Fellowship in the OPEN

The journey has now begun, the fellowship has been formed. As intrepid travellers, we each come from different spaces and places – in both our physical and digital realms! We carry our own packs full of tools and tricks as we journey together, into the OPEN. We’ll  apply our talents and insights to strengthen our bonds as a fellowship. We’ll share our fears as we face the journey together. Our individual presence is essential for the success of the fellowship and the quest will move us further into the open spaces in Ontario higher education.

We will not journey alone. There are many who will support and provide guidance along the way. Just as the Fellowship of the Ring, from J.R.R. Tolkien fame, set out on their quest to destroy the ring and save Middle Earth, so too will we face our own ‘demons’ of doubt and despair. Our journey into the open will not be without it’s own set of challenges and tribulations – maybe not on the same scale as Frodo faced as he carried the ring – but they may feel as daunting. There will be times we’ll need to travel alone!  There will be times our Fellowship will join forces to celebrate our journey.

What is this fellowship? It’s the #OERFellows for @eCampusOntario. It’s a small group of advocates in higher education spaces in Ontario who are passionate about shifting higher education into the open. Within minutes of coming together, as we did at the eCampus Ontario offices this weekend, we’ve bonded in our common interests and passions about teaching, learning and student success. We’ve shifted our own thinking about what it means to be an ‘OERFellow’ and how to engage with others in opening conversations about open education – resources (OER), practices (OEP), and movements (OEM).

Individually, we are one voice. Together we’ll share our voices in chorus. We shaped our song and shared some laughter. We left with a feeling we’re not alone anymore. We’re connected in our passions, in our future endeavours as an OERFellow, and in our journey as gallant leaders in OER, OEP and OEM in Ontario higher education spaces. We’ve got two new hashtags to connect our conversations as we echo across the province – #GlisteningLearningFish and #OEOFellows (Open Education Ontario Fellows). We’ve got a supportive team at eCampus Ontario to provide guidance along the way. We’ll have the #OEORangers to draw strength from, since there are many others on similar paths.

So how did I get to be part of the fellowship of this OPEN Ring? (#OEOring – Open Education Ontario Ring of people). The application was a series of ‘quests’ (letter of intention, CV, letter of reference, social media writing sample, video) where my commitment to open education was ‘tested’. Here’s one part of the application process – a video about WHY I wanted to be part of the fellowship. This will introduce me to my fellow OEOFellows and others interested in seeing what this fellowship is all about.

If you’d like to get to know others in the fellowship – take a listen to these Getting Air podcasts recorded in conversation with Terry Greene from eCampus Ontario on VoiceEd.ca.

Now that we’ve become a fellowship, the work and journey can truly begin! Here’s a sample of how this journey started – in tweets and images! Since it started and ended with snow falling, the snow globe theme seemed appropriate.

For my fellow #OEOFellows and those who will join us on this journey – the greatest adventures lie ahead!

Let’s make this an epic trilogy where amazing memories happen! This story is open – we’re sharing as we travel. If you want to follow this journey – join the conversations at #OEOFellows and #GlisteningLearningFish. Follow where the story will be shared:

OEOFellows

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Create, Connect & Share Respect on #SaferInternetDay

Today is Safer Internet Day!SID2018_date_and_year

It’s one day that can spark a year long pursuit to create, connect and share in safe and respectful ways.

Today’s that day! It’s Safer Internet Day!

This year’s theme, “Create, connect and share respect: A better internet starts with you”, is a call to action. Everyone has a part to play in creating a better internet for everyone. We should do this for those youngest users in our homes, schools and media making spaces. Safer Internet Day brings everyone together to talk and engage in a respectful way in order to ensure a better digital experience. The aim of Safer Internet Day is to raise awareness of emerging online issues and highlight  topics that reflect current concerns. The global site for Safer Internet Day provides resources and links to open the conversations about creating, connecting and sharing respectfully on the internet.

In Canada, the Centre for Child Protection promotes Safer Internet Day with a focus on educating parents about the biggest risks kids face online and how they can help keep their kids safe. On their website are resources to support this initiative.

Not sure what kids are doing online? ProtectKidsOnline.ca provides a reference tool to look at what ages 5-7, 8-10, 11-12 and 13-15 are doing online, what the risks are, and how to talk to children about the creating, connecting and sharing respectfully on the internet.

Online-safety_mooc_badges22For teachers, at the primary and secondary level, as well as administrators, there’s another way to build your skills and become informed. This is important since teachers should be able to provide their students with all the necessary tools to face the online world in an empowered and responsible manner. As students create, collaborate, share and connect in online spaces, there are ways for teachers to ensure this is done in a safe and respectful manner. Being an informed educator is the first step to managing this ongoing conversation. The new and updated edition of the Online Safety MOOC will help teachers gain a better understanding of the risks and challenges children face when they go online. The Online Safety course shares strategies for supporting young people to develop safe and responsible online and offline behaviours. A wide range of resources that teachers can use in the classroom will be provided, This can be one way to build a better internet. Completing this course will ‘show you know’ what it takes to teach children about internet safety – the badges will represent your skills.

So send a tweet today, share a post and spread the word! Take a moment to learn more about Safer Internet Day with this infographic. Start today, begin and share. Be part of a global wave of support for creating, connecting and sharing respect on Safer Internet Day!


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Finding Joy in the Ordinary

I admit I’m pretty ordinary. I’m not a shining star or a front page person, and I’m okay with my ordinariness. I certainly want to feel extraordinary on occasion. Being in the spotlight once in a while helps me feel special. Recent recognition of my teaching efforts in two VoiceEd Radio podcasts (Getting Air with Terry Greene & Que Sera Sarah? with Sarah Lalonde) bumped up my feelings of being unique. Being interviewed by Doug Peterson was a confidence boost. Participating as one of the OER Fellows through eCampus Ontario makes me feel extraordinarily special. While I travelled through Northern Vietnam, I was the extraordinary ‘other’ in a sea of extraordinary events and vistas which were ordinary to those who live there.

But, aren’t we all extraordinary in some way? Aren’t our ordinary events unusual and novel to others?

I’m reading a book. For me, that’s an ordinary thing to do. For many people in the world it’s unusual to own a book, have access to books, or be able to decode and understand the text. It would be extraordinary to read a book that you own.

I write and create stuff on my computer. For me, it’s an ordinary thing to do. For many people in the world, who can’t access technology or spend the time in their day to be creative with text and image, what I do would be appear to be extraordinary.

I drive my car to work. That’s certainly an ordinary thing, isn’t it? Not when there are so many who only dream of owning a vehicle, let alone have permission, skill or license to drive. It’s an extraordinary event for many in this world.

I teach at a university. For me, that feels ordinary, but for many it would be unimaginable to attend or be part of a university community. It’s a very uncommon event, in many parts of the world, to participate in higher education.

REFRAME the ordinaryI’m REFRAMING the ordinary.

My ordinary can be extraordinary. Your extraordinary can become ordinary.

As I go through my day, do I find joy in common events? Do I see anything exceptional in the many tasks I complete?

In a world focusing on the perfection of self and the enhancement of the mind, how can we, as ordinary humanity, find joy within the mundane? With global competition battling for market share and viral fame, while acquiring likes and stars on social media, how can ordinary find a space for joy?

In education, we’re focusing on being the best we can be, maximizing student engagement, designing perfect lessons for our exemplary classrooms and immediately celebrating student success. With pressure to constantly be extraordinary, we’re losing the joy to be found in the ordinary. There are so many ordinary moments in a school day that are missed in our ongoing mania to ‘bump it up’ to make it special. This impacts our mental health, our relationship with the students and their parents, and our confidence in the ‘ordinary acts’ in our extraordinary work of teaching.

Finding joy in the ordinary isn’t easy, but it’s necessary. It’s a false narrative to imagine our every moment will be extraordinary. It’s a negative mindset to think that every action will be innovative and lead to profound insights. Let’s REFRAME the view on ordinary.

In a recent ONedMentors podcast, Stephen Hurley relates that we need the ordinary to recognize the extraordinary. The participants discussed how a culture of humility is grounded in the ordinary, and how listening can be a profoundly extraordinary action. With a reframe on the ordinary, a practice of expressing gratitude in everyday occurrences can bring joy. As I read The Book of Joy, the Dalai Lama and Desmond Tutu lament that “our world and our education remain focused exclusively on external, materialistic values. We are not concerned enough with our inner values” (pg 29). Increasing our happiness is connected to our “ability to reframe our situation more positively, our ability to experience gratitude, and our choice to be kind and generous” (pg 49).

So, I’ll ask this question, one that I was asked while struggling through a particularly challenging time in my life – Where do you find joy in your day?

How can ordinary be reframed positively?

Let’s reframe the ordinary. It’ll be an extraordinary thing to do!

Screen Shot 2018-01-28 at 8.17.35 AMListen to the ONedMentors podcast ‘In Praise of Ordinary’. Thanks VoiceEd.ca for this thought provoking reflection on the ordinary lives of educators.

For those of you who think you’re too ordinary to be extraordinary – this video may help you reframe your ideas.

 

References and Resources

Abrams, D. (author) with His Holiness the Dalai Lama and Archbishop Desmond Tutu. (2016). The book of joy: Lasting happiness in a changing world. Penguin Random House Canada.

ONedMentors radio podcast with Stephen Hurley, Noa Daniels and a panel of educators. Retrieved from https://soundcloud.com/voiced-radio/onedmentors-in-praise-of-ordinary-january-25 

Image by Andrew Neal on Unsplash. Retrieved from https://unsplash.com/photos/QLqNalPe0RA 

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The Web We Weave – Curation in Action

samuel-zeller-483391Teachers are collectors. They collect and weave resources together in all kinds of ways. As part of planning lessons, building units, and designing courses, teachers collect and store stuff for ‘some day’. It used to be done with file folders full of ideas and worksheets which are now buried in a filing cabinet in the basement. With digital and electronic options, it’s become a disparate collection of links sprinkled across a variety of curation sites. It’s often a challenge to figure out where to start, which curation tool to use and for which purpose, since there isn’t one tool to rule them all.

  • How do teachers apply specific curation tools.
  • How do educators make decisions about where to curate, how to build their collections and when to share with others?
  • How do educators weave the web we want?

Two catalysts prompted these questions to reframe my thinking about curation, since I see curation as a necessary critical digital literacy. It is not just the digital collections we keep on Pinterest or YouTube, or the artifacts we create and share on Facebook. It’s the analysis and reflection about the items we put into our digitally curated collections and how we collaborate with others in the spaces where we chose to share what we’ve found.

First catalyst: Jennifer Casa-Todd (@JCasaTodd) blogged about curation – Content Curation: A necessary skill for today’s learner. I couldn’t agree more with her statement –

In our information-rich age, not only is it necessary to curate, but creating content from curated resources is an excellent way to consolidate understanding and provides students with the opportunity to think critically and creatively” (Casa-Todd, 2018).

In today’s classroom, curation is a strategy for critical digital literacy when students are using, analyzing, code breaking, making sense, reflecting, creating collections, and developing their digital identity. She asks a question at the end – “What is a curation tool you use to curate social media links?” which triggered my thinking. So, my first response is – blogs are a form of curation. This is not a new idea but has been heightened by a post written by Alan Levine, aka @cogdog, (Storify Bites the Dust) about using WordPress as a self directed curation tool.

Jennifer’s blog post came to my attention through a curation of blogs done by Doug Peterson (@dougpete) in This Week in Ontario EduBlogs. Each week, Doug collects, analyzes, reflects on and shares a selection of blogs from Ontario educators. This is further shared into digital spaces through Twitter under the #FollowFriday hashtag (a form of curating a conversation). Doug extends the conversation on another curation resource, his VoiceEd.ca podcast.  VoiceEd.ca has a curated bank of podcasts relevant to a variety of topics in education. So, my second response is – podcasts are a form of curation.

Second catalyst: a conversation with Sarah Lalonde as we talked together for an upcoming edition of her podcast Que Sera Sarah? She pondered how teachers can manage to learn about, learn with and find digital technologies for their teaching practice. Since there are so many tools, techniques and applications (apps) that teachers can and are using in their planning and design of lessons and units, it’s a challenge to figure out which ones to use, when to use them, how to integrate them into classroom use, where to support students to use them, etc.

This is where educators who build curated resources can support one another as they share in the open – and that’s where critical digital literacies are applied. It’s not just about building a collection, for example popping a pinned resource onto a Pinterest board. It’s about refining, defining, analyzing and reflecting in openly curated ways that will help other educators, designers of educational resources and even students see how these particular tools, resources and apps can become effective pedagogical resources in the classroom. It’s less about sharing, for example an ABC chart of apps for Chromebook users, in a variety of curated collections and locations (Pinterest, LiveBinders, Evernote, Diigo, Symbaloo, Thinglink, etc), and more about digging into those apps and sharing the affordances, barriers, issues and benefits of using and creating with those tools in the classroom. Maybe it’s creating a curated, annotated bibliography of educational technology tools that is crowdsourced similar to Ed Shelf, but one where pedagogical and classroom integrations are shared and discussed. It could be more like ones I’ve curated for the A Kid’s Guide to Canada project to introduce educational technology resources for specific purposes. It should be more like building collections with purpose such as I’ve done with #CLMOOC where educators try different tools for specific purposes and share results and reflections in a collaborative community space.

thai-hamelin-371279

Curation is the web we weave.

Curation is about individual, collective and shared reflections that will improve teaching and learning in some incremental way. Mihailidis & Cohen state “the preservation and organization of content online is now largely the responsibility of the individual in highly personalized information spaces. This has created a need to understand how individuals choose to pull together, sift through, organize, and present information within these spaces. Sharing, appropriation, and peer-to-peer collaboration are at the centre”.

For educators, it shifts our thinking. It’s about thinking like an archivist and acting like a librarian while critically pondering the WHY before embedding the artifact, connecting the code, adding the tags, or applying the html link. It’s reflecting and connecting. It’s a weaving within our own minds and reweaving between our chosen digital resources, It starts as a solitary process, reaches out to others in open, web-connected spaces and comes back to solitary reflections on actions, in action, for learning. It’s how I chose to weave the web I want.

So I’ll add my own question to Jennifer Casa-Todd’s – As an educator, teacher, learner and open educational practitioner how do you define curation? How do you build curated resources reflexively, alone and together? 

Curated Resources:

Casa-Todd, J. (2018, January 4). Content curation: A necessary skill for today’s learner. [weblog].

Lalonde, S. (n.d.) Que sera Sarah? [podcast playlist]

Mihailidis, P. & Cohen, J.N., (2013). Exploring curation as a core competency in digital and media literacy education. Journal of Interactive Media in Education. 2013(1), p.Art. 2. DOI: http://doi.org/10.5334/2013-02

Peterson, D. (2018, January 12). This week in Ontario edublogs. [weblog]

Peterson, D. (2018, January 10). This week in Ontario edublogs with Doug Peterson. [podcast]

Voiced Radio On Demand (n.d.) Our voiced radio broadcast community. [website]

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Sitting Down, Side by Side

Come on, sit down. There’s space here beside me. Where ever you’ve been or whenever you need to go, that’s OK. You’re here right now. Take some time to sit beside me and let’s talk.

matthew-bennett-425573I’ve recently travelled, with lots of time spent in planes, trains, buses and boats. When we travel, in most forms of transportation, we are seated beside someone. The focus is not face to face. Our seats are adjacent, so we are close. While we are seated elbow to elbow, we look toward something else – the direction we’re travelling, the vista view through the window, the screen embedded on the seat in front of us, or the tech gadget we may be holding. Our conversations are shaped by our positions in this space. Our relationship to each other is altered by this positioning. We talk about things while we focus on something other than each other, and sometimes our conversations go quite deep.

The deepest conversations I have with my children happen in the enclosed space of the car, while driving from place to place. I will quickly offer to drive them anywhere just so we can have ‘car-talk-time’. When sitting side-by-side with my husband, focusing on a campfire, our conversations evolve into deeply reflective, problem solving discussions. While our eyes face forward, looking at the road or the fire, our voices become less about US as individuals, and more about US as partners, collaborators, or even co-conspirators. Thinking about online learning and talking in digital spaces, I wonder how this positioning of sitting side-by-side can be accomplished. How can a shared focus on the learning enhance instructor/student conversations and reflective practice? Rather than sharing in face-to-face conversations, can we focus the camera and our eyes onto the subject of the learning?

These thoughts are shaping my personal examination of assessment practices in online learning spaces. If the term ‘assessment’ comes from the Latin word assessus “a sitting by,” past participle of assidere/adsidere “to sit beside” (Online Etymology Dictionary), how can I create the feeling that I am sitting beside a student as they share their learning? If the focus could be on the ‘artifact’ created and the process of production as a representation of their learning, it may be easier to sit beside a student (virtually or in the same room) to ponder this ‘thing’ they’ve created. Screen share in a video chat can provide the illusion of sitting beside, but it’s a mindset over ethereal space that needs to shift. It’s an ‘imagine if’ scenario with me keeping the student’s face in my mind’s eye as we talk about the craft of learning and the object they’ve crafted as they’ve learned.

This also links to reflection. How can this focus on an object, idea, vista view, frame engage our internal voice or bring understanding with external voices? How can talking out loud, to ourselves or with others, enhance our thinking? How can audio recordings promote deeper listening. I’ve had an opportunity to do a podcast where I am able to re-listen to my words and re-frame my thinking on topics that are important to me. I’d like to build this activity into my teaching. This could be done in any course where students record their voice in reflection on topics, content or assignments to reframe their notions of learning. 

So, I’ll continue to invite students to sit down beside me, talk about their work and learning, even if we’re separated by space or even time. It’s an intricate evolution of the campfire conversations that continue to be great places to talk.

Reference:

Siemens, George. (2017, September 14). Learning as artifact creation. retrieved from http://www.elearnspace.org/blog/2017/09/14/learning-as-artifact-creation/

Image: Photo by Matthew Bennett on Unsplash

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