Connecting With Open Learning ’17

As I browse the cloud, some things just seem to jump out at me – I saw an invitation to a cMOOC with the name Gardner Campbell attached to it. Well, I participated in an interesting cMOOC a couple of years ago called Connected Courses and had the opportunity to hear Gardner Campbell and others explain the logic and power of connected, open learning. I was already a convert to openness; I’m still somewhat uncertain of the power of BIG networked learning.

But who can resist – so by this blog post I agree to participate and share in the open, selectively connecting to nodes and parts of the course that have relevance and meaning to me or that help me build relevance and meaning for others (interesting twist eh?)

Actually, this post is to establish an RSS for my blog category and to put up my virtual hand to say “I’m here – bring it on!”

Sylvia
A BC coastal connection 😉

 

An appy ending inspires renewed focus on openness

So much for end of the year reflective posts – I’ve been in full-immersion workshop development since Christmas and then digging out from under a nasty cold – so here’s my mid January “looking back – looking forward” post for 2017!

I’ve always been curious about and involved (at some level) in open practices – from participating as a learner in open educational MOOCs, to blogging and presenting and teaching about open education, open learning and sharing of resources to, finally, exploring what it means to teach more openly.

Looking Back

12 apps featured by BC event

Check out each app at http://12appsofchristmas.ca

This last fall (2016), I was lucky enough to work with an amazing team (Leva Lee, ETUG and Clint Lalonde, BCcampus) to put together the first Canadian (West Coast!) iteration of the popular, free, open licensed, UK-event “12 Apps of Christmas.”  As I’ve written in other posts, I participated in four different 12 Apps events from the UK last year and had so much fun – and learned lots too. The original event was developed by Chris Rowell and Andy Horton of Regents University London in 2014.

Our BC-based event was the result of individuals and teams from different educational institutions around BC; each day featured a different free mobile app, explaining how to get it, sharing ideas of how it might be used in teaching, and posing a brief, fun challenge to encourage people to try the app. We had 194 email subscribers and I spoke to several people who were grateful that the site (http://12appsofchristmas.ca/) and the microlessons would remain available as they planned to explore when time allowed.

Other “open” explorations last year:  I joined the BC Open Educational Practices group coordinated by Rosario Passos (on leave from BCIT) of BCcampus. Primarily a group of instructional designers who are interested in promoting open practices and the creation and use of open educational resources in BC higher education, it’s been interesting but a little slow to coalesce. As everyone is so busy, we’re lucky to have Rosario to keep us connected and share all kinds of interesting events in the “open” universe.

I also kept up with maintaining a Scoop-IT page – FLO Learning – to capture and share open events internationally that I find interesting and contributed to and maintained the FLO Harvest Wiki, a collection of tools, readings, artifacts, etc. from repeated offerings of Facilitating Learning Online. Although FLO is not fully open, the resources are open licensed by BCcampus and hosted on the SCOPE site.

Looking Forward

So what’s ahead for my open practices explorations for the coming year? Maybe it’s best to just focus on the immediate future – I’m about to pilot a four week FLO-Design workshop for BCcampus. As with the foundation FLO, the resources will be open licensed and available once we complete the review and edits suggested by the pilot. I’m going to be blogging about some of my teaching intentions and lessons I learn as we proceed. I planned to share my designs as they evolved but they were really too messy to be of any great interest; part of teaching in the open seems to be to find the time to share what you are doing in a way that is digestible – takes time I just don’t have right now.

As soon as we’re launched I’m signing up for an open educational practices course from The Open University. I’ll report back on what I’m learning and whether it changes my thinking about what it means to teach in the open.

And I’ve discovered the rich goodness that is UBC’s http://open.ubc.ca/ site. I was drawn there to explore the stories from people who have taught in the open; and I started poking around. I can hardly wait to explore the challenges – more blog posts coming and maybe some OERs on my website!

I’ve also made a commitment to get more comfortable with the Confluence wiki we’re using for the BCOEP group. They’ve started up a couple of initiatives I think I can contribute too. Some of my first blog posts are going to be about finding ways to maintain a streamlined open publishing process so I don’t lose myself in the maelstrom of opportunities 😉

So, ‘appy New Year and good luck to all for 2017.

Sylvia

 

Some reading suggestions for Christmas holidays

Christmas treeAlthough I hope your Christmas time if full of family, friends, fun and time to relax…there will probably be a couple of days where you might want to browse some journal articles to broaden your awareness of issues affecting education and learning. If that doesn’t appeal to you, go here instead Funny Cat and Dog Videos 2015

Thanks to a recent post by George Veletsianos, I found even more open access education-focused academic journals that you can browse and share with other educators or your students. Not all are “equally open” – some journals publish a mixture of open and “behind a paywall” articles; other journals are truly open.

Go to my EduResources page and click on the first accordion listing A-J for 30 journals (one is actually a well-respect news-zine “First Monday”); or click on K-Z for another 9 journals. Note:  I do need to re-organize the listing but time is tight these days 😉

If you know of other open journals, please post a comment or email me at sylviar at educomm.ca. The list will stay open so it can be shared by anyone who’s interested.

So enjoy browsing and reading. And celebrate and support “open access’ whenver you can. I’ve seen some disturbing signs of an increasingly protectivist perspective from some of the former leaders in this area, particularly in the US. But the open education, OER, open educational practices movement is strong and spreading in BC, Alberta and various other outposts across Canada. More about that in future posts.

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!

You better watch out…12Apps is coming to town

12Apps of Christmas graphic

http://12appsofchristmas.ca/

I made a wish last year, just before Christmas (see the end of my Dec 20th, 2015 blog post http://educomm.ca/appy-holiday-fun), and it looks like it’s coming true!

BC is going to throw it’s own 12Apps of Christmas event (#12AppsBC)- yay!!!

Thanks to my ETUG (and BCcampus) colleagues, Leva Lee and Clint Lalonde,  and the rapidly assembling teams of “techies and teachers” from various higher-ed institutions, it looks as though BC is going to host a 12 Apps of Christmas event modelled on the Creative Commons licensed event developed by Regents University of London‘s Chris Rowell. And if you like the look of the event WordPress site, we had graphic design assistance from Robyn Humphreys (BCcampus). We’re gaining momentum and working out the things we still need to get done to make sure we can keep it fun but useful. Our UK colleagues have “set the bar high!”

Part of what made the 2015 UK-based events (six of them and I followed four!) so fun was the light-hearted approach and clean, straightforward design. Two of the institutions posted daily jokes or puns (I’ve added that to my list as it’s a feature that often made me smile.) I found the consistent structure developed by Regents University London made it easy to get involved in each day’s app and challenge activity. Some of the institutions played with the design but only to add a strong pedagogical focus or a particular insight (e.g., looking at how the app could be used to engage learners with different learning preferences).

As Clint mentioned in his recent post about the event, http://clintlalonde.net/2016/11/14/12-apps-of-christmas, there are literally thousands of apps targeted at education, and we all (educational technologists, faculty, administrators, students) need to become more conversant with ways to sort out the ones that have the greatest value for learning. Of course, evaluating apps seems like a Sisyphean task (IMHO) but exploring their potential uses in teaching and learning seems like a good beginning.

Although I recognize that not every educator will want to use apps in their teaching (for lots of reasons) I think part of the value of participating in an event like 12Apps of Christmas is to get more comfortable with creating – experimenting with the “maker movement”, hands-on, DIY kind of thinking that helps engage learners and strengthen learning.  I know I tend to “overthink” apps, looking for examples of how others used it, reviewing the terms of use, checking for tutorial videos or annotated, illustrated explanations of all the features, before I get to creating anything. The playfulness of the 12Apps event approach encourages everyone to just do something. It would be nice to build some of that freedom to try (and fail, and try again) into the way we design and deliver parts of our courses or the options we offer students to engage in learning. Of course we have to be mindful of the ephemeral nature of some apps and the potential privacy issues (under BC’s FIPPA), but should that  stop us from extracting maximum value for minimum investment?

Our BC-based 12Apps of Christmas endeavour will be a little different than the UK events I participated in last year as we’ve asked that each day’s app be free to experiment with, available on both iOS and Android operating systems, and to have some potential usefulness in education – and that can be anything from communication to content creation. We’re planning on focusing on fun, reflecting on learning and pedagogical possibilities, and getting inspired by participants’ creations, comments, ideas, suggestions.

Hoping that many of you will join in and try the challenge activities each day. Stay tuned for more about #12AppsBC in the coming weeks!

Sylvia