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 ūüėČ ).

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 ūüėČ ). 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

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).

University Studies Program, ePortfolio labs, developer project all underway

Runners in Oshkosh Marathon UnderwayWe’re about a month or so from the end of the regular semester for the first courses offered in UWO’s new University ¬†Studies Program. From my point of view things seem to be going well overall but it’s too soon to tell how well students adding stuff to their ePortfolios is going. My schedule is filling up with instructors wanting to tweak the details of their assignments or asking me to speak to classes. All the training and professional development which we ran last year and in August is coming to fruition as students begin to add work to their program portfolio. How this will finally go is still a bit of a mystery.¬†I’ve presented to many instructors about the use of ePortfolios,¬†I’ve had feedback from a few about how it’s working out in their courses, and I know some departments ¬†have used our materials to offer their own training and support. However, the real test of how things are going will be a post-semester inventory of ePortfolio use.

September and October were also occupied with ¬†recruiting and training student lab assistants to support an ePortfolio drop-in lab for students. They’re in place, trained, and waiting. As November progresses I’m hoping their lab hours will begin to get busy but, despite advertising the lab hours, the students have so far had lots of time to study. It’s been a new experience working with student employees and I’m very grateful to have them supporting their peer’s use of ePortfolio [as cross-cultural aside I’m also struck by how much students here tend to work alongside their studies].

Another fun dimension of student workers is that I’ve been able to hire a student developer for about eight hours a week. I’m working with with them to look into the available D2L api’s with an aim of developing a slightly better range of export functionality from our ePortfolio platform so that we can support student choice. We’re fortunate that one of our library developers has used the API to support a information literacy tool and game that integrates with D2L and get help us get oriented quickly.

I’m impressed by and grateful for D2L’s hosted MyDesire2Learn service but consider myself professionally obligated to work on ensuring students have a range of choices for their ePortfolio stuff after graduation (D2L supports export to html, export as D2L package for another D2L system and for MyDesire2Learn, I want to look into what else we might support).

“Reflection is …

“Reflection is an essential feature of a deep approach to learning. It is inappropriate and unnecessary on a course whose aim is to impart a large corpus of information for students to digest and reiterate on the exam at the end.
Reflection seems to be a part of the kinds of learning in which learners try to understand material that they encounter and to relate it to what they already knew. Relating new material to what one knows already may mean reflecting on what one knows and modifying it (deep approach). Reflection will also be involved in the process of representing learning – when, for example, a learner’s understanding is tested in a format that demands reprocessing of the ideas (e.g. an essay). It is less or uninvolved in an approach that requires reiteration of the responses in the same format as the original knowledge (Moon 2005)”

Quote from: Stefani, Lorraine, Robin Mason, and Chris Pegler. The Educational Potential of E-portfolios: Supporting Personal Development and Reflective Learning. Routledge, 2007. p 61 reference to 

Moon, Jenny. Learning through Reflection. Guide for Busy Academics. Higher Education Academy, 2005. http://www.heacademy.ac.uk/resources/detail/resource_database/id69_guide_for_busy_academics_no4_moon.
When we hear the words deep and surface learning there is an implicit reaction that deep is good and surface is bad. In the discussions we had years ago in my Pg Cert – Course (re)Design module, there was a lively debate about this and the conclusion ¬†was that there are some courses and topics that will rightly focus on surface learning and large amounts of content transmission – the trick being that they may serve as an early part of a program which then goes onto to build deep learning. For a program level portfolio this does raise the question of to what degree ever course should reflect – there’s not an easy answer. I’m torn between thinking some courses might want or need to be ¬†‘just’ content and even if a course is content focused ¬†the student might usefully be prompted reflect on how and why that fits into the program. ¬†
Boston Skyscraper

D2L Fusion 2013: D2L news-y stuff

What’s new for D2L? A few short notes for reference from¬†the D2L Fusion conference – or what delights are on the horizon?

  • Product Idea Exchange.¬†As part of initiatives to get greater community input to development priorities D2L have launched a tool a little like¬†Ideascale or Stackexchange. Users and developers can create feature requests
  • National Federation of the Blind Gold certification for the Learning Environment – kudos to D2L for getting this recognition for their work in making their platform more accessible.
  • The Valence API. The API and supporting community really seems to be growing and I’m looking forward to exploring how it might be of use in our ePortfolio work.
  • I didn’t follow totally but Binder seems to be expanding it’s capabilities towards also being a publishing platform.
  • Predictive analytics (Degree Compass). This acquisition is becoming (/is?) now an integrated part of their product line. I’m still a little concerned about a path of least resistance through degrees (some of the best courses I have taken didn’t have my ‘best’ grades) but I appreciate the importance of forewarning and making wise choices.
  • Solution Store – Very shiny! Our site admin is *very* happy to see this. Initially the solution store will provide recipes to integrate other tools and platforms. However, in the slightly longer term it will support ~’one click’ setup of those integrations.
  • Wiggio – acquired for ad hoc social collaboration tools. It’ll be interesting to see how this integrates and whether it is going to function as a tool in its own right or as added features in other tools. I tried using it and it’s getting there and will be useful but is there a tension with discussions or the social side of ePortfolio and does this type of thing need to be in the LMS?
  • Content Templates. Templates for courses, nuff said.
  • Drag and Drop.
  • ePortfolio App – focus on content capture and interaction (not presentations and the like). I’m excited to hear about this but still not sure how some of the social side of the way ePortfolio is going will play out on campuses.
  • Badges – in development. AFAIK Issuer and displayer, OBI compliant I think. Yippee. A potential tie into ePortfolio would be great on many levels. Very little detail on this. It’ll be interesting to see how much of this development is tied into the instructors role and how much D2L attempts to provide automated options via the learning environment, reporting or analytics. Automating aspects of this makes some sense but ¬†I’d want to be very cautious about what we’re measuring and rewarding.

The Role of Libraries and Information Professionals in OER initiatives

Yesterday JISC CETIS and CAPLE published a research report by¬†Gema Bueno-de-la-Fuente, Stuart Boon, and myself investigating the role of Libraries and Information Professionals in Open Educational Resource Initiatives. The report is the output of Gema’s¬†sabbatical¬†research stay at the University of Strathclyde.

Links to Gema’s blog post about the report and the report.

The report highlights the generally positive impact of LIS professionals involvement in OER initiatives but notes that that involvement and awareness of the relevance of LIS skillsets to OER is not widespread in LIS organisations.