Reflecting on GO-GN

Unfolding as we go along – what a great way to describe a PhD experience, and my involvement in the Global Open Graduate Network (GO-GN).

I admit to being fascinated by magical, mathematical, moving constructions. I am mesmerized by seemingly simple creations that move, transform, and reveal new facets and colours, watching things fold, unfold, and re-fold. Here are examples of what I mean – hexaflexagons and Yashimoto cubes.

Video by Vi Hart making a hexaflexagon
Video by Karagamii demonstrating a Yashimoto cube

There are many more videos created by Vi Hart [] that have kept me entertained over the years. The series of Yashimoto cube creations by Karagamii [] contain many more origami style creations. After a recent visit to the M. C. Escher museum in The Hague, this fascination with tesselations and intersections between art and mathematics has been renewed.

I’m combining this artful mathematical obsession with a reflection for an upcoming panel sessions at the Congress Conference where I will share some thoughts on my participation and connections within the Global Open Graduate Network – GO-GN. This also links to my PhD research since I am using a navigational gyroscope to render my findings into some form for understanding (but those are for other sessions and subsequent posts that I’m preparing).

I’ve been participating in GO-GN events and activities since before I began my PhD, starting in 2018 [See #OEGlobal18 Reflections for some early thinking]. The invitation is open [see Members Pack] and the community is welcoming [see Members]. Not only is there support for the early stages of the PhD process, but post-dissertation opportunities to continue researching and connecting [see GO-GN Fellowships]. But it’s the annual get-togethers and many invitational and connective events that are the glue that keeps this open, collaborative, and networking group working and researching together.

Here a few of the exciting opportunities where I engage with GO-GN research in the open.

  1. I have taken advantage of the regular calls for participation. Along with others in the GO-GN network there have been many projects [see Project Outputs]. From this listing, I notice my contributions to a few of the research review documents.
  2. I reflect on a critical decision to contribution to the Conceptual Frameworks Guide (2021) but since this opportunity was before I had solidified my thinking about which frameworks I would be using in my research, I deferred a submission as I needed more time to read, consider, and consolidate. It was interesting to see the many frameworks revealed in this document – ones that I have experienced or used. Of particular interest was the Value Creation Framework (Wenger, Trayner & de Laat, 2011) since that was the foundation for the portfolio of learning completed as a culminating project for my Masters of Ed Tech from UBC, as seen in this graphic rendering of the MET process and products [see My Renovations for more about the MET courses and discoveries].
  3. I’ve participated in several webinar sessions, with one of memorable session where Caroline Kuhn shared her research work [Tensions concerning personal open designs and institutional closed artefacts in a HE Institution]. Since I was early into my PhD journey, what struck me from this webinar was the depth of thinking and the threads of connection between theory, research, and practical application evident in the work Caroline Kuhn was conducting. Many other GO-GNers have catalyzed directions and investigations for research into, with, and about open education, as seen in the webinar sessions available on the GO-GN YouTube channel.
  4. I participated in Verena Roberts’ fellowship work on the Into the Open podcast series, but have particularly enjoyed viewing the short video clips provided by GO-GN members about their research projects.
  5. I joined into one project with WikiEducation to learn more about ‘doing’ wiki work. This resulted in a brand new Wikipedia page, along with many edits to a few other pages, relating to open eduction, particularly in Canadian contexts [see Wiki Wondering]. It has also resulted in a new research project, having just received Research Ethics Board approval – titled Disputatio in the Digital Agora.

This brings me to the need for reflection – the upcoming panel discussion about GO-GN as it relates to my PhD. The session description is as follows:

GO-GN, the Global OER Graduate Network, brings together a core group of current doctoral researchers working on open education topics, along with the GO-GN team at the Open University, alumni, other researchers and fellow travellers through open space. And though we travel without uniforms or transporters, like members of Starfleet GO-GNers do go boldly, attempting to push the boundaries of knowledge in the field. Recognising the multiple senses in which education can be open, we approach the concept of openness from various angles and use a range of methods.
In this panel discussion members of the network will reflect upon the what, why and how of their doctoral journeys, and invite session participants into our conversation.

OTESSA conference program schedule

Pushing boundaries? Going boldly? Approaching openness from angles and senses? Hmmm! Let me think!


The flipping images of the hexaflexagon resembles my early research work, but thanks to the steady hands of others in the GO-GN network, I didn’t get lost in the folds. As described in the video by Vi Hart, this research is a form of ‘flexigation’, sometimes revealing unusual results.

I’m researching media and digital literacies within the open educational practices of teacher educators in Canadian faculties of education. This intersection of three distinct fields of study is both complicated and complex. But, because the topic focuses on media and digital literacies, it was essential for me to model these in my doctoral work – the processes, productions, and presentations.

yellow, green and blue arrows in circular formation, in column formation with words inside each circle saying media and digital literacies, open education, and teacher education


The Yashimoto cube is representative of the immersive remixing of information from my research, as media in all it’s potential forms and formats. The cube’s many slides, flips, turns, and faces, particularly the ‘stellated rhombic dodecahedron’ shared in the video above, is indicative of the multiplicity of media created and rendered during my research, but also representative of actions and opportunities within the GO-GN network. There are always new faces, and new directions to explore.

Despite the multiple options outlined in the GO-GN methods handbook, I position my research within a post-intentional phenomenology (Vagle, 2018) with a crystallization approach (Ellingson, 2009). While there is much to reveal about each of these, along with remixed graphics that I have created to share as part of the dissertation, the conversations and presentations from other GO-GN researchers have given me confidence in sharing (nudge to Verena for her OEGlobal 2018 presentation!).

My comprehensive portfolio and the draft dissertation are posted as open, digitally-first productions using Scalar, Procreate, Nvivo, and assorted other technologies. Fellow GO-GNers are critical readers and collaborators, providing feedback on works in progress.

Since open educational practices (OEPr) are the focus of the research, I have strategically crafted a slight change in the acronym as a unique contribution to the field, where OEP is traditionally used for both open pedagogies and open educational practices. With the addition of a lower case ‘r’, I distinguish the differences inherent in the concepts and illuminate the differences between pedagogies and practices (since this is an essential factor in the field of education).


When considering the ‘how’ of my PhD research, it could best be described as a gyroscopic spherical thing-a-me-bobber – multiple layers spining within each other. There are layers and layers that sometimes appear to be connected, but I’m often left pondering how!

What isn’t included in this video clip is the central figure (me) or the solid platform that grounds and levels my research, allowing me to keep my view on the horizon – my PhD committee, my PhD cohort, and the GO-GN network.

What isn’t included in this video clip is the central figure (me) or the solid platform that grounds and levels my research, allowing me to keep my view on the horizon. This platform is represented by my family, my PhD committee, my PhD cohort, and the GO-GN network. It’s appropriate that I’ve selected the gyroscope as a reflection of the research work, since I’ve often felt myself spinning in untold ways as I complete the research process. I have used the image of a spinning gyroscope to bring meaning and clarity to my research findings (more to be revealed later).

Gyroscope in operation

So, in reflection, there are many elements from art, mathematics and scholarly research that potentially intersect and catalyze new thinking. For me, the GO-GN network is just such an element.

And now for something completely different …

Warning – there are no ‘uniforms or transporters’ in this part of the reflection. Since I started this post with a revelation of my passion and interest for quirky arts/mathematics creations, I felt the need to share some more fascinating art/math constructions. These are in no way representative of any members of the GO-GN or the unique events and opportunities the network offers.

Here are a few to fuel your imagination.


Ellingson, L. L. (2009). Engaging crystallization in qualitative research: An introduction. Sage Publications Inc.

Farrow, R. (ed.), Weller, M., Pitt, R., Iniesto, F., Algers, A., Almousa, S., Baas, M., Bentley, P., Bozkurt, A., Butler, W., Cardoso, P., Chtena., N., Cox, G.,  Czerwonogora, A., Dabrowski, M.T., Derby, R., DeWaard, H., Elias, T., Essmiller, K., Funk, J., Hayman, J., Helton, E., Huth, K., Hutton, S. C., Iyinolakan, O., Johnson, K. R., Jordan, K., Kuhn, C., Lambert, S., Mittelmeier, J., Nagashima, T., Nerantzi, C., O’Reilly, J., Paskevicius, M., Peramunugamage, A., Pete, J., Power, V., Pulker, H.,  Rabin, E., Rets, I., Roberts, V., Rodés, V., Sousa, L., Spica, E., Vizgirda, V., Vladimirschi, V., & Witthaus, G. (2023). The GO-GN Open Research Handbook. Global OER Graduate Network / Open Education Research Hub.

Farrow, R., Iniesto, F., Weller, M. & Pitt., R. (2020). The GO-GN Research Methods Handbook. Open Education Research Hub. The Open University, UK. CC-BY 4.0. ​

Vagle, M. (2018). Crafting phenomenological Research (2nd ed.). Routledge.

Image attribution Photo by Victor on Unsplash

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By three methods we may learn wisdom: First, by reflection, which is noblest; Second, by imitation, which is easiest; and third by experience which is bitterest.” Confucius

By reflecting on my recent experiences teaching a masters level course on researching in professional contexts, I hope to gain wisdom as both a teacher and researcher. By doing this reflection, I model for my students what it means to be a reflective practitioner of both research and teaching. Since this is the noblest of methods for gaining wisdom, I attempt to bring meaning to the course we have shared together. As I reflect, I think about mathematical reflections using flips, slides, turns, translations, and tesselations. How might my reflection shift and pivot my teaching around a solid point of rotation, a line of symmetry, or a slide from one position to another?

Collaboration and Connections

I begin with a reflection of the structural design of the course and how it may have supported student learning. One element that became evident as I read through the students’ journal reflections, was the importance of the collaborations and peer-to-peer connections. These were structured into the weekly activities as:

  • partner tasks conducted in Zoom or other digital spaces;
  • small groups connecting in Google slides;
  • full group annotations using;
  • large group discussions in the learning management system.

There was fluidity in the connections and collaborations established each week of the course. This design appears to have had a positive impact on student learning. For many in the course, this was one of the first experiences not only with the masters program, but with online learning more specifically. Being able to connect to others in meaningful ways was important. Being able to clarify assignments and discussions with others supported the overall effectiveness of everyone’s understanding. Several students in the course mention gaining a deeper connection through shared interests and experiences, and some will maintain these connections beyond this course and into their ongoing masters level learning.

Multiple Places and Spaces

The course design with multi-contextual learning activities may have been a challenge, since online learning was new for many in the class. Many students reflected on the challenges with learning how to engage within the multi-contextual spaces and places where learning happened. One student noted the “dichotomy of wanting everything in one place, but also wanting power not to be centralised to a particular platform controller”. This highlights the binary challenge between a push vs pull form of learning where notifications and pings can catch our attention, but interfere with deeper thinking.

This list is rendered from one student’s reflection and showcases the multiple places and spaces where learning occurred throughout the course. As I glance at this collection, I reflect on the volume of items on this list – are there too many?

How might I reduce this to better serve the learning needs of the novice researchers coming into the course, particularly those who are new to masters level learning and those from international contexts with limited experience with online learning.

  • exploring Google slides
  • interview methodology
  • zoom meetings, recording, captions
  • trancriptions
  • snipping tool for screen captures
  • Zotero and word integration
  • bibliographies
  • Review matrix spreadsheet
  • APA formatting
  • Canva presentations and recording
  • critical appraisal
  • Knowledge Mobilisation models
  • spiral journal reflection
  • Padlet discussion with memes

Writing as Reflection

This comment comes from one of the student reflections: “I find that sitting down and actually have to write something down is helpful because it usually forces you to have to critically think through what worked and didn’t work, it can also be just good practice in generally to build that reflective thinking” which echoes my own reflective writing practice around ‘hupomnemata’ as a ‘contemplative intellectual activity’ [see Hupomnemata blog post].

Writing can feel easy or feel difficult, as this video with Jim Carey depicts (as shared by one of my students). While the assignment structure of this course does not rely on a volume of writing, it does require some thoughtful writing times to present information and communicate research findings in unique ways.

Sometimes, the work within the course may have felt as frenetic as Carey’s typing depicts.

With Gratitude

There are some elements that I wove into the fabric of the course, like the gratitude reflection activity in week 4, the mini-moments of calm in week 6 (with the series of videos in this playlist), and the fireside chat activity in week 9. These are ones that I feel bring a human quality to the learning environment, particularly one that is predominantly asynchronous and online. Holding multiple open drop in sessions throughout the course also brought an element of responsiveness so students could ask questions and get an immediate response.

With gratitude, I extend thanks to the students, from whom I have learned much about interesting things like factors impacting paramedicine in Ontario, content language integrated learning (CLIL), culturally responsive pedagogy (CRP), research into factors impacting the care of elderly persons, Indo-Portuguese colonial history, student engagement in online high school sciences, research into developing respectful collaborations in kindergarten classrooms, engaging Indigenous learning in higher education in the Canadian north, and so much more. I am convinced that the research efforts by students in this course will ripple outward into the professional contexts in which they live, work, and learn.

With gratitude, I bring this course to it’s natural conclusion, knowing that my learning and the learning of my students, will never truly end.

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#OER23 A Moment of Joy in the Open

If you serve others as fully as you can, what you do will be a source of inner joy.

Dalai Lama

I am cross-posting some thoughts from the OER 2023 conference held in Inverness Scotland this past week. These were originally posted on my PhD blog site Step By Step.

Getting nudged!

FIrst, I needed to be nudged back into the open spaces where I have blogged in the past, and into some new spaces where I could reconnect with others.

It’s been a long while since I’ve posted something into the open on a blog or tweet or toot or even into Signal (though I’m not sure what it’s called in that platform; maybe a sigh).

That includes a long absence and silence in this blogging space.

I’ve silently shared in more cloistered spaces and kept my journalling on this blog site as private submissions – a place where I’ve crafted my thoughts for my teaching and the dissertation I’ve been writing since a long time ago! I’m approaching the end of that writing process so it’s an opportune time to get pushed back into the open, and OER23 is just the time to do this.

I am taking a few days to engage in the online spaces (Discord, Mastadon, Twitter, Kaltura) for the OER23 conference in Inverness, Scotland. I got up early, adjusting my internal clock to UK time and revelled in what is mostly an in-person conference, with some online and live-streamed components. Shared snippets of presentations and conversations stream across my screen. I collect and curate the multiple offerings of questions, comments, insights, issues, and presentation notes like a magpie, knowing there is a gem in the mix that I don’t want to miss. While I’m missing the chatter and laughter, the smiles and hugs, those attending the conference have reached across the kilometers and miles between Scotland and my location, with reactions, ping-backs and an occasional follow that encourage me to step further into the open.

Then I presented with my partners in a research venture – Dr. Verena Roberts and (soon to be Dr.) Leo Havemann. We dip into an opening conversation about open discourse within an open dissertation. Open has evidently been a part of my PhD journey since before it began back in 2018. While we await confirmation of research ethics approval, we begin to plan out our conversations. We’re taking our question(s) to the OER23 crowd – more questions and insights from the conversation may lead our research in new and interesting directions. I’ll post the slides from our session on the Step By Step blog site.

This OER23 session is loosely based on the infographic crafted by Laura Gogia (2016) (CC BY-SA 4.0) that looks at the process, productions and presentations that form and shape an open thesis. This is a continuation of conversations with (Dr.) Gabi Witthaus during our Open Thesis Wikipedia writing in 2021. It’s a shared story-telling opportunity for Leo, Verena and I – bringing some sense of wonder and joy to our scholarship in the open. Through this research, we hope to discover more about our ‘selves’ as academics, our journeys as open scholars, and our connections to open educational practices.

After the conference, I took some time to reflect.

There was a thread through the OER 2023 conference that I pulled on, tugged at, thought about.

This mulit-coloured and multi-faceted thread led me to interesting places and new spaces, where ideas and experiences emerged. This is my post-conference reflection. I didn’t physically attend the conference, but did register. Since I have commitments that keep me here, bound in place I rely on digital technologies to take me to conference venues far from home. Thanks to digital spaces like Discord, Twitter, and Mastadon, there were moments I felt connected and present in the conference rooms and conversations – even if these were liminal and ephemeral. The presentation I shared with Dr. Verena Roberts and Leo Havemann was particularly joyful, a moment when I felt present and in-the-room with others who were onsite.

But there were also many moments when I was wishing I was there! There were times when the reality of post-pandemic experiences set in – being together in person is still a dream for me in my current role as a primary care-giver for an elderly family member.

But what ultimately emerged in the aftermath of OER23 was an overall feeling of JOY – in making and connecting with people, ideas, experiences. The images shared by conference participants were reflective, personal, and eye-catching. Perhaps these examples will capture the lived experiences and feelings of the moments.

There’s JOY in shared moments.

There’s JOY in feeling like you belong.

I’ve been connecting and continue to connect to the Global OER Graduate Network (GO_GN). This group and it’s dynamic team of leaders has been a part of my doctoral journey. There’s joy in knowing that you belong somewhere when the dissertation and research work can be isolating and lonely. Feelings of belonging don’t just happen through official membership – it’s offered by others who see and recognize you – for who you are, what you do, and how you share. I have often reached out to others in this group for feedback, questions, and encouragement. Those who travel through similar processes, productions, and presentations in graduate networks can provide support through feelings of affinity. I have contributed to the GO_GN group to support others in the community. This valuable resource [The GO_GN Open Research Handbook] in research methods and conceptual frameworks, as well as research reviews, was shared at the conference and is open to all.

There’s JOY in making something together.

There is a thread in the OER 2023 conference [FemEdTech at OER23] that tracks back to the OER 2020 conference that I had planned to attend. In 2020, the plane tickets were in hand and accommodations where booked. In the months leading up to the conference I actively created and crafted with others in the FemEdTech community that had me stitching and designing a quilt square to be showcased at the conference [The Digital Quilt]. Then the pandemic happened and all joy in being present and in person dissipated. While my contribution is a small part of the overall finished quilt project [Contributions], there is joy in knowing that part of this FemEdTech Quilt fabrication and story contains my share in the making [Care in Community]. The reconnections with joy (thanks Lorna Campbell & Frances Bell) is the echo that resonates through this reflection. Perhaps with the tradition of quilting to share story and culture in Canada, I can hope that the FemEdTech quilt will someday make the trip across the ocean to an open educational space in the coming year(s). Perhaps a future OTESSA conference would be a great place to showcase this joy-ful exploration in connecting through openness in digital and physical discourse and story.

There is JOY in endings.

Conferences end. Events come to natural conclusions. As the OER23 conference concluded, a few final tweets and comments gave me joy.

As I approach the endings in the doctoral work, I stop to find joy in this moment of pause.

It’s as if I am caught in a crystal. I am reflective as I reflect. I am crystallizing my thoughts as I write.

My reflections focus on facets of my dissertation methodologies (cyrstallization and post-intentional phenomenology). [See previous posts on Playing with Crystallization and Post Phenomenology: An Exploration]

I know that this deep thinking and constant questioning in dissertation work will come to an end and this brings me joy! Not only since the hard work and constant efforts of reading, writing, thinking, and analyzing will come to an end, but in the feelings of accomplishment in completing a job, looking back along it’s trajectory and knowing you’ve worked through many challenges.

Where do you find your JOY? Be sure, as you venture through your life-experiences to take moments to feel and experience joy!

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Wiki Wondering

“A teacher is a professional, one who must constantly seek to improve and to develop certain qualities or virtues which are not received but must be created. The capacity to renew ourselves every day is important.”

Paolo Freire (1985)

It is in this spirit and intention that I avidly signed up with others in my Global OER Graduate Network (GO-GN) to participate in a six week adventure into becoming wiki scholars. The course is designed as part of the Wiki-Education movement and required an application and invitation to participate. The course took place from mid May until the end of June, including weekly meetings with a cohort of collaborators where our learning and wiki contributions were guided under the expertise of a Wiki educator and facilitator, Will Kent.

I actively took on the challenge to learn by going through the course materials, laid out in weekly chunks, with manageable outcomes and deliverables. What immediately struck me was the change in the look and feel of wiki editing from my previous experiences as part of course work for the MET program [see ETEC 510 Design Wiki, Hypertext]. Using the visual editor when working on wiki editing was a welcome change. While some familiarity with HTML editing is still good to know, it is no longer the dominant means of contributing content to Wikipedia. The dashboard for the course was a handy way to keep track of my own progress through the course and the directions others in my cohort were exploring.

Wondering about wiki education? There’s more on the Wiki Education dashboard.

Wondering how to connect wiki education to your teaching? There’s more on the Wiki Education dashboard – Training Libraries.

The part that made this wiki work memorable was the notion of getting it wrong to get it right. This is something I’ve blogged about before [See Getting it Wrong, March 2015]. What I wrote then, I now experienced in this wiki scholars course. There are specific rules and procedures for completing wiki edits and creating wiki articles. There are definitely others who will let you know when you get it wrong, and many more who will help you get it right. My own work with minor edits for grammatical structure, word usage, punctuation corrections, and sentence flow is an example of working toward getting it right. Not perfect, but better than it was. What I’ve come to realize as a result of doing this course and adding new information to Wikipedia is that it is the ultimate of collaborative spaces where information truly belongs to everyone.

Wondering what’s behind the Wikipedia curtain?

What lead me to this discovery was the ‘pulling back of the curtain’ – I’ve been a consumer of Wikipedia information (I’d suspect we all are!), but now I see the mechanics, logistics, and human beings behind the words on the page. In true Freire fashion, I can read the word and read the world through Wikipedia. Let me explain. Every wiki article has layers behind it – a talk page where people can talk to each other about what the page needs, suggestions for improvements, actions taken, edits proposed. There is a history page – where the ebb and flow of edits are revealed. It’s a running record of who did what, when, and why. This is where courtesy and consideration call for an explanation of major edits. This is also where, at any point in the editing process, you can do a side-by-side comparison of versions; the ultimate version control. This is all visible at all times to anyone who wants to see what is happening.

Wondering who’s behind the curtain?

We all can be, but there are many interesting and dedicated people behind the scenes. As a result of the Wiki Education course, I’ve become one of them. I’ll continue to iterate and edit as I read and reference wiki articles, now that I’ve got the skill and confidence to do so. There are ways in this wiki-verse to recognize and celebrate the work being done. Barnstars and WikiLove are two examples of the behind the scenes mechanisms to say thank you. Or click the ‘thanks’ link on any wiki edit to send a direct message of thanks to an individual. Behind the scenes there is fun and humour amongst the wiki workers – WikiFauna is one example. I’ll openly share my WikiChild status, but acknowledge that I’ve got some characteristics of the WikiDodo in my wiki-making. Will Kent shared some of the interesting characters behind the scenes – Anna Frodesiak; Doc James; KylieTastic; and Joe Roe. To truly get a sense of what is going on behind the scenes, you can track changes to Wikipedia OR Listen to Wikipedia (there’s a window that shows a real-time tracking of Wikipedia edits).

Wondering what I did?

Some minor edits, some major revisions, and one brand new article, all done in collaboration with others in the GO-GN network.

Wondering where this is going next?

I’ll continue to connect and collaborate with folks like Irwin DeVries [Six Weeks with Wiki Scholar] and Gabi Whitthaus [Art of eLearning blog] on articles of interest in the open educational spaces where I play and learn.

As Alan Levine (aka cogdog) writes [Wikicene Era and Wikidata], it’s the people and places behind the wiki pages we see and read that hold interest for me. I’ll continue to add and edit in Wiki spaces, such as the project Alan mentions, to contribute in other ways. I’ve already added my profile picture to Wikimedia in order to add it to my Wikipedia user’s page. Since my name is a pseudonym this may offer an avenue for those who really want to connect.

I’ll do more research into the use of wiki projects in higher education courses, as share by Petrucco and Ferranti (2020), since “implementing these practices in university teaching calls for careful planning and constant monitoring in order to overcome technical difficulties and effectively manage learning strategies for subject-specific content and digital competences” (p. 43). Some preliminary conversations, and models shared by other educators may help prepare the ground for wiki work in future course offerings in the faculty of education.

And finally, I’m off to the global, virtual Wikimania event coming up in August 2021, just to hang out and learn more.

It’s wondering about wiki that keeps me renewing myself while I revise and edit my teaching and learning practices.

What a wonder!


Freire, P. (1985). Reading the World and Reading the Word: An Interview with Paulo Freire. Language Arts, 62(1), 15-21. Retrieved July 19, 2021, from

Image Attribution: By Diego Delso, CC BY-SA 4.0,

Petrucco, C., & Ferranti, C. (2020). Wikipedia as OER: the “Learning with Wikipedia” project. Journal of E-Learning and Knowledge Society, 16(4), 38–45.

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Congress and OTESSA: A conference within a conference

All genuine learning requires of us a constant open approach, a willingness to engage invention and reinvention, so that we might discover those places of radical transparency where knowledge can empower.

bell hooks, 2010, p. 187

Here I am, once again preparing for conference presentations, reflecting on my practice as an open educator and a teacher of teachers. This quote by bell hooks caught my attention as I am reading and reflecting on what to bring into these sessions – as I strive to find my intention and a way to reinvent not only myself but the information, content, spaces, and places where I will present.

This year, the Open/Technology in Education, Society, and Scholarship Association (OTESSA) is holding an inaugural conference, having deferred last year’s conference due to the global COVID-19 pandemic. I honour the struggle this new organization has endured since it began. This conference within a conference is also a worthy endeavour, since it is working to fit something that is inherently open and shared into spaces that are not designed for the fluid and collaborative nature of the folks that make up OTESSA. To this end, my presentation on TETCs is being constructed here in order to bring radical transparency to knowledge construction within this alternative format session. There are many things I might say or could say that are not included in this presentation since it is limited by the time allotted for this session. I’ll provide some after-thoughts within this post.

My Reflection on TETCs and OEPr

OTESSA 2021 Conference Presentation Video

Link to the presentation notes where all references and URL links can be accessed.

Link to some of the images found in this presentation curated in a Flickr album shared as open resources.

Links to interactive elements shared to extend the conversation.

Afterword – thoughts in reflection

One issue that I hinted at in this presentation is the question of defining the term ‘competence’ and how it compares to the conceptions of literacies. I am thinking deeply about the differences and relationship between these concepts as well as how skills and fluencies fit into this concepts. The terms competency and literacy are often used interchangeably. Some clarity comes from reading deeply and as I read, I have curated a draft version of a graphic that looks to analyze the key terms relating to the concepts – skills, fluencies, competencies, and literacies.

From my question at the conclusion of this presentation, I have located an article on A Review of Faculty Development Models that Build Teacher Educators’ Technology Competencies (Parrish & Sadera, 2019) posted in the reference section below.

Brief Reference List (more references are shared in the presentation notes)

Foulger, T.S., Graziano, K.J., Schmidt-Crawford, D.A., Slykhuis, D.A., Change, Y.L., Christensen, R., Dillon, D.R. & Parrish, A. (2020). Invited Panel: Fostering New Research following the Teacher Educator Technology Competencies (TETCs): Research from the JTATE Special Issue, Preparing All Teacher Educators to Support Teacher Candidates’ Integration of Technology. In L. Elizabeth Langran (Ed.), Proceedings of SITE – Society for Information Technology & Teacher Education International Conference 2020. Association for the Advancement of Computing in Education (AACE). Retrieved May 30, 2021 from VIDEO of this presentation is found on YouTube at:

Knezek, G., Christensen, R. & Furuta, T. (2019). Validation of a Teacher Educator Technology Competencies Survey. Journal of Technology and Teacher Education, 27(4), 465-498. Waynesville, NC USA: Society for Information Technology & Teacher Education. Retrieved May 29, 2021 from

Parrish, A. H., & Sadera, W. A. (2019). A Review of Faculty Development Models that Build Teacher Educators’ Technology Competencies. Journal of Technology and Teacher Education, 27(4), 437–464.

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A Pandemic Fugue

Alternative Title: Music to Inspire a Pandemic Pedagogy

“By words we learn thoughts, and by thoughts we learn life.”

—Jean Baptiste Girard

It’s funny how random words can catch your attention. Today, it’s the word “fugue” that caught my interest and began rattling around in my brain. This random word has me searching for meanings. I start with the dictionary definition, then wander over to Wikipedia for clarification.

Meaning #1: psychological in nature

According to the Merriam Webster dictionary, this fugue is “a disturbed state of consciousness in which the one affected seems to perform acts in full awareness but upon recovery cannot recollect the acts performed”. This may describe our current time where teachers and students sometimes may be prone to semi-consciously going through the motions of teaching and learning, within these rapid deployments of remote and digitally enabled online learning or socially distanced classroom environments. For many of us, both teacher and students, reach the end of these learning events or courses, and may not remember or be aware of the acts we’ve performed.

Meaning #2: musical in nature

The Merriam Webster dictionary defines this as “a musical composition in which one or two themes are repeated or imitated by successively entering voices in a continuous interweaving of the voice parts”. This is done in a “contrapuntal” or polyphonic way. The etymology of the term comes from the Latin, French, and Italian derivations of the words “fugere (“to flee”) and fugare (“to chase”)”. The Wikipedia information outlines the necessary conditions for a musical composition to be defined as a fugue, and provides a few examples.

I’m connecting these conceptions of fugue to the words of Bakhtin (1981) whereby:

“concepts of heteroglossia (the diverse voices that combine into any creative act), polyphony (the multiple elements drawn in to unison) and dialogism (the process of dialogue that is crucial to invention and change) provide a perspective on the fundamentally social nature of innovation which is central to the “hive mind” of contemporary media”.

(Hoeschmann, 2019, p. 95)

This reminds me that it takes many voices to create innovations in learning. That diversity, multiple perspectives, and dialogue are requisite ingredients in the composition of learning interludes. Connecting this to my pandemic-induced ‘fugue’ thinking, I see the importance of sharing my learning, and that of my students, into larger efforts to share our ‘songs’ of learning.

During these times of physical distancing, social isolation, managed contacts, and conducting conversations through digital means, it is ever more pressing that teaching and learning events and activities merge, combine, and shape voices into an interwoven melody that makes a difference. Our individual and collective fugue states of mind can be disrupted by meaningfully and purposefully weaving voices (students, teachers, parents, leaders, external others) into the learning interludes we create as educators and mentors.

This does not mean I should merely follow or chase after the voices of others that are similar to my own, as musical fugues suggest. This only creates echoes of consonant sounds and leads to stronger silos where only like minded voices are heard. In our educational efforts to teach in these pandemic times, it’s good to listen to a symphony of voices. Those voices that are unlike my own, from disparate parts of the world, can add undertones and nuances to my own voice. I need to listen carefully to those voices. But, once listened to, and heard, I then need to critically create just the right notes for my own students. It is through this process of listening, mimicking, recreating new melodies of learning for my students. This shakes me out of my pandemic induced fugue state as an educator.

Then, serendipitously, this musical interlude, a model of a musical fugue emerged from my search for examples of music representative of fugue compositions. This production by Sansar Sandadorj caught my attention as an example, not just of how a fugue composition sounds, but how this interweaving of voices can be accomplished with music from around the world. We’ve seen many such compositions emerging as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Since this was posted in 2016, well before any hint of a global pandemic, it reaffirms that we are creative human beings that have been connecting from around the world well before this forced confinement in singular spaces.

This music alternatively had me smiling or brought me to tears as I contemplate the joy and the power of playing and learning together. We can offer such moments to our students!

We too can step out of our fugue and leave a legacy of our teaching and learning, just as this video models. This is a record of a moment where musicians came together purposefully, to create something meaningful and beautiful.

At this moment, as we cross the threshold of one year into this global pandemic, it is time to break out of this fugue and create beautiful music in whatever way we can (as modelled by the Canadian physicians in the video below)!

This is our call as educators, teachers, learning designers, digital media creators, and learners. Let’s reflect on the symphonies of learning, the music in the sound of mathematics conversations, the compositions in the arts and crafts students create, the many and multiple ways we engage students in video enabled conversations, or the varied tasks left as a legacy of learning. Just as we did before this pandemic happened, we can take this curated collection of media creations and use this to reflect and connect, taking time to re-listen, re-think, and re-member.

As I come to the end of a course of instruction in my work as a teacher educator, it’s important I do just that. In the coming weeks, I’ll re-listen and re-learn from the student’s many learning artifacts in a symphony of learning moments. Definitely something to nudge me out of this fugue!


Bakhtin, M. M. (1981). Discourse in the novel. In M. Holquist (Ed.), & C. Emerson & M. Holquist (Trans.), The dialogic imagination: Four essays by  M. M. Bahktin (pp. 259–422). University of Texas Press.

Hoechsmann, M. (2019). Pedagogy, Precarity, and Persuasion: The Case for Re/mix Literacies. The International Journal of Critical Media Literacy, 93–101.

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Bicycles for the Mind

And that’s what a computer is to me. What a computer is to me is it’s the most remarkable tool that we’ve ever come up with, and it’s the equivalent of a bicycle for our minds.” ~ Steve Jobs

From Popova, M. (n.d.). Steve Jobs on why computers are like a bicycle for the mind. Brain Pickings.

This is a response to the media production “The Social Dilemma” that espouses to be the canary in the coal mine, sounding the alarm about the impact of social media on mental health, discrimination, and democracy. This film, ironically warehoused within the Netflix collection, is touted as a “must watch” docudrama bringing a critical view to the impact of social media on the cultural fabric of society. While this film has merit in building toward a tipping point in the conversation about the negative impacts on people’s lives resulting from social media usage, this is not a new conversation, nor is it particularly helpful in presenting a broader focus on the issues at hand.

A dilemma is defined as “a situation requiring a choice between equally undesirable alternatives. any difficult or perplexing situation or problem”. This film presents its own dilemma. It needs to be viewed critically as a media production. Viewers need to watch for the entertainment value, but also take note of the media devices used to mine your attention (cue ominous instrumental music). It focuses on the evils of social media, which may be the low hanging fruit that will bring people into this conversation.

The dilemma is not what you think it is. Ironically, one of the key characters in this docudrama asks “Is there a problem? What is the problem?” This is, at first viewing, a death knell for democracy, for individual autonomy, and for the greater goodness of humanity. While this may appear to be a new issue, or as suggested in the film that this is different this time, the discourse around the use of technology and how new technologies will alter the very fabric of society are not new. Human-kind has been arguing this dilemma for millennia.

With a critical viewing, this is a media production like any other. Meaning can be gained by applying the media literacy triangle and the associated questions (as outlined by the Association for Media Literacy) are applied to this film – focusing on the text, audience, and production.

My critical viewing was framed by a few of these questions

  • What might be its (implicit and explicit) messages?
  • What values are being promoted?
  • How and why does this text appeal to its target audience?
  • How does this text (not) appeal to me?
  • How is this text distributed or sold to the public?
  • Who profits from the consumption of this text?

The film begins with a quote: “Nothing vast enters the life of mortals without a curse ~ Sophocles”. The film concludes with a quote: “How do you wake up from the matrix if you don’t know you are in the matrix?” (cue ominous instrumental music, again). The creators of this media production use quotes, clips, scenes, sequences, and film ‘manipulation’ to ensure you maintain attention to the film. The media manipulation becomes evident with a critical eye. The colour red is used for moments of particularly nefarious technological manipulation of the teenage male character in the dramatic portions of the ‘text’. The camera angles change for dramatic effect when the two teenage characters are wrestled to the ground by the police. A ‘cut to black’ with an extended black screen is used for dramatic effect between sequences. Clips are juxtaposed or merged to hasten or slow down the story line. The interview clips range from static, seated poses to sequences of movement through hallways or onto a stage. All decisions of what to include or exclude have been made by the film’s creators for a purpose, audience, and specific message.

The ‘characters’ in the film have been selected for a purpose as well. Those who are interviewed as part of this production are listed on the website associated with this film. While it’s an interesting collection of individuals, many of whom are involved or responsible for this current dilemma – which still hasn’t been clearly revealed – what is interesting are the voices that are not included, those left absent from this conversation. Organizations and critics, who are suggested to be the true optimists and those who cry out that ‘we can do better’, are somehow absent or removed from this conversation. The dystopian views of the dilemmas surrounding our use of social media consumes eighty minutes in the ninety minute film. Presenting a balanced narrative does not have media value.

There are so many layers that can be unwrapped in this production, so it’s purpose of opening conversations has been fulfilled. Underlying the core dilemmas of mental health, discrimination, and democracy, as outlined on the website, are issues of surveillance capitalism, addiction, users as products, predictive analytics, exploitation of the vulnerable, unethical social experimentation, suicide, child protection, algorithmic control, manipulation, radicalization, destabilizing national economies, legislation, tribalism, and subjugation. But don’t let this film stand proxy for truth and reality or believe that this is a global version or the only version of the story. Don’t be fooled by the anthropomorphic views of social media technologies i.e. “Social media has it’s own goals and has its own means of pursuing them; Digital frankensteins are terraforming the world in their image.”

Yes, these issues are real. Yes, this is a concern for anyone using or managing social media for themselves, their families, or their work contexts. In my case, this work context is education for both teaching and learning. Yes, capitalism and the market economy dominate the decisions made by tech companies beyond just social media spaces. But that isn’t the only story here, nor does it result in the suggested or inevitable end of this narrative.

What was perceived by Steve Jobs as the bicycle for the mind can and does transform our collective reality. Bicycles have the potential to bring people together, but only for those who have been taught and have experiences with riding a bike. This was the vision expressed by Seymour Papert in the early days of technology. Individual autonomy and choice in technology use and social media use can support the human need to connect and share stories. It can be grounded in the human rather than dominated by the technologies. It can exhibit care and connect humanity, rebuilding and re-weaving the social fabric. What is missing in this film production is the human side of the story. Maybe that will be included in the ‘part 2’ sequel.

As hinted at the end of the film, it will be the critics and those with a critical eye who raise us up and call us to action. In the digital spaces and places where I work, within the field of educational technology and open education, there are many who are actively engaged in this conversation, and have been for much longer than the dawn of social media. There is a robust movement of individual and collective acts of critical questioning, kindness and conscientious care from those who continue to challenge the capitalist push for educational technologies (e.g. who is pushing the agenda for 1:1 technology in education? who is promoting the need for exam proctoring to ensure student honesty?). The visions of bicycles, turtles, and hospitality are dreams that can continue to shape the global conversations in physical and digitally enabled spaces. These conversations, like those suggested in the film, are both utopian and dystopian, both deterministic and not neutral at the same time. There is still hope in these spaces, but it is waning with the every present pressure from tech firms to build and take over these sacred spaces where children and vulnerable people are coming to learn, play, and share their stories. The news and media presents a grim picture. It’s time to take action.

The website for this film suggests three ‘take action‘ options. The first is, interestingly, to promote the message by sharing the film. The site includes promotional materials to support the planning of special events around this topic and this film, ironically available for the price of your email and contact information. The second action is to reboot your use with a digital detox or reclaiming screen time. Both would be of particular challenge in this time of global pandemic when physical proximity can be hazardous to self and others. The third action is to rebuild the system, with one option being a course offered by the Center for Humane Technology. (Side note: interesting to notice that many of those interviewed on the film are also members of the board of directors in this institution). This led me to the humane design guide which appears to be a helpful guide, not only for technology solutions, but for frame teaching and learning solutions with technology. While these three options will promote the film and the conversations, there are already spaces, places, and conversations happening in coffee shops, cafes, pubs, and public spaces. Amplifying these conversations is essential. Joining new conversations is critical. Reaching out to others is necessary. Let’s not rely on one film with three options to continue challenging and finding solutions to these ‘social’ and technological dilemmas. Let’s not end this story with a soundbite such as ‘checkmate on humanity’.

As suggested in these action items, I’m fighting fire with fire. I’m inviting you into some social media spaces to continue this conversation. Consider this your invitation. Please bring others into these conversations. Here are some suggested spaces and communities:

Today’s collaborative conversation on @TheMentoree will open this conversation to new participants using the hashtag #OnEdMentors. This conversation will continue with additional blog posts and podcasts – it’s a conversation that will make a difference.

Image attribution: Photo by Jilbert Ebrahimi on Unsplash

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What is Teaching Practice?

It’s often when you stop and think, as I’ve done in the past few weeks, that you can stumble over the most basic question. In an effort to think more clearly about the basic elements of my teaching practice, I need to answer this question. With all my years of experience, I thought it would be easy! I’ve been teaching many years in a variety of contexts, ages, and stages, within physical, face to face places, and in digitally enabled spaces. What makes up my teaching practice?

What is teaching practice?

The Ontario College of Teachers (OCT) outlines five key components or standards of teaching: commitment to students and student learning, leadership in learning communities, ongoing professional learning, professional knowledge, professional practice. The four ethical standards include care, trust, respect, and integrity. I wonder how this holistic view of professional practice connects to the art and science, and the complexity of actions, moves, and thinking that is involved in teaching? Is teaching practice limited to only those actions that relate to student learning – identifying learning outcomes, sharing content, providing learning activities, assessing learning (Paskevicius & Irvine, 2019) – OR can teaching practice be viewed beyond the act of teaching. How do the standards outlined by OCT connect to current contexts for remote, distant, online, and digitally dependent teaching practices.

As I dug a little deeper, I turned to the familiarity of high leverage teaching strategies. Do these help in defining what a teaching practice is or is not?

High leverage teaching practices derive from five key concepts, according to TeachingWorks ( These include (rephrased from web-site):

  1. Teaching develops knowledge, skills, and abilities that are purpose driven.
  2. All students can and should learn at high levels.
  3. Teaching and learning are active sense-making processes.
  4. Teaching and learning are interactive, co-constructed and collaborative.
  5. Classroom contexts matter. Teachers manage and use contexts to support learning.

From these five core concepts come 19 high leverage teaching strategies. These do not identify ‘practice’ per se, but do outline some of the teaching moves and actions that expert and effective teachers apply. Examining these within the context of remote, distanced, and digitally enabled teaching may be a necessary step in current times. Do these strategies look the same for Kindergarten, Grade 8, or higher education contexts when teaching remotely?

What prompted this question was the re-reading of an interview with Dr. Paul Kirschner. It’s titled “Constructivist pedagogy is like a zombie that refuses to die”. In terms of media, this title grabs attention. The contrasting stance in the interview was not new, but now in the re-reading, it shifted my thinking about teaching practice.

Kirschner bemoans the fact that constructivist teaching, iterated in ‘innovative’ or ‘experiential’ teaching, won’t go away and is hindering the use of effective teaching strategies like direct instruction that expert teachers apply.

“…researcher John Hattie has shown to be unique to expert teachers. They have deep conceptual subject knowledge and an understanding of the substance should be communicated as well as a deep conceptual knowledge and skills in teaching / didactics. Good learning requires good teachers who can adapted for the students. You can’t do this by posting lessons on YouTube.” ~ Paul A. Kirschner

This rings true in current #PivotOnline teaching practices. In this time of COVID-19 and the requirements for remote and distance teaching, or learning, this is a particularly important question. What is teaching practice? How are teachers ‘practicing’ their craft when the students are socially and physically distanced from the teaching action or the teaching context? How does distance or tech/no tech impact the ability to teach?

Kirschner was asked: What distinguishes an expert teacher?

It’s important to point out that you can be an experienced teacher but still not be an expert in teaching. An expert teacher has deep conceptual knowledge of her or his subject area as well as a good didactic ability to reach out to her or his students. To achieve pedagogical expertise, it’s crucial that you have good insight into educational and learning psychology so that you know how learning takes place in the human brain. Knowledge of our cognition should be the most important part of a teacher training program.” ~ Paul A. Kirschner

The importance of knowing and having pedagogical expertise is the critical point here. It’s not because our brains are suddenly different or can process information differently because of the technologies we are using. As Kirschner emphasizes, the evolution of our brain structures haven’t changed since cave-dwelling days. We still learn in biologically primary or secondary ways. Cognitive theory reveals that short term and long term memory works the same way.

What has changed is how these tools and technologies shape our ‘becoming‘ (Ihde & Malafouris, 2019) within our culture, our world, our relationships with each other. Teaching practice, and teachers’ knowledge, includes an understanding of cognitive science and how biologically primary and secondary knowledge is taught and learned. Specifically, cognitive load theory and collective/collaborative learning (Kirschner et al., 2018), or how to provide effective instruction (Rosenshine, 2010). These are not necessarily included in all teacher education, instructional design, or how-to-teach-online crash courses.

“We also know that there is evolutionary primary and evolutionary secondary knowledge. The former is something we need to survive as a species. It has been evolutionarily ‘hardwired’ into how we think and develop. We learn this almost automatically without instruction, such as our ability to recognize our mother and communicate with each other and, thus, acquire our first language. The secondary is all cultural, such as how to read and write and use mathematics. That is something we need school and instruction for.” ~ Paul A. Kirschner

So, teaching practice in online, digitally enabled spaces needs to be taught and requires its own kind of teaching practice. This is not just about instructional design, but there is instructional design involved. It’s not just working out the pedagogy of teaching with technology, but that’s in there too. It’s going to require a shift in Faculties of Education, in teaching accreditation programs, and in teachers’ perceptions of what ‘teaching practice’ is all about. This extends into the research on TPACK as framed in this graphic:

“Reproduced by permission of the publisher, © 2012 by”

There’s a ‘sweet spot’ in the centre of these elements! That’s where the magic of learning happens, and the magic of teaching practices shine!

For my teaching practice, it circles back to writings by Parker J. Palmer. My teaching practice is a reflection of everything I am and do as a teacher, since it mirrors my persona and identity, both physical and digital. As Palmer (2017) states, when I come face to face, either physically or virtually, with my students, I have command over one thing, “my identity, my selfhood, my sense of this “I” who teaches—without which I have no sense of the “Thou” who learns … good teaching cannot be reduced to technique; good teaching comes from the identity and integrity of the teacher” (p. 4). This is as true in open, digital, online, and virtual spaces as it is in a physical classroom context. This teaching practice is a complex and negotiated ‘thing’.

In my experience, this practice is just that – practicing! Not perfect, not perfection, not even planned in many cases. My teaching practice consists of a multitude of micro decisions and major experiments in teaching, never getting it quite right, but learning more about what to do or not do the next time. As any Olympic athlete can attest, it’s through the practicing that the perfect can emerge.

It’s a process from catalyst to ideas, actions into reflections. That’s part of my teaching practice.

The sum total of my internal ethos, my acts of hospitality, my ways of knowing, my ways of being “teacher”, as demonstrated in how I negotiate into educational spaces, with students, using digitally enabled teaching activities, whenever and wherever appropriate, presenting learning opportunities, exploring and collaborating on assessments, all while maintaining a relationship with my students in all their humanity – this is my teaching practice.

I’ll end with this thought – in the midst of troubling times for teachers. This describes my teaching practice and my dependence on others, including my students, to help me ‘become‘ a practicing teacher.

“Humanity is a quality we owe to each other. We create each other and need to sustain this otherness creation. And if we belong to each other, we participate in our creations: we are because you are, and since you are, definitely I am. The ‘I am’ is not a rigid subject, but a dynamic self-constitution dependent on this otherness creation of relation and distance.” (Eze, 2010, p. 190-191)

I Teach Who I Am


Eze, Michael Onyebuchi (2010). Intellectual history in contemporary South Africa. Palgrave Macmillan. ISBN 978-0-230-62299-9. pp. 190–191.

Ihde, D., & Malafouris, L. (2019). Homo faber revisited: Postphenomenology and material engagement theory. Philosophy & Technology, 32(2), 195–214.

Kirschner, P., Sweller, J., Kirschner, F., & Zambrano, J. (2018). From cognitive load theory to collaborative cognitive load theory. International Journal of Computer-Supported Collaborative Learning13(2), 213–232.

Ontario College of Teachers. (2020). Standards of practice. Retrieved April 15, 2020, from

Palmer, P. (2017). The courage to teach: Exploring the inner landscape of a teacher’s life. San Francisco, CA: John Wiley & Sons Inc.

Paskevicius, M., & Irvine, V. (2019). Open Education and Learning Design: Open Pedagogy in Praxis. Journal of Interactive Media in Education2019(1), 10.

Rosenshine, B. (2010). Principles of instruction. UNESCO International Academy of Education.

Skogstad, I. (n.d.). ”Constructivist pedagogy is like a zombie that refuses to die”: An interview with Paul A. Kirschner. Retrieved April 16, 2020, from 

Image attribution: Photo by Adi Goldstein on Unsplash

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