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Always look in gift horse’s mouth

12Apps of Christmas graphicI’m really looking forward to exploring new apps during the #12appsBC event (coming up F-A-S-T-!). I have the enviable position this year of being able to “peek behind the curtain” and see the apps that our enthusiastic, experienced edtechs and educator teams are preparing for you. I see a few I’ve tried, I see a few I’ve read about but haven’t tested, and a few I’ve never heard of before. I’m looking forward to seeing what a wide range of educators comes up with – a scenario ripe with possibilities and potential.

But I’ve also been reviewing my awareness and knowledge around some of the risks inherent in using any cloud-based “free” apps – partly because of this event but also cuz I’m developing an online design work for educators and I want to make sure I am aware of current issues, particularly in regards to any institutional initiatives or guidelines for faculty. For those in BC, you’re aware of the requirements of the BC FoIPPA legislation for higher education – but are you comfortable with how to protect your students’ privacy while still creating engaging and useful learning activities or resources? Does your institution have practical advice or assistance that you can tap into?

Twitter conversation JHengstlerI had a brief (and informative) Twitter exchange with VIU’s @jhengstler to try and understand a tweet she posted recently with question about how much teachers do when they assess the risks of using online edtech. Although I’ve been reading terms of use and privacy policies of hundreds of Web2.0 tools and cloud-based apps since I got involved in supporting instructors in utilizing the “new” free technologies in 2004 (;-), I would not be able to say that I read every line as Julia says she does. She’s a great resource if you want to learn more about the issues (maybe start with her 2014 blog post  The Compliance Continuum ? or follow her Twitter feed.

Other places to look for information about cloud-based tools and their use in BC-based schools is to:

  • follow the BC Edtech Privacy Group (my 12Apps colleague, BCcampus’ Clint Lalonde is a member);
  • check out one institution’s approach to supporting the safe use of cloud-based tools (that I know of), Royal Roads University’s Cloud-based Learning Tools Notification
  • and read about the reality of that approach for many faculty (Privacy in BC…)
  • or try out UBC’s Digital Tattoo site to learn more about your own digital presence and the important elements of digital identity.

look in horse's mouthAnd a few things to leave you with…

Even if you can’t read every line of the ever-changing, densely worded, mind-numbing terms of reference and privacy agreements for every cloud-based app you use, keep in mind the adage “always look a gift horse in the mouth” – read for the essentials – who has ownership of what you post – where is the transition between “free” and “paid services” – what are the cancellation policies – what happens if there’s a conflict between you and the app provider – can you backup your own work in a readable format.

Keep developing your digital literacy skills – one of the better descriptions of what that entails (IMHO) is Digital Literacy Fundamental from Mediasmarts

Don’t be afraid to take risks – most powerful learning experiences involve risk. But be aware, plan to mitigate risks and, have fun exploring!

From Transparent to Invisible | BCcampus OpenEd Resources

As of today, (Sept29) BCcampus and the BC Open Textbook Project will share some of its “in progress” resources as they are developed. Specifically, BC Open Textbook Adaptation Guide BC Open Textbook Pressbooks Guide I call these open creations. And if the work involves the revision of an existing work, it will be an open adaptation.

Source: From Transparent to Invisible: Open Creations | BCcampus OpenEd Resources

Exploring feedback for FLO

What exactly do we mean by “constructive” feedback? Do we actually model the behaviours we ask students to demonstrate? Do we provide clear explanations of what we expect? Do we provide constructive feedback when the students’ feedback is weak, superficial, slapdash? Do we scaffold our learners so they can consciously build and flex their critical thinking and collaborative or team-work skills?

My reflections on constructive feedback were inspired by a random Twitter post fimage 4 steps constructive commentsrom Howard Rheingold who shared a Diigo collection of links related to online facilitation. When I took a quick look a DS106 post on Constructive Comments caught my eye and, while scanning the article, I found an image tweet from @deedegs (Danielle Degelman 25 Nov 2014) Her visual list of the “3Cs and a Q” made me think about how I present, scaffold, model, promote constructive comments in my online facilitation.

As the Facilitating Learning Online workshop has evolved, I’ve had the pleasure of co-facilitating with several dedicated, passionate faciliators who strive to explain, demonstrate and facilitate the importance of constructive feedback or comments. When I began facilitating FLO, the workshop had built in weekly opportunities for peer-to-peer group feedback (i.e., each week a team of participants would facilitate a learning activities for the other members of the workshop). At the end of each weekly “mini-session” or “short learning activity”, the facilitators would encourage feedbackparticipants (to share constructive feedback on their experiences with the team of facilitators). We explored a number of different starter posts in a shared discussion forum to clarify what we were looking for in terms of “constructive”. The participant feedback, and any responses from the facilitation team members is open to the class.

During 2016, at the suggestion of FLO Facilitator, Beth Cougler Blom, we explored different ways of structuring the weekly learning activity team feedback. We asked the participants to share their feedback using these questions / prompts :

  1. _____________ (fill in the blank) really helped/supported my learning.
    My learning might have been better if ______________ (fill in the blank).
  2. I like….  (what you liked about the facilitation and why)
    I wish…  (something that you wish the facilitators would have done/encouraged)
    What if… (something that describes another alternative or option rather than what the facilitators did)
  3. What did the faciitators do that you really liked?
    What did the facilitators do that were challenging for you?
    What other kinds of facilitation strategies could the facilitators have tried, either as alternatives or add-ons?

And when I review our structures and approach in light of Danielle’s 4-step feedback, I think I might reframe it this way:

  1.  Appreciate  (identify something you valued or appreciated in the learning experience)
  2.  React (What did you think of the experience? What did you learn? Be specific but not judgemental – use “I” sentences.
  3. Suggest (What might you suggest be done differently – why? How would this change improve the experience from your perspective?)
  4. Connect (Can you relate something that was said or read or viewed with other discussions or activities? Have you any relevant personal/professional experiences that may be useful to share?)
  5. Questions (What questions do you still have – about the topic or about the strategies or choices the facilitation team made)

During the upcoming BCcampus FLO workshop that I’m co-facilitating with Leonne Beebe, I hope to explore different ways to emphasize the importance and critical thinking that is involved in providing truly “constructive” feedback – both through the use of different feedback structures, and by asking good questions to stimulate our participants to embed this approach in their learning and practice.

So, when you think about how you encourage your learners to provide “constructive” comments or feedback – what are the essential elements you emphasize?

Sylvia

Four FLO Facilitators at Festival of Learning

Well, this blog post has been sitting in my Evernote notebook since the Festival of Learning in Burnaby this past June! The summer has just flown by!

Festival of Learning location

BCcampus Flickr https://flic.kr/p/H1ByGE

I had the pleasure of co-facilitating another “get the word out about FLO” conference session at a new professional learning event called “The Festival of Learning” (#FOL16) that took place June 6 – 9, 2016 at the Delta Villa Hotel in Burnaby, BC. Not to be confused with a similarly named event early in May, the June Festival was conceived by the BC Teaching and Learning Council and organized by BCcampus and a platoon (army?) of volunteers to offer an unprecedented range of learning and sharing opportunities for BC educators.

Our quartet of FLO afficionados and practitioners: Beth Cougler Blom, Leonne Beebe, Sylvia Currie, Sylvia Riessner was offered a 3 hour time slot to explain the “power of FLO” and the potential the five week Wednesday sessionworkshop offers to develop online facilitation skills (and the value of the FLO OER resources available for other institutions to develop their own “in-house” offerings).

Although the 3 hours sounded generous at first, we quickly found ourselves scrambling to tighten up each section to ensure that we covered the important elements about the FLO workshop while still making the actual session interactive, engaging and useful for participants. We also integrated some Liberating Structures facilitation micro-structures (modified for constraintsimpromptu networking activity of time and space as we had a fairly awkward presentation room) – Impromptu Networking and Shift and Share AND shared a template for creating engaging and interactive online learning activities.

During the session, we explained:

  • the evolution and “flow” of the Facilitating Learning Online workshop
  • the weekly topics, team facilitation activities, and “stream themes” used to focus the discussion, activities and reflections during the 5 weeks
  • the value of shifting roles from participant-facilitator-participant

We took turns sharing:

  • what we valued most about our involvement with FLO
  • some statements from past participants about what they valued about FLO
  • brief descriptions of the focus activities (facilitated by different teams of participants each week)

Our participants in the Festival session seemed surprised at the scope of the FLO workshop, curious about the OER resources available, and left with a “grab-bag” of ideas for addressing their own challenges around engaging learners online.

 

 

 

Launching a “NEW FLO” workshop

Well…we’re underway – today we launched the April 2016 offering of Facilitating Learning Online (offered through BCcampus). It’s an exciting new approach and some significant changes in content and facilitation – at least that’s what Beth Cougler-Blom, Sylvia Currie, Leonne Beebe and Myra Rhodes will be testing and supporting in the next five weeks!Warm-up

Back in early February, BCCampus and Royal Roads University invited FLO afficionados (Faclitating Learning Online workshop) and FDO grads (Facilitator Development Online) to participate in a two-day Design Sprint at the beautiful RRU campus, tucked into the trees and overlooking the water on the northwest side of Victoria. What a place to disconnect from regular work demands and focus on improvement and innovation! A bit of an overview can be found here: https://proflearn.bccampus.ca/flo-design-sprint/

Sustained by the awesome snacks, lunches and beverages organized by the Professional Learning Team from BCcampus, we did a “deep dive” into the collected FLO feedback and our own experiences of Facilitating Learning Online – the five week workshop that RRU developed in-house and then shared through an OER contract and BCcampus took to the educators of BC and adapted and molded and reshaped since early 2015. We all recognized that we had to address the “overload” issues reported by facilitators and participants – despite the enthusiastic feedback about the transformational learning that occurred for many students, we wanted to make it better and more “do-able” for teachers who needed a chance to practice and develop their skills as online instructors.

So, what are we able to test this time? What’s different?FLO Themes

  • removed the cursory consideration of online design – set aside for future development into a stand-alone (or complementary model) so that people could really focus and learn about issues of online design/development in terms of learner success;
  • agreed on a primary focus/purpose:  to develop a foundation of skills and knowledge about facilitating learning online;
  • reduced workload and start-up anxiety for facilitation teams by scripting examples of instructions and scheduling and ideas for structuring learning activities for peers within FLO;
  • eliminated duelling sessions within a week – reduced weekly facilitated learning activities to three – Week 2,3,4;
  • converted the two weekly mini-sessions to “stream team” activities and added one (workload and time management) – facilitation tasks will be spread out over the five weeks (raises potential questions about “noise” for learners – we’re going slowly with this model);
  • test drive one of the “new” types of facilitating activities – a “stream” team supported by LeonneB, that will encourage and support a specific topic throughout the five weeks of the workshop (in contrast to the “weekly” boundaries around the other facilitated sessions).
  • other changes to reduce confusion and allow participants to focus and build community and practice facilitation techniques and strategies!

Wheww!  We’ve taken on a lot but it should make this an amazing and constructive learning experience for participants – and for all of us. So many possibilities and richness of learning. I’ll be keeping a personal journal and trying to report regularly in these blog posts. We hope to have a lot to debrief and share with our guiding Committee and others.

Stay tuned!

SylviaR