What Did I Do?

As part of OLTD 505, I contributed weekly to my blog, writing on topics suggested by Alec.  Expressive writing does not come easily to me, being more of the math/science analytical type, but I have found that as time goes on it does get easier (slightly).  When writing my blogs, I was always conscious of my audience, specifically my classmates in 505, but also a wider online audience.  I tried my best to write posts that would encourage discussion, and occasionally met with success!

blog 4 high comments

Responding to others blog posts or Google + posts is important to me.  I have blogged in the past about how I treasure every comment that comes my way, including short ones that simply let me know someone has read my post.  Throughout the past 5 weeks, I have made an effort to visit our Google + community as often as possible and read through new posts, commenting where I could.  I have shared a few links for new information via G+ with my cohort as well.

Twitter.  Well, what can I say that I haven’t already said about my relationship with Twitter?  I am always sure to tweet my new blog post, and try to pick my way through the bits and bytes that are fired my way, retweeting if I think it is something really great.  In addition, thanks to help from Graeme, I have significantly increased my ‘followers’ as well as my ‘following’!

conversation with graeme about twitter

What These Interactions May Have Done

I think responding to someone’s blog or Google + post shows them that what they have to say is important.  One common feeling amongst our cohort is (or maybe ‘was’ now) that what we have to say is not necessarily of interest or importance to others.  Even simply letting someone know that you read their words is an acknowledgement of their contribution.  On the flip side, sharing my thoughts with others through my blogs has helped me solidify my ideas around each topic, all the while feeling completely supported by our group.

Interacting with a larger online community via Twitter has probably been the biggest challenge for me, but also has provided me with the most surprises.  I had sent a tweet out asking for resources to teach adult literacy math, and after it was retweeted by Alec I began receiving notifications from total strangers offering me advice.  It was at this point I truly began to understand the power of a global community!

tweet for math resources

I have also been amazed when I’ve been retweeted, favourited and given positive feedback on blog posts from people outside our cohort.  Who knew…maybe Derek Siver’s “Obvious to you, amazing to others” is true!

Why Does Sharing Matter (In Education)?

Active participation is essential to truly be part of any community.  As educators, we can feel isolated in our classrooms, even though we are surrounded by people.  I have enjoyed a sense of community through sharing my thoughts with like-minded individuals online through my blog, G+ posts and tweets.Sharing as educators, whether it is a quick idea or a detailed lesson, comes with the job (or at least it should).  Prior to the web, sharing relied on face-to-face interactions usually within your own school (or department).  Not everyone was willing to share.  Connecting with others that do want to share via the internet has dramatically increased the number of resources I have at my disposal.  More resources allows me to see more ways to learn, which in turn benefits my students.  As a life-long learner, I also appreciate the opportunity to learn from others, as they share their thoughts online.

This week, as I begin to form my final summary for OLTD 505, I looked back at the resources our cohort has shared over the past five weeks.  In particular, I was interested in the visual shares, videos that I hadn’t had time to watch, or ones that I wanted to watch again and again.  I was having a hard time remembering where I saw a particular post, so I decided to collect as many as I could in Padlet.  I have also been overwhelmed (but very interested) in the variety of tools my classmates were using for their posts.  I have tried to collect as many of my favourites as possible, but everyday someone seems to find yet another tool that I want to try!  I do see some limitations in using Padlet; as the number of links grow so does the size of my wall, and I think I will once again find myself getting lost.  I think perhaps separate walls for each topic might be in order.

What was confirmed for me when looking back through the blogs and G+ posts is that we are an amazingly supportive group of people.  Thoughts and ideas are respected and celebrated, and people are quick to jump in when someone needs just a little boost to get them through the week.  Sharing is not an issue with our group; one question can grow into a garden of helpful responses on how-to, where-to, etc.  Many of our group have already taken the leap of sharing to the global community and showed us that it can be done (and that our work is amazing to others!)  I am very thankful to be part of such a wonderful group of educators!

For anyone unfamiliar with Padlet, to view any of the documents on the wall simply click on the tile.  You can go to the larger version by scrolling down the window and clicking on ‘Source’.  This will take you to the original URL.

canva sharing poster

I’ve been musing this week on how I share and how I might increase my participation in open sharing.  I really like the ‘idea’ of sharing, but sometimes I find it very difficult to do so.  Not because I don’t want to share, but I think I fall into the same trap as many of my colleagues.

quote

 

I’ve included the title of Derek Sivers YouTube video “Obvious to you.  Amazing to others” in my infographic to remind me that what I create does have value.

I do think that I have begun to share more openly.  For example, I actively share ideas with my colleagues (whether they want to hear them or not).  As VIU CAP campuses are spread out geographically (Cowichan, Nanaimo, Parksville and Powell River), I would like to create a space where all our science teachers can share content, question libraries and teaching ideas.  The vehicle for this is still uncertain, but since VIU uses Desire2Learn (VIULearn), that may be the way to go.

I contribute to the OLTD Google + community, both in original posts and responses to posts.  As I have mentioned in previous blogs, I came to the G+ party a bit later in the game than many in our cohort, but I am thoroughly hooked now!  Where I can improve is to branch out and participate in new G+ communities, such as one I signed up for last fall, “Social Media and Personalized Learning.”

Twitter and I have a love/hate relationship.  I find it challenging to communicate my thoughts in 140 characters or less, and often feel like I’m in some crazy version of speed dating when I try and participate in a twitter chat.  However, I have been making an effort to check my Twitter account more often, and have even sent out a few tweets asking for help in finding resources.  There is definitely room for improvement in this area, and I intend to spend some time this summer adding to the list of educational hashtags I already explore (#oltd, #literacy, #edchat).  I’ve also begun increasing my ‘following’ list…

cdn literacy

edutopia

nwt literacy council

I find it incredibly challenging to produce a weekly blog.  Personal writing does not come easy to me, but I intend to keep at it and stay committed to writing on my blog page.  I think part of my difficulty with writing is the openness of it; the fact that I am posting online where everyone, even people I don’t know, can ‘see’ my thoughts.  A little unnerving!  There’s that little monster again…”no one wants to read what I have to say – it’s not important.”Finally, I would like to explore Creative Commons content more.  I tend to try and ‘recreate the wheel’, but see the value in revising and remixing resources that are already out there.  I have never submitted anything for open use online, but would like to in the future.

The ‘How-to’ of the infographic:  I created the image above using Canva, an amazing free software that lets you create posters, slides and infographics. Super easy to use with lots of templates, backgrounds and images!

Labspace logoThis week’s challenge was to review and critique Open Educational Resources.  After scanning a few of the suggested resources, I found I was most intrigue by LabSpace.  Being a science teacher, my first thought was, “An entire site dedicated to labs?  Are they virtual labs?  How does this work?”  I quickly found out that Open University and I have very different views on how to use the word ‘lab’!  Open University, based in the United Kingdom, created OpenLearn with the intent to provide free online education for anyone, anywhere in the world.  LabSpace is a part of OpenLearn, and is described on their homepage as “… a community-led environment which fosters the concept of sharing and reusing educational resources.  It is intended for educational and professional practitioners and more adventurous learners.”

 

All educational content not under third party copyright can be used and reused according to Creative Commons licensing, specifically ‘Attribution-Non-Commercial-Share-Alike’.  Material can be downloaded as well as linked to your own course website.  When searching around the site I found the download feature did not work (even when registered), but this is likely due to the fact that LabSpace is currently in a read-only mode, as it is under redevelopment (cannot create or remix content).  It will be re-launching under a new name, OpenLearn Works, soon (website says ‘Spring 2014’ but no specific date).

Evaluation Process
I tried to evaluate this site using the ‘Achieve Rubrics for Evaluating OER Objects’, but found I was trying to fit a square peg into a round hole.  Instead, I went with something more informal.I explored three different courses/modules in detail:Exploring Sport Online: Athletes and Efficient Hearts

  • Time: 5 hours
  • Level: Introductory

Health and Social Care: Alcohol and Human Health

  • Time: 6 hours
  • Level: Introductory

Mathematics and Statistics: Numbers, Units and Arithmetic

  • Time: 5 hours
  • Level: Introductory
Review

  • There are four possible levels in LabSpace courses; introductory, intermediate, advanced and masters.  The content in these three courses is well-suited to the levels assigned.  For example, the biology courses give enough of an introduction to various organ systems that the reader can make sense of the expanded concepts.  The math course begins with place value and scaffolds from there.
  • The suggested completion times are appropriate for most learners.  However, if I were to use the math course with my literacy learners I would expect that it would take them longer than 5 hours.
  • The courses use a mix of graphics and audio to enhance learning.  For example, the course on athletes and hearts includes audio clips from different athletes describing their real life training experiences.
  • Each course begins with an introduction.  A Table of Contents is provided running along the left-hand side of the webpage, so it is easy to navigate to different parts of the course.
  • The ‘Athletes and Efficient Hearts’ course included study skills, like creating mindmaps, bulleted summary lists, using a learning journal and completing a glossary.  I thought these were particularly helpful.  I did not see these included in the other two courses, so it really depends upon who created the course.
  • Registration with LabSpace is free, and if you register, you can discuss a topic in a forum, write a journal entry online, complete quizzes, and participate in an online learning community.  You also need to be registered to download any of the resources.  There are usually questions embedded within the courses, and registration hides the answers until you are ready.  Otherwise, the answers are shown at the same time as the questions.
  • All courses hosted in LabSpace must follow strict accessibility guidelines.  For example, support for the visually impaired includes being able to skip over navigation links to main content, ‘listen’ to the pages, and play audio and video materials through a wide range of media players.  Over 90% of video and audio materials have textual descriptions or transcripts to accompany them.
  • It is easy to search LabSpace.  Content is arranged by topic, so you can either search in the search box, or you can select a topic from a menu at the bottom of the homepage.
LabSpace…not just a place to find content!  There are three additional ‘spaces’ in LabSpace: ProjectSpace: “provides an online environment where partners or members of an organization can collaborate on the research and development of open educational resources” IndieSpace: “dedicated to users who are unfamiliar with how to remix material, upload their own material or use [LabSpace] tools” SectorSpace: provides space to “showcase OER in an open learning environment, make OER practice public, and experiment with OER learners”I am not sure if or how these additional spaces will change with the re-development of LabSpace.  For the purposes of this review I focused on the educational content piece, but I am interested in looking into the other ‘spaces’, in particular the IndieSpace.

Overall impressions
I think everyone would be able to find something they could use, whether linking directly to the site to use as is, or downloading the content to remix.  LabSpace runs on a Moodle platform, so many educators would already be familiar with the layout and design.  Overall, I would recommend this OER to other instructors.

RIP posterCopyright.  Copyleft.  I’ve been through the readings, videos, classmates’ blogs, vlogs and back again, and I still am not sure if I have a definitive stance on which is the best choice.  Rip: A Remixer’s Manifesto stirred up a cyclone of emotions inside of me; anger at how some large corporations control what I have access to simply because of money and sadness at the loss of Aaron Swartz, who succumbed to the stress of being made an example of in the courts because of his beliefs.
In my search for answers, I came across a series of videos by Kirby Ferguson, entitled “Everything is a Remix”.  Several points in this four part series resonated with me:

  • Creations requires influence: Most ideas are born out of a mash-up of daily stimuli from our environment, whether it is a conversation we had, an article we read, a video we watched or a song we heard.  I find it difficult to say that anything I create as a teacher is truly of my own doing.  I can’t help but build upon what others have done before me.  As Ferguson puts it, “Everything we make is a remix of existing creations, our lives and the lives of others.”
  • Copying is how we learn:  From the moment we are born, we learn how to ‘be’ by copying those around us.  You learn to walk and talk by imitation.  If you want to be an artist, you learn by imitating artists that have come before you.   You need to learn about something before you can begin to create new ideas about it.  New ideas emerge from the process of copying to transforming to combining.
  • Most of us are fine with copying as long as we are the ones doing the copying: As humans we are very territorial, and can get upset if we feel a sense of loss over our creation.  In order to feel loss, I believe you need to feel that you owned something in the first place.  After reading some of my classmates’ blogs, I was curious about ownership of materials I create as part of my teaching assignment.  I was actually quite surprised to discover that (if I interpret policy correctly) anything I create, even using the university’s resources, is owned by me.  Vancouver Island University does retain royalty-free perpetual rights to all Intellectual Property created using VIU resources (Policy 31.13, Section 4.5).

So what have I decided?  I think it is important to have some form of copyright, as this does provide incentive for people to work on new ideas and receive recognition or compensation for their work.  But there are some things that have been around for so long, recycled in so many ways, that it is hard to tell who owns them anymore.   When it comes to creating teaching resources, I like the idea of sharing, using resources (like those available through Creative Commons) to remix and create a new resource made publicly available again.  So maybe I’ll coin a new word…Copyinbetween!

02. May 2014 · Write a comment · Categories: Blog · Tags: ,

All I Really Need To Know I Learned In Kindergarten

by Robert Fulghum

Most of what I really need
To know about how to live
And what to do and how to be
I learned in kindergarten.
Wisdom was not at the top
Of the graduate school mountain,
But there in the sandpile at Sunday school.

These are the things I learned:

Share everything.
Play fair.
Don’t hit people.
Put things back where you found them.
Clean up your own mess.
Don’t take things that aren’t yours.
Say you’re sorry when you hurt somebody.
Wash your hands before you eat.
Flush.
Warm cookies and cold milk are good for you.
Live a balanced life –
Learn some and think some
And draw and paint and sing and dance
And play and work everyday some.
Take a nap every afternoon.
When you go out into the world,
Watch out for traffic,
Hold hands and stick together.
Be aware of wonder.

This is one of my favourite poems.  Share everything.  Don’t take things that aren’t yours.  Hold hands and stick together.  Be aware of wonder.  As I have been reading blogs and watching videos about open education this past week, what has really struck me is how the whole idea of being open relies on sharing, including content, thoughts and resources.  To actively be a part of open education, I need to be willing to share, and accept others ideas in return.  I need to give credit where credit is due.  And learning, being aware of wonder, is best done with a friend.When I first began teaching, I greatly appreciated when my mentors offered free use of their materials and discussed teaching ideas with me.  They definitely didn’t get anything in return from me as I was just starting out.  When I began my first teaching job, I was in a small school where I was often the only science teacher.  I longed to discuss ideas with peers, but did not know how to make connections outside the school.  When I became an instructor in Adult Basic Education at VIU, I found it difficult to part with my material.  I caught myself thinking “But I worked so hard on that.  It took so long to make”.  I had to push myself to let go of my possessiveness.  I now embrace the openness of ABE faculty, in particular the science instructors, who willingly share resources and are happy to discuss new strategies for teaching. I also greatly appreciate resources that are openly shared on the Web.  When I surf the net for ideas for a lesson I rarely find exactly what I am looking for, but I find little nuggets of inspiration that help me stitch together a complete plan.  Without others openly sharing, this would not be possible.  Steven Johnson, in this short video, states that innovation comes from this sharing and connectivity, where “chance favours the connected mind”.

As I work towards increasing the online component of my face-to-face classes, I am beginning to see how important it is for my students to have access to open education.  Most recently it was when a student needed a textbook and could not afford to buy our required text right away.  I was able to find an Open Textbook that covered the same material.I am not the ‘fountain of knowledge’ that perhaps teachers were once thought to be.  Information is fairly easy to obtain.  My job is to help students learn how to learn, and be able to access and use information outside the walls of the classroom.  As David Wiley points out in his “Keynote on Open Education”, a key component of openness is connecting, and you can’t connect to something if you don’t have access to it.  This has made me reconsider containing my entire online piece of my courses within VIU’s Desire2Learn platform, as students will not have access to any material within the course once the course is completed and then closed.  If I am expecting my students to create content rather than consume content, I should allow for that content to be accessible to them for the long term.  Learning is a life-long journey, and I wish to encourage my students to “hold hands and stick together” in the learning communities they have created, moving from learning in isolation to being connected and openly sharing information.