrivia would open options for my students, so I became an advocate for open. Technology became the way I could engage students in open spaces, through these open doors I’d pushed to create, and a way out – out of being disenfranchised, disconnected, disregarded or dismissed.

P1020872 copyOPEN AIR:

I’ve climbed that mountain! Twice! The mountain I’m referring to is Huayna Picchu. It’s captured in many images from Machu Picchu and it can only be achieved one step at a time while managing the physical barriers of altitude, physical endurance and braving the risks. But I’m also referring to my learning journey completing two Masters programs which can also only be completed by taking learning and course work one step at a time.

My passion for open was solidified through the MET (Master of Education, UBC) program where I experienced the power and potential of what David Wiley calls the 4 R’s – reuse, revise, remix, redistribute (Weller, 2014). The fifth R – retain, ensures that there is a legacy of learning in the open. These are core elements throughout the MET tasks I accomplished as evidenced in the culminating, openly published portfolio of learning – My Renovations. Open was expected, encouraged and required. Through this process, I gained confidence in working openly, alone and with others. Open meant experimentation, open to any audience, open to participate in any way possible (Weller, 2014). Explorations of open Web 2.0 tools and resources expanded my understanding of what it means to be a user/generator, a creator of content. My confidence grew as I created and shared in open digital spaces – blogs, wikis, videos, podcasts and more. I’ve taken intentional steps to reach the open air as you can see in several blog posts but specifically Awaken the Dragon. I’ll never forget my excitement when Alan Levine (aka @cogdog) commented at length on one particular blog post where I explored ME in MEdia. It was affirmation and encouragement to continue stepping out into open digital spaces. I now try to do the same for others who are beginning their open journey.


As I started teaching at the Faculty of Education in a local university, I began to teach the way I was learning within MET – in the open. My courses were and continue to be dual layered within the walled gardens of shared spaces within learning management systems (LMS) and within open spaces found on the open web. Iterations of course designs become a repository for my students or anyone interested in learning about Media and Digital Literacies. Because these are reused and remixed each time I teach the course, the content on the web sites becomes a living document, co-created as we learn. You can see these courses at DTL3239 Digital Teaching and Learning, MDL4000 – Media and Digital Literacy, and CDL3239 – Critical Digital Literacy.

My focus in open education continued to shift after I completed the MET program as I stepped out further to find more. I became ‘moocified’ – I call it my year of the MOOC. I started with Digital Pedagogy’s MOOCMOOC, moved into Rhizo15, then on to CLMOOC which led to the HumanMOOC and Design Thinking MOOC through IDEO. Throughout this ‘moocification’ experience, I became aware of Virtually Connecting and have been actively engaging in open dialogue through conference conversations with VC folks for a couple of years. It’s also when I became aware of how Creative Commons applied to my contributions on the web. My default mode became more open but it was still motivated by what it could do for my teaching practice and how it would be a model for my students. I focused on building communities of inquiry within affinity spaces for meaningful knowledge production. For me, it’s about building relationships and joining conversations. I continued to push, nudge, promote and advocate for open learning opportunities with my colleagues and the teacher candidates in the Faculty.

My motivation didn’t necessarily focus on my own reputation, revenue or audience but those became increasingly important as I talked about digital spaces since this impacts the future of my students (professional identity, future job prospects, partnerships with parents, collaboration with colleagues). I model and share, as well as search out other educators who model and share in the open, so my students can learn by ‘lurking and learning’ from others with experience. I push myself further into the open so my students can see the risks and rewards. Now I try to frame the open so my students can be grounded and bounded as they explore the open for their own benefits. The iterations of my open practice now includes an increased presence in open educational scholarship – pushing myself further into the open by writing beyond blogs.

OEO openSteps toward open educational pedagogies and resources are not done by standing still or walking alone. Networks of practice are an essential component of open education. This year, I have the benefit of joining others as an OEORanger – Open Educators of Ontario. With support from eCampus Ontario, I’ll be able to connect and collaborate in open digital sandbox spaces with others across the province and around the world. Together we’ll push, pull, create and advocate for open educational content and practices within higher education in Ontario. Together, there will be stories to be told, journeys to be shared, mountains to climb.

Stories about becoming an open educator are stories of iterations and adaptations. They are created one step at a time, a story with no perceived beginning or apparent ending. Yet, as you write your story, you’ll come to understand, as I did here, that the beginnings and endings become evident. They are only part of the whole story. Like climbing a mountain – take it one step at a time, stop along the way to breath and enjoy the view, enjoy the open space at the pinnacle of the climb, don’t rush the trip down and share the journey with others. There’s always another mountain to climb tomorrow.

If you’re interested in other stories from the #101OpenStories network you’ll find them on the open web and Twitter.

If you’re interested in seeing the recording done for the #101OpenStories, it’s openly available on YouTube.


Pomerantz, J., & Peek, R. (2016). Fifty shades of open. First Monday, 21(5). doi: Retrieved from

Weller, M. 2014. What Sort of Open?. In: Weller, M, Battle for Open. London: Ubiquity Press. DOI: Retrieved from

Images in order of appearance: 

Photo of Books by Robyn Budlender on Unsplash

Photo of Open Sign by Finn Hackshaw on Unsplash

Doodle-A-Day #9 by Helen DeWaard

Personal photo at Machu Picchu by Helen DeWaard

OEORangers for Doodle-A-Day #28 by Helen DeWaard

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Out of my comfort zone!

It’s unsettling. It’s got me wondering what I’m doing and how I get myself into these things.

I’ve been pushed and pulled into new and interesting spaces. I’ve been encouraged to share and talk in places and spaces that are new to me. It’s leaving me feeling very much out of my comfort zone. I need to recognize my culpability in this process. I’ve allowed this to happen. I could easily say no and the comfort of familiarity will surround me. But that’s ultimately why I accept the challenge, why I agree to do it. These opportunities change me. They are catalysts for my continued learning.

This week I’m participating in Research and Innovation Week events at the university where I teach. I’ve prepared a poster (for the first time) and a presentation to showcase the work I’m doing in the Faculty of Education. To make this more comfortable and easier on my emotions, I’ve focused on the work and how it improves learning for students. I’ve shifted the focus from me to a ‘third thing’ – the work, the learning, the theoretical foundations behind why and how I teach. With this imposter syndrome lurking in my mind, since I don’t see myself as either a researcher or an innovator, I’m forging ahead to showcase what my students are learning and achieving.

meme-to-startThis week I’m participating in a locally organized one day conference for educators (Push Your Learning).  It’s a chance to hear about innovative work being done by educators in classrooms since the presenters are teachers sharing their work with students in a variety of contexts and topics. I’m excited to be presenting on topics of interest to me. As part of this conference, there is an Ignite session where I’ve been invited to talk about digital citizenship. It’s all about ‘entertain us and make it quick’. Teachers talk in front of people all the time. I’ve presented at conferences more often than I can remember. But this Ignite is causing some discomfort. The idea of talking to a large group, with 20 slides that I’ve created, for 15 seconds per slide, for a 5 minute engaging presentation is pushing me way out onto thin ice. I’m more about conversation than presentation so this is definitely an uncomfortable place. But I’m learning lots about myself, my interests, my topic, and the logical flow of ideas as I prepare for this event. Is there a place for Ignite style presentations as part of teaching and learning?

I’ve been participating in a MOOC that has me exploring some uncomfortable truths about a shared Canadian story. It’s a course exploring Reconciliation through Indigenous Education from the University of British Columbia. It’s week five and despite the challenging topics, ideas and materials, I’m learning in this uncomfortable space. I’ve taken on this challenge because of my #oneword for 2017. Allyship is meaningless without gaining some perspective. My understanding is shifting as I learn with others about Indigenous history, world views, and how learning happens in traditional ways.

screen-shot-2017-02-28-at-8-32-04-amBeginning tomorrow, the month of March will shift me into the uncomfortable space of drawing as a means of expression. I’m picking up the challenge from Heather Theijsmeijer to join into the #DoodleADay event proposed by Royan Lee. I’ve decided to try this challenge to push myself into using my Instagram account with purpose and to re-ignite my sketch noting that started after attending a session with Sylvia Duckworth and reading Nick Sousanis’ blog posts. Let’s see what creativity evolves.

life-begins-at-the-end-of-your-comfort-zone-imgurAs I walk through these uncomfortable spaces and events, I remember that I’m only in them because of choices I’ve made. I’m here by design. I am learning and experiencing which makes it all worth while.

What’s getting you out of your comfort zone?

Where are you going to chose to participate that makes you feel a little uncertain?

What choices will you make to keep learning and exploring?




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