I am pumped! I am now officially a Ontario Extend Empowered Educator! Seriously, if you are an educator in the Ontario Postsecondary field, do yourself a big favour and check out Ontario Extend. I cannot say enough good things about my experiences in this professional development project from eCampusOntario.
I won’t say that is was easy because there were moments that I really struggled but it was worth it. I see changes in my thinking and practice daily. Sometimes, I pause because some of these changes have become automatic like adding Alt text to photos and finding Creative Commons licensed materials to share. Others are more subtle like becoming comfortable about being working in the open and considering how I can be a partner to those around me.
And I am not done yet! I plan to be an Extender for life and to continue to build on this experience. Not to mention, I think there are more activities to do in the Domain Camp and of course, every day there is a Daily Extend to tackle!
100 days ago, I started an adventure with Ontario Extend and created my first Daily Extend. This was the beginning of building a Personal Learning Network (PLN) as an educator in the post secondary arena in Ontario.
Here’s what happened:
In case you are interested, here is my first tweet.
The idea of having a space of my own on the internet is compelling but also daunting. There is so much to know and too much I don’t know. But in the last three weeks, I have had a chance to peek under the cover and learn about how I can have a digital identity that I control.
Early on in my professional development involvement with OntarioExtend, I was offered a Reclaim Hosting site and I said “maybe.” I had never blogged before and I didn’t know if I would like it or be any good at it. I didn’t know if I would want to keep doing it.
As you can see from my 60 some odd posts, I have something to say. Lots of different somethings to say. So I took the plunge and accepted a Domain of One’s Own. However, the deciding factor was not that I liked blogging but rather, that there going to be Domain Camp. Domain Camp, led by Alan Levine (@cogdog) is four weeks of activities and instructions for those of us that are new at webmastering.
Now, I have a landing page, a blog and a splot for cats. I have email… try it, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org! I have ideas. Ideas about subdomains based on my varied personal interests. Ideas about student success training I could release under creative commons license. Ideas of how I might involve my student tutors in curating content. So many ideas!
I am crazy proud of myself. It feels weird to say that but it is true! I am more capable than I thought possible and I credit OntarioExtend for helping me see that!
I was led to this article during my morning scan of twitter. I wish I could tell who shared it, but the twitter tide has swept that away. I am also going to do something in this post that I caution my students against; I am going to heavily quote from the original article. I generally encourage students to put the ideas they find in a literature review into their own words, but in this case, I don’t believe I can do it better and I want to relate what reading those works evoked in my mind about my experiences with Ontario Extend.
I joined Ontario Extend as a personal professional development project as St. Clair College, my work home, encourages faculty to pursue PD during May and June. Unfortunately, most of the available PD outside of the Faculty Retreat just doesn’t speak to me. My colleague, Marko Jovanovic often describes me as “paying a game of 3-D chess in my head” apparently against myself or maybe against the man (shakes fist in the air) because I want to think about and debate crazy ideas and connections that occur to me that are simply not on others’ radar. This often leaves me feeling out of step and, frankly, lonely. I was expecting to find it interesting and challenging.I did not expect to find it affirming. I did not expect to find my people, my tribe.
“We can only become the person whose story we can keep telling and acting out in the world” (Petriglieri, 2018).
Here, I am going to digress a bit and bring in Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. I don’t go to work to fulfill my social or self-esteem needs. I take care of these at home with a circle of close friends and family. I have no patience for small talk. It’s not that I don’t care what you did on the weekend or that you found a great deal on _______________ (fill in the blank), it is just there is this important stuff going on, there is a big semester clock ticking in my head and time for our students is running out and I want to talk about work first. At work, I am working out my self-actualization needs. I am working on becoming my authentic self and developing mastery in my work.
“Most useful and precious among our illusions, my research suggests, is the illusion of one’s self as masterful — able to endure adversity, experience freedom, and be of service to others” (Petriglieri, 2018).
Adversity, freedom and service, now that is powerful stuff. Reminds me of parents’ teaching and the dutch work ethic I was raised with. I go to work, not just show up in the building. I put up with the crap (and as my mom would say, there is crap in every job, except she would never use the word crap) so that I can have the freedom to take care of me and mine so that I have the ability to help others. If mastery is the feeling that I got this, then most of the time I am there but…. there is some self-doubt and again, loneliness.
“Instead of demanding conformity in exchange for safety, such communities keep our working lives exciting and us stable, ultimately helping us master our working lives” (Petriglieri, 2018).
Are you ready for some Ontario Extend stuff? In Ontario Extend, I have found a community and an experience that is both dynamic and supportive. If you read any of the recent post in this blog, you will already know that I struggled fiercely with the Scholar module. But my Extend West community was there offering clarity, ideas, and support. On twitter and through the weekly lunch meetings, I received new angles to consider and a very strong message that not only am I determined and on fire, I am capable.
Petirglieri’s article is all about tribes and their value. But not all tribes are created equally. Some tribes demand conformity that stifles growth. Good tribes inspire mastery.
Petirglieri (2018) lists three characteristics of tribes “that help us be masters of our working life:”
encourage us to show up generously in the world
let us take risks to try something new
raise the questions that help us explore the edges of our competence and identity, or send us in new directions
This is Ontario Extend. It is like the perfect elevator pitch for why you should become an extender! The Collaborator module shows us how to become part of the community and encourages us to both give and receive in our Personal Learning Network. The Domain of One’s Own/Blogging/Extend Activities provides opportunity to gently enter the practice of working out-loud and sharing our real selves. The Experimenter module and Daily Extends invites us to play, to try, to create and Technologist module takes us through a process of how we can extend these principles to our practice for the betterment of student learning. The Teaching for Learning module allows us to explore our identity. The Curator module helps us realize that we are already curators and that our discernment adds value. The Scholar modules gives us a path to developing new competences and to using real data to improve our practice. And new directions?? How about open learning, Open Education Resources, Creative Commons, students as collaborators and co-creators, authentic assessment, Universal Design for Learning, accessibility and more tech tools than you knew existed! It is truly a work changing experience, if you let it be. And that is the key.
“Hard as you might look, my work suggests, you cannot find such communities. You must build them yourself” (Petriglieri, 2018).
Well, in the case of Ontario Extend, you can find such a community but you have to make it real. There is an amazing group of educators in the extend community – electic, passionate, inquisitive, supportive, expressive, brave, and most of all, open. But to really benefit from the community, you need to embrace the tribe. You have to become an extender – to expand your thinking, to increase your risk-taking, to enlarge your circle of colleagues, to stretch your comfort zone, to reach your hand to accept the offered friendship and to grasp the hand of the next person seeking support. Ontario Extend built the first four houses on the block but it is up to us to keep building the community.
“And yet we need those open communities, those peculiar tribes. Without them, it would be impossible to remember who we are and to imagine who we might become” (Petriglieri, 2018).
Through out the past 10 weeks of my extending adventure, I have been reminded of where I have been and I have drawn on past experiences, I have been able to better define where I am now and I can see new paths to explore. I remember who I am as an educator and I am excited about who I can yet become as an educator. And best of all, I am not alone.
Hmmmm…. so what is the Amateur work in SoTL. A quick search on my favorite engine brought up a few perspectives:
Peter Felten (2013), in Principles of Good Practice in SoTL, describes an “amateur culture [that] often makes US SoTL more of a methodological and theoretical mutt than its cousins from other countries” (p. 121).
Okay, so amateur work is this idea that folks do participate in SoTL activities from different disciplines and others may think they are not doing it right. I can live with that. I am reminded of Douglas Hubbard’sHow to Measure Anything. I read this for personal professional development a few years ago and plan to review it again in the July/August period. There are a few ideas from Hubbard’s work that stick with me:
You can measure anything, even things you thought could not be measured.
Making decisions with some data is better than relying on gut instinct or expert opinions.
When you know nothing, anything you find out will lead to a better decision.
Use a model and a plan.
One of the stories he uses to illustrate this is of Emily Rosa, a nine year old girl who designed an experiment to measure the validity of therapeutic touch. She was published in The Journal of the American Medical Association.
Am I intimidated by OntarioExtend’s Scholar Module? Yes. Am I going to keep doing it? Yes. Because after reviewing SoTL the value statements, I am going to focus on:
Faculty development opportunities.
Renewed faculty excitement about teaching and greater self-awareness.
So what if I am an amateur. So was everyone else the first time they tried SoTL. Even if folks were able to generalize their skills from other research or they current disciplines, there was still their first time. Like a child coloring a picture, I am not going to worry about going outside the lines. I will aim for joy in the process and something I can hang on my fridge!
Boyer (1990) defined SoTL as “is an emerging movement of scholarly thought and action that draws on the reciprocal relationship between teaching and learning at the post-secondary level” (as cited in What is SoTL?, n.d., para. 1).
According to theJournal of Financial Education (2016), “The Scholarship of Teaching and Learning (SoTL) considers teaching as a scholarly endeavor that is worthy of research designed to produce a body of knowledge open to critique and evaluation. SoTL uses reflection, discovery, analysis, and evidence-based procedures to research effective teaching, with the ultimate goal of improving student learning outcomes.” (para. 1).
What is my personal take? I think SoTL is the process of trying out something new in your practice to help students, checking to see if it worked, modifying and trying again if it didn’t, and sharing with others if it did. Rinse, repeat. Is there is terribly simplified take on SoTL? Darn right, skippy, because otherwise I am going to be too chicken to try it. It seems awfully intimidating a thing to try and now I am afraid of amateur work as noted by Nancy Chick (approx. 8:38 minutes) in the Key Characteristics of the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning video. I don’t know what amateur work is but now I am freaked out that anything I try would be considered that and that sounds bad. I am going to research that next and I will be sure the put it in italics whenever I mention it.
The first exercise asks for three SoTL Characteristics the resonate with me. That part was easy so let’s get that out-of-the-way:
Inquiry – I already have a lot of questions, some of them interesting, some are why and most are what if.
Closing the loop – If I do this in the class, this will happen. Did It? Let’s check, modify and do it again.
Being public about the findings – seem to fit with an Open Educator persona.
Today is the last day of the Making Sense of Open Education Mini-MOOC hosted by Jenni Hayman. It has been a 15 day whirlwind tour of Openness! I wanted to go back to the beginning and review the Course Outcomes and see where I stand in relationship.
Course learning outcomes:
On completion of this open course participants will have expanded their ability to:
Describe the value of open educational practices (OEP) in their teaching and learning contexts
Give examples of appropriate open educational resources (OER) for their practice
Describe user permissions related to each of the Creative Commons license types
Find and curate high quality OER for a course or small project
Connect with other practitioners interested in exploring use of open educational resources and practices in their teaching
These were not numbered in the course, I added numbers to make giving my response easier.
One: Open educational practices add value to my teaching by allowing me the opportunity to tailor my teaching to the students in front of me now by broadening my awareness of OER sources that can better meet their needs in terms of accessibility and affordability. Beyond the choice of materials, OEP also leads me to consider how students can co-create materials and be curators of learning materials and how participating in this is a better assessment tool and holds more long-term value for student than disposable assignments. Digital Tools give me and my students the opportunity to be creators and give us the opportunity to share what we are learning with others. Because I see value in OEP, I am inspired to take action and advocate for greater openness in others and in my own institution.
Two: Can I give examples of appropriate OER for my practice? Why, yes, I can. I posted a prototype of a unit I am building for my students. It includes chapters from a OER textbook, open source images, and a CC video.
Three: Can I describe user permissions? Yup, let me do so with a Creative Commons licensed image:
Four: Can I curate OER resources for a small project? I did! I collected OER resources on Reflection into a padlet in a recent post.
Five: Have I connected with other practitioners of Open Education? Sure did and will continue to do so. I outlined my growing PLN in a post exploring what my connections look like. I also create a post outlining how I began to use twitter as a tool for connecting.
The Making Sense of Open Education has been a tremendously positive learning experience for me and I encourage you, my reader, to check it out soon as it will be set up as a self directed learning opportunity on Open University soon.
This is my final Extend Activity for the Collaborator Module. I took my time in completing this and considered who I might like to add to my PLN. I wanted to look for some thought leaders to add, outside all the wonderful leaders that are already in my Ontario Extend network. I had already added Rajiv Jhangiani as he was a keynote speaker at a recent Open Education Summit that I attended. I added Jesse Stommel and JR Dingwall to my list.
During my thinking time, I also Zoomed with Terry Greene about some of my struggles coming up with this map. I VConnected with Helen DeWaard and Terry Greene and really enjoyed that opportunity to listen in to Festival of Learning 2018. I have appreciated reading and receiving feedback about my blog. I also joined the Making Sense of Open Education lead by Jenni Hayman and have learned from participating in the discussion forums. Later this week, I will have Zoom lunch with Alan Levine and others from Extend West!
I think my struggle with developing my PLN map came from, at that time, participating primarily through Twitter. By extending the ways I interact with other in my PLN, my map and my experiences are richer.