Liberation in quick gulps…

33 micro-structuresI have been looking forward to the Liberating Structures Workshop for ages – since I first learned about it at the Fall ETUG event. I had big ambitions to visit the site and explore all the blog posts and descriptions of the 33 liberating structures but, as with many of the other participants here, I ran out of time. 

We began Day 1 with a familiar activity with a twist – Impromptu Networking was a focused "meet & greet" activity – timed cycles where we paired up and shared what we hoped to get from the workshop and what we could contribute, and a challenge we hoped to focus on. I've done smiliar icebreakers before but liked the 3 cycles we went through with a debrief with Keith McCandless & team to really think about the value and purpose of the action.

And the rest of the day progressed from there – we walked the talk for sure – involved in activities with short bursts of guiding discussion and instructions between each brief but intense "gulps" of learning. Some participants questioned the consistent chime and bell nudges but it kept a group of disparate individuals (over a 100) moving through and experiencing and even sharing reflections throughout the day. Lots more to write about but I'm about to start Day 2.

Last thought:  I did a rough review of my notes and we tested and reflected / "unpacked" our experiences of over 12 different micro-structures. Definitely the co-developer of Liberating Structures Keith McCandless and his "Dream Team":  Tracy Kelly, BCcampus Professional Learning, Leva Lee, Open Learning/ETUG, Kele Fleming, UBC CTLT and, Cathy , Shawna Fenwick, consultant, and Fisher Qua, consultant  were amazing and provided me with all kinds of ideas to make my next facilitation event flow smoothly and provide a great experience for participants.

 

Warming up for FLO Design Sprint

Warm-upTuesday morning, February 2

I sprang out of bed at 5:45 (the time my chocolate lab usually body-bumps my side of the bed in the hopes that I'll want to get up to feed her) mentally running down the checklist of all the things I had still wanted to get reviewed and noted to be ready for our first Sprint Day!!

Luckily my dorm room at Royal Roads University has wireless internet so I was able to get to my web notes and hyperlinks. Don't want to miss any of the bits and pieces I've been collecting to share with FLO facilitators!

BCcampus folks finally made it happen – thanks Tracy and BJ and SylviaC!

We've been talking about getting together (all us FLO facilitators) synchronously and physically to rethink the Facilitating Learning Online workshop since I was first involved with the SCoPE version in late 2014! We've done brainstorm sessions on Collaborate and tossed ideas back and forth on Skype and in multiple GoogleDocs. And we've made many changes, in response to participant suggestions (kudos and gripes) and SylviaC has done an amazing job of creating what I consider an attractive and useful Moodle environment. We've got a FLO Harvest Wiki that is just bursting at the seams with ideas for digital tools, suggestions for additional readings and videos, samples of learning objects created by participants (and FLO facilitators) and a developing collection of ideas for approaching the various mini-session topics. But we want to make it better and stronger and more valuable for learners everywhere.

So, I'm looking forward to what the day brings. Lots of great ideas swirling around this evolving community of practice. And that's an important item not to forget – how do we build a useful proflearning option for online facilitators? And then there's the idea of integrating outside experts into topic sessions in selected weeks. But I'm getting ahead of myself. Sprinting out the door … more later!

 

. Since I was first involved with the SCoPE iteration of ISWo which morphed into Facilitating Learning Online (FLO) we've been talking about how to make the FLO experience and learning even better; we've talked about tightening up and rethinking the learning outcomes, reviewing the value of the FLO Rubric and badges, lightening up the readings and resources, rejigging the flow of mini-sessions,

‘appy holiday fun…

It's been a12apps UBrightonn 'appy time (yuck-yuck 😉 and I've learned a lot over the last couple of weeks – and had fun doing it! Thanks to the energetic, thoughtful teams at the Dublin Institute of Technology (#12appsDIT), Regents University London (#RUL12AoC), and University of Brighton (#12brightapps) for the engaging activities, clear instructions, and great ideas around how to use mobile apps to personalize and energize learning and make teaching more interesting.12apps RegentsU London

Although I didn't participate as much as I would have liked, I've discovered a few apps I hadn't heard of (or tried) and I'm inspired to try a similar approach in an open community of practice (SCOPE https://scope.bccampus.ca/) we've just set up around online facilitation. So great to see that the 12 apps of Christmas materials are open licensed. Although our Facilitating Learning Online workshops are only open to registrants, the materials are always open licensed. Our new CoP will be open licensed as well (although the BCcampus open license allows for commercial uses, unlike the UK version)BlogImage425

I did some further reading about the 12 apps of Christmas workshop and found that six UK institutions participated (see The six 12 apps of Christmas spreadsheet – http://bit.ly/1Zhy5cp.) While Brighton and Regents used the same basic structure (established by Regent'sU in 2014?) The Dublin Institute of Technology got more creative. Each institution selected 12 apps (lots of variety although there was soe overlap) and provided short tasks (to encourage you to explore the potential uses of each app) as well as hosting discussions (on web boards and through Twitter) on potential pedagogical issues and uses. The value for me was primarily due to their focus on the educational value of each app but I also found the variety of tasks, explanations and approaches to each day very inspiring.

The basic structure of 12 apps of Christma (for any of you thinking of following suit next Christmas season) is:

Part 1:
  • What is it?
  • What can it do?
  • Download link and instructions
  • 10 Minute Task
  • And Finally… (some Christmas humour ??!)
Part 2:
  • Discussion Board and/or Twitter with starter questions (directed at ways to use this in education):
e.g., Try to think up ways that iMovie (or Video Maker Pro Free) could work for you in your classrooms and lecture theatres? How would you use it? Recording student-presentations? Oral-Exams? Short video demonstrations that you can use to “Flip” your classroom?
Part 3:
  • Further Task(s)
  • Useful resources

Some highlights from the three that I followed this year:

I thought Regent's University did a good job of providing a clear, comprehensive and consistent presentation each day and I found they had the best selection of Useful Resources. I've got hours of additional exploration and some potentially really useful ideas from these sections. My favourite Regent's app was WhatsApp – lots more exploring to do with that app!

e.g., Useful Resources (Instagram)

I appreciated the effort that University of Brighton's team put into offering separate tasks and apps for participants from outside their institution (and outside of the UK). Thanks to all of you for being so inclusive. I also appreciated the many embedded, annotated illustrations and the thorough explanations of the tasks for each app. My favourite UofBrighton app was ExplainEverything.

It was pretty much a tie between Regent's and Brighton as to who posted the sickest (funniest?) jokes. I've been regaling friends and colleagues with them (inflicting?) since this started. Thanks for the smiles (and chuckles) you generated – laughter may be the best medicine but it also keeps learners engaged (at least this learner).

I found the Dublin Institute of Technology's unwrapping apps icons the most visually appealing and their zoho unwrapapp_iconsite was very easy to use and navigate. They broke with the structured approach I described above and focused on personalized learning – using the VARK framework to explore the day's app from the perspective of a Visual Learner, an Auditory Learner, a Read/Write Learner and a Kinesthetic Learner.

Although I'm not a big fan of learning styles, in this case the framework provided a structured way to explore different ways of presenting learning – very successfully!  I loved Frances Boylan's Soundcloud clips and have shared them with several instructors – hopefully we'll all be more creative in the future. Auditory Learners

Also loved DIT's selection of apps – some overlap with other institutions but their creativity in exploring different types of learning (using the VARK framework) meant that they certainly provided a really good introduction and overview of the power of personalizing learning!

A great 12 days of learning – thanks to everyone who participated. Maybe we'll try a Canadian version next year!

 

 

 

 

Ss-S-SoTL…brightening up a gloomy Friday the 13th!

welcome to SoTL eventLooks like I was stumbling as I typed my title eh? Nope, I was thinking about the "scholars" I met at Simon Fraser University's downtown campus, who were part of a wide-ranging exploration of current inquiry and completed research at the Symposium for Scholarly Teaching and Learning in Higher Education.

Despite taking place on the dubious date of Friday the 13th, and ignoring the torrential rains the night before and the gloomy grey clouds massing over Vancouver's downtown, this year's Symposium was the first I've attended. The public gathering places were open and bright, the welcome was sincere and brief, the events were varied, and the food was well-presented, generous and delicious – thanks to the event organizers!

Although I found the plenary sessions somewhat interesting I wasn't inspired or excited as much of the content seemed to be hopeful rather than concrete and not really that new or insightful (at least based on what I've read about these topics over the past few years). I enjoyed the ability to choose sessions organized by research that was in progress or research that had been completed and to listen to stories from educators about their experiences, challenges and successes (Strand B).

I chose to participate in a session led by Marcella LaFever, University of the Fraser Valley on "Replacing Bloom with the Medicine Wheel".  Marcella's work is interesting, particularly in terms of her trying to support the introduction of spirituality into our current approach to teaching/learning (e.g of four domains:  physical, intellectual, emotional, spiritual).  She shared a handout with a diagram and brief reading list and list of verbs (similar to Blooms Taxonomy) as she tries to define different elements of the Spiritual Domain – mindful/ness, value/d, connect/ed, empowe/red, self-actualize/d

I would also have liked to attend: 

  • Games in Class: A Case STudy of Gamification in an Undergraduate Communications Course – Jaigris Hodson & Rob Bajko, Royal Roads University
  • Integrating Metacognitive Curricular Interventions into the Undergraduate Curriculum – Peter Arthur, UBC Okanagan
  • Life's a Lot Like Jazz – Better When You Improvise – Sherrill Rutherford, VIU

During the Session2 sharing of experiences, I chose Julia Hengstler's Tinkering with an Online Post-secondary Course. Her stories about her efforts to improve the delivery of her course and her students' learning experiences was detailed and thorough. While I've gone through similar efforts to improve my teaching, her "tinkering" efforts were better structured, broader and longer and hopefully will eventually achieve the outcomes she is looking for.

I would also have liked to attend: 

  • Direct Instructions vs Productive Failure Best Practices for Interactive Inclass Activities – Sunita Chowrira & Karen Smith, UBC
  • Preparing Students for Self-Directed Learning – Gail Hammon & Alice Cassidy, UBC
  • Moving from a Traditional to an Inquiry-based Teacher Education Program – Teresa Farrell, VIU

 

I think my favourite part of the day (besides meeting interesting people and having great hallway discussions) was the Research Bites presentations. Although many of the researchers were unable to tell their story in the 3 minute time allocated, it did mean that I got to hear an overview of what was going on, without having to spend the whole day listening to lengthy explanations.

While I enjoyed the opportunity to "pick and choose" and move around between tables and enter into discussions with the researchers about their projects, I was disappointed in the actual room, which had such a high ceiling that it was often difficult to hear what was said by someone sitting on the other side of the table. Too bad. However, I have contact details so I'll follow up on some of the research projects I found most interesting.

Overall, a great day for me. I had the chance to meet some of my former students and colleagues face-to-face (I'd only known them as online entities before). Despite my enthusiasm for online learning and teaching, there is still something about sitting next to the person you've had great discussions and debates with – like meeting an old friend. I enjoyed the chance to engage in "big picture" issues and to learn more about some of the exciting avenues of inquiry that instructors around the Lower Mainland are pursuing.

 

 

 

 

A mostly open journey thru ETUG’s Fall Unconference

UDG Agora Dream TeamWe began and ended in the open. Friday, November 6th was the long-awaited ETUG Fall Unconference! 

We gathered together at VCC's downtown campus (formerly known as VVI) and, after some opening remarks and housekeeping, were plunged into the virtual public meeting place created by the UDG Agora "Dream Team" led by Tannis Morgan, JIBC's Associate Dean in the Centre for Teaching, Learning & Innovation. Other members of the team that worked to create an amazing gathering place in the cloud: 

Despite some technical challenges, their hybrid, connected presentation was a glimpse of the possibilities of connecting learners and engaging them in challenging, scaffolded, layered learning online.

The Dream Team's challenge was to facilitate / create an open, blended faculty development experience working with the CIEP Docentes (http://ciep.cga.udg.mx) at the University of Guadalajara (UdG). Approximately 300 UdG professors are enrolled in a six month diploma program with a focus on teaching professors how to create student-centred experiences supported by mobile devices (read "iPads").

Tags from UDG AgoraThe participants from the University of Monterrey had a range of technological understanding and motivations and experience with open tools or learning; the "dream team" managed to engage them in Twitter-conversations, studio-learning, exploring regular creative challenges and sharing online, and supported them in revisting their existing courses to redesign and energize their teaching and learning. An illustration of the amazing "cloud-conversations" that are occuring in the open Agora (now with contributors around the world) is shown by this TAGSExplorer (built by Martin Hawksey) snapshot.

Even more exciting is that the whole challenge-based, layered, open and flexible learning approach is available for anyone to review and use. So, dive into the tag cloud or peruse the somewhat inaptly named "Agora Site Map"  Find out more about Tannis' "ETUG Taco Challenge" and, don't be shy, build a taco and share.

It was great to see familiar faces from last year's ETUG sessions but there were also lots of new facesUBC students open textbooks to get to know. The second plenary presentation was focused on open textbooks, a familiar BCcampus topic.  We were given a clear overview of student issues and concerns about open textbooks and resources during a lively and thorough presentation by UBC student leaders, Jenna Omassi and Daniel Munro #textbookbrokeUBC  It sounds as though the conversation has involved many students and instructors and the support people at UBC, including the bookstore. Loved the contest where students shared pictures of how much they spend on textbooks, in particular the one that showed expensive textbooks acting as a TV stand! They presented a strong case for pursuing "openness" and more and more instructors are getting involved; not just in open textbooks but in developing a more "open learning" approach (see "Physics Course Adopts an Open Textbook and Saves Students $90,000"  – some compelling arguments.

I attended a number of "unconference" sessions and learned a fun Liberating Structures activity that Tracy Kelly and Leva Lee facilitated – 25-10 crowd sourcing. The focus question we explored was how to make ETUG more relevant to members. The activity involved writing our best idea and the first step we thought should be taken to achieve it on a file card. Then we circulated (milled around) passing cards back and forth. We stopped 5 times and explored the ideas on our card with one other person – adding a rating from 1-5. At the end, we added up the scores (top score = 25) and now I can't remember what the "10" stood for?  If you're interested in learning more facilitation strategies, BCcampus is organizing a 2.5 day workshop led by Keith McCandless of Liberating Structures. Early bird pricing ends Nov 23rd and the workshop takes place February 17-19, 2016 (more information at urls.bccampus.ca/LS)

I did really enjoy some of the one-to-one or one-to-several discussions that I was involved in during sessions, in the back of rooms, waiting in the hallways, standing in line for food, tea or coffee. Lots of interesting people there – just not presenting for some reason. And I suppose I was the same. I came with two ideas to pitch and put them in my back-pocket (so to speak) because they didn't seem related in any way to any of the topics others were pitching or that were part of the featured focus – so much openness is great but a little overwhelming (I can't believe I just typed that sentence but, surprisingly, it's how I was feeling).

I did enjoy the closing session (which wasn't so much a closing session as a bit of a passionate rant by Brian Lamb about a new project he and Grant Potter (of UBC?), were pulling together using the new UBC educloud server (see BC OpenEdTech http://oet.tru.ca ). I've signed up and they've already given me access and I'm happily playing with a couple of open apps (creating my first grain) but so far I haven't figured out how to bring in Dropbox or SPLOT – two ideas that Brian talked about. Obviously I need to do some more reading and poking around. I enjoyed hearing about some of the ways people are using SPLOT (see http://trubox.ca/)

Although I didn't find as much to inspire me at this year's ETUG, it was still a really worthwhile event. Kudos to the organizers and the hosts. It was a good reason to explore a part of Vancouver that I haven't seen for a long time.