For Every Closed Door, Another Opens

This is the third class that I have taken from Alec and Katia, therefore I am comfortable with the openness of these classes – now that is!  I wasn’t always comfortable (and at times, while I feel comfortable, I still do not feel that I have the confidence), but have learned to embrace the lack of boundaries and the encouragement to try new things.  I have not taken a closed form class myself, but have seen them as some of the teachers I would with have shown me what they are like. So, without the lack of experience of the closed forums, I do not feel that I can adequately discuss my experiences with them, however my first impressions of the courses were “YUK” as they seemed very assignment driven – used as a homework spot rather than a discussion spot, and from what I have been told – just like we discussed in class last week, everyone responded to everyone else so it looked overwhelming!

In the video below – we see how protective Sheldon is about his “spot” on the couch and explains to Penny just why it is his spot.  I was somewhat like Sheldon with the start of open courses.  I had a spot – and my spot was simply to watch from a distance and offer my opinion in the comment section rather than chiming into Zoom and actually speaking.  My spot was comfortable – I could respond without judgement (still do this), and I did not feel judged  when I “wrote my mind”, often encouraged by Alec and Katia as they made a comment about my thoughts.

As Andrew posted – open forums do provoke a sense of anxiety, you have no control over who will read your post or what they will think about you.  What changed for me moving to an area of comfort in an open space was VALIDITY and AUTHENTICITY – I found that I was doing a lot more research and spending more time looking at other readings than those that were required.  I found that I became more invested in the topic when I was asked to post in an open forum as I felt it allowed me to engage in student centred learning.  Just like Amy wrote in her blog, I was more careful about what I was writing about – meaning, I made sure that I fully understood the topic and that I stood behind my opinion of the topic.  This is especially true as I am in essence, putting myself out there for all to judge and see.

Throughout the major assignment that we have been working on this semester, I have done a lot of trials in regards to opening up my courses.  In some ways, I have surprised myself and in others, my experiences have been a conformation.  I have really enjoyed using the Canvas LMS, and have found that for students in grades 11 and 12, they are able to handle the platform of the course.  My students who are forced to use it have done so willingly, and to my surprise as I try to flip parts of my course with the students whom do not have to use an open forum – there has been no hesitation and they took to it easily, commenting that they liked the trust that I had in them to complete their work on their own.

Well I agree that flipped classes are not open classes – there are aspects to my course that will be open – but it is getting the students comfortable with this concept that has been the challenge.  As I am new to the school that I am teaching in this year, the students tell me that they have never been able to use their devices before in the classroom (had a very closed experience before) and are overwhelmed with the technology.  Clearly, I have some work to do (with the students, not the admin as they are very supportive) – but as the year has gone on, I have seen a level of confidence emerge from the students with the use of technology and openness via blogging.

I am curious about your administration – how do they support you in regards to using technology to create an open environment?  

Do you believe that if you create an open course that you will increase  student centred learning ?


Disrobing via Slacktivism

So far this has been a very hard blog to write, not 100 percent too sure why, but it may be because knowing that I have unknowingly contributed to the “slacktivism” movement makes a person look inward and take stock of themselves.  So, where did the spark to write this post come from?  Simple – it came from a tweet!

Thank you Lance and Ashley!

According to the Urban Dictionary – A slacktivist is a “person who does simple things like change their avatar colour or post a status update about a cause instead of actively supporting the cause.”   ALS ice bucket challenge, Pink and Red equals signs for equal rights in marriage.  Avatar activism is not a bad thing, it does raise awareness on issues and does bring issues to light, reaching many people on social media in a very short time.  But does it end there, with a re-tweet, changing the colour of your Facebook profile picture, wearing a bracelet in support of a cause that means a lot to the individual?  The video below takes a look at the positives of having slacktivists in our society.

Katherine Hudson points out that 5000 likes is worth more than one conversations.  ONE CONVERSATION!  Again, this brings to mind the idea from Michael Wesch’s TED Talk knowledgable vs. knowledge-able.  The evolution of using knowledge (knowing a bunch of stuff) towards a concept of being knowledge-able  (find, sort, analyze, what can be said, who can say it, who hears what is said) which are used to start conversations.  At 12:30 into his TED Talk, Michael speaks about a software used to send alerts to based on where you are to your cell phone – essentially creating 45,000 citizen reporters.  These “reporters” were not physically doing anything, they were sending alerts, so are these “reporters” slacktivists?

One last thing, and brining it back to Katherine Hudson; are slacktivitst disrobing us of our own opinions or are they educating and moving the tassel on the mortarboard from the right side to the left?

He Said, She Said…OR Did She???

As I sat down to write this blog I was plagued with feelings of disappointment and being left deflated.  Have you ever heard of the saying below saying by Mark Twain?  I whole heartedly agree with this saying as I have experienced this before in my personal life (and I am sure most of us have), but have had the experience orally as opposed to digitally via social media.Mark Twain

I often wonder though, if more women (cis and trans) feel this way than men?  This is NOT to say that men are “stupid people” at all – please do not take my statement that way.  It’s just that I wonder if women feel that they can never “win” or is it that they realize early on in a disagreement (orally or social media) that they do not need to infuse their energy into the argument because their point will clearly not be taken as intended? Or that their gender identity already defines how they will be regarded online?

These thoughts began to percolate as I read Matt Rosa’s article on Gamer Gate and the silencing of Felicia Day in regards to her love of gaming and finding an inclusive arena (social media) to voice her opinions and experiences.  Inclusion – isn’t that what social media, the internet are all about?  In schools, we often employ social media and the internet as a means of inclusion of all individuals within our classroom.  How many of us have used social media to reach out to other educators when needing help with an assignment or activity that is inclusive?  I would hazard to guess that most of us have.

Sask HS Techers Group


But since learning of Felicia Day and Amanda Hess’ experiences with online bigotry and their feelings of unwelcomeness of women on line, I began to feel deflated in the way women are viewed.  I thought we were making “waves” in the world, women have the right to vote in North America, women are respected in higher level positions – U of R has a female president and Vice-Chancellor, Dr. Vianne Timmons, the USA has a female running for president!  Then why is it that women whom have a voice on social media are undergoing unacceptable attacks by trolls? And why is it that online harassment of women is becoming the ‘established norm‘?

The findings (Australian study) Suggested that women believed that online abuse was a growing problem and felt powerless to act over it.

Seventy per cent of women said online harassment was a serious problem in 2016 and 60% said that it was getting worse. More than half the women surveyed felt the police needed to start taking victims seriously.

A Pew study on online harassment,completed in 2014 with the following findings:

60% of internet users said they had witnessed someone being called offensive names
53% had seen efforts to purposefully embarrass someone
25% had seen someone being physically threatened
24% witnessed someone being harassed for a sustained period of time
19% said they witnessed someone being sexually harassed
18% said they had seen someone be stalked

Those who have personally experienced online harassment said they were the target of at least one of the following online:

27% of internet users have been called offensive names
22% have had someone try to purposefully embarrass them
8% have been physically threatened
8% have been stalked
7% have been harassed for a sustained period
6% have been sexually harassed

And in particular: 
Young women experience particularly severe forms of online harassment

Reading the article written by the Huffington Post, “Harassment of Women Comes from Evolution – And Men’s Insecurities” raises points from a study done by the University of New South Wales and Miami University:

The study’s results supported an “evolutionary argument for why low-status, low-performing males are hostile towards female competitors.”

“Dominance is tightly linked to fitness through offspring number and resource availability,” the authors wrote. “As men often rely on aggression to maintain their dominant social status, the increase in hostility towards a woman by lower-status males may be an attempt to disregard a female’s performance and suppress her disturbance on the hierarchy to retain their social rank.”

They went on to say that high status women pose a “secondary threat” to lower status men, adding that, “as women are attracted to dominance, a high-status female is less likely to find lower-status males attractive.”

Being hostile toward a woman is meant to reduce her self-worth and confidence, the authors said, while at the same time lifting their attackers’ perceptions of their own dominance.

“Higher-skilled (i.e. more dominant) males do not behave in this manner as there is no need for them to reinforce their dominance to maintain their attractiveness,” they wrote.

I wanted to do a bit of research myself and sent out a Twitter poll, here are my results:

And received some insight:

— Carla Cooper (@carlacoop) March 27, 2016


This leads me back to the saying by Mark Twain, how many people read his quote in a different light now?   So is it, I wonder,  that women are just easier prey online or that outspoken, powerful women (Katia 🙂 ) are so threatening to some men, in a sense emasculating, that these men feel the right to put said women in her place?

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.


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!