Perspectives on Pro-D

I’ve been thinking a lot about what we mean when we talk about professional development, especially when we talk about it in the context of higher education (or post-secondary education). As a long-time edu-consultant, I’ve been in a kind of ongoing flow of PD throughout my career; sometimes that PD was formal and credentialled but often it was open, self-directed and visible through my practice or open sharing. I’ve been involved in helping faculty, staff and students learn more effectively with and through technologies. I’ve often wondered at the lack of consistent approaches to PD and varying reasons given by faculty, administrators and technology staff as to why everyone is not more ‘digitally literate.’

A recent research report (Summer 2020) by Professor George Veletsianos and colleagues offers some insights derived from a careful analysis of narrative comments in data collected by annual surveys (2017-2019) conducted by the Canadian Digital Learning Research Association (CDLRA). (Note: a brief summary of findings is available on Veletsiano’s blog Institutional Perspectives on Faculty Development for Digital Education in Canada.) 1

Although the report’s findings and suggested actions are often derived from a relatively small number of responses to the pan-Canadian surveys, they are supported by some significant prior research papers or publications. As I finished reading the paper I was not surprised to learn that the digital education PD training was handled differently across the country, that it wasn’t always available to non-faculty, and that faculty was often perceived to be uninterested in teaching online.

The recommendations for action included finding ways to change the institutional culture to support and reward or recognize ongoing PD and to collaborate with other institutions to offer some types of digital education, accessible to all (the paper specifically mentioned the efforts of BCcampus and eCampusOntario in this regard). While it is useful to have such a thorough analysis of Canadian educational institutions (thanks to the work of the relatively new CDLRA) and the recommendations are useful, I think that they didn’t go far enough in encouraging collaborative PD options through a focus on Openness.

I have been an enthusiastic participant, consumer, producer and practitioner in many open educational opportunities over the years (despite being on the outside of formal options through higher education). And, luckily for me, we live in a province where the government supports an organization like BCcampus and they, in turn, provide so many Open options and offer me ways to share my enthusiasm for Open with others.

During this final week of January we (I’m co-facilitating with my colleague Gina Bennett) are offering a FLO MicroCourse – Open Options to Enrich your Career. Gina has been exploring and participating in Openness for longer than I have and in different directions so we’ve had a lot of fun pooling our resources and experiences in open learning and practices. I’ll be blogging and tweeting any highlights or issues that catch my eye and interest and, better still, after we’re done, BCcampus will convert the resources and basic learning structure into a freely available OER on SCoPE.

1 The paper is open access: VanLeeuwen, C.A., Veletsianos, G., Belikov, O. Johnson, N. (2020).  Institutional perspectives on faculty development for digital education in Canada. The Canadian Journal of Learning and Technology, 46(2), 1-20. https://www.cjlt.ca/index.php/cjlt/article/view/27944

More perspectives on professional development in higher education – https://www.veletsianos.com/2020/04/07/a-canadian-national-effort-in-online-education-pd-not-content/

Visible pivot resources in Alberta

stumbling stickman figure

I tripped over some open (visible and open licensed) resources for Alberta`s higher education community the other day. I had not spent a lot of time looking in Alberta for Pivot resources for instructors because I took a quick look right at the beginning of the COVID-19 shutdown and didn’t see much.

Turns out I gave up on them too soon. Here`s a few ways to help you move into online teaching during the pandemic (or to improve your practice if you are already online but not feeling very comfortable or competent!

Athabasca University

Turns out AU staff and faculty made a heroic effort and prepared a well-organized collection – Moving Education Online – by early April. Something for everyone – K-12 Students and ParentsK-12 Teachers and AdministratorsHigher Education Check out the open, online courses and the varied online learning resources.

University of Alberta

I found a collection of pivot information on the page: Teaching Effectively During Times of Disruption (some practical advice – seemed too focused on internal tools and responses to be helpful outside the institution?). A much richer resource of well-organized ideas on the Teaching and Learning Lifeline page – check out Teaching Materials and Best Practices; FAQs about Implementation; Synchronous and Asynchronous Teaching.

University of Lethbridge

Not labelled as a pivot resources, the Teaching Online page has some interesting resources you might want to check out. I liked the list of preparatory questions – very useful for those new to online. While their Fit for Online Teaching Bootcamps are over, they do link to self-paced modules in an open textbook.

Funny thing I found while search for UofLethbridge pivot-related information – I tripped over a really rich resource from UofToronto University Health NetworkTeaching and Learning in the Time of COVID-19 – the most diverse collection I’ve found so far!

This is not intended to be a comprehensive list of online teaching resources from Alberta higher education institutions! It’s what I found after an early morning search. If you know of other pivot or remote teaching resources from Alberta (or other provinces), please contact me (sylviar at educomm dot ca).

A wealth of online teaching resources – ON

coins indicating wealth

I’ve been watching the generous outpouring of tips, webinars, workshops, resources from the US and Canada, aimed at helping teachers pivoting to online teaching.

Check out the page of curated resources offered by ecampus Ontario (official name Ontario Online Learning Consortium): Supporting Remote Teaching and Learning During COVID-19. You will find webinar recordings, all kinds of open-licensed resources, and thoughtful dialogues about assessment. Nice to see David Porter (formerly of BCcampus, now representing Humber College) and Giulia Forsythe, Brock University sharing as both educators have an amazing depth and breadth of knowledge related to engaging learners and teaching online.

Like BCcampus open resources, all the materials on this website (unless otherwise noted) are shared under a wide open Creative Commons Attribution Sharealike International 4.0. Kudos to them as sharing with this license encourages others to do the same AND may result in repurposed or improved offerings as we move through the next year or so.

Several of the resources highlighted in the pivot page offer instructors a chance to develop their digital fluencies by digging into the open, self-paced modules that are part of the popular OntarioExtend self-paced, customizable, bilingual, professional learning online series. This series has been on my bucket list for a while as I have watched some of the social media posts that are spawned by enthusiastic participants. If you are lucky you can time your participation to coincide with a facilitated event; one seems to be coming up from Conestoga soon.

Beehive of badges: Ontario Extend

I took a quick dive into Brock University’s Centre for Pedagogical Innovation. Lots of great ideas, resources, teaching and evaluation techniques; I did have to dig a bit for OER but found OER at Brock in the library research guides. As I anticipated, Giulia Forsythe (Special Projects Faciliator and amazing doodler and proponent of open) has been busy helping Brock faculty to produce OER.

You can also check out the Centre’s useful Guide to Teaching and Learning with Technology.

Ontario’s other online teaching resources are neatly organized by Institution and Department thanks to teachonline.ca. If you check out Ontario Faculty & Instructor Training Resources, you’re sure to find something that develops and expands your online teaching skills and confidence.

Thanks to the recent BCcampus newsletter, I’ve discovered a new OER that contains lots of useful examples of how to produce learning content with the amazing tool – H5P! Check out the Catalogue of H5P Content from ecampusOntario.

Lots of help available online and probably within your institution as well. Let me know if I missed something your college or university is offering to help instructors during this challenging time (contact me sylvia r at educomm dot ca)

Inspired by FLO micro-course!

FLO MicroCourse iconI’m currently on a professional learning journey – exploring longer, ongoing learning (through BCCampus Online Book Club) and distinctly separate (but linked) digestible chunks of learning offered by Sylvia Currie and her FLO’rs (through FLO – MicroCourses)*

I’ve taken one micro-course (Creating and using rubrics) on and I’m immersed in the 2nd: Experience and design a community building activity, facilitated by three creative and experienced facilitators:  Colleen Grandy, Gina Bennett, Sylvia Currie.

So, Ilooking through scope‘ll take the micro-scopic view this week as I’m currently challenged to pick, describe and share my idea(s) for an engaging online community building activity!. I’ve got some drafts on the go – will share them below here after I share them with my colleagues!

a random photo story opportunity

5 Card Flickr

I started by waffling between using one of two amazing free online tools:  Five Card Flickr by Cogdog (aka Alan Levine) or the TinEye Lab (Multicolr: Search by color). Both do random searches by keyword and/or colour for Creative Commons-licenced images. How great is that eh? I mentioned that I’d been waiting for an opportunity to use Cogdog’s app for a long time (Sylvia Currie pointed out tha

a random search by color or keyword

Tineye Multicolr

t he’d launched it in a 2011 event at UBC!!!)

And I think I probably found the search by colour site by Tineye sometime around 2012?  I can’t remember exactly and it may have come from Stephen Downes or, more likely, by amazing edtech boss Grant Dunham! He was always combing the Internet for new ideas to make online learning and distributed learning more interesting, engaging and to help people learn!

And here’s the great thing about taking the plunge into self-direct professional learning – the feedback I received from the three micro-course facilitators and participants really expanded my perception of how I could offer this as a community building activity and made me take a closer look at whether it was edtech fascination or a focused intention to support better learning (yikes – guilty of letting my digital magpie take over to some extent!)

Check out the value-added feedback from the micro-course – and you’ll see why I am a fan and encourage you to sign up for the next FLO micro-course!

Constructive commentary from my colleagues:

Gina:  try one image and then space out the contributions of other learners – to build a story together from the images from random searches (maybe contribute one every other day?) My note:  Which tool would be best to support the shared presentation of image and story? We are working in Moodle primarily – Lightbox might work? Or is Google more flexible? and accessible? or move away from the Web2/3.0 tools entirely and just provide a selection of random images and they can pick?

The point is to build connection and community among disparate learners. Maybe best to do a themed search, collect the random images and post them in the learning space? Allow learners to select one image and add to the story line? Could be done with Glossary tool?

SylviaC:  try the same set of random sorted images and ask everyone to build a story and then comment/think about others?

Beth Cougler Blom:  she encountered some challenges with saving images from a random search on the 5 Card Flickr site so she went to a random search on Adobe Spark and created a quick story – and shared the steps she took and what she thought about what she was doing – invaluable feedback!

And she made me reflect on my underlying motivation by asking: “I feel this story doesn’t have anything to do with me…was it supposed to? Or was it supposed to just be a cool, creative process/story to engage with?”  Yup, I have to admit, part of this was driven by the ‘cool’ factor rather than the community building factor. Yikes, you’d think I’d be over that. But that’s the value of these micro-courses – where else would I get such honest, thought-provoking feedback. I’m so appreciative!

UK random image generatorGina – again:  She stayed on track and watched Beth’s Spark video and contributed another awesome resource – Random Image Prompts. I have never encountered that one but it’s now tucked away in my Ideas file and I’m sharing it out to you in case you want to try some variation of this approach to building community!

So thanks to everyone who contributed ideas and took the time to test my idea – I have even more ideas now! Try it yourself – and let me know how it went?

Sylvia

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


* Facilitating Learning Online (FLO) MicroCourses are short, single-topic, hands-on and free. In one week, you will dip into the FLO experience, and leave with something practical and useful for your own teaching practice.

Making marks and dancing feelings at SKiP2018

Sketching in Practice logoOne of the things I love about living ‘down south’, is the opportunity to follow a whim or curiosity in terms of professional development. When I saw some tweets fly by about a Sketching in Practice symposium sponsored by SFU, my interest was piqued. When I poked around a bit I found the pages and pictures from the 2016 and 2017 events and then followed the blog until the presenters for this year’s event were posted. I checked my calendar, figured out travel details and registered.

I’ve explored graphic facilitation and sketchnoting in the past but I appreciated the wider scope of SKiP2018. From a young art teacher, Meghan Parker, who had just completed the first “..thesis of an autobiographical nature in comic book form” to two academics, Dr. Kathryn Ricketts and Dr. Andrea Kantrowitz, who proposed to explore intersections between movement, gesture, and meaning, the day looked pretty full of thought-provoking experiences!

A last minute surprise was my winning a draw for a pre-event workshop with Carnegie Mellon’s Doug Cooper called “Drawing by Touch.” Thanks SKiP!

So…what?

So, what did I learn? what did it change about my ongoing professional development ideas and interests?

Comics in education

I am still ambivalent about the role of comics (as most comics are drawn) in education. After listening to Meghan Parker speak her comic thesis, I realized that part of my resistance to comic strips may have been the structure (connected boxes) and the visual busy-ness I perceive when I try to read them. I was surprised at how much I learned from Meghan’s comics and how some of her simple images and complex messages stayed with me afterwaMeghan Parker's thesis comicrds. I realized I appreciated the variation in presentation of her visual elements – sometimes she drew around boxes while at other times she had a pageful of boxes. I’ll revisit some comic strips and try reading them out loud too – might help me to understand the attraction 😉

 

Hand drawing on paper

I have always found that writing can help me work out ideas but I often struggle with using drawing the same way. I’ve found that the challenge of imagining an image to represent a complex idea takes a fair bit of thinking at times and my lack of any drawing automaticity means that I’m also struggling to think of how to draw the image I can picture. Sometimes that means drawing is a block to understanding rather than an aid. So, the natural drawing exercises (from author/teacher Kimon Nicolaides: The Natural Way to Draw (1941)) that Doug talked/walked/drew us through on Thursday afternoon were really helpful as he introduced me to some new ways of relaxing about drawing and finding ways to feel the shapes of what I see and to let my hand and arm relax and stay connected with the paper. Now, to make drawing a more natural part of my day so that I can use it more effectively in my practice.

drawing scienceDrawing Science

I thoroughly enjoyed Armin Mortazavi’ Lightning Talk. His understated delivery and self-deprecating humour make it easy to miss the impressive abilities of this young science cartoonist. His story about juggling personal crises while holding various government entities at bay while he created a meaningful story to communicate complex health and nutrition information through his comics was hilarious but enlightening. I’m only sorry I couldn’t be part of his session – I heard it was great.

Maps for inspiration; maps for understanding

Two related afternoon sessions: Professor Chris Lanier shared some interesting examples of some of his favourite graphic novels and then pulled us into an exploration of how drawn images can inspire story narratives. An interesting use of this narrative mapping technique that certainly drew some interesting stories from the audience. Chris is currently working on a novel about the Department of Justice’s Ferguson Police Department Report (An Anatomy of Institutional Racism), using comics and infographics.

Erin Fields hosted an interesting session exploring the Information World Mapping (IWM), developed by Dr. Devon Greyson. She involved us in a brief application of the technique, having us draw our information world – mapping the process and connections we think of when we try to resolve a problem. This enriched our understanding of her story about applying this method at UBC when she participated in an application of IWM to try to understand the information-related needs and preferences of student refugees during resettlement. Erin is Liaison Librarian in the humanities and social sciences and the Flexible Learning Coordinator at the University of British Columbia.

Drawing as a form of thinking

I had read about Sandra’s use of drawing journals in a recent article from Capilano University’s Bettina Boyle so I was curious to hear her story and learn more about how she integrated drawing in her teaching. She shared her journey and her efforts to understand the evidence underlying her beliefs and practices in the classroom. Some of her examples were very compelling and a good “push” to start incorporating more drawing and journaling to support my own personal reflective practices!

Marks, movements and meanings

I think there is much more to the ideas Dr. Ricketts and Andrea Kantrowitz wanted to share with us than I was able to absorb from their Lightning Talk and interactive three-part session. Although the fluidity of movement, the variation in emotional expression and story conveyed by Kathryn’s movements was interesting, and the use of the projected overlays of line, colour and form that Andrea drew as she was inspired and interacting with Kathryn’s story were eye-catching, I never really felt the two blended or augmented my understanding, although the group I was part of during the “audience participation” piece had a lot of fun trying to use movement to express emotions depicted by tiny drawings on scraps of paper. I was grateful for the small printed booklets Andrea shared afterwards and I’ll be “unpacking” the ideas as I have time.

Whew! It was a full day and a half – had to leave early to catch a ferry home. Too bad I missed the summation and the opportunity to get together with people afterwards. But my hat is off to the hardworking, enthusiastic SFU staff that helped us all learn together – and kept it fun!

Cheers to Jason Toal’s team of sketching enthusiasts – from Simon Fraser University’s, Faculty of Communications Art and Technology; School of Interactive Art and Technology; and the Teaching and Learning Center