Updates of a sort


So, this blog is a tad dusty. Since the last post, another move, another change in job and

great opportunity, a lot closer to family, and, as it turns out, another metaphorical bullet dodged.

Of course blogging goes on hiatus while figuring out the shape of a new remit, new organization, new approaches. Some blogging on my work’s blog and this blog moves more into the personal professional realm. I’m still figuring out once more what type of space this is, and what I usefully have to say in the space (with the default assumption I’m talking to myself 😉 ).

Please note – unlike most of this blog the below picture is not openly licensed, I’d prefer to get the artist’s permission before I do that – even if it is my photo.


tdc ds106 Boardgames – oh dear…

I’ve not had much time to engage with ds106, ds106radio, or the daily create for a while, but Ben’s challenge and CogDog’s MOOCopoly inspired me to dedicate some time to expanding my indesign skills. I’m hoping to follow this up with something slightly more ‘useful’ but this has been an interesting exercise (I’ve begun to figure out how to make cards in indesign, and have got some ideas for ways to make some digital resources more tangible – but that’s another conversation).

Some disclaimers – I’m a little obsessive about boardgames and that’s ok, however it also means that even for a daily create I need something that is playable and potentially enjoyable – either as a simulation or a game. There are plenty of roll and move games out there but very few i’ll play for the more than the social experience. As I’m only beginning to stumble around some ideas for game design proper I’m going to cheat… and retheme an existing game.

Love Letter is an amazing game – for it’s simplicity, value for money, and popularity. It’s designed by Seiji Kanai and published in the US by AEG have a look at http://boardgamegeek.com/boardgame/129622/love-letter for more information. At the risk of promoting consumerist tendencies you should get a copy.

However, it has also spawned a fantastic series of re-themes. Many of which can be seen here – the publisher is pleased by them – but asks that print and play files aren’t posted publicly (before you ask 😉 ). A more thoughtful version of this would think how the integrate / edit / tweak the theme roles a little but as a first pass here’s the DS106 version.

DS106 Love Letter retheme

And an update – I added the abilities to the cards and some custom text which seems to fit nicely. The theme naturally shifts from love letters to trying to get the DS106 Radio stream.
Updated version of DS106

Twitter walls – reference note

A colleague asked about twitter walls, realizing that I’ve not had to use one for a while I asked twitter for current ‘free’ suggestions – here are some of the responses:

Visible Tweets


fetch every 5 minutes; animated tweet entry
Screenshot of Visible Tweets service
Paid for version available.


Not tested – wanted DM access, profile update, and follow ability – *before* you see or do anything.


Screenshot of Tweetwally twitter wall
Savable version/ url version wanted DM access, and *password* access!


 Screen Shot of Tweetbeam twitter wall
This was a little different – it seems to be interactive wall of tweets with mouse over to display tweet.
Private NC use permitted, other contexts need a license.


Screen Shot of Twubs twitter wall
Asks for various permissions but not asking for DM access or password !

Tweetdeck or Twitter # search

There’s also little reason that the tweet deck app or a twitter search in a browser couldn’t serve as a twitter wall to some extent – Though the limits of this would be that many twitter walls are more aesthetically pleasing if displayed and, perhaps more importantly, that many twitter walls loop past tweets so that there’s always visual movement.

Pew Internet Report – conflict resolution

The Pew Internet Report just tweeted a great ‘factoid’


“23% of 18-29 year olds in serious relationships resolve arguments digitally they had trouble resolving in person.”

I wonder how you respond to this?

I’m sure the results to the above poll might be interesting but equally interesting to me was that one response occurred to me instantly the others took a thought or two. That may be because of ongoing discussions at work around supporting millenials engaging at college and beyond or other discussions about ‘real’ vs ‘digital’ but I’m as intrigued by my process of response as I am by the finding (which – in this form at least – might be critiqued quite a bit).

Lion waiting for lunch

We’re going on an OER hunt, an OER hunt, an OER hunt.

And I’m not scared…

On my way to writing this blogpost I tried to pin down some of the other existing guides to OER to save time – sadly my go to guides are now somewhat dated and don’t suit the context. Hmm so here’s the post. – Contrary to my normal cautious CC BY NC SA license this post is available under CC:BY on the off chance you want to take and remix it – resources referred to are of course available under whatever license they have chosen.

This is also the place where I’ll add any guides I am aware of or that get added to comments [any post like this is inevitably and instantly incomplete and outdated but I need a point of reference].

Lion waiting for lunch

Lion waiting for lunch By Peter Harrison CC:BY From http://www.flickr.com/photos/devcentre/327960789/

The tweet that kicked it off was from Tanya Joosten and UW-M has pulled together some resources already:

What sort of thing are you looking for?

As with any literature search, figuring out your scope (or initial scope) is a good starting point. Figure out what type of thing you’re looking for, what you want to do with it and who your audience is. Where are you in the process? are you looking for illustrations, inspiration, syllabi, a textbook, a someone else’s lecture to use in flipping your class, or a whole course on a topic that you can build on or use to supplement another course.

Remember that small pieces let you build stuff into your existing structure but big pieces may be able to be used in small pieces (if you can get at them in a file format that permits it).


Before you start consider what you’re doing to do with the stuff you’re looking for – is this going to be public? under what conditions are you using this or making it available?
There’s a whole lot of questions you have to think through but at it’s simplest – your choice of license (or lack thereof) on your work impacts what you can do with the content you find. Remember that you can cite or link to content with any license (so you can get your students to refer to all rights reserved materials) – the caveat here is that if you link to materials which require users to accept particular Terms of Service you (from an ethical point of view) should ensure that you’re not asking your students to break those Terms of Service…

Don’t forget that much US government content is released under a public domain license – for example imagery from USGS or NASA.

General overview

Finding stuff…


  • Flickr – advanced search has Creative Commons license filters which may let you find images to use in your educational materials; However, it can be hard to find specific curated collections of educational materials such as Core-Materials unless you find out about them through other means. [Update it also seems that Flickr may be making license related searching less obvious]
  • Wellcome Trust – Recently released much of their image collection (medical, history of medicine, illustrated MS) under an open license [tbh the interface is a bit grim, but worth it].
  • Getty – has a growing Open Content Image collection
  • Nasa – eg image gallery 
  • USGS – eg publications


Youtube and Vimeo both allow you to search by Creative Commons license. However, it also can be hard to find unknown specific curated collections of educational materials.

Presentations, lecture slides, and related materials

Slideshare can be a great resource but doesn’t appear to easily offer a way to restrict a search to a specific license. You’re much more likely to find useful stuff through known people and links from conferences. You can develop a network of sources and find stuff as people upload but you’re, perhaps, more likely to be sent here from a link.


Finding a whole course which is relevant to what you’re doing can be overwhelming but can also be a useful way to find relevant component materials, to see how someone else engages with teaching/ facilitating the same topic, to offer student alternate perspectives, or perhaps to try a distributed flip.

Some places to look

EdX, Futurelearn, other Moocs, and iTunesU – these sources are often not particularly open wrt to licensing the content is often freely available to use and might suit you purpose even if it’s not remix-able or republish-able. It is worth remembering though that some of these platforms are license neutral – you can put (and find) open content on iTunesU or in Futurelearn.


(usually in HE)
These can be nationally focused (e.g. Jorum) , subject focused (e.g. LORO or Humbox ), institutionally focused (typically contain research papers, may contain data set, some also include educational materials).


There a lot of great resources out there

There are also a number of sites offering low cost textbooks which might be of use.


In an ideal world this would be the start and end point for any discovery process but it’s not (even if we include Google) and to be honest there are challenges or things to be aware of with all of these tools.


There’s a lot to say but for example see the Infokit:
the quality of OER should be assessed like any other resource but particular attention may be needed with respect to the freshness and currency of health related OER.

Phone a friend

Your professional network is a great source of content or leads to find those priceless bucket of curated stuff.

Pollock House @ UWO on a winter's evening with a slight sunset

Year in review: reflections

Pollock House @ UWO on a winter's evening with a slight sunset

This year was focused on preparing for and helping launch the University Studies Program. For me, this mostly revolved around the ePortfolio side of things – providing training and pedagogic support to the teaching community and recently to students. I’ve talked about this process before and will doubtless write something more substantial up as part of the communal reflection we’ll be doing on the program’s first semester during the coming month.

If I set the details aside and try to take a step back as I reflect on the past year (which inevitably this blurs into reflecting on my ~18months in this job), what has it held? I’ve an annual review coming up and am trying to take the opportunity to reflect on what I’d hoped this job would hold.

  • I’ve been running more training and professional development for the teaching community and others – both directly tied to ePortfolio work and occasionally pieces on social media, digital humanities, and open stuff. This has largely been enjoyable but has also reminded me of how much more I could develop my teaching.
  • I’ve got involved more deeply in the world of ePortfolios has been great and it’s been neat to connect this with other areas of my interests and expertise but there’s still much more to explore and learn. One of my open questions about going forward with ePortfolios is how much can I do without teaching a course. I’m finally having a chance to more concretely develop my own ePortfolio but I can see boundaries to that process. At what point do I reach a limit of my understanding in supporting others through which I can’t pass without using ePortfolios as an instructor? (and do I need to be in a course to do this or can I be creative).
  • I’ve had more interaction with students which has been a shift, sporadic reality check, but also a lot of fun. Both my role in Learning Technologies and much of my previous professional experience is not particularly student-facing so this was less familiar territory (I worked with students for a couple of years pre-Masters but that’s a while ago).
  • Connected to offering support to students I also secured two internal grants to provide ePortfolio lab support to students and for a student developer.  Getting project funding is not a new thing for me but it led to recruiting and managing student workers. Having some employees has been a largely enjoyable change for me. I’m grateful for the chance I’ve had to train and work with some talented students. Looking forward I want to work on ensuring that the students have more to do when the lab’s not busy and figure out how to help my novice developer find their feet some more.
  • I’ve been presenting about the same amount but writing much less. I’m getting better at putting presentations up on slideshare and feel like I’ve picked up the presenting pace a little this year but it’s been more local, I’ve a narrower focus and I’ve not had occasion or time to write much. I’ll not pretend that I like academic writing a lot but I like blogging and consider both academic writing and blogging to be a key part of professional development. Their decline concerns me somewhat.
  • I’ve been able to return to finishing my PGCert in Advanced Academic Studies. I finished the courses but not the coursework while at Strathclyde and hope to get this finished soon.
  • Despite offering some professional development sessions for faculty I’ve been a lot less involved in open stuff this year – this is still a shift I find difficult but is an inevitable and healthy shift to align with the priorities of this post.

Looking forward to this coming year, I’m excited that USP is progressing well. We’ve got opportunities to talk with colleagues and analyze some of the available information from last semester as part of planning the next stages of support. I’m also looking forward to seeing how the program capstone course develops but that’s largely now in the teaching community’s hands.

More generally I’m thinking through fit and direction. My professional experience is more in ‘investigate/ prepare and launch/ synthesize’ than running a steady state program so I’m getting towards newer territory for me. As I work through how the post should evolve as the program matures, I’m trying to be deliberate in planning what the post should be focused on. My understanding is that the intent is for the post to recur so I’ll also have to begin to work through and assess how what the post needs to become fits with what I’m best at and what I hope to work towards.

The time working with a student developer has been an all-to-limited a reminder of skills and knowledge I’m using less even as I’ve been developing in other areas. There’s a balance to be had between developing new and retaining old skills and expertise but there’s also a required intentionality and choice to be explored.

Ice cream tub with spoon on table beside folder and pens

Year in review: scoops

Ice cream tub with spoon on table beside folder and pens

I’ve been using Scoop.it more this year despite it’s concerning lack of export functionality. It’s easy to use, there’s a reasonable size of user community in ed tech to engage with (follow bookmarks from) and the widget works nicely.

As an end of year exercise I had a look through the past twelve months and tried to pick out what I think I’ll want to read again or think about this time next year. There are plenty of mooc and edu is broken posts that I’m not pulling out- there’s enough people talking about MOOCs this year. I’m also not pulling in stuff from my ed tech snippets or ePortfolio topics I want to primarily focus on things that shape how I think about my work.  

Innovation, Education, and Technology

Image credit: Leigh Jay Temple Flickr CC BY NC SA

top hits of most popular posts on the blog

Year in review: some of the numbers

Numbers without a story are always tricky but as a quantitative part of my review of the year here’s a few of the numbers.

Workshops and training

Offered or participated in:

  • 101 items
  • totaling 174 hrs
  • [edit] of this about 13 hours was student-facing in class time (80% of this was in the last weeks of the semester in response to demand)

This included the ePortfolio and assessment series of workshops, One Session Wonders, the interim and pre-semester courses, and the drop-in ePortfolio labs (the latter were frequently unfrequented but were offered and staffed.)


Offered or participated in: 

  • 148
  • totaling 164.5 hrs

(1-1 support [edit: direct student support was 3 instances; most support was for the teaching community], committee and planning meetings)

Conference and events attended

  • 9
  • 144 hours

(et4online, D2L Fusion, D2L Ignite, UW Bothell ePortfolio symposium and 5 University Wisconsin system events)


1562 emails sent .

Blog stats

107 103 132 231 151 50 148 70 42 69 58 46 1,207

Not the busiest of blogs, but I’ve also not been the a particualrly active blogger this year. what’s interesting though is the most popular post (after the home page) :

top hits of most popular posts on the blog

Most popular posts

In this past year, the post on MCQ, reflection, and ePortfolio from 2012 is about 3 times as popular as any other post. It’s also by far the most popular post that people get to through search terms. Of the posts written this year my write up of ePortfolio news and projects from D2L Fusion is the most popular post.

Slideshare stats

I’ve finally got some of my presentations from this year up onto Slideshare – but have also noticed some missing. Time to rectify that. Slideshare seems to offer a fairly steady stream of traffic.

Year in Review: Corridors

Hallway, museum Boijmans-Van Beuningen, Rotterdam.

Hallway, museum Boijmans-Van Beuningen, Rotterdam.

As a semi-serious entry in the round up of the year…

I have an office on a corridor between classrooms and the exit; sometimes loud voices waft into my office from this public space that offer, perhaps a less formal and less considered source of feedback. Here are some quotes from this year:

OH: ‘I really didn’t see much about what it means to be human in the play’ [from later comments the play in question was by Shakespeare]

OH: “I didn’t read the syllabus” .. [Reply] “I barely remember to read those things she posts in D2L”

OH “Have you finished the paper?” “I’ve not started, I haven’t even got the book” “What book?” “I don’t know”

OH “so right when you go into D2L, don’t go into any of your classes go to the bottom left hand side – there’s a link to your ePortfolio” [After months of telling people to get to ePortfolio through a course … but having to add a front page link for other purposes – less clicks wins…]

OH “and I can go and write the fricking reflection, F*****g B******t”

OH “and she said 7-10 pages, I’ve nearly got seven so that should be ok”

OH “I don’t have permanent computer so I save things by emailing them to myself. [conversation continues to then discuss problems with versioning and working on wrong versions] … I’m hoping to get everything consolidated onto a flash drive over the break”

They offer a measure of bittersweet perspective and a mild reality check in the midst of the really positive feedback we’ve been getting about the new courses and program.