Summary of Learning

Evidence: A Video of my Summary of Learning

Learning Outcomes:

  • Demonstrate familiarity with common terms, definitions, and elements related to Open Educational Resources (OERs) and, more generally, Open Education
  • Articulate one’s summary of learning in the course in a multimedia, online format
  • Share course-related learning with members of the course and greater educational community
  • Demonstrate basic competency with design and implementation within a variety of online learning environments and tools

This video summarize what I felt were the key concepts of the OLTD 505 course on Open Educational Resources with Alec Couros. The assignment was to create a multimedia, online summary of what was learned in the class. I chose to use create a PowerPoint presentation of a mind-map of what I felt were the key concepts. I used Active Presenter to add video clips and explain the concepts.

I had to be familiar with the common terms and elements of the OER’s and Open Education to be able to link concepts and ideas in my mind-map. I could then find common themes within the course. I shared my video on VIUtube and Google+ as well as on this blog so my cohort and other members of my educational community can see how I scaffold the knowledge of the class. I really appreciated being able to see how the rest of my cohort summarized their knowledge as it allowed me to connect knowledge in a way that I had not thought of before.

From a practical standpoint the creation of this video is a first step in preparing videos for my blended Biology class. I plan to create videos on a variety of topics to enhance the learning opportunities of my students. The online classes will be more personal and robust with the addition of targeted videos.

Here is a link to my Summary of Learning video: OLTD 505 Summary of Learning

Digital Story Telling

Evidence: Lesson plan: Digital Storytelling using a Comic
Learning Outcomes:

  • Develop and design intentional learning activities suitable for the appropriate environment and the learner
  • Support the learning of classmates through discussion postings, blog comments, and social sharing activities
So many of the assignments that we create as teachers are static and full of words. There are many other ways to demonstrate learning. In today’s online world, one does not need to be a talented artist to create comics or cartoons. This assignment creates an alternate way to represent learning in the form of comics. The site is incredibly easy to use which makes it great for a variety of learners. The content of the comic can be quite broad or very focused with variable detail. Once created, the comics can be (and were) posted to a discussion area of the LMS. This allows other students to read and review the material. As each student sees the material in a unique way, it creates learning opportunities for their classmates.
Here is the assignment I gave to my class:
This is a Bonus Assignment. It is worth 10 marks. I recommend doing it, especially if you have missed an assignment in the past.I want you to create a comic about one aspect of the three systems being looked at for this class: Cardiovascular, Digestive, and Respiratory.This website: lets you create a comic, in a straightforward, easy way. Once you have completed the comic, click on next. The site does not save the comics, so I recommend that you email the comic to yourself, and to me (as a back-up). Then post the link that was emailed to you as a new thread. I will post them later, with your permission.Here is an example of one I made – It took about 15 minutes.
I also made a comic for a blog post about OLTD 505.

Open Access Journals

     So I want to let you in on a little secret about me. I have always wanted to write an article and be published in a journal. I can’t remember not wanting to do this. I think it was a leftover from my Dad. He is a geologist who has worked on numerous publications (his most recent book: Cape Fear River Indians). In grade 4 I decided to be a teacher; sometime after that I knew that I wanted to see my name in print. This blog, alas, does not fill this dream. I want to be in one of those journals I remember perusing when writing my papers at UVic or seeing with my Dad. I have recently been hearing about Open Access Journals and how some educators are boycotting traditional journals in favour of Open Access ones. I thought that I would have a look, to see what I think about the subject.

     Where to start? I came across an article called called A Very Brief Introduction to Open Access by Peter Suber which seemed like a good place. For those of you familiar with the concepts he has a much more detailed version called Open Access Overview and Six things that researchers need to know about open access  (It also has a lot of resources).

     The Open Access movement is meant to remove barriers from others reading the information. Journal subscriptions and articles are very expensive to purchase. University libraries can spend quite a bit of money on having access to information. If someone does not have access to a university collection, it can be very costly to become or remain informed.

     There are two aspects to the Open Access movement. One is the journals themselves. The second is Open Achieves or Repositories.  The first difference that I see between these two is peer review. Repositories or achieves are not required to perform a peer review, anything can, in theory, be deposited there. This does depends on the archive though. It does not mean that journals are not peer reviewed, so make sure you know what you are looking at. Journal authors are encouraged to archive their work so it can be found by others.
Open Access does not necessarily mean free. As journals traditionally do not pay for the article, the reviewers or even the editor, this continues with Open Access Journals. There are still cost associated with Open Access but the funding model looks different and can be different for each journal.

Pros of Open Access Journals:

  • Access, Access, Access. There is access for everyone, not just those with money.
  • Articles, and the people who write them, are not hidden behind walls but are visible to all.
  • Less established people can publish.

Cons of Open Access Journals:

  • There are some terrible journals out there, full of mistakes & plagiarism, willing to publish is payment is received. Science had a flawed ‘spoof‘ paper published in a variety of journals.
  • In order to receive tenure, faculty often must publish in traditional format journals. By not doing so, one may risk career security.

     Overall? I think Open Access Journals & Repositories are the way to go. I think I have to do a lot more research on the matter. In all things, research the journal, the source before using it. Make sure you search from a quality list. Try one of the ones listed below. I am not at the point where I have to worry about publishing. I want to get there one day, but I hope by then, I will be more familiar with the system.

     My Goal: USE open journals next time I have to research for a paper. If I run in to a payment wall, maybe don’t log in with my University ID but try another route.

Further Information:
Here is a list of what various people and institutions can do to promote open access and what you should know about it. There are also publishers like Open Book Publishers that have a great repository of Open Books. The Directory of Open Access Journals has a list of Open Journals. You can also check out the Open Access Journals Search Engine.
For Repositories try Directory of Open Access Repositories and Registry of Open Access Repositories.

A Time for Reflection

Picture Today I realized something, when driving alone in my car (listening to CBC for those who wonder) and I had a bit of an epiphany. When I was going through my teacher training 15 odd years ago, I never reflected on how I teach or how I even learn. I had to develop a philosophy of education but I didn’t think any further.  I also realize that over the past year taking all the course for OLTD that I have spend a lot of time reflecting how students learn and how I teach.
When I thought back to my practicum days teaching Science in a high school I realized I only had ONE reflection on my teaching. Yet, that one moment has shaped who I am as a teacher. My practicum evaluator was concerned that wandered around to much all class. I was in constant motion. He was worried that I would not be able to sustain that. As I valued his opinion and advice I thought about that, and how I wanted to teach, for a couple of days. I realized that the energy and movement was important to me and how I wanted my class to be. It was important for me to be who I naturally am as a teacher in the class. I feel like a switch is being flipped on when I teach so I need to be true to that.
This moment of reflection has profoundly affected the way I am in the class. So why haven’t I reflected for the last decade and a half? I am not sure. I don’t remember being taught, or maybe I didn’t pay attention. I never thought about that moment and how it affected me. I am now though.

UBC – Okanagan Conference

PictureLast weekend I attended the UBC Okagagan  Learning conference on Reflecting on Scholarly Approaches. The conference was well organized, well attended and an excellent opportunity for learning. Overall themes were collaboration, innovation, reflection and engagement. I thought that I would take some time and reflect on some of the sessions I attended, and what key ideas I will take away. Thus modeling some of what I was shown. Plus, if I record them here, I will know where to find them again!

PictureKeynote: Dr. Marsha Lovett on ‘How Learning Works: Knowledge and Application‘ (the link is a link to a similar talk as ours was not recorded). She spoke from her book. She sees teaching as both an art and a science. The three principles: 1. Prior Knowledge helps or hinders learning. 2. How students organize knowledge influences how they learn. 3. How development of mastery works.

PictureOne very thought that I will take away is the importance of linking knowledge. Interconnections between concept nodes increase the ability for deep learning and retention. When students have few connections, they often cannot see the ‘point’ of what they are learning. Educators need to help with this. A course concept map can be developed. A basic framework given for topics, getting them to fill in the connections and concepts. I will have to think about how to do this online.


Khan Academy badge
Session: LOOC’s
I have to admit, I am apprehensive about MOOC‘s (Massive Open Online Courses). I have not tried one. I am resistant to it currently but, as I am studying about online learning right now, I thought I would check out LOOC’s. LOOC means Local Open Online Learning. UBC has had a few LOOC’s. They are billed as place based education with local content and global relevance. Badges (gamification) are awarded.  While most students came from the local area, there were learners from all over the world. Here is a link to their video: LOOC: Adventures in Applied Sustainability. I think I would participate in a LOOC.

Session: Address the needs of today’s learner: A ‘modified’ flipped    approach

 In  class, students frantically write down the words of wisdom from the professor or PowerPoint. The problem? In classes that require a practical demonstration of knowledge like in nursing, math or physics, students do not get to practice. As the presenters said, it doesn’t make sense for the coach to run the plays, the players need practice. Why not put the theory and learning before class so time can be spent practicing.
For success need: Faculty development, Goals & objectives, Tools, IT support.
Suggestions: Have as much ready ahead of time as possible. Make sure anything mandatory, especially pre-class learning, is worth marks. Worksheets to guide learning can be helpful and encourage students to use the book they bought!
This is something I am slooowly working on doing. I am attempting this in a lesson in two week. Hopefully it works!

PictureSession: Using Technology & Innovation: Making assignments matter

  • Distance Ed is twice as much work as regular.
  • Teach how to be a good consumer of information.
  • Turn assignments around so students create something useful as they will see the value in creating it. The instructor can be immersed as a participant in a whole class project – easier to evaluate.
MERLOT was recommended as a peer reviewed site to get interesting assignments and lessons. After the conference, I took a look. I really struggled with the search engine. I liked how detailed it was but I was constantly getting too many or too few results. While the material is peer reviewed, it wasn’t always helpful or suitable. I am not sure that I would use it.


Session: Creating Video Resources to Support Teaching & Learning in a Flexible Learning Environment
This topic goes hand in hand with flipping a classroom. I discovered that there is quite a large learning curve to doing this. Thankfully the Centre at VIU can support me in this. There is also an initial large time commitment.  Video lectures are effective both for students who know a topic (and can skip material) and those who need a slower pace or additional time (as they can watch as much as they need). The easiest way to start is to start is to create a PowerPoint with a voice recording. It a good idea to give questions or a worksheet for use during the presentation.
Session: Strategies to Empower & Engage Adult Learners

  1. Increase interaction during class. Brains need to process every 10 – 15 minutes. “Chunk & Chew
  2. Include Individual exploration opportunities. What is the student’s passion? What topic will they engage in? This allows them to be in the ‘flow’
  3. Build collaborative and real world assignments
  4. Let students choose how to demonstrate their understanding
  5. Invite students to provide input into the course design. Perhaps have a ‘loose outline’ where collaboratively they determine how much each aspect is worth.
Session: Engaging & Empowering Students

  1. Engage students in learning
  2. Teach students how to learn. For example: Reflection on a test. “How did I study? What worked & didn’t work?” Metacognition
  3. Encourage student reflection
  4. Motivate students by sharing power. Get students to do the work themselves
  5. Encourage Collaboration.


Session: Transforming Learning Through Experiential Learning
“If we teach today’s students as we taught yesterday’s, we rob them of tomorrow” John Dewey. This quote resonates with me as the environment that we are living in now, is very different from before. We need to teach differently than we ourselves learned.
The presenters of this session focused on Kolb’s Cycle of Experiential Learning. Reflection is an important piece to the model. For online learning, which is changing so much, reflection is a very important aspect.

Intellectual Property war

There is a war going on, and I didn’t notice.

Two sides are fighting to determine who owns an idea. It is being fought on computers, in homes, and yes, in the courts.

On one side, the copyrighters, is made of a lot of powerful businesses, they own more than 90% of media in the united states. You may have heard of a few of them: Disney, BMG, Time Warner, Viacom, GE, Newscorp. They earn considerable profits from owning idea and letting consumers use them. That is, as long as the way that they are being used falls within particular parameters and they are being paid. They are controlling our culture in a very clever way. A person cannot take a song, change it or sample it, and then produce it.
The Verves “Bittersweet Symphony” used too much of an orchestral version of the Rolling Stones song “The Last Time“. The Verve had to give all their royalties & credit for the song to the Stones. What is interesting is the Stones got the idea for their song from The Staple Singers‘ gospel song “This May Be The Last Time“.
This side produces the anti-piracy ads. If you try to use an idea, paint a mickey mouse on the side of a daycare or download a song, without payment and permission, you are a criminal.

The other side, the remixers, including copyleft, creative commons and others, believes in the free access to knowledge and the ability to reshape and rework ideas. Public domain should be protected and shared.
A remixers manifesto:
1. Culture always builds on the past
2. The past always tries to control the future
3. Our future is becoming less free
4. To build free societies you must limit control of the past.
The first point, that culture builds on the past has long been acknowledged.
Bernard of Chartres said in the twelfth century that we are “perched on the shoulders of giants [the Ancients]” and so can see further. Essentially we are always building on the past or from the past comes the future. In his 2003 book According to the Rolling Stones, Keith Richards stated the song The Last Time: “was basically re-adapting a traditional Gospel song that had been sung by the Staple Singers, but luckily the song itself goes back into the mists of time…At least we put our own stamp on it, as the Staple Singers had done, and as many other people have before and since”.

What I find interesting is that as a society, we should limit the control of the past. I admit, it is not something that I have thought of before. When you have a child, you teach them your belief system, and your ways of knowing. Initially a child’s every move is controlled but as time passes and they grow and develop this control is gradually relinquished until they are ‘being’ on their own. Sometimes, they ask for advice, sometimes they accept advise, but ultimately who they are is up to them. They have grown up and we need to respect their ways of doing.
I am not sure why our creative creations or intellectual property. are different. When we first create our creation, we have control, but over time, control should be relinquished as it has its own life. Our children and our culture are the future. We need let go and admit that we have outgrown the archaic and oppressive copyright laws.

Step 1: Finding an Open Textbook

I have been interested in using an Open Textbook since I heard about them last year. The idea appeals to me – you can choose your content, students can have the text as a PDF , online or a printout, it is open sourced. All of these things appeal to me. The difficulty? Working out HOW to do this when no one else in my department is using them (at the moment), So, for this weeks blog, I thought I would explore how easy it is to start the process – find & evaluate – an open source text for my Biology class. For more information on why Open Textbooks are important, check out this short  video about Why Open Education Matters


Step 1: Where to start
I need to decide where to start my search for a textbook. For me, this was the easiest part. I want to support a local initiative (BC is leading the way for Canada). BCcampus has been working on first year Biology textbook which is suitable for a Adult Education (grade 12 equivalent) course. BCcampus also has a resources page full of other open texts in case I cannot find one I like though them.Step 2: Get Informed
Before I started looking at the biology texts, I thought I better get informed on how to adopt an open textbook for a class. I read through a faqs page. There is a 101 page with an overview of the steps involved and a more detailed page full of information specific to BCcampus. I am now feeling a little more overwhelmed. I need to look at the textbooks to see if there is one suitable for my class.  If I find one, then I can worry about how to adopt an Open Textbook, if not then I will move my search to another place.

Picture Step 3: Finding a text
There are three different first year biology textbooks. I was expecting one, so this is a pleasant surprise. As I look through the three choices, only one seems to be appropriate for the content that I teach which emphasizes the Cell and Human Biology. Taking a look at the Table of Contents, all the topics that I talk about in class seem to be present. There is only one small section missing which could easily be done as a separate course-ware package. The next step for me is to evaluate the textbook itself to see if the content level is appropriate. I will focus on that for next week as I suspect it will take a bit of time!