Category Archives: Uncategorized

“Expert” vs “Novice” – Examining the “boundary” concept in informal learning environments

We are examining the idea of research around informal learning opportunities this week in my EdD class. My experiences come from cMOOCs, in particular my experiences as learner in #Change11 and #Moocmooc, lead conspirator of #etmooc lead facilitator of #DigiFoot12 #ceetopen and #oclmooc.

In our course, we are using the science domain to demonstrate how the boundary spaces can create a learning community in which “expert” and “novice” knowledge can come together.

Screenshot 2016-07-20 08.26.52

I am looking for examples, writings, storify’s, digital artifacts – anything – that would demonstrate how learner agency is supported and the idea of “expert” and “novice” meeting and building knowledge with each other in a learning space.


I understand that the boundary layers and objects referred to in the article are within the context of the historical framework of scientific research – but could you help me with my comparison to informal learning in cMooc environments?


Or am I comparing apples and oranges?


Verena 🙂



Shanahan, M.-C. (2011). Science blogs as boundary layers: Creating and understanding new writer and reader interactions through science blogging. Journalism, 12(7), 903-919.
I apologize for anyone who cannot access this article to refer to.

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

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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…

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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.




The Truth About Being an Innovator – iNACOL Innovative Blended and Online Practice Award – 2013

download (1)Retrieved from:

So – we did it! I received the iNACOL Innovative Practice award on behalf of all of you out there who supported and helped facilitate open classroom projects over the last year! It happened because of all of you who took the opportunity to innovate and think outside the box!   Although I led the pilot project called, The Open Classroom at ADLC,(the OC@ADLC) the award speaks to the power and innovation that we can all discover through connecting and networking together.

My proposal included a wide variety of projects – and if you were part of the project, you are part of the collaborative networked team behind the award.

#DigiFoot12 – Digital Footprint 12, Steve Hargadon, Kim Gill, Scott Monahan, Tracy Poelzer, Imtiaz Majeed, Bill Belsey

#BEFA12 – Beyond Facebook12

#CEETOpen – Creating an Open Classroom

#ETMOOC – Open Learning Weeks!

Grouard Atlantis Remixed Project – Kory Reimer, Grouard School – Northlands School District

#STUHackED – Student Hack Education Video Creation Project , Don Wettrick and Students

#EDCampWest – Online Site Lead

Moocifying k12 – Relationships, Collaboration, Risk Taking – Hybrid Pedagogy

UTTyler MOOC Creation  – iDesignEDU

#HSOLead13 – High School Open – Leadership Course – Stephanie Krammer

I pitched the concept of the OC@ADLC last year at the Open Education Conference in Vancouver, BC, Canada. I remember listening to the emphasis on OER (Open Educational Resources) and thinking, but it’s not about the content, it’s about how we can learn differently. The same day that I “pitched” my pilot, Gardner Campbell gave a keynote that suggested the same thing – Open Education is Beyond the Content – and what we see is not necessarily what it appears to be.  He used the current MOOCs as an example and emphasized,  “That is not it at all. That is not what I meant, at all.” (T.S. Eliot)

Getting an award for, “Being an Innovator”, means that over the last year in particular, I have been criticized, ignored, bullied, frustrated, felt like an evangelist and generally treated like someone who speaks another “education” language.  I failed often, and I had to find the confidence to keep going.  I have not been part of the “cool team” – I have been referred to “that” educator in the corner. But, like Campbell stated,  “That is not it at all. That is not what I meant at all”.

However – being “isolated” within a system helped me connect and find other like minded souls who carry me through the bleeding edge…..It never looked scary while surrounded and supported by my PLN.

I have started almost every presentation and opportunity to “talk” about my ideas over the last year with the poem, “The Voice” by Shel Silverstein. I have constantly looked to my PLN (personal learning network) and my face to face supporters for support and shoulder to cry on. I don’t want anyone thinking that being an innovator in this education system is easy – it is not. But as I look at my own kids – and I am starting to see changes and potential for innovation in every classroom – the pain is worth it!


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Being an innovator is not all bad. I was able to explore and learn about what “it could” be all about. I was able to connect, share, collaborate, interact, engage and innovate with others from around the globe. I have learned through, with and among others – I have never really been “that” educator in the corner- ever.

What is an Innovator?

An Innovator is someone who takes what they see, remixes it, connects it to other ideas and develops a new idea based on something “old”. That is what I mean (based on T.S. Eliot’s quote) – I mean innovators consider what we as educators have been doing, “tweek it” and create something new.  Building upon the ideas of others – blending the old with the new to create authentic learning opportunities.

Thank you for your kind words of congratulations – but like I tweeted to Peggy George (one of those people who has supported me and inspired me to always think outside the box) “Innovators can’t innovate in isolation.”

Please tell me about what YOU have been doing to innovate within and transform the education system!

Verena 🙂

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.

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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!




Playing with html and Thinking Critically – POT Week 6

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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….. 🙂