Data Collection Comes to an End…The Remix and Sharing Continues…

Photo by Maria Teneva on Unsplash

Thank You….

I completed my last classroom observation yesterday for my EdD research. I have been working with the students since October, 2019. Just over 4 months.On the last day, the high school students were sharing digital stories that they created as a final project for their Storytelling and Perspectives Unit.

The stories were amazing, but what was most amazing was the trust that the students had with each other, their teacher , and even me, to share a little piece of themselves. We learned from Elder Randy earlier in this learning pathway that stories are gifts – and to be honest I wasn’t really sure what he meant. However, it felt like the students were giving me gift after gift today – a little piece of them.  I know there are many more students who are presenting after the break.  All I can say is thank you for the opportunity to sit and listen to you 🙂

Out of the video viewing came the opportunity for feedback. Many of the students need to work on some technical editing/design issues. I have put together some resources (many are also in Trello… BUT I will make it easy and link them al here as well.

Digital Storytelling Resources:

Examples of Personal Digital Stories:

The Painter:

Rita Merrick – Digital Stories

RVS Stories:

Building Futures:

Matt Embry: Painkiller:Inside the Opioid Crisis:

Great resources on how to tell my story online…

Digital Storytelling Tools and Templates: CHECK THESE TOOLS OUT:)

Assessment rubrics:

Creative Commons: (Free and openly licensed content/resources)



Music: (Please think hard before use music with lyrics – music without lyrics can be beautiful for so many reasons…)

Suggestions from Twitter Educators: Check out what others shared with you 🙂



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Almost There….. Can’t Wait to Live and Breathe Openness with #GO-GN and OE Global 2018

Photo by @kazuend on Unsplash

Since January, I have been putting in some serious hours to get my writing and EdD proposal ready for this week. This week, I am heading to the GO-GN Seminar and then the OE Global Conference in Delft, the Netherlands.

The potential to be surrounded by tulips and amazingly warm spring weather is substantially more inspirational than dealing with the never-ending snow  due to the Canadian weather outside my doorstep.

But, it’s not just the weather that is encouraging me to head to Delft – it is the people…..

I have spent the last 6 months of my life deeply examining open learning in K-12 learning environments. In Delft, I will be meeting with the people that I have been reading about. I literally have the opportunity to sit at a table with the people I have cited and summarized about in my candidacy proposal. I get to find out what they really believe and think….

To try and describe my learning journey to Delft – I have presented at teacher conferences, tweeted and written blog posts to try and figure out the potential of Open Educational Practice (OEP) in K-12 contexts. But let’s be honest, open learning  is not everyone’s favourite topic – and that’s what makes this opportunity extra special.

Over the last few months, many GO-GN colleagues have connected through email or twitter (I am eternally grateful to never be alone in my research).

However, over the next few weeks, I will be living and breathing open learning with peers from around the world who want to live and breathe it with me.  

-Nothing makes me happier than living and breathing open learning with colleagues from around the world.-

To compare this to other contexts -it is Stanley Cup hockey season in Canada. In hockey,  this opportunity would be like being in a Stanley Cup final game with Connor McDavid and Wayne Gretzky and they spend the whole time setting up plays with me. Every play is focused around getting me the puck and seeing what I do with it. Every shot I take it analyzed in terms of its speed and skill. The way I position myself on the ice is critiqued and the way I play as a part of team is promoted and encouraged.

I am not sitting on the bench and watching – I am part of the action. I am just as important as everyone else out these on the ice, and just as responsible.

I am obviously incredibly intimidated while being incredibly excited at the same time about my GO-GN adventure. I feel a lot of pressure, to be able to speak amongst experts in the field. But at the same time, I genuinely believe my Connor McDavids and Wayne Gretzky’s are there to support me and help me learn.

I will be surrounded by people who are in my Personal Learning Network (PLN) whom I have followed and connected with for many years and many months. Many of the people I meet I feel I already know, although I  have never met face to face before.

That’s what this opportunity is more than anything. An opportunity to learn through face to face interactions to strengthen and build my PLN which directly supports my doctoral research. An opportunity to set everyone up for learning success. 

And anything that supports my doctoral research and helps me learn- also supports the students and educators that I work with in my school district and at the UofCalgary, Werklund School Ed. So the learning is extended beyond the face to face contacts- to others around the world. 

As a result, I am entering this learning experience with giddy anticipation and deep appreciation for those who have given me this opportunity – before I even start.

I look forward to jumping on the ice with you all and playing the game called open learning.

See you soon!

Verena 🙂

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VandR mapping: Tracking Open Learning in K-12

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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial 4.0 International License. 

I have been exploring how to scaffold open educational practices for K-12 learners (previous post) this year. The Positive Online Presence (POP) is a pilot project which Mark Turner and I developed to support grade 10 students in expanding and extending their learning outside of  the regular classroom by using digital tools and connecting with digital networks.

At first, we focused on creating an ePortfolio in an attempt to create a Domain of Our Own like project. We soon learned that the students wanted the freedom to bridge connections without a set digital platform, which they saw as a wordpress blog. They wanted to go out and learn where they wanted, then tell us about it. This has proven to be difficult in terms of tracking their learning, but it helped me understand their desire to connect formal and non-formal learning environments in their own way.

I still see the potential in using one digital location to collect evidence of learning, but the wordpress blog did not afford the students with an easy to use solution for an ePortfolio or reflection tool. They wanted something easier to use.  I had to learn how to trust the process, while ensuring the digital safety and security of learners under 18.

At the beginning and throughout this project, many of the grade 10 (15 year old) students have had big questions about why learning about digital identity and online networks is important. We have revisited this question throughout the project in order to try and figure out why learning in digital learning environment is so relevant and authentic for K-12 learners.

As the students each discover their personal rationale for an online presence, their learning paths, strategies and choices are shared with their peers. From the beginning, the students have always been assured that they will have privacy and choice about what they want to make visible to others. By ensuring that students have a voice and choice in making their learning visible, students have slowly developed their identity by reflecting upon their learning and being accountable for their own learning every step of the way.

Within a learning environment that uses open educational practice, the students and teachers have taken slow but sure steps in the K-12 open learning continuum, based on their open readiness.

What I didn’t fully understand, was the connection between a learner’s identity and open learning. Specifically, I did not understand the influence of confidence and mindset on the ability of a learner to even consider open learning. Who they are as a learner and person, greatly influenced their open learning opportunities.

The moment I was able to really see the evidence of the student’s understanding of their digital identities was the day they mapped their online presence. White and Le Cornu  wrote an article about how to examine online engagement by mapping the perceptions of where engagement occurs in digital environments. They use a VandR continuum: On one end, Visitors describes quick online interactions like google searches where we get what we want then we leave. On the other end, Residents  describes the digital tools, software and apps we hang around in by interacting with others or waiting for others to interact with us like Snapchat or Instagram. The students then split the VandR continuum into those that they feel they use for personal use and institutional use.

Here is an example of what a VandR map could look like and an open educational practice perspective from twitter :

After the students mapped their online presence, they were asked to give their map to another student. The other student then described the “online presence” back to the original student. This form of peer feedback gave the students an opportunity to hear what others perceived about their online presence, it let the students clarify anything that was misunderstood and it let them make any changes they needed to make to ensure their online presence story was clearly articulated. As I watched and listened to the students describe their “online presence” to each other, I realized I was watching a demonstration of multi-literacy. Not only were the students communicating in new and different ways online using their digital literacy skills, they were able to use a chart and visual representation to communicate with each other about their digital presence.

After the students shared their maps, then received feedback on other’s perceptions of their digital learning pathways, they talked about how their digital choices (in terms of what tools they used, how they used them and which persona they revealed while using the tool) could influence their learning by influencing who they were able to network with.

As we continue with the Positive Online Presence (POP) project, I am looking forward to learning with the students as they develop and express their identity and build their reputation in online and face to face spaces. Throughout this project, the students are developing essential critical reflection skills which will help them as they continue to develop their online presence within and outside of the classroom.  Their ability to use their multiliteracy skills help enrich the expected curriculum outcomes while integrating lifelong learning competencies.




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Proposing OLDI (Version 1): An Open Learning Design Intervention for K-12 Open Educational Practice

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial 4.0 International License. 

This year, I am working with Mark Turner and the Building Futures (Airdrie) students on a project to build digital identity and social reputation in authentic online environments. The project was designed to support open educational practice (OEP) in K-12 learning contexts by creating a continuum that supports open readiness for all learners.

The K-12 Open Learning Continuum is an ongoing, iterative continuum that has formal learning on one end, non-formal learning on the other end and a pile of learning in between.

Because the learning environments include K-12 learners, there are ethical, policy, privacy and cognitive factors that influence every learner, from the teacher to the student. As such, the stages of open learning for K-12 learning environments include specific stages based on careful consideration of:

  • the trust and relationship between the teacher and student,
  • the digital literacy skills of the learner (learners can get too focused on a tool and lose sight of the intention to share their learning experiences),
  • the cognitive and developmental level of the learner;
  • the consideration of a learner’s digital identity in terms of future implications and;
  • the school district policy and government privacy laws.

We needed to start by demonstrating what a learning design by a student, but facilitated by a teacher, could look like. So, we  are using Vygotsky’s sociocultural theory as a lens in which to consider how to connect different learning cultures (formal and non-formal learning environments). Much of Vygotsky’s philosophical writing stems from observation of learners in realistic settings. He would watch “regular” Russian children learn by interacting with deaf children and children who spoke Russian as a second language. By watching how children interacted with each other, he could describe how they learned with each other as they tried to communicate.

Similarly, Vygotsky also watched children playing with sticks as toys. The children pivoted from one play scenario to the other by using the stick as a pivot to help them switch between different worlds (often known as Figured Worlds).

As I watch my own children playing and learning at home, they also constantly switch between different worlds, especially networked worlds in which they connect and learn with their peers. I started to consider some of the intentional learning opportunities that could be offered to K-12 learners and how we, as teachers, could create pivots in our classrooms – ultimately driven by the students.

The open learning design intervention (OLDI) Version 1 has been piloted throughout the year in various iterations.  This is what the current OLDI model looks like:

The stages of OLDI occur in iterative cycles:

Stage 1: Focus on Learner Context – Build Relationships

Stage 2: Development of Digital Literacies

Stage 3: Find Your Yoda

Stage 4: Be a Yoda

Focus on Learner Context – Revisit Relationships

In order to consider how to support Open Educational Practice in K-12 learning contexts by developing pivots in our classrooms, I have been working in collaboration with teachers in my K-12 school district. We have been creating a learning design that describes how to bridge from formal to non-formal learning environments.

The first stage is all about developing relationships between all learners which includes student- teacher and student-student relationships.

The second stage includes a wide variety of activities to develop digital skills, abilities and knowledge with a focus on digital literacies. The topics ranged from basic digital skills like building and adding artifacts into google folders , completing the Power Searching with Google Course, webconferencing with  the Centre for Global Education, completing the MediaSmarts lesson on Online Relationships: Respect and Consent and examining digital privacy by searching for holiday presents on Mozilla’s privacy not included list.

The third phase has focused on interactions, collaborations and connections between the learners and non-formal learning contexts (like building a house with tradesmen, community partners, connecting with other students around the world, connecting with other teachers, and talking to family members and other community experts). We like to call this phase the “Find your Yoda” phase, where students look out beyond their formal classroom learning environment to find and connect with people and other learning opportunities that are authentic to them.

The last phase (…of this iteration because you never stop learning)…. is an opportunity for student to reflect upon their learning pathway, and give back to others. This phase is called “Be a Yoda”.  In this stage, the student will focus on exchanging, sharing and collecting learning artifacts and supporting other learners while building a sustainable Personal Learning Network/Environment This is the phase we are currently still working on as students transition from “finding” their passion to sharing it with others. I am REALLY excited about the possibilities of sustainable learning opportunities for K-12 learners. 

It is important to note that many of the students have really struggled with phase 2 and might not enter phase 3 in a “timely” fashion.  The fact that learners need their own time in which to learn is demonstrated daily by our learners who struggle with the idea of what the teacher expects as opposed to what the learner needs to figure out for themselves.  In general, the students are still waiting for the teachers to hand over the learning as opposed to the students finding the learning for themselves. I wonder if this is actually an age thing – as many adult learners struggle with this concept as well.  

 In fact, their final reflections and projects may reveal what their “Be a Yoda and Personal Learning Network” plans are, instead of describing the process of “how I am becoming a Yoda or Developing a PLN ”. Mark and I have already considered some more collaborative designs which include some group “Find a Yoda” learning activities BEFORE considering individual Find a Yoda activities for next year. Vygotsky focused on collaborations and interactions before learners could reflect about their individual contexts and we obviously need to scaffold MORE collaborations, interactions and connections. 

Overall, the experience of watching my fellow teachers and the students experience the opportunity to learn in the open has been tremendously successful.  The students have had opportunities to consider other learning opportunities and they know how to pivot to those different nodes of learning themselves. I look forward to my more formal research in this project next year, as I take this time to reflect and consider the potential of open educational practice in K-12 learning environments.

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Draft Proposal Writing – Connection to GO-GN

Writing part of my draft proposal and got to the section on ‘External checking and member checking’ to ensure I am talking and communication with others throughout my research process.

       Member checking, or respondent validation is a means to ensure the credibility of the data  (Creswell, 2015). My proposed research has several layers of external and member checking. Design based research provides a natural means in which to ensure iterative member checking is completed throughout the entire data collection phase. In addition, in the initial stages of the research, there is time spent developing a collaborative research relationship. This relationship building will include specific team building ground rules, which will include the expectations around peer feedback, boundaries and communication of research ideas and processes. My continuous and regular meetings and discussions with my supervisor, and supervisory committee will provide regular member checking and critique. In addition, my participation as an open researcher with the  GO-GN Global OER Graduate Network  provides me external and member checking from the global open learning research community. The opportunity to participate in GO_GN’s innovative external and member checking approach affords a sustainable approach to research processes which exemplifies how to support multiple researchers at the same time. The opportunity to share and collaborate about my research in a community of learning will potentially increase credibility of my research through the transparency of the process, opportunities for critique (and defence of my ideas) and authentic and timely communication.

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