From Lurker, to Follower, to Leader: Mozilla All Hands in London Goals

The “Mozillian Lurker”


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Sitting next to Sunny Lee and Carla Casilli on on school bus exploring Vancouver during the the “Open Education” Conference in 2012, I discovered that I was already a Mozillian. Although on the fringes of the community, I learned about open badges and realized, that’s what I am doing already!  In late 2012, I collaborated with Laura Hilliger and Pete Rorabaugh (Twitter vs Zombies fame)  as co-conspirators for #ETMOOC. We worked together on a digital storytelling week. The primary reason Pete and Laura were involved in ETMOOC was to learn more about how to facilitate and offer future MOOCs. Pete is a part of the famous #moocmooc community and Laura developed Mozilla’s #TeachTheWeb community. I had no idea I was learning with experts as we collaborated and conspired together. I also managed to meet Laura and other Mozillians like Chad Sansing face to face at EduCon in January 2013. We even managed to be part of the #ETMOOC Lip Dub (Check 1:18)  That year I worked with Alberta Distance Learning Centre and won an Innovation Award for creating the Open Classroom – which would never have happened without the key connections and learning that had occurred throughout the year.

I spent the next year completing my course work for my UBC MET and briefly supported the development of the original web literacy competencies led by Doug Belshaw.  As part of my project work completing my MET with UBC, I presented my research to the mozilla open badges community. By developing my connections within the original open badges and #teachtheweb community I met people who have since become trusted mentors like Ian O’Byrne and  friends like Emma Irwin.

Over the last 4 years, I never really moved from the “fringes” of the Mozilla community – but I was always a Mozillian. I live and breathe openness. I strive for open communication within our school systems and developing digital literacy for all learners. As a Canadian, I work with a lot of American educators and we chat about web safety and privacy regularly – there is a difference. I watched from afar as Mozilla changed leadership, watched as my “heros and leaders” shifted their focus and I watched as Mozilla started new campaigns and directions.

Emma Irwin reconnected with me about 6 months ago – she checked in to see what I was up to. We had met years ago in Victoria when I was considering a PhD program.  Late last year, Emma asked me if I would be interested in volunteering with the Mozilla participation team. I was working with an organization at the time that did not give me the “soul work” I always need, so I said yes. I had no idea what the participation team was or what I was getting myself into. After a failed attempt to get me to Singapore (my fault), the timing was right for London – and I am about to break my pattern and move from the “Mozilla fringes” into the “Mozilla swamp”.

Jumping Into the Mozilla Community:

  1. Communication and Identity -> One of the Mozilla’s main goals is to increase membership. How we go about this will be a hot conversation topic in London. However, one of my goals will be to be an honest and authentic guinea pig who will act as a voice for the “Future” Mozillians. Learning about GitHUb, how to follow the Mozilla project process, how to communicate, Mozilla rhetoric – these are all experiences I can speak to first hand. In London – I will be asking  a lot of questions and asking for a lot of clarification. I will need people to explain things and to repeat things for me.  I have a lot of experience working as an ESL teacher and I know how important it is to remember that a student’s inability to communicate has nothing to do with their cognitive abilities. Just because they can’t answer my questions, doesn’t mean they don;t know the answers. To say I am stepping outside my comfort zone would be an understatement from a technical vocabulary and programming point of view – many Mozillians will be speaking another language to me. However, I hope that by trying to communicate in my fringe language, that I can lead present Mozillians to future Mozillians.
  2. Building community- based on my current network Idea -> Based on goal #1, and my desire to use diversity to increase communication and future Mozillians, I want to use my K12 teacher network to support future volunteer opportunities. Right now I am calling it a “Teachers Without Borders” idea, but I hope to work on this concept and have a viable action plan after spending time in London.
  3. Learning → I am starting my EdD  at UofC this summer. I plan on learning more about Mozilla’s campus campaign to learn how I can better support current Mozilla projects as well as learn more about the research community and finally get some ideas for my future research.

I genuinely have no idea who I want to meet in London, although I am hoping to connect with Chad Sansing because he is cool and Emma Irwin because she was the one who spent the time pulling me from the fringes.

Push me, challenge me, encourage me, hear me….All Hands in London comes at a great time for me – and I am heading into London with my eyes and ears wide open! Let the fun begin!

How to “Teach” Social Presence

This blog post is about “Social Presence” for the #HumanMOOC Course

imageWhat did you learn today?s

Image from:

Learning “How to Learn” Online…..with a focus on Social Presence

When I co-facilitated ED722 with Dr Ian O’Byrne last year….(A course  to introduce you to emerging trends, issues and practices in online learning.) we thought long and hard about developing our digital presence – but also about how to help develop the students’ online presence so students could develop confidence to learn on their own – online.

We wanted to expand on the idea of “open learning” and MOOCs by learning “with” our students and consistently modelling “how” we learn. We wanted the students to realize that we have never stopped learning, and that the way we learn in a “course” is only the first stage of learning online.

So we set up the course in “social presence stages”. After having experienced the lack of learner support in previous MOOcs ourselves we knew we needed to set up the course in stages. We used  “constructivist” pedagogy first as a stage BEFORE attempting to promote connectivist and ultimatley serendipitous learning

So – our “teaching online plan”looked something like this:

12 week course Course Syllabus

Week 1 -2


  • Building relationships
  • Introduction to the course resources and tools

We used Google Sites as the main course page, with a separate closed Google community students were introduced to basic research, literature and the digital tools that the 12 week course would provide.

Week 3:

Objective :

  • How to demonstrate evidence of learning- in the open

Then we introduced (and modelled) Storify – We asked students to examine examples of story’s that we had already made about “What we learned OR a summary of the learning we saw collected – from a facilitator point of view”. We encouraged the students to refer to the set course references, resources and tools.  The instructional design was simple: course content and weekly synchronous google hangouts with Dr. Ian O’Byrne *(and Verena when she remembered to make it).

Week 4


  • Experience Learning in an open networked environment

We joined  a MOOC together. We decided to join DLMOOC – a Mooc about Deeper Learning. I happened to know one of the lead facilitators of the course – so I did mention to Karen Fasimpaur  that we would be joining as a “Learning Cohort”. Most of the course discussion still remained in the private Google Community and students started to transition to Storify – but seemed to prefer to “describe their learning” on their blogs.


Week 5-10


  • Overview emerging trends, issues and practices in online learning – by experiencing them and connecting to your own experiences.

Using the MOOC topics as a guide, Ian and integrated the course topics to connect with the MOOC topics. Students started to expand their “Community of learning” from the set “closed” private community to the Learners within the MOOC. What data did Ian and I have to support this? Each week we asked the students to add their storifies and blog posts (either or) to a google chart.

What I saw evidence of as a facilitator-learner……

At first students tended to add course resources and their own social media posts to their storifies.

For example, a student would comment about the weekly readings then add in their tweet or google post.

Then – With the addition of the MOOC “learners” , which provided a larger community but a more sustainable means for the lead facilitator to give feedback to students posts and comments. We started to see evidence of the addition of different learner’s posts, examples of their tweets or posts (within a ED722 student’s storify). This demonstrated that there was a shift in the perception of how we express our learning” because the resources and “teacher guided” content was not the only content quoted, and we were not the only people  that the students were learning from. “The experts were in the room – the room being the Internet”.

The private google community became a place for questions and feedback about assignments – but the learning was taken “outside” of the private community and transported “back into” the community by the students.

By Week 10 – with the addition of the MOOC “learners” , which provided a larger community but a more sustainable means for the lead facilitator to give feedback to students posts and comments, students were responding to the course topics, the MOOC topics and adding RT’s and replies and answers. Many students were invited to participate in Google+ hangouts for the MOOC – so their social presence was promoted by learning “outside” of the traditional course.

Week 11 and 12 were a time spent completing projects.We had asked that the groups be 2 or 3 people, but many of the groups had connected with other learners outside of the course. By building relationships with other learners in the MOOC, they had a plethora of people to learn with and from.

For me – the best experience was the final blog posts and storifies.

All the “evidence of learning” for the course is found here if you are interested.

What did I learn as a facilitator?

All students need to start a  new project or experience by finding their common cultural border crossing. BY giving the students 2 weeks to figure out what we were up to, we didn’t initiate too much fear. We also focused on developing relationships so the students knew who we were and knew that they could ask us for help and support.

We also started slowly – by starting an online course, then a MOOC, students could see we were starting in stages.

We modelled how we learn. Ian and I gave feedback through social media, we RT’d student tweets, blogs and other forms of online interaction – we supported their development of social presence – and I feel the students knew that they were supported. The students also got to see how the facilitators learn and who we are through our personal interactions and development of our own digital identities.

By the end of the course, I felt that the students knew how to learn by themselves. We transitioned from teacher-directed to serendipitous connected learning – while always maintaining a stable “safety” zone private online community. To this day I Retweet (RT) and connect with the students and consider them my fellow peers.

We continue to learn together.

Why I love cMOOCs

Why I love cMOOCs – (The c really stands for Canadian….)

I found MOOCs because someone encouraged me to go find the most engaging, motivating and interactive “thing” happening in Online Learning. At the time – April 2012 – that thing was MOOCs. There was no difference between a cMOOC and an xMOOC back in those olden days.

The original way to find out about a MOOC was to:

  1. Google interactive and engaging online learning
  2. Find a course website like Change11 or MOOCMOOC
  3. Register online
  4. Frantically figure out how to create a twitter name, blog, your blog’s RSS feed and download and run  BlackBoard Collaborate
  5. Then…Figure out who your weekly “teacher” will be and remember to show up to the live session and check the webpage for any activities that no one would mark but you could do
  6. Figure out what a twitter hashtag is to figure out who your classmates were

It was the most chaotic, lonely, difficult, challenging and crazy learning experiences I had ever had in my life. It was also the first time in my life I felt like I was learning – for the sake of learning. When you learn because you are passionate about a topic and there are no set guidelines and expectations but your own…it is a totally different experience.

By joining in April 2012, I joined in a course that had been running since the previous year. While I could sense some exhaustion on the behalf of the facilitators  (George Siemens, Steven Downes and Dave Cormier and weekly host Alec Couros) my learning was ignited.

Since that day – I have become dependent upon my network to learn. To me, what Downes and Siemens refer to as “nodes of learning” refer to the people,  digital artifacts (like blog posts) and social media networks (like twitter) with whom and which I connect and learn everyday.  I collaborate and interact in one continuous learning community. My PLN (Personal Learning Network) also includes people, digital artifacts and social networks. Alec Couros created this image of the Networked Teacher:



So- as we start this new adventure called #OCLMOOC I encourage you to become a serendipitous learner. That means – learn in the moment, take risks, fail often and learn from your mistakes and your successes! I challenge you to learn how to learn with others – online.

So – stop reading…get out there…and learn!!! Meet a particularly talented “node of learning” Dave Cormier tonight in the #OCLMOOC opening webinar.

I am really, really looking forward to learning with you! Please follow me on twitter @verenanz

No More Learning In Isolation! Why we need to Collaborate in Order to Learn…

inspirational-quote-reaction-transformation-carl-jungRetrieved from:

This blog post has been built upon the conversations and learning with others over the last two months…

 The ideas started based on Ian O’Byrne ‘s  Digitally Literate Google Hangout about Writing and Publishing Openly Online. Ian and I have had an ongoing discussion about the idea that “Open is an Attitude” which was originally brought to our attention by Doug Belshaw. Doug Belshaw was one of the Digitally Literate guests and he mentioned using Minecraft or a “game” as a space to connect with your kids when you are away from home. Then he blogged about it.  The concept of meeting and interacting using digital tools to connect, interact and possibly collaborate – intrigued me. Coincidentally, I recently completed the #Gamifi-ED project with Dr. Lee Graham, Vicki Davis and Colin Ousterhout. In one of our final gamemaker weekly chats we started talking about the importance of collaboration in online environments.  Vicki and Lee were fascinated (and intrigued) by the increased engagement level of their students based on online collaboration – but we were wondering what had led to such high levels of engagement and so we started examining research on collaboration in online environments.

So I started to look for research in online learning environments – with an “open” or networked” focus if possible…

Debbie Morrison’s post on, “How Collaborative Learning Works in Closed Online courses vs MOOCs” started to give me a better idea, from a learning design point of view, of the differences between online “group work” and MOOC networked serendipitous collaborations:

“Collaborative learning [group work] is a component of COLCs and MOOCs, yet learning with peers occurs differently in each; one is prescribed, controlled and potentially used for assessment purposes, as in the COLC, while in a MOOC learning is often chaotic, student-driven, optional, and not controllable by course facilitators given its thousands of participants.”

(COLC, is the acronym Morrison used to label a closed, online, for-credit learning, course)

Similarly, a recent research synthesis on Connected Learning (Written by Mimi Ito and large group of writers) suggests that learning involves intergenerational collaboration with like minded learners based on similar passions.

  • This is Table 1 from the Connected Learning Framework:



Retrieved from:

Another ongoing conversation has been with Karen Fasimpaur. We are chatting back and forth in a wide variety of digital mediums, blogs, google hangouts and twitter chats about how open educational resources play a role in open learning and collaboration.

So – I began to think about the opportunity to encourage student engagement in online courses by integrating collaboration that prioritizes learning relationships and authentic applications to their lives.  All of my learning has been in collaborative spaces where I have been interacting with people or directed to blog responses or twitter interactions by people. My deeper and more meaningful learning connections have developed as a result of collaborating with others.  So this post about the potential of online collaboration is a result of – online collaboration.

And then  this week- I was in a Palliser PD Session on Literacy given By Dr. David Booth. I had that moment to breathe and connect the ideas as I drove many km’s back and forth to the face to face session. I needed that time to think and reflect.

I heard Dr. Booth ask me to reconsider my perspectives, “Today’s kids aren’t  your childhood”, to consider “how do we prepare kids for a world we don’t know?” and, “ to find meaning in all text forms.”

How will I do this as a teacher? I need to get to know my students, develop relationships with them. I need to accept that they are not only me in that they may not learn like I do, but that digital media and influence ensures that students today cannot be like me. I need to facilitate personalized learning opportunities by being a meaning maker. I need to rethink my role as a teacher by figuring out how I can be most useful and helpful by trying to “read the code” of literacy medium. This means examining what literacy could mean in terms of the context, text, person, skill, ability and medium in order to best meet the needs of my learners.

I am currently working  as an online teacher with Palliser Beyond Borders. Dr. Booth’s words, inspired me to rethink how we could learn about Forensic science. I decided that I needed to include a story into the course, a case study. Although I am starting the story, as we start the course and build relationships, I am hoping that we can construct the whole story together by the end of the course. We will co-create  our learning through online collaboration.

Based on all of my learning about online collaboration, I am using Mozilla Popcorn Webmaker as my literacy tool.  I am able to integrate videos, music, wikipedia, maps, 3D models, images and personal comments into a digital story.

Students will be able to remix my original story, compare the original story, add to the story, collaborate with others in developing new stories and hopefully construct their own stories. Their voice will be heard and their learning will be transparent.

I  so excited that my open collaborations with others were able to help me rethink how to encourage collaboration and deeper, more meaningful learning with my students.

How are you learning as an educator? Do you feel that collaboration leads to more learning opportunities?

Learning by Doing – #Gamifi-ED Project OOC !

The project can only be compared Sochi 2014 Olympics Fireworks ……

So – what kind of project is blowing my mind, challenging my assumptions, promoting collaboration, emphasizing trust, developing confidence, initiating creativity, developing new skills, promoting competencies, evaluating standards, developing interdisciplinary (and multi-aged) models, making me think outside the box and ask what am I getting myself into????

 I want to tell you about the project I have been working on since last October – it is called: #Gamifi-ED !!!!

I am collaborating in a guild with a team of Gamemakers:

Lee Graham – University of Alaska

Vicki Davis -Teacher, IT specialist, author and connected educator

Colin Osterhout – Alaska University Student & Minecraft Specialist colin@akgee

 Quest 1 – What are we doing?

Students from Vicki’s grade 9 class and Lee’s University EDTech leadership course have been working together to examine and evaluate “Serious Games” in a massive project called #Gamifi-ED . They will each develop rubrics  (based on collaborative group work in a wiki) that they, and educators, can use to evaluate and examine “Serious Games”. These learners of all ages, started their group work in early February in wikispaces. They will be presenting their projects at the end of February 2014 as part of the #Gamifi-ED OOC.

This is the recent blog post from Vicki Davis that describes how this project is positively impacting her students and most importantly ->enriching their learning!

What is the Gamifi-ED OOC (Open Online Community) from February 12 – 26, 2014?

To support the #Gamifi-ED learners, we have organized a two week open online community bringing experts from around the world into Google Hangouts – to discuss Games Based Learning. These Google Hangouts are open to the world and will be offered live and saved in the #Gamifi-ED youtube channel. We are attempting to create a Open Educational Resource about Games Based Learning that can be remixed, recreated and added to in the future.

The #Gamifi-ED “Squirrel Chaser” Open Online Community can be found HERE

The #Gamifi-ED OOC wiki can be found HERE

The #Gamifi-ED OOC Calendar of Events can be found HERE

The #Gamifi-ED Project wiki can be found HERE

The #Gamifi-ED Youtube Channel Click HERE

The EDGamer Interview is found HERE (How Gamifi-ED empowers students)

 You are welcome and encouraged to participate in the #Gamifi-ED OOC by supporting the Google Hangouts.

p4 Squirrel Chaser Community

What happens after the #Gamifi-ED OOC?

Vicki’s students will then take what they have learned about serious games and create videos about a game that they could create in Minecraft that could “Solve the World’s Problems”.

Which student created Minecraft game design based on solving the world’s problems, will win?

This is where the project really blows my mind -> We all win! Once we have a crowdsourced winning game design, we will all collaborate and work on creating the game together in Minecraft led by Colin Osterhout. That’s right -> all that work to create a game and learn together!

Sooooooooo……I encourage you to be a part of this learning. Please participate in the #Gamifi-ED OOC that starts Feb 10 with: “What is Twitter vs Zombies” with Pete Rorabaugh and Jesse Stommel. And don’t stop….add to the discussions in the Google Community, help us learn about games based learning and its impact on Education together!

Path to Panem : Hunger Games Project

k12 and Higher Ed: Project – Path to Panem, Hunger Games Project

“May the Odds Be Ever in Your Favour” (The Hunger Games, S. Colins)

Path to Panem FINAL

A few weeks ago, I tweeted a “what if” scenario – What if we (as in my PLN) created a Hunger Games Project – Online? I had been talking with the Educurious team about how to integrate badging and merge their current Hunger Games module – from pdf to an online/blended/networked version.

These are the tweets, in a Hunger Games- Path to Panem  Storify, that started the project.

After the initial discussion, Dr. Lee Graham (University of Alaska Southeast) connected with me – and asked if we could consider integrating the Hunger Games idea into one of her graduate courses. She asked Vicki Davis to see if she would like to be involved.  Vicki’s students are doing some great work with Minecraft. She encouraged us to consider a staged project where any student (13+) could begin by researching and inquiring about the Path to Panem.  Then, students could consider games that described the many possible paths to Panem. Her students would focus on a Minecraft version. Lee asked one of her students, Minecraft guru Colin Osterhout if he would help support a Minecraft EDU version of Path to Panem.

That’s how it started and now YOU can join with us on this adventure.

We are looking for classes with students 13+ to start the journey in January!

We are looking for students and teachers of ALL abilities to come and learn with us in a networked environment about “Preventing the Path to Panem”.

We are looking for sponsors!

We are looking for you!

We will be offering supportive “Squirrel Chaser” community to help all learners and a two week OOC (Open Online Community) in Games Based Learning to give us all ideas for our projects! The Games Based, Squirrel Chasers OOC will be offered February 12-26/14.

Click on HERE to get to the  Gamifi-ED: Preventing the Path to Panem: Hunger Games Experience wiki

The wiki has all the details and information you need before January 1/14

Click HERE to apply for any of the various project phases.

OR….Send me a tweet if you @verenanz if you know of someone who would like to help be on a panel or present in the Games Based Squirrel Chasers OOC.




Learning Pathways – Post 5: Steps to Creating Learning Pathways at UBC


Retrieved from:

What are some of the conditions that UBC would need to consider in order to offer a flexible learning pathways program?


This is a list of potential stages, programs and changes that UBC could investigate when considering integrating informal and formal learning pathways:


1. Learning Pathways Summit

Provide the physical and virtual environment to host a summit on,  “Informal Learning Currency” where interested stakeholders from industry, community associations, k12 and higher education could come together and discuss the future of learning by integrating formal and informal learning. Consider supporting CANeLearn’s Centre for Innovation by igniting collaboration and relationships.


2. Create an Open Badges Learning System

Connect and partner with Mozilla Open Badges to consider the stages for a UBC Open Badges System. By creating a UBC Open Badge Platform, all participants will be able to store their badges in a Mozilla Badge Backpack for all stakeholders to see.


3. Choose a Digital Learning Pathways Provider

Find a digital tool to support open badges, competency based learning, learning pathways, evidence of informal and formal learning with a Canadian based server and repository. This tool would need to be able to be integrated into Learning Management Systems and support Student Information Service (SIS) programs. I would suggest a pilot with the Jibe’s Keiro platform.


4.  Promote Team Teaching, Mentoring in High School and Authentic Project Collaboration

Industry, community association and Higher Education leaders are encouraged to consider and participate in team teaching and mentoring programs in k12 institutions. These programs can offer open badges and be added to a common digital platform and repository of learning pathways.


5. Student Application Process to UBC

Students that apply to UBC would be required to combine their high school grades as well as an ePortfolio, or Keiro evidence of learning with current evidence of their experiences and mastery of competencies and/or a collection of open badges to demonstrate their evidence of learning.


6. Offer more Opportunities for Dual Credit:

Students who completed a dual credit course based on competencies, for example m101, would receive advanced acceptance or alternatively dual credit for both high school and university based on the demonstration of their competency. UBC is encouraged to increase, support and examine the apprenticeship programs to increase support for dual credit for high school and college as well.


7. Pre-boarding Courses

The university faculty could create modular based, pre-boarding courses, that offer anyone the opportunity to be introduced to university courses and expectations. The value would be setting the students up for success by encouraging a transition between systems/programs. An example of this kind of pre-boarding course could be a pre-boarding module for the current m101 course for all UBC students in order to encourage digital literacy. Pre-boarding courses can be assessed with a badge based on skill completion.


8. Course Badges at a Higher Education Level

The university could ask for volunteer instructors to offer badges as part of their regular course assessment. These badges could be offered to credit and non-credit courses, as well as for extracurricular, informal learning opportunities and training opportunities for UBC staff.


9. Competency Based Program

The university would need to restructure the assessment policies and design a core competency based program and faculty competency based program.


Click on links for examples of institutions and an article


10. Communicate Authentic Learning

By promoting transparent learning, which includes what is working, and what is not working, UBC could model leadership and networked learning. Participants and stakeholders in the learning pathways process would be encouraged to consider open, authentic social networking opportunities in order to communicate with each other.


Learning pathways can offer a means to demonstrate and gather evidence of the integration of informal and formal learning. A serious consideration are open badge systems to support the integration of competency based learning assessment systems. Purdue and UC Davis are currently in a proof of concept stage and can be used as current examples. The descriptions of the other current formal and informal learning examples and resources in this proposal are offered in an attempt to ignite the opportunities for alternatives. This proposal offers examples and steps for UBC to be the educational leader in Canada by considering learning pathways and the integration of formal and informal learning in Higher Education.

References: (for ALL Blog Posts on Learning Pathways)

Ash, K. (2012). Colleges Use ‘Digital Badges’ to Replace Traditional Grading. Retrieved December 1, 2014 from,

Clement, J. (2000).  Model based learning as a key research area for science education”. International Journal of Science Education 22 (9): 1041–1053.

Kitsantas, A. & Dabbagh, N. (2011). The role of Web 2.0 technologies in self-regulated learning. New Directions for Teaching and Learning, 2011: 99–106. doi: 10.1002/tl.448

Enonbun, O. (2010). Constructivism and Web 2.0 in the Emerging Learning Era:

A Global Perspective. Journal of Strategic Innovation and Sustainability vol. 6(4). Retrieved December 1, 2014  from,

Falconer, I., Littlejohn, A.,  & McGill, L. (2013). Fluid learning: vision for lifelong learning in 2030.  Retrieved December 1, 2014  from,

Glover, I. & Latif, F. (2013).  Open Badges: a visual, learner-centric approach to recognizing achievement. Retrieved December 1, 2014 from,

Haskell, C.  (2013)  “Understanding Quest-Based Learning [white paper]”. Retrieved December 1, 2014  from,

Ito, Mizuko, Sonja Baumer, Matteo Bittanti, danah boyd, Rachel Cody, Becky Herr, Heather A. Horst, Patricia G. Lange, Dilan Mahendran, Katynka Martinez, C.J. Pascoe, Dan Perkel, Laura Robinson, Christo Sims, and Lisa Tripp. (with Judd Antin, Megan Finn, Arthur Law, Annie Manion, Sarai Mitnick and Dan Schlossberg and Sarita Yardi). (2010). Hanging Out, Messing Around, Geeking Out: Living and Learning with New Media. Cambridge: MIT Press.

Pintrich, P. & De Groot, E. (1990)  Motivational and Self-Regulated Learning Components of Classroom Academic Performance, Journal of Educational Psychology

1990, Vol. 82, No. 1,33-40

10 Predictions for Personalized Learning for 2013. (2012).  Personalized Learning: Transform learning for All Learners. Retrieved December 1, 2014  from,

Purdue University’s Passport to intercultural Learning (PUPIL). (n.d)  Purdue University Centre for Instructional  Excellence. Retrieved December 1, 2014 from,

Sefton-Green, J. (2012). Learning at Not-School: A Review of Study, Theory, and Advocacy for Education in Non-Formal Settings. John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation Reports on Digital Media and Learning. MIT Press. Retrieved December 1, 2014  from,

Simpson, S. (2013) Collaboration between universities and industry propels research.  Vancouver Sun. Retrieved December 1, 2014 from,

Teitle, J. (2012). Theorizing hang-out: Unstructured youth programs and the politics of representation.(Unpublished doctoral dissertation). University of Iowa, Iowa City, IA.

Teitle, J. (2013). The Other 17 Hours: Valuing Out-of-School Time. Retrieved December 1, 2014 from,

Watson, W.R. , Watson, S.L., & C.M. Reigeluth (2013). Education 3.0: breaking the mold with technology, Interactive Learning Environments, DOI:10.1080/10494820.2013.764322.

Williamson, B. (2013) The Future of the Curriculum: School Knowledge in the Digital Age.  MIT Press.  Retrieved December 1, 2014 from,

Zimmerman, B. J. (Ed); Schunk, D. H. (Ed) (1989) Self-regulated learning and academic achievement: Theory, research, and practice. Springer series in cognitive development.

New York, NY, US: Springer-Verlag Publishing. xiv 212 pp. doi: 10.1007/978-1-4612-3618-4

I must thank and give credit to the following people for their information and support:

Dr. Bill Watson-Purdue University, Purdue graduate student Elizabeth Brott Beese, Dr. Colin Mulligan-Glasgow Caledonian University, Alex Molina-PASA, Will Engle-UBC, Dr. Randy LaBonte, Dr. David Porter, the Mozilla Open Badges Team and Dr. David Vogt- UBC.


Possible Chart to describe connections between Systemic Learning Pathways:

Flexible Learning Pathways Process:

Age Level ->









High School







Create Core Curriculum

Competencies for all subjects

Create Core Competencies: Interdisciplinary

Web Literacy

Problem Based Learning

Provide Mentors

Provide Economic Support

Provide Venues and Opportunities for informal competency development

Provide Project Opportunities

Create Standards for career readiness

Provide Mentors

Provide Venues /Opportunities for informal competency development

Create informal competencies

Competency Based, LMS, Integration

ePortfolio focus

Open Badges




Age Level ->
















Create Core Curriculum Competencies

Create Core Competencies: Interdisciplinary

Web Literacy

Problem Based Learning

Provide Mentors

Provide Economic Support

Provide Venue or Opportunities  for informal competency development

Provide Project Opportunities

Create Standards for career readiness

Provide Mentors

Provide Venues /Opportunities for informal competency development

Create informal competencies

Competency Based, LMS, Integration



Open Badges




& Formal Competencies

Age Level ->









College – Trades







Create Core Curriculum Competencies

Provide Mentors

Provide Economic Support

Provide Venues and Opportunities  for informal competency development

Provide Project Opportunities

Create Standards for career readiness

Provide Mentors

Provide Venues  and Opportunities for informal competency development

Create informal competencies

Competency Based, LMS, Integration



Open Badges




Formal Competencies

Age Level ->









Lifelong Learning







Core Curriculum and Certification/Open Badging

Become Mentors

Provide Venues/Opportunities  for non-formal competency development

Become Mentors

Provide Venues/Opportunities  for informal competency development

Competency Based, LMS, Integration



Open Badges



Learning Pathways – Post 4: Current attitudes about open flexible learning pathways

Current attitudes about open flexible learning pathways – where do they fit in?

We have to trust each other in order to create authentic learning pathways…..



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Part of the research process to discover current trends in open badges included asking k12 institutions, consultants, industry leaders, community associations and higher education leaders where learning pathways could “fit” in the system. This is a brief “informal” overview, in my opinion, of key points that came up as I asked guiding questions about the integration of formal and informal learning, learning pathways and how open badges could be applied to k12 institutions and Higher Ed, industry and community association leaders.


An essential element of learning pathways is that they need to be supported throughout all the systems. This means that there needs to be more communication, support and transition between k12, Higher Education, industry (the workforce) and community. Everyone mentioned communication, trust and credibility in order to connect as one system.


The common agreement was a need for a currency that offers credibility for evidence of learning. Open badges were supported by most people because of the ability to increase the credibility factor of informal learning. The badge represents something.


Another common question was around collaboration. There seemed to be a lack of trust between the different stakeholders and an apprehension about working together. Learning pathway programs could offer an opportunity for all stakeholders to build relationships and authentic learning opportunities.  For example, many industry leaders commented on their attempt at collaborative Higher Education projects. Their frustration was over the student choice of projects, rather than an industry choice so that the project could actually be applied to authentic industry problems. Alternatively, Higher Education leaders mentioned that industry did not seem to want students for projects if their companies were big and successful. Students were often welcome as interns for small start ups, but Higher Education needs partnerships and regular collaborative project programs to support scalable and sustainable learning programs for students. Industry leaders generally felt that they could make more of an impact with high school students than Higher Education students, because they could influence and encourage youth’s passions at an earlier age.


Industry and community associations felt that open badges would be most successful in high school ( or lower) as a means to give evidence of their skills, passions and experiences outside of k12 institutions. The open badges represented learner potential.  After high school, open badges seemed to be more representative of how a learner could use their badges to attain employment. The emphasis on passion or student interest was not as important for job training.


Finally, many people felt that learning pathways and the collaboration of industry, community and educational institutions could support learning for more than “just” the students. Industry and community mentors could support teachers and instructors. In addition industry and community leaders could learn about current trends and new or different perspectives.  Learning Pathways could provide a means for many learners to learn together – through collaboration and digital integration of evidence of learning anytime and anywhere.


Learning Pathways – Post 3: What options are Currently being Offered?


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High School Programs – Integration of credit for Formal and Informal Learning

By creating blended courses based on an interdisciplinary approach, the New Tech Network is a non-profit organization that supports school in the US and in Australia. Based on problem based learning strategies, students complete interdisciplinary projects that meet authentic learning outcomes. New Tech Network depends on the support of industry and community partners to build its learning network. A similar, yet different program is Opening Minds, which developed from Howard Gardners Open Minds Essay from 1993. With five categories of competence, Opening Minds Schools have developed a competency based interdisciplinary  framework that promotes the individual learner. However, interdisciplinary competency based programs do not blend well with current state course credit offerings. Currently, the Ohio Credit Flexibility program and New Hampshire and prek – CEGEP Quebec Education Plan competency based curriculum program best meet the needs of this type of program. There are many other outstanding examples of amazing individual schools offering learning pathways and unique learning opportunities, however; New Tech Network is able to offer a scalable and connected program to networked learning communities.


After School Programs: PASA Providence Afterschool Alliance

PASA programs initiated through the leadership and dedication of the Providence city council. The program is focused on an Expanded Learning Opportunities Experience. (ELO Experience)  Middle and high school students are offered specific learning opportunities outside of their regular school program in partnership with community-based program providers. These opportunities are designed around an authentic personalized student project based experience. Students are then offered high school elective credit for their project. The formative assessment is measured through a rubric and an open badge system. The feedback team includes the community organization or industry mentor as well as the teacher. The credibility of this program is due to the transparent, collaborative and tireless efforts of the PASA team.

Alaska Humanities Forum

The Sister Exchange School program was developed around a desire to connect rural and urban schools in Alaska and  to develop indigenous cultural awareness for all students through a competency based, digital storytelling learning environment. Although the program has been running since 2003, it was the recent creation of a digital learning pathways platform that promoted community, networks, collaboration and an emphasis on formal and informal learning opportunities. The Jibe software company created the learning pathways tool to initiate a hybrid learning environment.


Specialist High Skills Major (SHSM) program.

The Specialist High Skills Major program promotes bundling of specific high school courses to encourage designing a personalized learning path for focused students towards a trade,apprenticeship, college or university programs. Students will meet the requirements of the Ontario Secondary School Diploma with the addition of SHSM seal on their diploma.


K12 and Higher Education: 3D Game Lab

The 3D Game Lab is based out of Boise State University and is led by Chris Haskell and Lisa Dawley. Chris recently shared the iNACOL Innovation Award for Online or Blended Learning practice. The 3D Lab is based on Quest Based Learning  (QBL) which, incorporates game mechanics, and gamer-like learning communities which focuses on individualized and flexible curriculum experience. (Haskell, 2013) The experience is set up in a game like experience and students can create their own quests, teacher and student directed quests and receive badges for their learning. The 3D Game Lab is used by Chris Haskell and Lisa Dawley with Boise Education students as well as k12 schools. They currently have just over 4000 players.  The learning is tracked and their progress can be self-monitored between a linear gradebook approach to learning versus a non-linear quest-based learning:

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Higher Education: Purdue Passport and Purdue PUPIL

Purdue Passport is considered a badge powered flexible tracking system for evidence of student learning at Purdue University. The passport system is the tool developed by Purdue studio projects to meet the personalized digital evidence of learning of students including their personal learning environments (PLE’s). Purdue passport offers a self-directed and instructor- directed tracking system. Where Passport differs from QBL, is that it is one part of a bigger vision which is a personalized integrated educational system based upon the PIES Framework.” PIES is a conceptual framework for a new educational software format that is designed to systematically support the entire learner-centered learning process, including facilitating the activities of all stakeholders” (Watson, W.R., Watson, S.L., & Charles M. Reigeluth, C. M., 2013,  p.6). Purdue has also developed Purdue University’s Passport to Intercultural Learning. This is an institution wide, volunteer based, core competency framework to distinguish the following foundational learning outcomes: Human Cultures, Global Citizenship and Social Responsibility, and Intercultural Knowledge and Effectiveness. “ PUPIL is a tool to assist faculty and students in assessing and documenting the acquisition of these very important skills specific to Intercultural Knowledge and Effectiveness.” (Purdue Centre for Instructional Excellence.  n.d.)


The PIES primary functions include:


1. Record keeping for student learning

1.1 Standards inventory

1.2 Personal attainments inventory

1.3 Personal characteristics inventory

2. Planning for student learning

2.1 Long-term goals

2.2 Current options

2.3 Short-term goals

2.4 Projects

2.5 Teams

2.6 Roles

2.7 Contracts

3. Instruction for student learning

3.1 Project initiation

3.2 Instruction

3.3 Project support

3.4 Instructional development

4.  Assessment for (and of) student learning.

4.1 Presenting authentic tasks

4.2 Evaluating student performances

4.3 Providing immediate feedback

4.4 Certification

4.5 Developing student assessments


Higher Education – Alternative Education Models:

Similar to PASA’s work with middle and high school students, there are numerous examples of higher education collaborating with industry or community associations to create authentic learning projects for students and develop research and innovation initiatives for outside institution partners. One of these examples is the Vertically Integrated program at the University of Strathclyde in Scotland. Students are offered the opportunity to participate in an interdisciplinary and collaborative research project in their first year, which develops into an authentic personalized project into their 4th year. The projects are a team effort between the university and a variety of outside partners. Similarly, the University of Alberta is known to have offered numerous engineering – industry partnership projects in order to promote research and economic growth in the construction and  oil and gas sector. These partnership programs also promote mentoring for students and digital literacy skill development for the mentors. The program, “  has been a pioneer at developing computer programs — 25 and counting — that increase the industry’s efficiency.” (Simpson, 2013) Learning to collaborate and participate in projects that develop authentic learning skills (formal and informal) can offer students an edge for their future careers.


Open Badges in Higher Education

While Purdue University has examples of instructors of formal courses and informal courses and communities offering open badges and designing learning pathways, there are other examples of open badges in Higher Education. The UC Davis’ Agricultural Sustainability Institute has developed a competency-based approach for badges for the sustainable agriculture and food systems major. Badges can also help support the transition from grades based assessment as exemplified by Quinnipiac University and the Interactive Communications Courses. Badges are emerging as a viable option for competency based and alternative assessment models.


Degreed – Cloud Based Tracking of formal and informal learning

Degreed is a free web 2.0 tool that can be used as a curation system for any formal and informal learning. Degreed tracks a wide variety of learning opportunities and will give a Degreed score. For example, college credit courses and ITunesU MOOC courses will both be considered and integrated to create a Degreed score.


Uncollege is a newly created model based on the GAP year between high school and college. However, instead of just taking one year off, then going to college, Uncollege advocates for a four phase system – Launch, Voyage, Internship and Project. Uncollege suggests that the informal learning from a GAP year for learners will be more cost effective, save more time and will be a more authentic learning experience than spending four years at college/university/.


QUEST University

Quest University offers arts and sciences undergraduate degrees based on interdisciplinary block scheduling. A similar inquiry based learning  approach with small classes is also offered at a wide variety of liberal arts colleges in the United States. The focus on authentic personalized and interdisciplinary learning opportunities and projects make the QUEST Model an example of how to consider integrating formal and informal learning for credit.


Software and learning assessment tools:


School Pathways – BrainHoney – PLS – Personalized Learning System

The personalized learning system creates learning pathways for individual students within a LMS (Learning Management System) like model. Students receive digital individual learning pathways that still fit and integrate into larger courses and programs. School Pathways is primarily based out of California.



This SCORM software can help track student learning by collecting data into a Learning Record Store (LRS). This data could be connected to a Learning Management System or a teacher could use it for an individual course. Students have the ability to go to websites or complete online activities based on set locations, and then send their data back to the Learning Record Store. The data can be collected from any online environment.

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Keiro – the JIbe (Vancouver)

Keiro is a learning pathways tool and social network that can be used to support competency based, personalized, inquiry and collaborative learning by integrating a supportive ePortfolio like tool with a digital repository. Keiro could be described as a hybrid mix of a LMS, ePortfolio, markbook, content repository and interactive learning system.  Keiro will offer a foundation for the new curriculum developments in k12, in particular BC and Alberta. Currently in the beta stage, Keiro is used by the Alaska Humanities Forum, Educurious and is currently looking for pilots with k12, Higher Education and industry training stakeholders.

Mozilla Open Badges Backpack


Mozilla open badges has created a platform for learners to collect their open badges. Open badges from a wide variety of organizations can be stored in an individual mozilla backpack. The badge criteria and authorization is determined by the badge offering institutions, and not Mozilla Open Badges.

Competitions and Research


The Digital Media and Learning Hub is a non-profit organization with a mission to advance research in the service of a more equitable, participatory, and effective ecosystem of learning keyed to the digital and networked era. The DML Hub holds competitions to support this mission as well as offers multimedia resources (blogs, webinars, resources) and an annual conference.


HASTAC is the Humanities, Arts, Science and Technology Alliance and Collaboratory. With an alliance of more than 11,500 humanists, artists, social scientists, scientists and technologists working together to transform the future of learning for the 21st century.  HASTAC offers an innovative integration of people with digital support to distribute change making research for education.


Mozilla Open Badges Community: The Mozilla open badges community offers weekly calls, digital resources, professional learning opportunities support and connections for any institutions trying to initiate open badge programs. They offer their support to industry, community associations and educational institutions for free. The Mozilla team also models transparency, openness and collaboration and how to integrate open badges – or any of their projects – into authentic learning environments. Current research from Glover and Latif (2013)  on the possibility of open badges in higher education suggests that  “The reaction from the staff and students was overwhelmingly positive, with both students and staff seeing significant potential in the use of badges as a way for students to standout from their peers when applying for graduate jobs, placements or further study. The students were particularly interested in using badges to support their professional identity and stated that earning a badge, especially a ‘rare’ one, would motivate them to put in more effort or do some extra additional work. Staff were generally interested in being able to use badges to track the progress of their students and to encourage students to make use of support programmes, for example, those around information skills such as referencing.”


Learning Pathways -Post 2: What are the Benefits of Learning Pathways?


Learning comes in pieces – waiting to be attached and connected in all means, shapes and sizes……

2) What are the Benefits of Flexible Learning Pathways?


High School Student:

Susan is attending a High School in Nelson, BC.  Susan is interested in science and passionate about art and design. Her school does not offer integrated courses or advanced courses in any of these areas. Her current course schedule is full, but it is not full of courses that she wants. Susan decides to take an Anatomy and Physiology MOOC through an American College online for free as well as participate in a Makers Faire weekend workshop. Through the MOOC, she discovers that she is passionate about drawing and creating detailed physiology images. She has had to learn new computer programs, create her own App and has developed her digital skills as a result of participating in the MOOC and in her Maker Faire weekend project. She is frustrated because none of her courses seem to connect with what she is really interested in – or at least she cannot see the connections. None of these courses, workshops or skills are learned in her regular high school courses. If she had the opportunity to take her course through a common tracking tool as well as upload her the digital components and evidence of her learning from her Maker Faire project into the same tool, her teachers, her parents, Universities and future employers would all have the opportunity to see who Susan is as a learner.


High School Parents:

Susan’s dad is a programmer with a Vancouver software company – but he works from home in Nelson, BC. He has been part of the open source community where programmers have shared their code with each other, and he was able to become financially successful as a result of collaborating with others. He helps Susan fill out her university application and notices that she is not asked about her skills, experiences, abilities as a learner or evidence of her ability to collaborate with others. He is frustrated at the focus of academics over authentic career skills. Knowing they have to get the application in, Susan and her dad focus on a course that Susan needs to redo in order to get into the faculty she wants. He is anxious about the time she will need to retake a course and wonders how that will affect their family vacation.


Sophia is an independent digital designer with a software company. She was just granted a contract to create new updated images for the Vancouver Hospital for the physiotherapy department. The new software tool is very simple to use and she wonders if she could hire an intern or someone new to help her with her contract. She does not know where to find someone like this and she wishes that there were a common cloud based environment where she could go and find students to work with so she could start her own consulting firm in the future. Sophia would be willing to mentor someone and support them, if she could have some help in creating the project that she needs to complete. She also knows that her digital skills need to be upgraded and wonders how her skills compare to others, including the new students. She would be willing to pay to upgrade her skills to compare her abilities to learn with others.

Community Associations:

Chris is the Director of Learning with Ashoka, which is a leading association for social entrepreneurs.  Based out of Vancouver, BC, he is developing a program to create open badges so that students, parents, employers and educational institutions can have a clear criteria of the skills, abilities, experiences and attitudes of learners. He is browsing the web for great designers and comes across some of Sophia’s work. He knows that if he is able to work with other BC entrepreneurs he would be able to apply for a grant to create open badges using her designs. He considers how to connect with Sophia and in Facebook, he sees a Makers Faire post describing a design project. He clicks on Susan’s Facebook post to learn more. If he could have access to more of her work and connect her Facebook posts with her Maker Faire videos and designs that she created with her Maker Faire team, he could connect her with Sophie and add her to the grant application. He wonders how he could be a mentor and support future Maker Faire projects.


Learning Pathways ensure that the “learner” is the center of an ecosystem of diverse learning opportunities. A learning pathways is a flexible means to track the connections, skills, experiences passions and abilities of individual learners to extend a learner’s opportunity and develop their digital identity.


Learning Pathways can give learners the opportunity to put a currency on the learning they are doing outside of a formalized institution. As Teitle (2013) suggests,


“Educators have given relatively little scholarly attention to young people’s non-school lives. Ignored or valorized, non-school spaces show up in educational research only as a backdrop, implying that school learning is the yardstick by which to measure the young people’s lives. Even scholars who focus primarily on non-school spaces are limited by their inability to theorize non-school learning without framing it in terms of school learning (Sefton-Green, 2012; Teitle, 2012).


UBC has the potential to support and validate the informal learning currency already developed. As a Higher Education leader, UBC has the opportunity to collaborate with k12 educational stakeholders, industry supporters and community association advocates to initiate a change in how we could define learning opportunities.


For more information about perspectives on Open Badges for Lifelong Learning, the Mozilla Foundation and Peer 2 Peer University,in collaboration with The MacArthur Foundation have written a paper that can be found HERE

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