Tag Archives: workshops

Everyday open learning so unremarkable that it amazes me


Happened to look in on a blog for a course on Philosophy and Pop Culture at TRU. Saw a post that I thought was remarkable for a couple reasons.

A student had just posted some fresh reflections, though the course was over. He wrote: “I know that I no longer need to create new posts, but it seemed like this is the perfect place to post my current thoughts.”

This in itself is remarkable, though not so unusual. I suppose some would find it trite to observe this would rarely occur in an LMS, even if the student was not locked out of the course environment as a matter of university policy at course’s end. Here, even in a shared course blog on an institutional WordPress install, this student felt a stake in this space, understood that it was a place for continued reflection and growth.

The student was exploring, in part, his ongoing responses to Andrew Wildman’s graphic novel Horizon. Educational bloggers will not be so surprised to see that Wildman offered a comment on the blog in response. Again, would that happen in an LMS?  If mediums communicate messages, this exchange illustrates that the student’s thoughts and words have value. The student is not merely engaging in a simulation of intellectual discourse, but taking their thoughts into the world.

I couldn’t resist Tweeting this exchange when I saw it. Which again, not so surprisingly elicited yet another comment from the most thoughtful and engaged commenter I have ever known.

These sorts of things happen all the time over on UMW Blogs, but we are still building out our infrastructure and culture of open online learning here at TRU. I hope these stories become commonplace here soon.

Another common manifestation of open learning went down in my personal network yesterday. That it happened without really seeming all that remarkable at the time is hitting me as amazing right now. (Was there something in those brownies I just ate?)


I’m doing a little bit of preparation for next Monday’s VideoCamp here at TRU. Since I am an utter neophyte at video work (thankfully we have a cohort of other facilitators lined up), the only “teaching” I might do is work through Popcorn Maker with any participants who just want a simple tool for basic augmentation and remixing of online video. I remembered that Clint Lalonde had organized workshops using Popcorn, and then remembered that I am lazy and shameless, so I fired Clint a Twitter DM asking if there were any tutorials he would recommend.

Because Clint is a better open educator than me, he responded publicly in case his pointer would be of use to somebody else.

Then he widened the scope.

An aforementioned open educational hero caught wind of the discussion and interjected with important cautions that probably saved me and the VideoCamp participants some pain…

…and also shared a cool use case.

Chris Lott brought another vital contributor into the discussion, …

…and wasn’t I happy to make Christen’s acquaintance:

Popcorn HTML5 framework? I didn’t even know what that was. Whoa.

Then some more of the people Clint flagged earlier started to chime in:

Among the tutorials these exchanges turned up was this brilliant overview from Miriam Posner. Licensed CC, so I think I will incorporate it into the VideoCamp site. I thought should give Miriam a huzzah and a heads-up on my intention to pilfer (she’s cool with it), and was not entirely surprised to see that CogDog had beat me to the comments field.

Again, these things happen all the time in open online learning circles. But I still get asked “how do you find the time to engage social media”? It repays the time investment so many times over — in this case with great resources, pointers to new experts for me to follow, and a reminder that I am part of a collaborative community full of generous and gifted people. So before I dive into the VideoCamp site to build on all these wonderful contributions, I thought I would take a moment to celebrate just how amazingly unremarkable these sorts of interactions can be.


Mock (MOOC?) movie trailer, Art + Reconciliation keeps rolling


It’s almost impossible to keep up with the blur of amazing work coming out of the Reconsidering Reconciliation artist residencies these past few weeks. I just had to share this hilarious one-minute trailer for Reconsidering Reconciliation: The Movie

From the ed techie perspective, I must again sing the praises of Alan Levine, who has constructed a syndicated multi-faceted space which has performed beautifully for rMooc.

Along those lines, I’m also compelled to post a link to this wonderful piece by Justin Reich, reflecting on the similar environment that Alan worked on for Harvard’s Project Zero:

Somewhere a few months ago, it hit me that we needed to stop trying to solve the problem with an LMS. We were using our LMS to pull lots of content into a single place where it could be organized, searched, and curated, but an LMS isn’t the only (or even a good) way to do this synthesis. (Everyone involved in creating a MOOC, please re-read that last sentence.) Inspired by the work that Connectivist educators have done with cMOOCs over the last 5 years, particularly by the incredible learning experiences created by the ds106 crew at the University of Mary Washington, I thought we might experiment by solving our problems with a syndication engine rather than a walled garden.

…In the case of the Future of Learning Institute, this pedagogical vision of a networked learning environment aligns much better with our learning goals than the instructionist, content-delivery focused, Thorndikian assumptions built into the typical LMS. We don’t really need to disseminate content; we need to empower participants to produce and share their own content.

Looking at the Project Zero Future of Learning Institute site, I see a lot of the same elements that are helping rMooc roll on so fludily. A space which serves as “a real-time highlight reel of the learning”, and like Justin Reich I’m “incredibly excited about the possibility of “Connectivist-inspired, syndication-based learning environments”. Having worked with Alan through the process, I know this framework can be readily extended across all sorts of contexts, and I can’t wait to prove it in the coming months.

You can make my Sonic Summer Camp dreams come true


Sometimes the coolest and most exciting work I get to do comes along in unexpected ways. Case in point, a few weeks back I was chatting live with Scottlo on the mighty DS106 Radio, and he mentioned that he would be making a rare visit stateside soon. Intriguingly, he would be back in his home town of Eugene, Oregon… not really all that far from Kamloops — at least relative to his recent homes in Japan and Saudi Arabia.

I’m thrilled to report that the idle radio chatter is rapidly manifesting in reality. In less than a week, we will be convening SoundCamp, which is envisioned as a full-day participatory workshop on audio recording, production, sharing and storytelling. I’ve been a huge admirer of Scottlo’s skills, sensibility and humour ever since I first encountered his work on DS106, and getting to tap those gifts feels like an incredible opportunity. While we were at it, I also invited my old pal Jason Toal, who has been honing his DJ moves over the past few years into a rather fearsome skillset. It occurred to me that Christina Hendricks, who I knew at UBC and is absolutely mashing it as a blogger lately (with some great stuff out of the audio exercises in DS106) might be interested, and to my delight she was. Ultra-cool TRU colleague Jon Fulton (who does all sorts of media production) will be pitching in, as will be Andrew Forgrave, who is making his way west by train to join us, our first time meeting our radio friend in person.


So we have quite a team of passionate educators with diverse expertise and experience in audio work. We have a full day… well, five or six hours, anyway. We have gear. What I am still working on is a clear plan for the day. I do have two broad objectives: to have groups of participants each create at least one edited and mixed audio artifact, and to build out the SoundCamp site with resources and tutorials that will serve as an ongoing useful resource for people in the future. But I could use some guidance… I was thinking of the following broad topic areas: selecting equipment, recording, sampling and importing files, basic editing and mixing, sharing. I have a notion that we might break people into groups and move through the process of creating some short pieces that incorporate those elements. But I would be open to suggestions on:

  • key skills I have not considered
  • some mini-tasks or challenges we might toss into the mix (I will be looking at the DS106 assignment bank for inspiration)
  • ideas for using DS106 Radio to connect with people beyond Kamloops
  • examples of good tutorials, resources, reflections, advice, etc… preferably openly licensed so we can incorporate them into the site
  • some examples of great audio work that stretch the way we think of sound… I’m thinking that next week I will send our participants some teaser emails with examples to get the inspiration flowing

I’m both immensely excited and a little nervous at the prospect of pulling this day off. I do know there is big fun to be had. Hopefully I will be in some shape to post additional developments in the run-up or at the conclusion of SoundCamp.