Everybody Knows (that)

Or maybe they don't? Might as well share.

Week Ending January 14th, 2022

A bag of undergrad papers going to recyclingSomeone said something about a thing that happened in the early 2000s today. I looked at my computer and saw ‘2022’ and wondered where that 20 years went… apropos of nothing . The pandemic has really messed with my sense of time though. Things like ‘last year’ or ‘last spring’ require some serious cognitive processing to put in context.  And in keeping with the time warp theme, this picture is my undergrad in papers. I kept all my graded work for a really long time. I finally let it go. It was fun to revisit this pivotal time in my life and read the comments, and remember just how much work I put in. I completed my BA in 2003 – the early 2000s. Hmmm.

As for now, this week I have been working different hours and days to deal with some family stuff. I spent some time reading over training plans from a meeting I missed and orienting myself to that. I got back into my WordPress pages for teach anywhere and did some edits and created some graphics. I decided to use Fireworks to put images and text together for things that require several steps that comprise several screens. It made things a lot simpler than trying to insert images inline.  I’ve identified at least one place where a Camtasia video might be a better option than the existing Brightspace video and I have a couple of more complicated graphics to put together.

I started putting a little organizing into the course we will use to support the upcoming training sessions. I’m not going too far as it is not just ‘my’ course but I’ve put in a module for each session and started folders in the manage files section to match each module.  I’ve started a ‘welcome’ section as well. I think for consistency we should have an intro page for each section.

Next week I plan to work four days. My POSE program with UBC kick-off is on Tuesday.  I’m looking forward to the program and have looked around a little on the website.  It hasn’t been the best couple of weeks starting this year off but I managed to get some things done and I feel like my head is back in to what needs to be done, so that’s something.

I have been thinking a lot about the future of higher ed recently. I heard the (very small) number of students graduating in B.C. this year and can’t help but think it’s time for some creative destruction. My question for people involved in education from administrators, to support staff, to educational technologists, teaching and learning centers, instructors, students, etc. is ‘Where do you see yourself in 5 years’?

Year ending, 2021

champagne in a crystal flute with a christmas tree in the backgroundCheers! Last year the  holidays were strange. No one could come for dinner and I couldn’t do much of anything. This was my view from the couch, me and my zimmer splint. Still, could have been worse right? This year isn’t going as planned either but everyone is healthy and safe and we can be together.

I didn’t post last week partly because I ran out of time and because I knew this would be a short week so I thought I would combine them.

Last week we ran our last 2 Brightspace workshops of the year.  I finished part three of the Brightspace certificate training and spent the rest of my time planning out pages for our Teach Anywhere WordPress pages. We have had some conversations about delivering training in different ways for the next round.

The two days I had this week were devoted to creating the help pages for Brightspace. I decided to focus on getting the step by step instructions parts done and worrying about images later. Even though so many tutorials exist already, they are never really ‘exactly’ what matches, so while I got to borrow heavily, I had to read through and check that the instructions actually work for our instance. I’m still having trouble with the teach anywhere site taking my images. They show up blurry and my videos are stretched. Something to figure out in the new year – and I WILL figure it out. I can be tenacious (my husband has other words for it…).

Jen and I did  a run through of our pages and that was great for clarification and catching little things. I should be about to land in Puerto Vallarta right now but the recent travel restrictions don’t work for the family so, here I am.  It was the right call. We have a lot to be thankful for and will just shift gears and adjust to being colder than we had planned.

I thought about trying to recap the year but, I think I’d rather just look to the future and put this one behind me. There will be a lot to do getting faculty up to speed on Brightspace  – I don’t think we’re going back to full on f2f any time soon – and I am going to start the POSE program in a couple of weeks.

Next one in the New Year.

Week Ending December 10, 2021

parrot flying Another fly by week. I am out of time before I am out of things to do.  We did three bright space training sessions this week and have a couple more scheduled for next week.   

During one session I had a little technical trouble where I wasn’t able to share my screen.  It turned out pretty well though. At first I thought I would have Jen share as I made changes behind the scenes but we switched to me guiding Jen through how to do things. This kind of forced us to be slow and methodical and it gave participants time to see the steps. Most importantly, we stayed calm and it all worked out.  In fact, we did a bit of that in a different session where I was sharing screen and Jen wanted to add something to the conversation. 

Jen and I have also been planning a list of ‘essentials’ that faculty will want/need to know about working with Brightspace. We have a list of 12 that we need to create WordPress pages for.  These will be followed by a more robust list of ‘how to’ items. 

I have started my second module of the final Brightspace certificate course. I was hoping to have the quiz written before Monday but that may not happen. I aim to be finished all three modules before the break.  I have 5 working days left to get it all done. 

I captured this parrot (in a picture 🙂 at a magical place called Las Caletas. 

Week Ending December 3, 2021

metal beams This week I started the third and final Brightspace Certificate course in Communication and Engagement. Unfortunately I wasn’t able to start on Monday because they had the wrong course posted. I had to create a discussion post to let the instructor know but couldn’t do that until the discussions were turned on. I followed up on Wednesday to see if anything had been done and was finally able to get in on Wednesday afternoon. The communication from them wasn’t great but at least it was fixed. I powered through the first module and got the test done.

I’ve been going over the Blackboard DIY help page and drafting a new list for Brightspace.  We are trying to anticipate the things faculty will need to know ‘just in time’  so they don’t need to create a ticket. There are a couple of new features we can highlight too.  There will initially be some Blackboard carryover as instructors will need to get their old content out and loaded into Brightspace. Some may be working from stored Blackboard course files as well. Eventually those can drop off the page.

Jen and I had three sessions this week. We picked up one for Liesel on Communication tools. The sessions are feeling smoother and the audiences are keen. We got really good questions in our assessments session Thursday.

Jen and I worked out some topics for the DIY/Top10/Help page and figured out a colour and style for parts of our training. We got shiny new copies of Snaggit and Camtasia to play with. I plan to draft a sample help page in WordPress on Monday and see how that goes.  I’ve been reviewing existing Brightspace training and will experiment with making it more NIC specific.

Next week we have three more sessions and some planning to do. I aim to get through Module 2 of my course and I need to revisit my PD plan. Lots to do. Since we’re in building mode, the construction of the Campbell River campus picture seemed fitting.


Week Ending November 26, 2021

Temple at Chichen Itza and wall with skull carvings in the foregroundCatching up for a couple of weeks where I only worked a couple of days. I took a week off from the 10th to the 17th so there wasn’t much to reflect on on either side. Photo from our trip to Chichen Itza. Amazing place and we learned a lot of the history from our guide.

Brightspace has been the main focus for what I’m working on. Before I went away I finished my second course in the certificate training “Building Assessment and Grading Learners”. It was much more involved than building courses was in that there are a lot more variables and details when setting up assessments.

Next week we are supposed to be starting the third certificate course on Engagement and Communication but so far the website and the email I got are showing a repeat of the assessment course. I’ve written for clarification.

Since I’ve been back we’ve done some training sessions in teaching with Brightspace and are now working on resources. We’ve had one person for each session so far and it’s been good to run through our content with someone else. We’ve discovered some things we can adjust and improve.  I’m in the process of harvesting and curating existing Brightspace training so that we’re not reinventing the wheel. We can then see if there are any gaps and any NIC specific things we need to create.

Started reading How are we doing with Open Educational Practice  and will explore the Institutional Self-Assessment Tool for OEP Initiatives. I have also signed up for the Program for Open Scholarship and Education (POSE) at UBC. It was this statement that really made it seem like a good idea: “By completing this program you will gain the tools and strategies to become proficient in supporting and advocating for open practices.”  The program starts in mid-January and doesn’t sound like a heavy time commitment. I’m hoping this will be a way to stay connected with what’s going on in Open and give me a bit of insight on the ‘support’ and ‘advocacy’ pieces.

Next week I will continue building a resource bank for Brightspace and hopefully get started on the correct course for my certificate. Jen and I will be facilitating three more sessions for faculty.

Week Ending Nov. 5, 2021

Red and white ducts and pipes I connected with friends and colleagues this week and it was awesome.

This week was more Brightspace and it’s going to be like that for the 2 days I’ll be here next week too. I am working on the third module of my certificate course with the intent to finish the course before I go away on Wednesday.  This section on assessments is more involved than the creating courses course was. There are a lot more steps and more variables for settings.

I just lost my draft of about 3 paragraphs here so I’m going to try and remember what I wrote about… Jen and I have been meeting regularly to work through our sessions. It’s good practice. I stumbled through a part I was feeling good about so that was a good lesson. We’re working out what we need to have in our demo course to show people and figuring out what will need to be interactive.

Friday was the etug conference. As I saw the names and faces entering the zoom room I was reminded how much I miss these people, and this event. We have two new people on the stewardship committee and it was really fun to work with them and watch them have their first ‘behind the scenes’ experience.  I had to take over as host for a bit as our chair was having technical issues. We had an ‘open’ session because one presenter had to back out and I thought I would lead a world cafe but we ended up just talking as a group – there were about 45 people there for a session with no topic.  All day right up until 4 we had from 40 to over 100 people in attendance.  I guess I’m not the only one who has missed etug.

The opening panel was fantastic. We had Brenna, Colin, Brian, Vivian and Ian each sharing their perspective on analytics, privacy, online proctoring and the student experience.  My notes from the panel session are really vague, I was too engaged listening.  Brenna said something about the co-opting of the language of care and support and asked if we can call what’s being measured ‘learning’.  A couple of sessions were a little over my head but still interesting and I noticed a them emerging around ethical frameworks and policies around learning analytics. There were conversations around who is making the purchasing decisions and what kind of access vendors have to student data – and is anyone reading the fine print?

It was such a great way to end the week. Next week, in my two days I’m going to write my last quiz in my course and work on the supporting pieces for the sessions and meet with Jen for another run through.

Week Ending October 29, 2021

A tree with autumn coloured leaves against a blue sky

There is something strange going on with Flickr right now and I can open it (tried 2 browsers) but I think my laptop may need a restart because other things are behaving weirdly.  I emailed myself an image 🙂 

I spent some time writing up some thoughts on the Brightspace course  that I finished last week. I think it’s helpful to keep in mind as we develop for others. One of the things that nagged at me a bit  – and I don’t know if I’ve shared this already or not – was that some of the activities, or ‘workflows’ that we did seemed to have no context, or relationship to the others so I wasn’t sure what the purpose was. Still, I learned things. I don’t mean to be super critical and I value having the practice of pushing the buttons and learning some of the  how and why of the tools. Next week we move on to building assessments and student grading. 

I met with an instructor who teaches log scaling and helped him out with cleaning up his course a bit. It is not going to win any ‘beautiful design’ awards but I think the instructor feels more confident about how things work and I introduced him to the announcements tools that he put to good use to tell students what had changed on the home page. We put in some folders and created some structure and flow for the students. It’s mostly synchronous on BlueJeans so the Blackboard shell plays a supporting role. We even got into assessment a little bit as this course helps students prepare for a provincial exam. 

Jen and I have met a few times this week. It’s nice to be collaborating and sharing ideas. We’re working on some frameworks for our sessions with timing and highlights. I think 2 out of 3 are pretty well finished and the third is shaping up. 

I have been working across the three presentations and have started putting some things into our course site to lay it out a bit. I embedded a padlet to demonstrate that. We are tossing around the idea of using a padlet for part of our introductions or in place of a group discussion and then we can embed that in the course instead.  I put an intro page into each module with some outcomes to model that. 

I attended the College Conversation about the CARE plan. There is still a lot of stress out there… I also Attended an OER Myth busting workshop.  I signed up mostly to test whether the UBC System would let me but also because I wanted to hear what sort of arguments there are for not using Open resources and what some of the answers to those concerns might be.   I think there was a bit more of a library/research focus in this session than what I’m used to hearing.  They had a cool presentation tool:  Open Access Myths

Next week I am going to start part 2 of my certificate course on Monday and do some more work scripting my parts of 2 of our sessions. I’m going to create some charts matching the tools and functions in Brightspace too. I will also be continuing to work on  the course we’re using as a demo. Jen and I are going to do a run through of a session (2 if possible) on Tuesday and see how it feels. And, I’ll get some more reading in for the FLC discussion on Wednesday. 



Week Ending October 22, 2021

sleeping dog with George on his name tagNot going to lie, I feel a little bit like George right now. Tired. Maybe it’s the weather 🙂

The focus was mostly Brightspace again this week. I finished the first part of the certificate course.  It was called “Learning Environment Developing Course Materials” . I have mixed thoughts on the training. Maybe  my expectations were too high but I thought the sandbox I ended up with would be more … course like?  I definitely learned some things though and jotted down a few notes when something stood out as useful to pass on.

You have to get 100% on every quiz to get the certificate but you can take them multiple tries. Some of the questions weren’t very well written but I got through all the quizzes.  The next one on Building Assessments and Grading Learners doesn’t start until Nov. 1. I could use the hands on experience now as I’m planning sessions on the subject.

Jen and I have met a couple of times for session planning. I’ve got some cleaned up Google docs that we are working on for outlines and scripts.

Next week I need to get into my course sandbox and start doing some hands on practice so I know what I’m talking about.  Between the course and the session planning there has been a lot of back and forth as I learn new things.  What I mean is, I learn something in the course and make a note for the sessions, and then, I work on the session notes and have to go back to the course… Next week I will finish up my parts for the sessions and get together with Jen to finalize or something close.


Week Ending Oct 15th, 2021

Tail of an iguana showing from under a car

Heading back to the office like… 🙂

Easing back in to being in the office this week and starting a new Monday to Wednesday work week routine.  I moved my desk so that the space feels a little more comfortable for me.  I have one more box to unpack and a little rearranging on the walls to do. Getting used to the noise again is an adjustment.  That’s also part of just being around people after so long.

I worked more on my Brightspace certificate course and got through a couple of quizzes. Even though they’ve given us a sandbox to work in, the things they assign for ‘workflow’ are not always the things I want to do.  I need to take some time to apply what I’m learning to my NIC sandbox course but that will probably make more sense when I’ve completed this first part of the certificate.  There will be a break before the next part starts. We also have a sandbox course for the upcoming instructor training sessions and I am keeping that in mind as we map out the sessions.

Speaking of the training sessions, I met with Jen again and we’ve started planning the flow and scripting our parts. I think we’re both working on different sessions but that doesn’t matter. We’ll bring our pieces together next week.

I attended another FLC on Access and the Reach Everyone, Teach Everyone book.  More good conversation and some steps toward something concrete in the spirit of ‘plus one’.  There is an appetite for learning, as well as sharing  and bringing other onboard. This, and the act of preparing a communication about International Open Access Week got me excited about advocacy again.

I’ve begun booking time in my calendar to focus on specific things I’m working on. Some things tend to get dropped down the list as others are prioritized. Most of the to-do items right now are ‘thinking’ things so I need focused time with each of them and hope that a calendar reminder will help with that.


Week Ending October 8th

an egret on the beach and an approaching wave

This week was about getting my feet wet in Brightspace. 

I started the certificate course and am working through the modules. There were a couple of points of confusion but it’s pretty straightforward.  I am almost finished module 2.  

Jen and I met a couple of times to plan our training sessions for the first group who will adopt Brightspace. 

I attended the Increasing Access Faculty Learning Community. Not a huge turn out but some very enthusiastic participants.  I enjoy talking about UDL.  The access conversation is quite broad, because the subject is. 

I gathered some links for Open Access week that is coming up later this week. I see that BCcampus is asking around for what institutions are doing so there may be some more offerings to share. 

I came across this Inclusive Access piece last week and then Tannis tweeted it (so I looked at it again) and she shared this twitter feed: 

A good reminder that one important  part of access is affordable resources – and Open Educational Resources are worth advocating for. 

for the upcoming week I’ve started booking specific times in my calendar for each of things I need to get done. We’ll see how that goes. 

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