Learning “in the open”


Student safety and privacy comes first. We must always make sure that student’s safety and privacy are being protected. This means that teachers need to be knowledgeable and comfortable with the tech they are using. They should not be using it for the first time or not confident about what they are doing. If not, students will likely surpass the teacher in knowledge and therefor things can get out of hand pretty quick. It’s important to be familiar enough with the software, blog sites, or Twitter to know where students may share too much information or cross that line of safe/school digital citizenship.

Student privacy is something that is important and needs to be monitored. Media release forms are very closely tied to privacy. My school has daily announcements linked to our school website, and we are not allowed to place students’ first and last names as it is a privacy issue. The same needs to be remembered for having students create a digital presence.

If the teaching of digital citizenship is done and policies followed to protect the student, learning “in the open” can provide limitless opportunities to attach and engage students.

Teachers must prepare for learning “in the open”, by being students themselves. They must put themselves in the open and learn the way students are being asked to. Only then will teachers make sure that they understand what they are asking of their students.

Featured image by National University of Ireland Galway


Final Digital Learning Reflection

Learning Project Trailer.PNG

Here’s a little iMovie that is a fun look at my Learning Project. Enjoy! 

Well here we are. The end. Or as we say in the crocheting world “the final stitch”. This was an interesting process to undertake for many reasons.


Success Kid

Below you will find my reflection on my adventure. Spoiler alert, once I changed my objective, I was victorious.


Why I chose this project

  • Why would I choose crocheting?- I chose to crochet, because when the class started we had a 5 month old who did not sleep. I mean she slept some, but not enough for me to function on less that 12 cups of coffee a day. Needless to say I needed something that was quiet, and that I could work on at all hours of the night. Crocheting was a choice that allowed me to not wake up my kiddos, did not take me out of the house, and still allowed me to complete the assignment. It was also something that I THOUGHT, would be fun. Ohhh, did I learn a valuable lesson.

    My initial chain, which was too tight, and lead to all types of problems. In retrospect, I knew that something was wrong, I just didn’t want to admit it.

What the process looked like

  • I don’t have the best patience for details and I don’t do things slowly. I will rush to get something done and not worry about things being perfect. I hate undoing work that I’ve already done. I had to do this a fair bit in my crocheting adventure. I found this out the hard way because with crocheting, if you do a couple of stitches wrong it may not look bad at first, but when you go to add the next row, that’s where things go south. So it’s easier to take the time and make the corrections as they happen versus when they become an issue.
  • Following precise directions is not my favourite thing- I’ve done lots of home renovations, construction, electrical, plumbing, etc. I have also dabbled in woodworking. But the precision detail and fine motor skills required for crocheting I found very difficult. The videos that I watched (re-watched, and watched many different instructional videos) show different techniques and styles. Crocheting techniques are derived from the crocheter and their preference. Copying a technique or style that doesn’t feel right makes it even more difficult when you don’t know what you’re doing. So I was learning multiple elements of crocheting at a time (how to hold the needle, the yarn line and even where I found it the most convenient to have the ball of yarn so that it wouldn’t roll all over the place). Not to mention having to count, make sure the stitches weren’t too tight (which they always were) and follow the design pattern.
  • I thought it would be a convenient activity for having two young kids, because I could put it down and pick it up as needed. However, that was hard, because I had to remember which way I was going and what stitch I was on. I know it sounds like petty things to complain about, but when they are important towards the success of the project, they had a big impact.
  • IMG_1580
    What was originally going to be my scarf, turned into practice and this shows my “improved” technique. The grey is a full ball of yarn. The cream colour is half a ball. Impressive what trial, error and words of encouragement will get you.

    I think the biggest struggle I had was not having the availability of an expert to ask for help from. Many hours of pain and frustration could have been saved if I had someone sit beside me and point out my initial flaws so I could correct my process. I did eventually search out help and was told that my loops were too tight and that I was inconsistent in my stitches (a nice way of saying that I didn’t know what I was doing).

  • I initially thought it would be cool if I could complete a small blanket as my project.
  • However, after my initial 2 hours of learning, I realized that it would not be possible. So I changed my plan to make my wife a scarf. It soon became apparent, that my scarf would not stand up to her high fashion standards. Which is okay, because I counted wrong (why is there so much counting?!?!) and my scarf would have been too small anyways. Defeat was in the air. It was palpable. I was ready to burn the whole mess to the ground. Then my four year old son came to my rescue.
    • Son- “What are you making with that yarn?”
    • Me- “A scarf”
    • Son- “Is it going to be awesome?”
    • Me- “I hope so.”
    • Son- “Can I have it?”
    • Me- “Sure you can buddy!”

And my passion for crocheting was restored. I was going to make my son a scarf, and he was excited. Every day he would ask how it was going and when he could wear it. His joy was (as it often is) contagious. I worked harder than ever, and completed it in record time (easy when you’ve never completed a crocheting project before). When I gave it to him he was so thankful and happy. He wears it everywhere.

My son with his new scarf.

Biggest Benefit

This project helped me relate to students who are struggling in school and regain my empathy. It’s important that as educators we continually try to relate to our students and understand why it’s easy for them to learn some topics, but struggle with others. Sometimes it is as simple as providing one piece of feedback to correct a common issue, or even just providing a word of encouragement.

mission accomplished


Crocheting taught me a lot about not just the available web resources to learn something in an online community, but also about how I learn.

App Review: Word Salad!

Word Salad is a really neat way to create a visual based off of words. I don’t think it could be aside to use.

It has some flaws to it, but for being free it allows enough manipulation to make it worth it. One of these flaws is that it has to be used on a mobile device (iOS or Android). That’s why this is recorded from an iPad with my phone. I wanted to do a Screencastify, but Screencastify doesn’t work on iOS (nothing is perfect). So I apologize for the shakiness of the video.

Here is a quick look at what it does.

There are more colour changing options included along with being able to change the paper size, and other formatting benefits, so it is pretty flexible.

In addition to creating a Word Salad with a word list you create, this next video shows how you can search and pull in words from Twitter and Wikipedia. It’s important to note that with all these options, by clicking the top title that you can edit individual words if something came up you didn’t like. But it allows for a lot of words to be pulled in without having to input them.

I like this app and while I can’t see it being used every day (it would get repetitive and redundant) it is a great and easy way to add some style and flair.

I also want to mention that this is the first post I have done using he WordPress app. I thought it valuable to use the iOS app for an app review post. It was also WAY easier to upload the videos that I took with my phone. Pretty slick all around. I don’t think there is anything that you can’t do on the web version of WordPress. Absolutely worth it if you’re adding in video that you’ve recorded.

Do you think there are other possibilities for Word Salads use that I am missing?

So impressed!

I just have to take a moment and express how impressed I am with everyone’s progress on their projects. In following everyone’s blogs, it’s amazing to see the growth, not only in your projects, but also in how everyone has developed their own style of blogging. It’s really awesome to see. (You make me want to be better).

You’re all doing awesome things and I am very amazed with your passion, dedication and growth of your learning projects and blogs. We are getting close to the end of the class and you should all be proud of your accomplishments.


Well done #eci831 classmates!

Educators are not the best at sharing…

What are the barriers for educators to not share their lessons and resources? Ahhh, the great educator dilemma. For myself, it’s the feeling of inadequacy. It may not be grounded in reality and may be all in my head. But I worry that by sharing resources that I’ve developed because I am worried that a light will be be shone onto my work and that the insight into a topic is not as good as someone else’s. Sharing lesson plans, handouts, anything I’ve created opens myself up to unwanted feedback. What works for me, may not work for others. I don’t want to have to justify my ideas. Perhaps this stems from evaluation methods in education system where everything that we create is always evaluated. However, once we are professionals, we are supposed to know it all and knock it out of the park all the time. There is also a perception that asking for help

Will you help me

shows that you are lazy and aren’t willing to be creative. Is it the system that has ruined my confidence and willingness to readily share and play nicely?

Steven Johnson discusses in his TED Talk (5:10) it’s about the Connecting vs Protecting of our intellectual property. This is true in the work that I do as a guidance counsellor. For years my guidance counsellors colleagues and myself have always expressed a desire for there to be a database for local scholarships. We have all created our own databases of scholarships, but never combined them. I too created a list of scholarships sent to my school, but knew that being a mid-sized high school, we would not get information on the vast majority of local community scholarships.

So this year I shifted to connecting instead of protecting. I got rid of my school’s logo and name and added Regina Public Schools. I’ve shared the document with other interested counsellors for them to add their information and we are all going to link our websites to the centralized Regina Public Schools website. It doesn’t make sense for us to recreate the wheel. It makes sense for us to share resources and work for the betterment of all our students, not just the ones in our individual schools.

That was Easy.gif


So in it’s basic form, we are innovating. We are combining resources and creating a localized group of documents to reduce our overall workload and rely on the expertise of others (it’s a little different than using pieces of a Toyota, but the process is similar).

I think to create a culture of collaboration in students, it helps if they can see it in teachers. It also helps if the resources in place exist. Resources that make collaboration easier (Google Docs, URCourses). Students need to be taught at a young age, that the sharing of ideas (not just toys) is good. That asking questions is not only important, but is beneficial to help us learn and grow as individuals. It sounds tacky, but youth learning the importance of communication is vital to fostering collaboration in schools, but also creating active and engaged citizens in the community.

However, all this is dependent on an individuals personality. Some people are more willing to share and put their ideas out there. Others will not share at all. We can’t change personality types, all we can do is provide tools that make sharing easier and provide a safe and respectful environment to foster collaboration.

That being said, here are the resources the I’ve developed around post-secondary that will soon be placed on the Guidance section of RBE website: https://goo.gl/9hFhQq Let me know what you think!

Turning the page on traditional textbooks.

I looked into Open Textbook Library and this is a really neat resource. As a student, I’ve

OER Meme

always been annoyed with the high cost of textbooks. I’ve started to purchase older editions of the assigned textbook in order to save money. This has always worked, and I have never had an issue (besides some chapters being in different order). However, the fact that the new editions of textbooks can be $200 is absurd. 

Open Textbook Library allows free access to a limited number of textbooks from a large number of different subject.

While browsing through the texts, I found one of particular interest, Introduction to Canadian Psychology.

OER Introduction to Canadian Psyc

It’s even written by a Canadian author. Did I mention it’s free! Wow. In my undergraduate degree, educational psychology masters, and now my education administration masters degree I have had 3 Canadian based textbooks (outside of Canadian history classes). So to find a free one gives me hope for the future (a little over the top, but still it is awesome!).


What I like about Open Textbook Library:

  • Allows users to review the textbooks and provide feedback on them.
  • Chapters and textbook outlines are very descriptive and detailed.
  • Information is provided about the contributors/authors
    • Who they are
    • Qualifications
  • There are many different methods to be able to read the texts.
    • PDF
    • Kindle

      OER How to read textbook
    • E-PubOnline
    • iBooks
    • To be fair, not all texts are available in all these formats, but a lot are.

There is a very descriptive Conditions of use. There is a lot too it, but here is the basis.

  • The Creative Commons copyright licenses and tools forge a balance inside the traditional “all rights reserved” setting that copyright law creates. Our tools give everyone from individual creators to large companies and institutions a simple, standardized way to grant copyright permissions to their creative work. The combination of our tools and our users is a vast and growing digital commons, a pool of content that can be copied, distributed, edited, remixed, and built upon, all within the boundaries of copyright law.

Read the full conditions to understand why this is so wonderful.

You can even submit a book as long as it meets some criteria. This almost seems too good to be true. 

Criteria for submitting a textbook

But I still wonder, what is the financial reward for these authors and for Open Textbook Library to function. I have to think that if I was to write a 700 page textbook, that I wouldn’t be doing out of pure enjoyment. I would be motivated for a financial gain. Websites need to make money to stay operational. Where does Open Textbook get their funding from? They aren’t alone. There are more and more appearing on the web. https://openlibrary.ecampusontario.ca/ states that it is funded by the Province of Ontario. Other sites are more aloof as to where their funds come from. Very Interesting.

I would be interested to know which specific institutions have professors using these open textbooks. I know from a high school perspective, that anything free is worth it’s weight in gold, but post-secondary is a different story.

It’s my understanding that professors are required by their institutions to publish a certain amount of research or articles within a period of time. I wonder what would happen if say the University of Regina made a push for professors to create and publish textbooks within the scope of OER. What do you think Alec, how would this impact teaching in post-secondary institutions if profs were to help develop, create and foster a much cheaper alternative to students spending large sums of money on single textbooks?

If you can’t tell, I like this idea. I like it because for high school students, it’s a free, current, and vetted resource. For post-secondary students, it is a cost reducing measure that still provides suitable and appropriate resources. Texts are limited, but if institutions encourage their professors to collaborate and develop more resources, I think OER textbooks would grow in popularity. What do you think?

My renewed adventures into crocheting

I talked with someone that knows what they are doing. They were very polite in their investigation to what I had done.

My way wasn’t the right way. Source

They asked all the questions that I knew they would:


  • What stitch were you using?
  • How were you holding the needle?
  • Did you make them tight on purpose?

Then the laughter began, and it took a while to stop.

It didn’t take long for them to show me what I was doing wrong. Which was pretty much everything.

  • My stitch was too tight.
  • My needle was too big for the stitch I was using.
  • My stitch was inconsistent (it flip flopped all the time) and most importantly,
  • The stitch I committed to wasn’t actually a stitch at all. It was a constant common error.

I would try to explain what I did wrong, but honestly I am worried that if I try to explain it, my brain will ditch the correct way that I relearned.

It’s amazing how badly I messed up. I kept thinking, don’t stress, it can’t be that bad, and I didn’t want to give up. But I wasted a lot of time and yarn on using the wrong technique. In this image, you will can see the difference in the size of the stitch. The grey and red are a full ball of yarn. The white is half a ball. You can see the size difference if the colours (which shows how tight my stitch is). 

Amazing what happens when you do crocheting correctly.


The curve of the “scarf” is because of the tightness.

After checking some sites, I found that I should be able to reuse my yarn by unwinding it. Once I am done with the white, I am going to try unraveling it and see what happens. If it works awesome, if not, at least I will be able to continue to use the white yarn.

I am feeling pretty good about my progress. (Although the progress has not been fast paced, but I feel like I have turned a corner and am actually crocheting.

Smartest Man Alive.gif

I am still continuing with my plan of a scarf. We will see what happens and what other issue I create for myself. I didn’t rely on the internet to support me, but I feel like a winner anyways.

Keep your fingers crossed that this turns out…

Open your mind to Open Source

I love the idea of open source access. As a teacher I love how it allows flexibility and equal access regardless of financial availability (outside the technology used to access it). Students regardless of budget are able to have equal access to the newest information. Textbooks are no longer used for decades, but instead replaced by current, relevant documents for supporting and engaging learning.

As a taxpayer, I appreciate my money not going to overpriced textbooks so that money can be spent on other aspects of education.

As a student, I love the reduced cost of not having to purchase a document.

However, I wonder, how does this impact the economy? If we moved away from textbooks in public education and post-secondary institutions, how would it impact publishers and authors? The University of Regina has a small printing/ publishing company that professors can publish work with. How would it survive? I am more worried about independent publishers who often publish less mainstream topics than larger publishing companies.

I really enjoyed the connection of open source to taking videos that are on the internet and the impact of what Laws that choke creativity describes as “remix”. It did not occur to me that this was considered open source access, but it makes complete sense. The same would be with memes and creating memes.

Its interesting to see how quick open source media is developed. It happens a lot with award shows, or sports. When something happens that is humours and is made into a


meme or gif almost instantly. I guess this connects to the internet spoilers and how if you don’t want something ruined from a live event, you need to stay off of social media and go into a cone of silence. 





Michael Wesch’s Anthropological Introduction to YouTube discusses how Youtube produces a lot of content, but it is not mass media. How the majority of it is meant for less than 100 people.Could it be that publishing companies need to make a shift to helping sort the quality of production or the verification of facts instead of publishing their own content?

It’s interesting to say the least and is eye opening. I hear coworkers talk about how their children don’t watch television, but instead watch YouTube. That blows my mind. I watch highlights of late night shows on YouTube. I don’t watch independently made productions, but I guess that’s what is done. It must be generation gap as it doesn’t seem appealing to me.