Building a course of one’s own

Earlier this week, I started building a learning platform for my final course project.

I am following a series of directions and inspiration from a variety of places. On the pedagogical side, this includes:

  • careful consideration of the role of the instructor in the course
  • working towards open pedagogy. I admit, this approach seems a bit daunting for a new educator, but it is also the most exciting as¬†I feel it can lead to transformative learning experiences. If I were tasked with a project such as this¬†in one of my grad classes, it probably would have been a game -changer. Instead of consuming knowledge, you are helping to create it. This approach strongly resonates with me, and is one of the reasons why I (want to) teach.
  • course design considerations, which leads to the space where pedagogy and technology meet

Representing the technical side:

I plan to blog about each of the steps along the way, with post creation loosely based on the #ds106 guide. We are also tasked with creating a syllabus and one learning module. I can’t wait to play around with the syllabus. I’ve had Maha’s post bookmarked for a while…in fact, specifically for this assignment. There’s some great links in it that I want to explore as well – particularly Michelle Pacansky-Brock’s liquid syllabus.

It sounds like other students may be interested in using WordPress to build a course. I hope they do go for it – it will be fun to work through it together and share ideas back and forth.

Why I (want to) teach

Playing a bit of catch-up here, going back to the first unit¬†of Connected Courses and thinking about the whys of teaching and the whys of a course. One of my favorite links during this unit was Mike Wesch’s talk about Why we need a “why?”

As a relative newcomer to these types of discussions, I tweaked the question to why I (want to) teach. I’m in the middle of a grad program in Learning Technologies.¬†When I entered the¬†program, one of my driving questions was “What does high-quality, engaging online learning look like…and how do I do it?” One year into it, I’m finding out that learning online is really fun! There’s elements of play that can be incorporated into a class which make it enjoyable. (I recently read a great post about this topic…still searching for the link to it…) I want to be able to bring those to a class that I teach, and show¬†what¬†online teaching and learning looks like in different ways. (hint: it can be so much more than just PDFs and discussion forums. Once you get hooked into ds106, you can never go back…)

In a perfect world, there would be the option to construct a course from scratch. In reality, that may not be the case. Sometimes instructors find out they will be teaching a course close to the start of the semester, or there are existing materials from previous courses available for reuse. Perhaps there are departmental reasons for a standard course to be delivered…it may have to deal with accreditation requirements. All of these reasons and factors come into play.

For now, let’s dream big and imagine a space where those stipulations¬†do not exist.¬†Fortunately, an imagined course is starting to take shape…in the form of a final project for one of my fall semester courses. I will be using resources from Connected Courses as well as my class readings¬†to create a course of my own. The course’s overarching theme will be the¬†history of the internet/web from a feminist perspective and why it’s important in edtech to talk about it. I haven’t started thinking about specific course topics (mostly as I’d want the course to be co-constructed by the facilitator and participants). General offshoots might include current topics such as SOPA, the many forms of open – OERs, scholarship, pedagogy, etc.

hmm…even though there’s a great post on how to write one…I think I need help on how to end one! (Vania – you are not alone in this respect) Moving on to unit 2…

Archival process begins



One of the courses I am taking this fall is CI 5325: Designing and developing online distance learning (aka #umnnexted).

Our learning environment for the semester is set up in Ning, and eventually we will not have access to the site. For the first time, I am going to try and archive as much of my course content as possible on this site as well. Partially as a way of further thinking about and processing my experience(s), and, as I’m coming to realize in the short time I’ve been enrolled in the LT program, I have found myself reusing and/or going back to some of the ideas and thoughts I had brought in a discussion forum or in a video response (which sometimes I write out prior to recording, in an effort to help clarify my thinking before actually posting). Rather than digging through the stack of recycled papers for that content, I want to see if this is an easier way to record a semester’s worth of work in one place.

I am a little nervous about it, but it’s also somewhat of a personal challenge to take another small step towards being an open learner, thinker, and student. Moving towards openness can be uncomfortable.

Countdown to Connected Courses

In just under a month, Connected Courses begins. This brings together many of my favorite people in higher ed and ed tech. Through Mike Wesch’s classes and videos¬†(going back to 2007 – yep, he’s been at this awhile!) I saw what anthro on the web might look like. It was fascinating, and drew me into the world of teaching and learning on the web and student-centered learning.

On a deeper level, this course weaves together many strands of thought that have been linked, up until this point, through my feed reader. It’s amazing to see how these ideas and thinkers have coalesced to this point of collaboration. Over the past few months of reading about connected learning, I am wondering how connectivism may shape it. Is connected learning an extension of connectivism, a new way of seeing it? That will be one of the points I would like to bring to the discussion.

To learn more about the principles that underpin the course, head on over to the Connected Learning Alliance. Or register for the course, and explore the hows and why with us.

Getting started with indieweb

Several months ago, I came across a Wired article that described the IndieWeb movement and the history behind why its developers started it.

icon 4611.png Your content is yours

When you post something on the web, it should belong to you, not a corporation. Too many companies have gone out of business and lost all of their users’ data. By joining the IndieWeb, your content stays yours and in your control.

icon 31635.png You are better connected

Your articles and status messages can go to all services, not just one, allowing you to engage with everyone. Even replies and likes on other services can come back to your site so they’re all in one place.

icon 2003.png You are in control

You can post anything you want, in any format you want, with no one monitoring you. In addition, you share simple readable links such as example.com/ideas. These links are permanent and will always work.

~taken from IndieWebCamp~

While I loved the principles that underpinned the idea, and was keen to see if I could figure out how to make it work, actually doing the work seemed to call for skills that I did not have. Some intense programming and software/web development knowledge. I put it off for a while. When I came back to it some time later, I discovered that several events were happening in June 2014. In Portland. In San Francisco. In New York. In Germany. Which led to this:

And the suggestion from Aaron Parecki:

Fast forward a few weeks and it turns out that others had the same idea. Thanks to Nicole, an Indieweb Minneapolis Homebrew Website Club meetup has begun. I attended one of the Minneapolis meetups earlier this week. Scott and I shared our website plans, and explored the IndieWeb wiki.

We both left with some goals as to what we wanted to accomplish prior to the next meetup in two weeks. Thanks, Nicole, for organizing it even though you were not able to attend! The location was easy to find and quiet.

Progress to date:

  • installed IndieWeb plugin
  • completed the IndieAuth setup
  • tested the web sign in with IndieWebify.me. Roa-roh. Facebook and G+ not linking back. Not sure if Pinterest supports the rel=”me” format, but added it to see what would happen. (short answer = does not work.) Does this mean that it’s not possible to POSSE with Pinterest, or was it a setup error on my part? Something to look into.

Next steps:

  • figure out a better theme to showcase tweets, facebook posts, webmentions, etc. (ex, SemPress?)
  • figure out what else needs to be installed and how to do that. Brid.gy? It looks like since I already installed the IndieWeb plugin, I may not need this one. ¬†Another thing to look into.
  • dig into some of the web taxonomy
  • read a few more entries on the IndieWeb wiki (ie., what are microformats about?)
  • see how other WP users using POSSE have their site set up. There are several examples in the WP section of the IndieWeb wiki.
  • implement RelMeAuth. It is different from IndieAuth, but I need to read through both explanations/sites a few more times for it to conceptually make sense.

I think this puts me at IndieMark 1.2 and one-half.

#ocTEL Week 1 recap

My goals for this week of the #ocTEL course were to watch the weekly webinar and complete one of the activities.

Webinar notes

Presenters: Kyriaki Anagnostopoulou, University of Bath & James Little, University of Leeds

Learning design

  • systematic way of developing and describing experiences
  • includes a description of the learners, the environment, and the tools they use to interact with each other

Learning design frameworks

  • break tasks down to see which tool would be most appropriate
  • provide vocabulary and structure when working in a team-based approach in developing learning modules
  • consider the developers’ view of technology: is important to have those well-versed in learning theories and technical skills


I particularly liked the analogy of learning technologists acting as a bridge. The points on the summary slide were helpful take-aways to wrap up the webinar.

Activity 1.4 What’s the theory?

I chose to watch Helen Keegan’s talk that described an augmented reality game she created for an Advanced Multimedia class. I picked this one as I don’t have much experience with ARG use in an educational setting, and was curious to see what it was about. Wow…what a surprise. She described how she created a game with a fictional character at its center and the¬†set up of the game in the months before¬†class began. Students were given clues via mail, and some of them reacted quite negatively. Over time, their perceptions changed, particularly as they became more heavily vested in the activities and clues. Throughout the presentation, I kept thinking about the ethical implications of such a game, plus the many opportunities for it to take a bad turn. The students’ comments at the end of the course about their experience and their amazement at how much they had learned were overwhelmingly positive.

Week 2 kicks off today – we will be talking about understanding learners and learning.

Webmaker training and #netneutrality

Next week kicks off the start of a new round of Mozilla Webmaker training. It’s set up as four one-week long modules in which participants will explore, build, facilitate, and connect with various aspects of the web. And, it will be fun! It’s all about making and remixing stuff in a low-stakes, low-key environment, with friendly and helpful people that can lend a hand if/when needed.

On a deeper level, this training is important as it prompts us to question why we value the web, and gives us the tools to do something with and about it. If we choose to do so. I’m looking forward to the first week’s discussions about the open web, connected learning, and ownership and authority. Learning more about how the web works is a component of digital literacy. Head over to the sign up page if you want to join in!

Thanks to¬†Mariana Funes, I came across Vi Hart’s explanation of what Net Neutrality is all about and why it¬†matters to each of us, whether we realize it or not. Best line from her video: “You’re paying your ISP to deliver the content you choose.” That sums up the crux of the debate for me. Her description of common carriers (around the 7-min mark) seems to resonate¬†a bit with¬†the idea of¬†the internet as a utility.

She also has an extensive listing of resources, and contacts for FCC & legislative representatives. Harness the power of the web to ensure your opinion about how the internet is governed reaches your elected officials.

#ocTEL 2014 beginnings

The first week¬†(aka Week 0)¬†of the #ocTEL 2014 course closed yesterday. I’m using this post to recap and collect notes from the week.

Activity 0.1 asked us to consider the big and little questions that brought each of us to this course: What is the most important question about technology enhanced learning that matters to us? That might also look like a group of many interrelated ideas.

The big question that prompted me to participate in this course is the same one that I brought to my M.Ed. program: What does high-quality online learning look like, and how can I do it? I wanted to see how this course was structured, who participated, and what kinds of conversations took place. I also wanted to hear stories of educators and fellow technologists about how online learning looks from their perspective. How does the pedagogical approach for medicine differ from biology, for example? From rhetoric?

During the Learning the Ropes webinar, the course tutors/organizers offered their perspectives for navigating, connecting, and charting a learning pathway:

  • amount of information can be overwhelming
  • no right or wrong way to approach the course
  • What will your level of involvement and learning pathway look like?
  • beware of distractions
  • develop a support network – reach out and respond to tweets, ¬†blog posts, and/or discussion forums (Sue Folley has already modeled this)
  • make use of Week 0 by reading through the participant handbook, introductions, set up a Twitter account or blog
  • start out small
  • being a lurker is ok! It can take some time to find your voice.
  • visit the course when it’s comfortable for you
  • allow time to read, reflect, and think
  • how to save resources? Do you want a separate space (ie., use existing social bookmarking site) or a new one? Elizabeth Charles described her use of Storify, which I am looking forward to trying out
  • read and digest information offline, then pop back into the course to contribute

On to Week 1!

Settling in and claiming space

Greetings and welcome to my new online space!

I’m realizing that moving to a different¬†space online is strikingly similar to¬†physically¬†moving to a new house…it takes a bit of time to settle in and acquaint yourself with the new surroundings. The move to a self-hosted site was no different. Reclaim Hosting has great documentation available, which helps immensely. Small victory = I was able to figure out how to modify the standard WP footer, thanks to a tutorial¬†via The Geek Girl. Looking forward to other site tinkerings and finally having a place to put the ideas that have been swirling about in my head for a while.

More to come…