Monthly Archives: October 2013

The Importance of Open Learning

That video was open to everyone today as part #K12Online Open Learning Conference.

Today is a huge open learning day for me.

I am presenting my first k12Online video, I am facilitating an all day High School Leadership Tweet Chat for a new open online course called #HSOLead13 (anyone can jump in and tweet about leadership using the hashtag) AND I am participating in the Canadian Education Association’s – What is Standing in the Way of Change in Education? conference in Calgary.

The fact that I will be following three open twitter chats in one day – plus participating in a conference (yes we are expected to discuss and engage at this one) suggests that the change is happening in education – and I am excited to be in the middle of it.

 This post is about why open learning is essential to transforming our education system. I would not be the learner and educator I am today, if other educators and learners did not learn and share with me, in the open.

The video that I was asked to create for K12Online was extremely difficult for me. It wasn’t the content and what I wanted to say, but literally “how” to put it together. I do not have great visual design or videography skills. However, that is the key piece to my success as an open learner. I try anyway. I put myself out there knowing that the video is not perfect, it is not clear and it does not really “speak” for me. Ironically, one of the high school students in #HSOLead13 sent out a tweet today about being perfect:

This video is one of many pebbles on my learning path – and it doesn’t have to be perfect, it just has to created as a foundation for others to construct their own learning paths…..

Before I started learning in the open, very few people knew about who am I am as a person and as learner. Each year I would learn with my students, parents and others in my immediate learning community – but my learning path was hidden to others by too much shrubbery and gates.

012650_3fce2b30Retrieveed from:

I started to learn how to be an open learner because other people had started to create paths and opened gates for me.

I started on my learning journey by following the paths of other people.

Some people create really wide learning paths.  They provide a wide variety of rocks, pebbles and boulders for me to look at, think about, and add to. Because their rocks are in the open, not hidden in the forest, people can share their rockery with me. I can quote parts of his blogs that I see linked in twitter, connect with learners through skype or Google hangouts, and complete courses for open badges and find out who put the original rocks on paths through creative commons.

Because other people shared their paths with me – I was able to start constructing my own learning path.

Because I was able to start my own learning path – I was able to help others construct their own learning paths and the cycle goes on …..and on…….and on……

None of the pebbles on any of these paths were perfect – and in many cases, people were scared to “put” their ideas out in the open. But these anonymous (at first) people put their ideas “out there” and I learned because of them and with them!

As I said earlier – today is a busy day for me, but ironically I found this tweet that was retweeted by Ariana Cardanas as one of the first tweets for the #HSOLead13 twitter chat:

BXDFo-GIIAA6kVcAnd so the learning cycle continues – I hope that someone “gets” something out of my video and sees me for who I am – an open learner and far from perfect.

So – as I step into a wider path learner path today – I encourage you to consider how you can construct your own path – while helping construct the learning paths of others – by learning out in the open….

Verena 🙂

PS – Please consider tweeting about leadership using the hashtag #HSOLead13 and stepping into a learning path of all ages!




Week 7 – Online Teaching Reflections – POT Course


From our readings – I was most focused on the part about, “Timing and Pacing of course”. In my recent HS Leadership course, since it is a new design, it is blended and it has LOTS of new to online learning learners in it….I decided to open the whole course. This went against my usual design “habit” of opening one module at a time.


Why did I do it?  For a few reasons.

1) The synchronous part of the course is only 2 weeks, then they will go off and complete a project. So I was not totally overwhelming them with content – only “kind of” overwhelming them.


2) The flipped educator in me wanted students to have an opportunity to see the “whole” picture.  I want the students to feel comfortable in their online environment, so I thought it only fair to set them up with as much information when they want it.


3)  Since it is a new design, it is blended and it has LOTS of “new to online learning” learners in it, I wanted them to see as much as possible in the limited time we do have together online.


Since this course will end after the synchronous 2 weeks, I will be able to write some more about my “timing” design decision later.


The second thing that really jumped out at me from our “resources” was from Lisa’s blog post:


4. Online teaching is its own discipline, and we need to study it.

It’s not just a “method of delivery” or a “format” — it’s its own field, with a whole community of practitioners in K-12, college, training and consulting. It pays to be in touch with people who know the latest trends. Entire careers are being built by people who know nothing about teaching, but get advanced degrees researching it so they can get jobs and tell you what to do. Not knowing the jargon or the research, and being able to critique it, could mean less autonomy in your own work. From Lisa’s Blog 

This excerpt really jumped out at me, because I don’t think I had really thought about online learning – teaching it – as a specialization. It is! I have “inadvertently” become a specialist in open learning, especially k12 and High School, and you are absolutely correct. The “way” to study and specialize is to engage and connect with others who are doing amazing things – so you can bring it back to your own learning environments. Although I have some masters levels courses to support online learning, I specialized through experiential learning opportunities.

So- I guess I have commented on how I have integrated the “timing” idea into my new course as well as on the importance of validating the online learning experience.

Verena 🙂

Playing with html and Thinking Critically – POT Week 6

Daks_outlined-660x466Retrieved from:

So this week’s Program for Online Teaching focused on Internet Skills and Critical Thinking.

I was proud to get a decent mark on the Internet Skills Test. I felt like a knew “a bit” about the Internet and computers. Tech Geek has many forms though – and just because I can’t code well – at all – I can still be a Tech Geek.  It made me think about the Mozilla Web Literacy Standard: which demonstrates many ways a person can be competent in web literacy and the Internet….

Digi lit


The Framework is designed around competencies to help us all figure out what skills,behaviours, experiences and attitudes we have around web literacy.

At UBC, I am helping to support a pilot project called m101. The goal is develop web literacy by collaborating, creating, remixing, adding to and designing specialty projects around flexible mobile learning. I’m helping to develop the badges and figure out where a course like m101 would fit in a proposal on flexible learning pathways for formal and non formal learners. This is a youtube video from Erin Fields which has been developed  for m101.

I spent the week working on my High School leadership course. One of the issues I had was to create a cool and easy to use digital resource list for students. I chose Urlist to upload my lists. Unfortunately,  you cannot add youtube to urlist lists. So – I created a wiki in wikispaces called HSOLead13HighSchoolLeadership

I was able to embed a “cool” looking resource list with the youtube videos below.

I could then link the wiki into my Moodle course.

This is a quick video (based on the POT examples) of how I integrated various digital tools to create what i wanted in my online course:

Week 6 – Example of Playing with html to Design Online Course

PS – If you go to the blog I retrieved the image from the blog on…you will see a t-shirt. Just wanted to admit – I own and wear that t-shirt with pride….. 🙂





Week 5 – Syllabus and Organizing Online/Blended Courses -POT Class

It is the week of examining Syllabus options and Getting Ourselves Organized!


I have to admit the amazing timing of this module. I have already forwarded suggestions from the readings, especially the templates, to some of my peers and Instructors that I am mentoring. My fellow learners appreciated the details, especially for the “Start Up” and Introduction modules. They were able to see what information they already have, and what they are missing. I also used the syllabus readings to help me rethink a course I am working on. Here’s the summary of #HSOLead13

Ironically, the timing of Diigo is also exactly what I needed this week. A “pleasant reminder” to use social bookmarking tools encouraged me to create a Group so I didn’t lose the links to my HSOLead Course. One of my instructors had spent hours on her first module, and she lost many of her links – so I suggested diigo from now on.  I suggested it to my son’s grade 2 teacher as an alternative to a list of links on a website AND I started a new group so I wouldn’t lose all these great syllabus and set up examples : I started a new Diigo Group called –

Getting organized calmed me down. It seems that once October hit – the projects started to pile up. The syllabus readings, the quick tutorial about setting up a weekly design inside BB as well as Diigo reminders have really helped me take things one step at a time.

No questions this week – I’m focusing on “organizing” things 🙂

Verena 🙂