Weeks 19,20,21 in Review

I’m a bit behind on my Weeks in review, partly because some of it I can’t really blog about, I was sick, or I was working on stuff I’ve already blogged about.

Open Ed 2015:  Our abstract was accepted, to my surprise quite honestly, since as a reviewer for some of the submissions I happened to notice there were a lot of really good submissions. Really good.  So I’m pleased, and we’ll do our best to make sure our research and presentation is awesome.

Guadalajara project:  In addition to @cogdog, @brlamb, @bkiddjibc, @ken_bauer (as coach), we added @nancywhite to our teaching and development team.  I’m elated at how this is shaping up.  We may add one more instructor, possibly from the University of Guadalajara.

Microlearning:  We’ve been moving towards looking at how series of small, mini micro-learning courses can be delivered and managed within a WordPress environment (with or without Learndash). Our Centre’s @denniskyip mocked something up that looks really promising.  Really appreciating his rapidly developing WordPress skills.Screen Shot 2015-05-08 at 9.59.22 AM

Things that wow’d me:  via @therealbanksy, how gorgeous is this?

Also, empathy cards for people with serious illness.  I’ve been surrounded by a lot of colleagues and friends with cancer this last year, and all of these @emilymcdowell_ empathy cards are so great.

Weeks 17 and 18 in Review


An evening stroll with Alan lead to some of the best photography lessons I’ve had. One of the photos I’m quite proud of.

I got to spend a whirlwind week with a fellow JIBC colleague @bkiddjibc and @cogdog in Guadalajara this week, so I barely remember the previous week. It was great to introduce both of them to the really fantastic team of people we are working with at the University of Guadalajara, where we are creating a faculty development program for 300 UdeG faculty. I learned that the team we are working with have a mandate of faculty development and accreditation, but they’ve decided it’s important to go much further and are stretching the innovation envelope as well, so this explains their willingness and openness to roll with what we have proposed. The project has evolved substantially from being a semi-open, diploma-like blended experience–we are now creating a completely open, WordPress built, DS106 and Youshow inspired approach to faculty development.  Active learning, open, and multimedia facilitated by mobile devices are the key themes from which we are building out a series of hands-on studios and challenges.  We benefited a lot from having Alan with us, and one of the big shifts we made was from a more structured, prescribed approach (the result of working at an institution devoted to short course training), to one that is more creative and forces the participants to think more broadly about the topics and tools in relation to their own teaching.


Some of the University of Guadalajara team, out at one of several amazing late afternoon lunches we had.

This was a co-development week and we made some good progress on both the platform (WordPress) , the logistics, the schedule, and the topics.  The program will begin on July 13 for a week long face to face session involving hands on studios, challenges, and various share/showcase events such as a Demofest and Challenge Idol.  We are spending 2 weeks down at UdeG for this part, breaking up the 300 into 150 participants per week.  Then we move to 8 weeks of online challenges, where participants have to implement some challenges in their teaching, gathering student feedback and sharing back to the site.  We meet F2F again in December for 2/4 days–1 will be an unconference and the other day will be some sort of wrap up.

Alan asked the UdeG folks come up with a metaphor for the site and after some thinking they proposed Agora 21. This fits in well with an idea of open spaces and 21 century skills, and in no time Alan had the landing page and the new name. UdeG IT folks on the team have a pretty great can-do approach, so they are going to set up a WordPress server and the site will be migrated.

We decided that we’ll have a twitter hashtag, and will have them sign up for twitter accounts in advance to make it easier for them to share back to the site. The site will be completely open so we expect to have other non UdeG participants following along as well.  While we were down there, we used the UdeG development team to test out a studio that Alan developed to make sure the approach and the topic were in keeping with UdeG’s vision, and whether they felt that the participants would be motivated by the approach.  This was a lot of fun, and as Alan noted, participants naturally formed groups or worked individually, and we were all able to share back to the site.  We realized a few things needed to be considered in designing these studios:  since English is a second language for most, less preamble and verbal instructions are needed, as well more time to figure things out.  Some studios will have to be 1.5 hours long, but since each studio will have a minimum of 3 challenge choices, those who finish quickly can do  more than one.  We are going to make challenges simple in instructions and explicit, and perhaps more narrow in focus, but with different pathways of difficulty since UdeG’s estimate is that approximately 1/3 will be beginners, 1/3 intermediate, and 1/3 will be already quite advanced.

Ken and his family with us at LaTequila

Ken and his family with us at LaTequila

Alan in front of all the tequila at LaTequila

Alan in front of all the tequila at LaTequila

While we were downy there we got to meet @ken_bauer, a fellow Canadian who has been working at the Tec de Monterrey in Guadalajara for the last 20 years. Ken is joining us  on the project in a coaching-facilitator role for one of the weeks he is available in July, joining a team of 4 other UdeG coach-facilitators.  The coaches will help instructors run studios and provide 1 on 1 support to participants, providing some support in Spanish to help fill in the gaps as well.  We got to spend an afternoon with Ken and his delightful wife Aurelia and son Adrien at a restaurant called laTequila, which was about as perfect as it gets.


tacos in the Zona Rosa

Tamales (that Joaquin personally delivered for us) and margaritas on the hotel roof deck.

Tamales (that Joaquin personally delivered for us) and margaritas on the hotel roof deck.

It was a work hard, play hard kind of a week, made especially delightful by the driver (taxis aren’t as common in Guadalajara) that the University hired for us.  Joaquin was determined to make sure we got to appreciate Guadalajara, taking us to a flower festival and taco stand (my request) within an hour of picking us up from the airport.  Joaquin was also a much more interesting substitute to a conversational Spanish class, and had an abundance of energy and patience.  Guadalajara was good to us and I’m sure there’s more fun ahead.

Our super driver Joaquin

Our super driver Joaquin

Week 13 and 14 in review

Week 13 and 14 felt short and busy, my time mostly being consumed by a couple of projects rather than lots of little things.

Video:  After the last blog post, Grant Potter at UNBC got in touch and offered to give us a peek of their Kaltura/BB setup. This is immensely helpful and is one of the great reasons for doing these weekly reviews and sharing what is going on over here.

Quality and Accreditation:  I’m on an audit panel doing a quality and accreditation audit for a college in Ontario.  In Ontario, colleges have to periodically go through these reviews/audits which are governed by the Ontario College Quality Assurance Service .  As a general rule, this is not my cup of tea, but I have to say it’s been the best professional development I’ve had in a long time.  I’m part of a great team and to experience the process from the other site of the table is a privilege, albeit quite a laborious one, which will find me spending a couple of days in a small Ontario city in a week or so for a site visit.

Innovative Classroom: The tilt and swing mounts we ordered from Monoprice in the US arrived in less than 2 days.  The stuff we ordered from a local AV vendor still hasn’t arrived.  Perhaps not a fair comparison, but sometimes I wonder.

Mobile learning faculty development project:  Excited about an upcoming co-development week in Guadalajara at the end of the month, and equally excited that a couple of great non-JIBC people are part of the team.  Related–via @cogdog  was introduced to Touchcast.

Thrilled that the BCcampus Open Textbook project won an award.

Read:  Caught @opencontent ‘s post on the Remix Hypothesis  and also enjoyed reading @hapgood ‘s response.   I’m having trouble getting into the latter site today, but I did note that missing for me from the remix discussion is a question of ease, convenience and time. If it’s not easy or convenient, then replace or even creating from scratch becomes the norm.

Things that wow’d me: I keep saying I’ll attend the Eyeo Festival one day and after seeing this solar textiles workshop being offered I really wish I was.  Instead I’ll continue to indulge in Amor Muñoz’s website


Week 12 in Review

I’ve been offline for a couple of weeks and it was all the good things it can be when you go on a vacation to Maui, leave the phones and ipads in a drawer and spend your days boogy boarding with sea turtles.  Nonetheless, I did manage to squeeze in a couple work days last week.

Innovation Classrooms:  This year, we equipped a small classroom with a 60″ monitor and a WePresent.  Once a user has set up the WePresent on their device, it works like a dream, allowing you to walk into a room, get on the room wifi, and punch in a 4 digit code via an app.  No more cables, no more podiums, no Crestron panels, and the audio quality has been great.  The one complaint is that the 60″ monitor may be a bit small, and I find myself zooming documents to make them easier to read.

We’ve found some money in our budget to do a couple more rooms and this time we are trying out some different configurations. We are going to do another small room with a WePresent and two 60” monitors on perpendicular walls, one of them mounted on a tilt mount and the other on a swing mount. The rooms are squarish in shape and get used for a variety of teaching purposes and we think that it will be useful to have some flexibility with a monitor on the swing mount. The WePresent won’t duplicate onto 2 monitors without an add-on, but we think there is utility in having the monitors have different purposes if they are in use. The WePresent monitor setup lends itself to student use, and instructor can simply hook up to the other one.

We are also going to do a larger, bowling alley room with a 70” monitor on a tilt mount and a WePresent. We struggled with this type of room configuration—we are introducing the monitors/WePresent set up as a way of diverging from a traditional student-rows-facing-front-monitor-for-powerpoint-presentation setup.   But bowling alley rooms don’t let you do this as easily as the small, square rooms. We are going to revisit this setup and see where a second monitor should be placed, if at all.

The $ details: We are challenging ourselves to think about equipment that we can feasibly replicate across dozens of rooms. The easiest solution is to purchase and install with one vendor. But we are learning that there is considerable money to be saved if we do our own install and if we purchase the mounts through an online supplier like Monoprice. Basically, the mount savings alone across 10 rooms equal the ability to do an additional room, and the install savings are recovered across 5.

We also learned that the typical podium, projector, screen setup costs in the range of 10-12,000$. Our rooms are coming in at less than half of that and we think that they will also be easier for instructors and students to use, and be better suited to a BYOD environment. I think of our approach as an Ikea approach to classroom technology—we are trying to introduce flexibility and simplicity within an environment where refreshing the equipment won’t be a huge burden on the institution.

Video:  We’ve been watching the progress with BCnet and MediaCore closely since we have a huge need for some video management given all the activity we do with video.  The big ‘if’ is whether our little institution will be able to manage a shared service license with MediaCore, so we are going ahead with plans to get open source Kaltura loaded and tested on a server here.

Coincidently, one of our programmers mocked up a nice little app that will allow us to have students and instructors record video directly into Blackboard (via our Flash media server).  This will take a load off of our Blackboard server, and will also be a way of allowing students to record 20 minute-1 hour role plays and simulation exercises directly onto the Flash media server.  It’s a little project that provides a huge impact in solving a number of nagging process issues we’ve had around video.

Week 9 in review and a bit of nostalgia

FullSizeRender copyInnovation Classroom:  We decided we had a bit more room in our budget to set up  two more classrooms with the WePresent and will try out a room configuration with two monitors on perpendicular walls, perhaps with one on a flexible arm. Our instructors are often moving the furniture around and using the rooms in different ways, so we think that giving more flexibility to the placement of the monitors will better reflect that and get away from a bowling alley set up.

SSHRC:  We submitted a SSHRC proposal and in true JIBC style it was pulled off in less than 2 weeks. Sincere kudos to my Dean for even attempting the impossible.

Praxis:  Since the Western Diversification funding announcement,we’ve been getting a lot of interest in our Praxis sim software.  Enbridge wrote a piece about it this week over here.

I had a short working week, having spent most of it at a hospice where my mom was battling lung cancer.  She left the world peacefully and quietly this week, which  is really all you can hope for with lung cancer.  My mom wasn’t a smoker–her cancer was second-hand smoke related–which is unfortunately not uncommon in women. Incidently, my mom is the third person we knew who died of lung cancer without ever being a smoker.

The hospice was located a short distance away from where I spent the first 7 years of my life, so I had the chance to walk around and snap some photos.  I’m kind of fascinated by how neighbourhoods change and evolve, and I was equally surprised at how good and how bad some parts of my old neighbourhood was.  My memories of it were of sunshine, and neighbourhood kids, and joy.


This was the house I lived in. It was a mid century trac house, and my parents went a bit crazy on the Danish teak furniture so basically it would be a East Van dream house.






This was Barry’s house. He was a friend of my brother’s and an only child. I remember that we loved playing over there because he was a bit spoiled and had a ton of toys. His mom was a super nice lady and used to pack us up in her camper and take us to Harrison Hot springs every year.  In true 70s style, she’d let us run around Harrison without a whole lot of supervision, and feed us peanut butter sandwiches on Wonder White, which I loved.




This was the Hippy House.  It looked a lot different so I had a hard time locating it.  I played with a girl at this house and I loved it because there were always tons of people at her house (I’m pretty sure there was a carport at the side where they’d all sit and hang out).  My dad wasn’t thrilled with me playing with the hippies – the town was pretty conservative and having a house of hippies was a  bit unusual. They didn’t stay for very long.



FullSizeRenderThis was the corner store where we’d buy our candy. There was a shortcut through somebody’s yard to get there, and we would go there and buy chips and Popeye cigarette candies.






This was my school. I noticed it’s called a Traditional School now, but  I don’t remember it that way at all. In fact, my favourite teacher of all time (Grade 2) loved art and would periodically put aside all school work and have Art Weeks, where all we would do all day for an entire week is make art.  That is my best K-12 school memory, which is a bit sad and special at the same time.