The Art of WordPress

Placeholder post for the open online summer course about teaching with WordPress, led by Christina Hendricks and company. I’m hoping to use the WP platform to teach a course of my own at some point, so I’m looking forward to these discussions! Plus they had me at open pedagogy…

Weekly reflections

Week 9: February 23 – March 1 2015

creative commons licensed ( BY-NC-SA ) flickr photo shared by rockcreek

Spring course work:

On the docket for last week: read two chapters and submit three assignments. Slightly behind on both counts, but I plan to take care of both yet this evening. We have been working on draft versions of our learning theories and philosophies, and are going to share those with one another for feedback.


High tech teaching and students with disabilities

Notes highlighted in Diigo:

  • Asking students to answer questions in class via clickers can also present problems for students who are blind or deaf.
  • In classes where clickers are used on a competitive basis or where students are given a limited amount of time to submit their answers, deaf students are at a disadvantage. Even with efficient translation, there’s often a lag time, and it may cause students who are deaf to submit their answers more slowly
  • Copyright regulations can also thwart efforts to make digitized works and videos accessible to people with disabilities

Recognizing team members who contribute in different ways…

…and what motivates them.

Alt-ac or bust

One of the best things that I think can come out of alt-ac discussions is the recognition by the broader academic community that pursing options other than TT positions are equally valid. Thankfully, that tide is starting to shift.

Partnership for affordable content

Neat new Libaries grant program open to U of M faculty and instructors to help them integrate openly licensed content into their courses.


Received littleBits order over the weekend. We experimented with some combos for an hour or so. May need to put this project on the back burner with next week being consumed with birthday celebration and end of the trimester ongoings.

Weekly reflections

Week 8: February 16-22, 2015

creative commons licensed ( BY-NC-ND ) flickr photo shared by piglicker

Spring class work:

Read chapters three and four of our course textbook. Detailed explanations provided for learner, contextual, and task analyses. Also took away some great ideas for the training reorganization project. Submitted two response papers and draft version of learning philosophy.


The secret lives of codebreakers: The men and women who cracked the Enigma code at Bletchley Park.

Finished the last of this book over the weekend. The Bletchley story fascinates me, particularly how thousands of individuals were able to keep their war involvement hidden from their families.

Techniques for unleashing student work from learning management systems

Primary tool for connected learning = aggregation of student blogs, websites, Twitter and other social media accounts to main class website. Students own their work and communicate beyond the class learning space.

Twitter Journal Club

Live-tweet an article as you read it. Or even better, gather a group of like-minded souls and make it an event, like @GoogleGuacamole is doing:

Weekly reflections

Week 7: February 9-15, 2015

creative commons licensed ( BY-NC-ND ) flickr photo shared by las – initially

Spring class work:

Read chapter two of our course textbook. It discussed needs assessments, goal analysis, and performance assessment (used mainly in a training context). Submitted weekly response paper and situational evaluation.


Social media and open access

Two distinct cultures in academia developing? Those who use social media might have a different set of publications they regard as core compared to others who are using library driven systems. And how might that serve to influence scholarship (way) down the road?

Creating color-blind accessible figures

Principles of universal color design. Bookmarked for future online teaching resource.

Scalar now available for Reclaimers!

Very excited to read this. I’m collecting resources for my digital dissertation (fingers crossed my advisor will be amenable to that idea). I also read through some of the features of the tool, and am amazed at how powerful it is. They also offer a series of webinars to get started – nice. If you missed any, there’s a helpful archive.

(25 years ago) The first school one-to-one laptop program

Edtech history never fails to fascinate me. Sadly, much of it seems to sound like this:

But to see the early one-to-one laptop initiatives as a corporate-led marketing campaign erases the intentions of the Australian educators and it certainly erases the serious intellectual pursuits undertaken by the students who first used laptops for learning.

ALT Lab Agora

Always curious to see what other academic technology groups are up to…I love the idea of purposely creating time to host an open, informal lab space.

Registered for:

littleBits P2PU course. Planning to go through this with my girl, and have fun making some cool stuff. Or maybe we’ll just #inventanything we feel like.

Weekly reflections

Week 6: February 2-8, 2015

creative commons licensed ( BY-NC ) flickr photo shared by darrellrhodesmiller

While searching through Flickr for an interesting image to accompany this post, I came across the above shot of the abandoned Six Flags amusement park in New Orleans. The photographer included the back story in the image description – a testament to the ongoing aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. The photo composition is beautiful, in an eerily haunting sort of way.

I’ve been reading through other weekly update style posts that those in my PLN regularly write, and am slowly coming round to the practice. Thanks to the new organizational system:

and in an effort to go along with being more open as a general practice (hmm…post about this later), I will give it a try for a month. I’m also hoping it will prompt me to blog more regularly.

Spring course work:

Read chapter 10 of our course textbook. Submitted first draft of learning philosophy. I will (hopefully?) include a link to it in next week’s updates.


Assessing, measuring connected learning outcomes

Really enjoyed the video chat between Howard Rheingold and Jaimie Hoffman. What she described is exactly aon the lines of what I had hoped to research with Connected Courses – more specifically, what are the cumulative “after effects” that participants took away three months after the course officially ended? Six months? And how do those after effects translate into pedagogical changes? Jaimie inadvertently answered those questions as she described her courses. (Plus, wouldn’t it be great to be a student in her classes?!)

Mentorship as you know it is dead

High points: peer-to-peer mentorship leading the way to the new norm. (As well as sink or swim for new employees) Traditional “grooming” of employees no longer exists. Every (wo)man for oneself.

Access Monitor: WordPress plugin to monitor accessibility

Plan to install this plugin shortly. While the review cautions that using this plugin does not automatically make your site accessible, it can provide a good starting point.

Getting good at getting good #deliberatepractice

Practice without feedback ≠ improvement. Who can provide input to reach higher levels?

Open pedagogy: the importance of getting in the air

Post phrases highlighted in Diigo: “How can the potential impact of open pedagogy on learning be even greater than affordability’s impact on open learning? Making progress in open pedagogy is critically important to winning the long-term OER adoption battle. The field desperately needs more work focused in this area. Powerful examples of open pedagogy will give faculty a specific and and direct reason to adopt OER.”

How to break a big project into small steps

Great question to keep in mind: If I only had ten minutes to make progress on this every day this week, what would I do?

Gender bias in academe: An annotated bibliography of important recent studies

Policy implications for P&T processes, talking points for further discussion and reflection

Ready, set…go?

I recently signed up for the You Show, an initiative between Alan Levine and Brian Lamb. My main reason for participating? Playing around with digital media! I’m a little nervous about it, but mostly curious to see what others produce. (Although looking through the #youshow15 stream, there seems to be a lot of great content out there!)

On with the show 🙂

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:

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.