Is My Major Project Really Over???

We are yet again at the end of a semester of #edtech.  And although this is technically “the end” of EC&I 831, I really do not feel a sense of closure (and I don’t feel that Alec and Katia would want us to either), but instead a continuation of EC&I 832 and a personal pedagogical change for the better.  As was last semester, my major project was a journey – a web of sorts – rather than a chain.  It was not a one way flow of energy rather a branching in different paths while maintaining the same ancestral point of entrance – divergent evolution!

  1.  Since I focused on having my students create blogs last semester, I felt that it was time for me to focus on myself and how I can advance my own educational pedagogy.  I chose to concentrate my major project on MOOCs, specifically to introduce myself to a new way of learning and possibly a new way of facilitating a course.  The idea of a MOOC first piqued my interest during the last week on November 30th when we explored the Dave Cormier’s concept of Rhizomatic Learning, learning without a middle or an end.  I will admit, as a science teacher, the term “rhizomatic” made a lot of sense to me, I fundamentally understood this concept before I researched it.  Yet, as a learner I was a bit confused about how nodules related to learning and I wanted to put energy into this topic, especially after attending #etmooc in January. EVERYTHING CLICKED after that hour!  I was hooked and left wanting to be part of a MOOC community. I explored the internet in Here A MOOC, There A MOOC, Everywhere A MOOC, MOOC.  I enrolled in a MOOC called “Reading to Learn in Science” as I felt that if I was to put energy into this than not only would I ensure that I would learn, so would my students!
  2. Just In Time!  Yes, I had enrolled in the “Reading to Learn in Science” class just in time, and was only a few weeks behind, but with the amount of time allowed for each section I was able to easily catch up. I was really enjoying the flexibility a MOOC allowed for participants.  I began to look for places in Canada that used MOOCs and was pleasantly surprised that BC has been exploring these as OER platforms. This week, I was introduces to the concept of a COOL course, this is something that I will look into further as they are intriguing.
  3. Due to the amount of time between sessions in the MOOC I was participating in, I was only able to post about the content of the course about once per month.  Already I was beginning to feel that this MOOC was not a connectivist MOOC (cMOOC) but rather an xMOOC – and I quickly began to discover that this was not what I was hoping to become involved in. In Science – the Mother Subject, I concentrated on literacy supports that can be utilized within the science classroom rather than conversations with other science teachers about what can be gained from one another.
  4. More than One MOOC!?!  Alec encouraged me to look into MOOCs as there were many of them, I knew about CMOOCs and xMOOCs, but these?   transferMOOCs, madeMOOCs, synchMOOCs, asynchMOOCs, adaptiveMOOCs, groupMOOCs and miniMOOCSs.  It was really through my research of MOOCs that I learned that I truly relate more to the connectivists (developed by George Seimens and Stephen Downes) rather than behaviorist learning theories.  I began researching for a cMOOC to join.  I did this by reaching out via twitter and Google+ communities (yay for search tools other than Google – Let me google that for you, right?).
  5. I found my type of  learning community!!!! cMOOCs – Welcome Home was truly the epiphany of my learning project, and the beginning of the end of my xMOOC journey (for right now at this point anyway, and I am just fine with that). I found a cMOOC that was beginning very soon!  The communication between myself and the other participants was somewhat similar to what I experienced as an onlooker into the #etMOOC environment!
  6. I feel that I was beginning my learning project all over again, but not really, as I felt that I did learn what I set out to for my major learning project.  And Another New Beginning was born – this time to with a clear focus on only one type of MOOC – but also with a connection to EC&I 831 as I chose a MOOC which I was already interested in MOSOMELT (mobile online social media learning technology).  I felt that I had come full circle, as the beginning week of mosomelt was very similar to that of this class.
  7. A new type of social media learning tool – we were asked to introduce ourselves using the MSQRD app – so I gave it a whirl and became a tank driver!  I do have some reservations about this app though, it is fun, but I feel that it has the capability to aid in online identity scams as you can choose to have your entire face “hidden” by a mask.
  8. My Get Out of Jail Free Card – an official goodby to the xMOOC!  I am currently solely concentrating on mosomelt!  Since joining this MOOC, I have continued to explore social learning within schools and the advantages our students can have with using BYOD in the classroom in combination with OER.

This is clearly not the end of my learning journey into MOOCs, just the opposite!  I have learned a lot from this project – and have narrowed my focus for the future of my masters degree as well as being able to expand my students learning experiences through knowledge that I have gained this semester.  Win-Win!



My Get Out Of Jail Free Card

My exploration of MOOC’s continues; specifically with cMOOCs.   I have set aside the xMOOC I was taking at the start of the semester,  the timing just wasn’t right for me to be taking another oMOOCn-line course. In some ways, I feel like my major learning project in #eci831 has been my “Get out of jail free card” as we are encouraged to explore a subject that is important to us at this time.  For me, that exploration revolved around learning about MOOCs (at the time I did’t even know that there was more than one type of MOOC)!


This week, our #mosomelt community began exploring more ways to introduce ourselves via mobile technology.  We could into ourselves using either Instagram video or a Vine video.  I choose the latter of the two, simply because I feel okay using Instagram and had never used Vine before.

As you can see – I still need to play around a bit and get up the nerve to actually speak to my phone, it feels a bit weird to speak when no one is there;  maybe I just need to be in my car and pretend like I am in carpool karaoke 🙂

Our mosomelt community was also given some suggested readings for the week – I read the article What Killed the Mobile Learning Dream by John Traxler regarding BYOD – this is something that the school division in which I am employed is currently trying in a few of our classrooms (yay!) so the article held particular relevance to me.

I don’t think we’ve clearly thought through what exactly that might mean but, also, some of those concerns are proxies for a rather different question. When students bring their own devices, they also bring their own services and connectivity, and whereas we used to make the rules by which they could use the desktops or by which they could access the network – because it was ours – in future it will be their network and their devices.

The rules that have been set out by school divisions regarding what sites we want our students to be working on, and what sites we want to block were in our control, but as soon as students bring their own devices, the schools are no longer in control – in essence the students are and the rules will now be broken.  In control of their own learning – is this such a bad thing?  In my opinion NO – in fact it is what I strive for, but then again, I do teach high school students and I want them to be independent learners. Another thing that may scare educators and school divisions off of BYOD is that the teacher may now have to be an expert in all things tech, again NO.  If our students are striving to be independent learners, part of that learning process is how to use THEIR learning tool.

We also want our students to learn by discussion and interaction. They can do that in an open world as well. Why do we want to get our students to get locked into our VLE [virtual learning environment] to consume our closed content?

Exactly!  And just as the video below states – BYOD lets the learner learn with choice of device that works for the student (one they are comfortable with) while allowing those students who do not have their own digital devices to use the schools devices, ultimately decreasing the digital divide, as everyone would have a device to learn on.  And to me, this is similar to MOOCs – giving the learner the choice to learn the best way they can (xMOOC vs cMOOC) from those that are experts in their chosen fields of study.

Just like the Monopoly board at the beginning of this post has a variety of icons that the players get to choose to be (shoe, race car, etc.), I believe BYOD and MOOCs together allow learners the freedom to choose the best method to increase understanding of the content being presented.

I Always Wanted to Drive a Tank :)

I have begun my second MOOC, this time a cMOOC called MOSOMELT (Mobile Social Media Learning Technology).

Week 1 was an introductory week titled “The Power of Social Media and Curation”, very similar to the introductory week we had for both #eci831 and #eci832, we were required to set up a WordPress blog, Twitter Account and ensure that we were connecting on our Google+ community.  I already feel very comfortable with these platforms as we have been using them a lot in this class – so it was nice to begin a class without feeling overwhelmed!  Aside from setting up all accounts and tweeting using the appropriate hashtags (#mosomelt), we have been asked to play around a bit with augmented reality app MSQRD – somewhat similar to taking a photo or video of yourself on SnapChat and choosing a filter or mask to put on your face – although this was fun, I do wonder if it will be used in some catfishing scams as it is very easy to hide your face and claim that you are someone you aren’t.  Also, when you take the photo-you simply upload it to instagram, Facebook, Twitter or save to your phone – you can’t choose to send it to your friends or in a story like SnapChat allows.

So far, there has been little communication with one another, with the exception of having communication with Thom Cochrane, one of the facilitators, but, there have been posts both on the Google+ community as well as on Twitter and our Blog Roll and I expect the communication to pick up as the weeks go on.  We have 60 people signed up for this cMOOC and I think that I am geographically the farthest from anyone as most seem to be situated in Australia and New Zealand – Good, I want to make global connections!

I am looking forward to Week 2 as we will begin to look at the “Power of an Online Profile” – again, I feel fairly comfortable with this, but am excited to learn how to do all of this on a mobile device and away from the safety of my laptop.


Another New Beginning…and I am Excited!!!


Today I began my second MOOC!  This time I am participating in a cMOOC, but still continuing on with the xMOOC I had signed up for initially – although I am loosing engagement in it, I am digging my heels in and will continue to see how it goes.  But with what I have been experiencing so far, I agree with the points that Degree Of Freedom makes while correlating the two MOOCs as personal learning networks.

I continued my quest for more information and more exposure to cMOOCs so I decided to look to Twitter for hashtags that would lead me towards these communities.  I found NRCO1PL Google+ community in which they discuss #humanmooc – the human MOOC is a course discussing  humanizing online instruction.  During exploration I discovered two pathways during week thee of this course allows students to decide how they want their PLN to look:

  1. Garden Path – “This pathway is designed to be more like a social, non-structured, self-guided pathway. You will work through creating your own goals and connecting with other learners to think through various assignments. This s a good pathway for more advanced learners or those that prefer more interactive learning experiences”.
  2. Stream Path – “This pathway is designed to be more like the linear, guided knowledge pathway that most of you are used to in a typical online course. You will work through a pre-determined set of videos, content, and assignments. This is a good pathway for new learners or those that prefer more structured, guided learning experiences”.

As an educator who wants to bring MOOCs into the high school arena, I like the idea of hDigital Tech quoteaving two paths to travel and allowing for options for our students as they begin their journey into online learning and at the same time reminding students that technology has been around for  a very long time, it’s just changed it looks as it has evolved.


I am excited to participate in a joint teaching and learning environment, although being facilitated by @thomcochrane via multiple mobile social media platforms such as mosomelt cMOOC G+community.

cMOOCs – Welcome Home!

Deeper connections – this is what I have been looking for, although I did not realize it at the beginning of my #edtech journey into #OER (open education resources).  As I participated in the #etmooc chat on January of this year, I began to have a sense that a MOOC was where I wanted to venture in my major project.


I am very interested in open education in the high school science classroom and want to further explore how a MOOC can help our students engage in the curriculum.  Now, I realize that I still need to figure out fully what the word “engage” looks, sounds, and feels like – but this is an area that I intend to explore and expand in depth further into my thesis.  But in order to begin to understand the focus of my thesis, I understood that I first needed to explore MOOCs a bit further.  So far in the course, I have taken an xMOOC out for a “test drive”, and while it is a very good course, it is just that, a university style course, and not what I am personally looking for. It’s just that, a personal choice.

I have been doing deeper research into cMOOCs, honestly, they just click with me. Do you ever have that moment?  The moment when you know that you are on the right path because it just feels right?  I finally have that feeling, and its great! A cMOOC, as I previously researched, is based on connectivism.  Just the word alone, connectivism, a community connected with one another, learning together clicks – this is the basis for my research and an opportunity I want to give to my students.  Think of it as the ultimate peer tutoring if you will.  I really liked the feel of #etmooc, created by Alec Couros (yes, the real Alec Courso), and was fortunate enough to have a brief glimpse of.  Previous to the start of the #etmooc, Peter Rorabaugh had a chance to Twiterview Alec, it really is a very interesting “read” on how a course and a collaboration exists symbiotically. Here is a snippet of one of their meetings, they know each other by name and are genuinely happy to see one another and connect not only pedagogically, but personally.

I think that Julie Balen captured the essence of collaboration and celebrations of #etmooc in her blog, Why Celebrate a Course?

     “it is the only learning experience I’ve had where openness, flexibility, lightheartedness, seriousness, collegiality, collaboration, creation, intellectualism, and generosity co-existed”.

Really, what other course creates something as masterful as this?  Geographically separated, yet not at all.

So, I have started to look for a few cMOOC’s to test drive, to see if I can join a community of learners passionate about the same things that I am and have an open collaboration, one that allows me to improve my own pedagogy.  So far this is what I have found:

#rhizo16 by Dave Cormier will be starting up May 10th?


I have also found MOSOMELT , Mobile Social Media Learning Technologies, which seems to be based out of New Zealand, but the beauty of social media is that geography melts away during connectedness.  This cMOOC begins March 14.  Check out their website and Google+ community.

I have also put out a call on Twitter:

If you happen to know of a cMOOC starting up, please let me know, or better yet join me!

One last thing I will throw note; if you are someone who is new to MOOCs like I am and are unsure of which way to go, there is a “cross-breed” between the xMOOCs and the cMOOCs, the dual layer.dual layer mood

It is something that I will investigate further, because you never know until you try. But for now, and believe me I am very new to this, a cMOOC just feels right.











More than one MOOC?

Amazing StoriesI have a confession – I have decided to continue with taking a MOOC alongside this course, but have made the decision to audit the MOOC instead, and I am happy that I have made this decision as I am still allowed to move through the MOOC and take part in all aspects of the MOOC, I just won’t receive the certificate.  Sometimes, we need to make these decisions in order to maintain a work/school/life balance.  I am realizing that there are a lot of people whom actually choose this route when participating within the MOOC community.

Since this is an “off week” for my Learning to Read in Science MOOC (we have three weeks to complete 5 videos and I want to research what a MOOC is as well as what a MOOC feels like to participate in), I decided to further explore types of MOOC’s this week. Did you know that there are many types of MOOCs?  If not, don’t worry, I didn’t either up until a few weeks ago.  In this blog, I will be focusing on xMOOCs and cMOOCs.


xMOOCs are designed and based upon academic courses and follow the behaviourist learning theory in which behaviours (or in this case knowledge) is learned. Most of the time these are courses in which the learner can earn a certificate or credits from an academic institution.  I am taking an xMOOC currently from Stanford University.  These types of MOOCs are guided and organized according to the academic institution offering them.  By offering xMOOCs, Universities can broaden the number of individuals taking a course at a time, thousands of people (even hundreds of thousands) can participate at the same time!  These types of MOOCs usually follow a video format, with the lecturer posting several short lecture style videos (as mine is), these make up a “session”.  Once the participant has completed the videos there are usually questions and assignments consisting of independent work and some connecting with others in the MOOC community.  You may have very little to no contact with your instructor in this type of a MOOC due to the shear volume of learners participating.

Examples of xMOOCs include edX, Udacity and Coursera

cMOOCs are based upon the connectives learning theory developed by George Siemens and Stephen Downes.  Together, George Siemens and Stephen Downes launched the first cMOOC, Connectivism and Connected Knowledge.  This theory is based upon the understanding that the starting place of learning is within the individual, then can be branched out to networks, which feed into organizations, these organizations in turn feed back to the networks and finally to the individual creating a cycle of learning.  Learners participate through social platforms such as Twitter, Facebook and blogging.  cMOOCs are not funded by a large corporation, rather they are organized by individuals with similar interests in a content area.  Participants in this type of MOOC communicate and use social media as a driver for each individuals learning experience.  cMOOCs focus less on the presenting content and more on connectivity.  One example of a cMOOC is Dave Cormier Rhizomatic Learning.


“We connect knowledge, we build, we grow, we advance”

“Learning is a network forming process, knowledge is a networked product”

The further I research xMOOCs and cMOOCs the more I am realizing that there are many more including:


After researching what I consider to be the two main MOOCs, I have to say that I am a little disappointed to discover that I had unknowingly registered in an xMOOC and now realize that what I was really looking for was a cMOOC.  I am still happy that I am participating in a MOOC, and really, knowing the type of MOOC I am in explains why there has been no collaboration amongst leaners.  I will continue my course, but will begin looking for cMOOCs as I want to have the experience of both.

Doing some quick searches on Twitter, I found that Dave Cormier will be beginning his #rhizo16 MOOC May 10!  Join me!

Screen Shot 2016-02-29 at 10.05.26 PM

I was also able to find an open online Google+ Community, which I will spend some more time exploring.

Screen Shot 2016-02-29 at 10.11.05 PM



Science – the “Mother” Subject?

Pre, During, Post reading strategies.  I bet there isn’t one of us in #eci831 that does not know or has not employed these strategies in their classes…. Well, as a science teacher I had used them, but I am quickly learning that I had not been using these strategies properly.  In the second MOOC session of Reading to Learn in Science we are studying these strategies and breaking them down further in regards to employing them within the science classroom.

I am very biased when it comes to “mother subjects” as I would tend to think that we all are.  In my mind, science is the mother subject – the subject that takes other subjects and links them all together into one cohesive unit.  Let me explain further (and keep in mind, I teach high school sciences):

  • in science we use the math skills that students obtained from math class and apply those skills to science.  For example, we use SOA CAH TOA to solve vectors in physics 30 (without the math skills how would a pilot ever fly a plane, or a captain sail a ship, etc.), we use conversion factors for all classes of science, we use quadratic equations for physical science classes, we collect and analyze data quantitatively…. so thank you math teachers.
  • in science we use the physical activity skills learned in phys ed and demonstrate how those skills would not be possible without Health Science understandings… we also use those skills in completing some laboratory activities and demonstrations.
  • in science we rely on historical understandings to propel further research into current or new areas.  We learn from others and build upon their discoveries.  For example, the new Biology 30 curriculum is based around genetics and evolution….need I say more?
  • in science we READ, collecting data qualitatively….thank you ELA teachers 🙂

Now, some may be thinking, but I teach subjects that are not mentioned…well, science is related to those as well.  And many will argue (as you should) that your subject is the one in which all others are linked to…I happen to think that my subject does the best at amalgamating all other subjects into one. But there is one other subject which science may rely on the most in order to make this amalgamation happen; reading!

Major activities of science info graphic

This infographic represents the 5 major activities of science which we call literate modalities:  Doing (designing experiments, assembling apparatuses, collecting and analyzing data), Representing (creating figures, tables, diagrams,charts), Talking (presenting to others and the public), Writing (peer reviewing: theories, research design, findings, implications), and finally Reading (integral to all other major activities within science – without reading there would be NO science).  In order to teach science effectively, teachers must have a clear understanding of the objective that they are teaching.  The objective needs to be:

  1. performance orientated
  2. engaging students in 2 or more literate modalities
  3. must target specific content

In order to successfully achieve the objective:  pre, during, and post reading strategies are used to engage students in the text that they are reading.

Pre reading strategies are used to:

  1. Elicit prior knowledge
  2.  Connect new and old ideas together
  3. Identify misconceptions
  4. Make predictions

Examples of pre reading strategies include picture walks, anticipation guides, and the Frayer model. Anticipation Guide - blank This MOOC session really concentrated on the use of anticipation guides as a pre and post reading strategy.  It is important the the teacher does not copy down the claims word for word from the text as this will activate prior knowledge from the students (allowing the teacher to gather data on the amount of retention that the students have) as well as eliciting inferences about the text.  Another important piece to remember with anticipation guides, is that not all claims are to be true – placing false claims in is beneficial, especially during class discussions.  Once all claims have be completed by the students individually, ask the students to break up into small groups or as a class have a discussion about each claim and what the students initially thought of each.  DO NOT ALLOW THE STUDENTS TO CHANGE THEIR ANSWERS, I have posted an example of an anticipation guide from the session – however, I would change this guide a bit and add another column in to allow students to write down information gathered from class discussions.Anticipation Guide - class discussion column

During reading strategies are used:

  1. Used during the actual reading process
  2. Forces slow, close, reflective reading
  3. Helps students monitor comprehension metacognitivelyDART

The example strategy that was taught during this session was DART (Directed Activity Related to Text) in which students selectively highlighted text used to slow down the reader and to force the reader to think about what they are reading, and to promote reflection and rereading.  Highlighting is done using different colours to categorize content (see screenshot).


Post reading strategies include:

  1. Anticipation guide – ask students to re-read each claim and now answer the columns “What the Text Tells Me” and what “Evidence” is given to support or debunk this claim.
  2. Frayer Model18246392682 is a graphic organizer which helps the students gain a more thorough understanding of a concept and it’s applications.  The Frayer model is good at helping students organize and summarize information, correcting misconceptions that the students may have, and helps the student to incorporation prior knowledge into the objective.




The Pre, During and Post Strategies are helpful to identify student misconceptions, give students practice in citing evidence but they do require careful planning on the teachers behalf.

So, in the end, Science may rely on the students ability to read, but I still believe that it is the one subject amalgamates all other subject into.  After all, if you are going to read, why not read scientifically!