Monthly Archives: September 2012

Thank goodness for #etmooc

I am catching up on blog posts and RSS feed suggestions today and made it to one of my favourite topics – #etmooc.

Alec Couros is leading the way to create some kind of open online learning community for learners anywhere to come together and learn. He created a collaborative  google.doc to create some kind of instructional design plan – and most recently had a google hangout that brought about the creation of the #unmooc.

Alec’s #unmooc blog post emphasizes a lot of the ideas I have been discussing in the development of the Open Classroom. I am going to examine his reflection and collaboration to see where I can connect the OC and the #unmooc.

Some great starting points are:

100 Great Ideas by Keri Smith

Student Summaries of Work – Alec Couros ECMP 355

DS106 – What is it ? Can it be defined? Should it be defined? How can I integrate DS106 ideas into k12 Open Classroom? What scaffolding is required?

23 Things at NEFLN – Amazing

GitHUB – How is it different from other platforms? I’m still swayed towards Canvas Infrastructure – I need somewhere for students to register so I can create walled gardens for those who “choose” that learning space. (I am k12 still)

Well – off to explore!

Verena 🙂


Open Learning….Principles to follow? #oped12 #vsmooc12

This week my MET course and my #oped12 course are focusing on copyright and some aspects of the “ethics” of teaching online.

The copyright aspect is only one part of the whole picture of learning online – and I appreciated how Tapscott mentions Intellectual Property as one aspect of Open Learning.

Intellectual property is huge in open learning as we begin to think about focusing on the “creation” and not on the “content”

I was going through my “Open Resources” on the weekend and thought I should take some time to watch the whole TED Talk video by Don Tapscott

Tapscott speaks to many key issues in Open Education – although he calls them – Four “Principles” of the Open World.

1) Collaboration

2) Transparency

3) Intellectual Property

4) Empowerment

How do each of these principles influence the k12 Open Classroom?

1) Collaboration – Students in traditional f2f and online courses are typically kept within “walled gardens”. The students that they interact with are in their class, or their grade. The use of social media tools is limited to blogs and what the teacher deems appropriate for  their students.

The OC is developing an opportunity for students to discover opportunities for learning by collaborating with people outside of their regular classroom. They will choose whom they interact with while having a facilitator “guide on the side”.

Examples of a teacher who encourages his students to connect outside of the classroom walls:

Preston Learning students:

Interview with Ian and Trevor in Blackboard Collaborate (July/12) about “how” students can collaborate and learn as a result of “open” environments.

The prestonlearning website is down for maintenance today – but I’m hoping it work at some point – HERE

2) Transparency- To me, transparency infers that I document, link and produce digital artifacts to publish what I am doing and thinking in an online way. Take this blog on the openclassroom as an example.

Students in the Open Classroom will be encouraged to “demonstrate” how they are learning, thinking and reflecting in an online environment – being open to criticism and amazing feedback of like minded passionate people.

3) Intellectual Property – The Open Classroom will be licensed with a Creative Commons License. I think I will use the Attribution-NonCommercial
License because I want the created course content to be “reused” in an educational context, and not for money. What a great conversation to have with your students – how would they want their work licensed?

4) Empowerment – By encouraging collaboration (new ideas), transparency (how did you find these new ideas), intellectual property (where is your voice in these these ideas?) I think that students will reach “empowerment” through open learning. Knowledge and power will be more fairly distributed – if I can ever use the word fair in Education. Learners will be able to express themselves in their own unique ways (personalized learning).

In conclusion – The Open Classroom offers students an opportunity to learn for themselves, but also explain how they are learning to others. This type of learning opportunity has yet to be examined in k12, especially in terms of copyright and intellectual property – as the content has always belonged to the “teacher” or the government/state”.

I’m looking forward to the discussion on encouraging students to “own” their own learning.



Wendy Drexler – Creation of PLE in Grade 7 science class #oped12 #vsmooc12

I think that Wendy Drexler’s research on the creation of PLE’s in the science classroom is the very close to what I am thinking in the creation of the Open Classroom – courses. Although the courses will be much shorter, but ultimately lead to a project, Wendy’s student completed their Open Course -in their regular f2f classroom.

Wendy’s Research: A Networked Learning Model for Construction of a Personal Learning Environment

This is the outline of the unit for Science 7:

The Networked Student Unit Plan – 9 Weeks
Unit Objective: The student will model the scientific method through the construction of
personal learning environments to research a self-selected topic in life science.

Preparation – 2 weeks
• Teacher introduces the scientific method, what it means to be a scientist, and how to
think like a scientist. Students embark on a scientific exploration based on the scientific
method. Each student selects his or her topic of study, conducts a KWL (what you
know, what you want to know, what you learn), and establishes a research question and
• Acceptable/Responsible Use Policy is discussed and signed by each participating
• The project is positioned within the following perspective. What if your teachers
disappeared and you had to learn on your own? Would you give up on learning? Where
would you begin? Why would learning be important? You are an empowered learner.
You have the power to learn anything. How much you learn is up to you. How you
manage your learning is up to you. How you manage your time is up to you. A big part
of your success will depend on how well you are organized.

Introduction of Tools – 2 weeksWeb applications are introduced one at a time to give
students the chance to master the tool within the context of the study topic. Digital literacy is integrated into these lessons as needed. The essential questions of digital literacy are presented. Where can you go for good information? How do you know if you can trust what you find? How will you find subject matter experts you can trust to help you learn? Why is reflection important when you are learning something new? Why is it important to share what you’ve learned? How will you share?
Web Application (Networked
Tool Used in
Student ActivityLevel of Structure
Social Bookmarking (RSS) Delicious
  • Explain Really Simple
  • Syndication (RSS) and evaluation of Websites
  • Set up the account
  • Subscribe to each others
  • accounts
  • Bookmark and read at least 5 reliable websites
    that reflect the
  • content of chosen topic
  • Add and read at least 3 additional sites each
Note Taking (InformationManagement) NoteFish
  • Create NoteFish account
  • Begin content collection
News and Blog Alert (RSS) Google Alert
  • Create a Google Alert of keywords associated
    with selected topic
  • Read news and blogs on that topic that are
    delivered via email daily
  • Subscribe to appropriate blogs in reader
Personal Web Aggregator(RSS, InformationManagement) Symbaloo
  • Introduce Symbaloo
  • Customize page
  • Start by creating a social bookmarking gadget
  • This will build as students learn new tools


News and Blog Reader(RSS) Symbaloo RSS Feeds
  • Search for blogs and newsfeeds devoted to
    chosen topic
  • Subscribe to blogs and newsfeeds to keep track
    of updates.
  • Set up gadgets in Symbaloo


Personal Blog (RSS) EduBlogs
  • Create a personal blog
  • Post a personal reflection each day of the
    content found and experiences related to the use
    of personal learning environment
  • Students with similar topics subscribe to each
    others blogs in reader
Internet Search(Information Management,Contacts, and SynchronousCommunication) Google Scholar
  • Conduct searches in Google
  • Scholar and library databases for scholarly
  • Bookmark appropriate sites
  • Consider making contact with expert for video


Podcasts (RSS) TunesU
  • Search iTunesU for podcasts related to topic
  • Listen to at least 2 podcasts if possible
Video Conferencing (Contacts and
  • Identify at least one subject matter expert to
    invite to Skype with the class.
  • Video Conferencing
  • (Contacts and Synchronous Communication)

Daily research, reflection, share 3 weeks

Once the personal learning environment is constructed, the student will continue to conduct research and navigate new content on a daily basis. Daily activities should be divided between introducing a tip or offering a research theme for the day, actual time spent conducting research, ten minutes to reflect, and 15 minutes to share

Content Synthesis 1-2 Weeks Glogster
  • Digital science poster in glogster to reflect
    student research within the context the
    scientific method


This is a student video based on the project:

Now I need to think about how I can apply #oc courses into an open environment. At least I have a fantastic template.

Open Learning is different from Open Education? #oped12 #vsmooc12

Retrieved from:

Open Learning is different from Open Education? #oped12 #vsmooc12

In the attempt to create an “Open Classroom” I have been reflecting upon what I mean by “Open Education”. Most sources like describe Open Education based on Open Content-  resources that have open acces to anyone and everyone.

Open Education seems to include open content and resources and is slowly starting to mention “open learning”. I want to focus on the learning.  I am interested in how we can learn in open ways and what aspects of instructional design need to be examined in order to create a foundation for these this learning to occur?

My my participation in MOOCs, my facilitation of #Digifoot12 and my creation of “the OC@ADLC” is based on “Open Learning”. These experiences have created my foundation to describe what I see as “Open Learning” Opportunities in k12.

George Hobson wrote about Open Learning in his blog post last week and he motivated me to clarify what I “see”.

Has anyone on #oped12 who is interested in Open Learning and, in particular, K-12 Open Learning, got any ideas how we might complement this excellent opportunity to discuss Openness in Education? (Hobson)

Open Learning (to me)  focuses on the pedagogy of learning in an open environment which is facilitated by social media and digital tools.  Open Content/Resources can be part of open learning. However, I believe that more meaningful learning is a result of the creation of new artifacts and development of new open content by the learners. Bringing a “constructivist” approach to “connectivist” ideas I suppose. Open learning is an “extension” of what is learned in the classroom and it encourages higher level thinking and skills based on Bloom’s Taxonomy for example.

How can Open Learning in k12 create meaningful learning opportunities?


(Please consider this my first attempt at creating a framework so feedback is much appreciated.)

Like any new subject, learners need to start with basic information, then connect and extend into more difficult applications of the content. This is how we have created our Education system. In math for example, we teach numeracy basics, patterns and geometry in kindergarten and rarely calculus at the beginning.

I suggest that we need to see the integration of social media and social community literacy skills  in the same way.  The skills will be taught all the way up: however, the level of openness in an institutional setting, will be in stages.

Stages and Open Environments in Teaching Social Media Competencies


Age and Grade Type Of “Open” Environment
Stage 1 Kindergarten to Age 13 Walled Garden – Students open to other students and teachers
Teachers combine completely open options and walled garden options.
Stage 2 Age 14 to Age 17 Transition between walled garden and completely open depending on activity and level of interaction with open world.
Stage 3 Age 18 + Open Learning

In my opinion, it would be logical to emphasize the competencies in k-age 13 and extend, integrate, specialize and create authentic learning projects from age 14 and above.

As in any educational situation, if a learner if able to demonstrate skills that meet and exceed their level, they can consider being placed in a different stage.

If a Stage 2 or 3 learner collaborates with a stage 1 learner, the “lower” stage takes precedence. (Walled gardens)

These are competencies that need to be developed demonstrated in each stage / environment. It is my belief that the assessment of the competencies should be based on learner peer feedback and evidence of artifact creation/reflection..

Social Media Integration Competencies – k12

Competency Explanation/Notes
1 Determining Privacy and Security Settings in Social Media Determining whom interacts with whom, who can “see” content
google search vs Google alert
2 Determining your Digital Footprint Seven Degrees of Connectedness
What are cookies, Tracking, IP Address, Social analytics
The permanency of Digital Foorprints
3 Creating a Platform Blogs, Wikis
4 Determining DigitalCitizenship What are the “rules” of online behaviour?
The rules of social media: K.L.O.U.T. matters: knowledge, likeability, openness, understanding, trust.
Working in collaboration vs cooperation
5 Determining Digital Identity Who are we online?
Finding an audience – Voice/Tone
Consequences of
6 Examining Research Methods Identifying Bias
7 Creating a PLN/E – Personal Learning Network or (Enviro)
Investigating Digital Community
Twiiter, Facebook, Choice of Courses, Who we connect to and why
8 Creating an E-Portfolio How to choose artifacts, how to distinguish between ePortfolio options
9 Determining Curation Tools How to choose a tool
10 Investigating the psychological implications of social media overlaod Balance and diversity – SOUL

Instructional Design components to Implementation of Social Media Framework k12:

Open learning in stages, based on competencies which are assessed within a community framework and focused on content creation by the learners – could be the future framework of learning k12.

According and Anderson and Garrison (2004), different types of “interactions” needs to occur, in different ways when discussing online learning. The three main types of interactions are: student – student, student – content and student – teacher. In this framework, the emphasis is on student-student interactions and less emphasis on student – content and student -teacher interactions.  These are huge changes from traditional teacher/content focused online courses.

Some basic guidelines:

To distinguish open learning from a regular “great” online course, is the addition of connections to the outside world and a focus on reflection of the basic competencies.  With the addition of an “open context” students output is influenced (learners think about their audience, review their material in consideration of “assumptions” of others,consider their voice and tone as an author and learn to interact in meaningful ways with peers online including feedback.)

We will learn form and with each other by creating networks, receiving feedback and reflecting on what we have created, to make something new.

Ideas need to be scaffolded in order to facilitate new ways learning and new skills.

The definition of “peer” will change. According to Ito et al, (2010) among youth, peers are most commonly distinguished based on materialistic values – “what we see”. In online social environments, “peers” are seen for “what they can do”.Collaboration and interaction is based on passion and skill, not what you look like.

Open learning can be offered in face to face classroom environments and online classroom environments. It offers an opportunity to see, “Learning as learning”.

Now that I have a framework I can begin looking for evidence to support this idea and start looking for common research in k12 and feedback!

Verena 🙂

Great Discussion “DELL ThinkTank”

I enjoyed listening to DELL’s ThinkTank through LiveStream Discussion on Innovation in Education k-12.

This is the LiveStream Link:

The takeaways at the end:

We have a lot in common about what we would like to change.

Changing minds happens one step at a time. Think locally – make differences in your own environment, be the leaders.

Getting people to share best practices.

It’s a systemic problem – and everyone is responsible.

Get out of the Educator’s bubble – how to get to a larger audience. Parents, people who are frustrated with the education system.

Technology needs to integrated across the curriculum.

Accept that change is difficult.

The Open Classroom is my way of “Leveraging Technology” to make things happen!

Revealing the “new” way to think about Educational Technology

Today I started #vssmooc12 and #Open12 and we are learning about the wide variety of different online learning options. This blog and all of its posts are related to the creation of an Open Online Classroom in k-12, something that is not given as an example in the #VSSmooc12 content – yet……

Today I was also a guest presenter on Alberta Primetime. As a member of the CAPSC executive, I am advocating for the integration of educational technology within the Calgary Board of Education. I spoke about the barriers that prevent the integration of Ed Tech in our schools today.

Before I went into the studio, I tweeted then created a storify based on the tweets I received which included a lot of student voices. I happened upon the #stuvoice tweet chat and so I asked questions in the actual chat.

I heard a lot about the “fear” of technology. I began to compare this “fear” of technology to what I was reading in one of my MET classes, ETEC 511.

After reading Heidegger’s, “The Question Concerning Technology” what resonated most with me was the aspect of man influencing technology. Man’s influence is apparent in both material (design) and psychological ways (using the tool- revealing). “Since man drives technology forward, he takes part in ordering as a way of revealing” (p.18). This explanation of separation also helped me distinguish the idea of technology as a “tool” as opposed to technology as an “idea” – it is both and it wasn’t my imagination.

In our previous ETEC 511 module we discussed the evolution of trying to define Educational Technology and the fact that a distinct definition was evasive.

Heidegger’s idea of “enframing” seemed to mean encouraging (challenging) man to promote the new technology (idea or design ) in order for it to be truly revealed (accepted).

Upon reflection, I  have been considering one of the largest barriers to the integration of technology in the classroom:  fear. Fear of the unknown, fear of doing something differently, fear of change. Although there are many advocates of Educational Technology attempting to “enframe” the technology to push society to new levels – I wonder if fear is an overriding factor that is preventing  man from actually “revealing” the true potential of Educational Technology. I think it is.

As such, based on the philosophy of technology, if we as humans can “hear and feel” the challenge set forth, then we must, “open ourselves expressly to the essence of technology” (p. 26) to free ourselves and the possibility of new technology and innovation.

How do I relate the fear of EdTech integration to the Open Classroom?

When I sat for my interview I was given the questions ahead of time. Although I knew the questions, it was not necessarily what I wanted to be asked- it was what I was being “asked” to say. There is nothing wrong with the interview – the journalists had a set time, set story, set plan – and they had deadlines to meet. The purpose of the interview was to create their story – not mine.

As I was being interviewed, I had flashbacks to me teaching and “asking my students questions”.
I compared the interview to some of the  f2f classroom teaching I have done where I have an agenda, it doesn’t matter what the students really want to say – I need to complete my lesson.

Why did I care that my “story” was not being told? Why didn’t I ask questions and try to sway the interview? Well – it was for a TV show, and I am expected to represent a parent voice, not just Verena’s voice. But I wasn’t learning anything new, there was no discussion, I couldn’t ask for clarification – but again it was designed for a set audience. It wasn’t my story.
It was the opposite of what I see the Open Classroom offering students. The Open Classroom should and will be a space to be “interviewed” and also a place to tell stories and learn from each other. It will be a space where students can feel safe and “find” their own voice as a result of the interactions with their peers.

If anything, it will be a place where learning will reveal the truth about what people believe, who they are and what they are passionate about. It will be a place where learning is revealed to encourage and develop new learning and innovation.

The Open Classroom offers the potential for technology and humans to grow.

To conclude – and get back to my #vssmooc12 post as well….Open Classrooms offer a new way of learning. It will not be classified as blended and definitely not traditional online learning – but it offers a future and potential of unlimited potential. I am proud to be an advocate of a new way of “seeing and revealing” Educational Technology today.

Verena 🙂


Why am I writing this blog and why do I want other people to contribute?

Because I want to hear about other people’s ideas. I know what I am thinking….but I need to expand on that idea and figure out alternative ways to create an Open Classroom. I want to be like Rick Horan and Kevin Boyle from New York going around asking people for their ideas, A Project to Set Ideas Free. Many would consider these two more than a little odd, however the foundation of their project – a collection of ideas, promotes creativity and innovation.

This is a video about why your ideas are so important to me:

Sir Ken Robinson advocates that schools are stifling creativity. In this article, Robinson explains how he sees the stagnation of creativity in schools.

The Open Classroom is being developed to order to develop and fertilize creativity. Please consider telling me how you think we can develop an Open Classroom in schools today.

More inspiration from Sir Ken Robinson:

Verena 🙂

Setting Objectives and Looking for “Digital Tools”

Today I focused on my “OC” Classroom Objectives and my “OC” Course Objectives.

I worked through the new AB Education Digital Citizenship Policy Development Guide and hope to chat to the lead writer of the document next week: Maurice Hollingsworth, Ph.D. His blog that investigated the development of the document is called, “Speaking of IT Leadership.” I’m happy that  I had created this blog in the hopes of encouraging an open an interactive discussion about Open Classrooms and he had done the same. Am I on the right track?

I have created a Checklist in the hopes of clarifying my “wants” and “needs” in an Open Classroom. The Open Classroom Objectives is my first attempt to try and see through the trees. It is created with the Classroom and Course Objectives in mind, as well as investigating what digital tools we can currently use in D2L and what tools we need to consider in an open context.

D2L recently received a hug amount of money from venture investors with the hopes of, ” bolster its customer service and cloud infrastructure, support global growth and to accelerate the development of its platform.” (Lardinois, 2012, Retrieved from

I need to figure out how “open is open…..” and how to integrate D2L and Open Content…what does that look like?

The K-12 Virtual School MOOC also began today. I started to go through the content on different definitions of Online Learning – but I have yet to post my reflections.

Verena 🙂