One month ago today I was in tropical Victoria (tropical compared to Ontario mid-winter), where I found myself among friends. The Educational Developers’ Caucus is the annual meeting I have come to look forward to most of all the conferencing
Here at Western, we’ve been putting open badges to the test recently. Thanks to the support of eCampusOntario and CanCred, Western launched the Western Badge Project in the fall of 2017, running through to the Spring of 2018. The project
The busyness of the day settles into my body as I turn toward the CN Tower and make my way, slowly, back to Union Station and the train that will take me west(ern) bound. I mindlessly traverse the cityscape. The chance to turn off my thinking brain is a welcome change of pace.
I’ve been at the inaugural Open Education Ontario Summit at OCAD University. All day long I’ve been busy turning over all kinds of big questions around Open Educational Resources, pedagogy, practices, policy, the 5Rs… the list goes on.
Having attended the day, I’ve been officially dubbed an ‘Open Ranger’.
[Insert originally evoked imagery here – Power Ranger, Lone Ranger, Loan Arranger]
As chuckle-worthy as the title might have first been, I’ve been tossing the idea around all day. The label of Ranger is more intentional, I think, than a simple way to brighten up a day-long conference. It served as a way for a small community to become acquainted, bonding over a shared identity. As we traverse the new terrain of open education, we’re going to need community, certainly. Championing the kind of shift that open culture calls for is akin to forging a new path. Every once and a while it will be nice to come back to base camp and regroup with likeminded people. There’s a whole wide network of people who are doing all kinds of creative things to support open education. If someone’s not already working to a solution on a problem you’re facing, then at the very least, there will be understanding folks ready to empathize and lend an ear.
Rangers are guides. They anticipate the pitfalls yet know the summits and how to reach them safely. They are adept at navigating, reading the signs, acting on intuition. They are well equipped and ready for anything – there’s no such thing as bad weather, only unsuitable clothing (Alfred Wainwright). As a new idea, open educational practices require small through to major shifts in thinking and action. A ranger’s navigational skills will come in handy for acting strategically and thoughtfully to anticipate the future possibilities of open education from individual course activities through to institutional policy.
Finally, A park ranger is a steward. They are a keeper of knowledge and practices that protect the land, it’s terrain, and inhabitants. They are part of an ecosystem that serves to protect and educate. Open education values a freedom of sharing. A choice to exercise autonomy over corporate structures of ownership and control. In a society so often focused on the bottom line, commodification, and a preference toward the disposable, a spirit of openness is one worth protecting. Yet, it seems, there are more misconceptions than there are people ready to buy-in to the idea of open with both feet. And so a ranger is that of an advocate, willing to be the keeper of the knowledge and the practices that will not only protect open but enable it to thrive through sharing it with others.
All in all, I’m wearing that Ranger cap with pride.
“Slow is smooth, smooth is fast”
Two days after the Learning Outcomes: Evolution of Assessment conference, this quote as shared by keynote speakers Charles Blaich and Kathy Wise, rings through my reflections. When it comes to intentional process and action, fast can’t come first without sacrificing either quality or cost. We must first slow down, pay attention to each of the parts and make adjustments, before bringing elements back together again in a highly refined, smooth process. Only then can we expect the speed of efficiency.
There are two key take-aways I wish to reflect on as being a delegate at this conference. Both of which will take time, ongoing and thoughtful exploration of the parts that make up a larger whole, to reach a point of refined practice.
The Answer to a Program’s Quality is Not Found in the Tables
As you can guess by the title, we talked a lot at this conference about learning outcomes, the quality assurance process, and assessment of course, program, or institutional quality. There were a lot of beautiful examples of program mapping software and processes for analyzing learning outcomes….Many of which have inspired my thoughts for supporting faculty to engage creatively with investigating and articulating arguments for program quality in, say, self-studies for program review processes.
Interspersed between conversations of methods, software, data, and reports was this key message: Assessment is about more than data sharing; the answers concerning a program’s quality is not found within the fancy display of data.
Assessment, rather, is an inquiry-focused process of taking data and converting it to evidence (making sense, interpreting) and experimenting by trying something new. It is about engaging in the dialogue necessary for moving beyond the appreciation of tables and figures to figuring out what it all means with an appetite for tinkering with possibilities.
What are the actionable steps forward for me?
- Developing strategies for facilitating curriculum review processes as an inquiry-focused process
- Fostering a “Creative Commons” atmosphere, where faculty come together in the spirit of collaboration to wonder and experiment together
- Pose questions with regards to the data produced from self-study initiatives that focuses attention on making sense for trying out something new and sharing lessons learned with the community
7th Generation Outcomes
One of my favourite sessions at the conference was Called to Action: Creating Learning Outcomes Based on the Recommendations of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (Kahente Horn-Miller and Andrea Thompson, Carleton University). The session explored what’s currently being done to implement the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) calls to action in post-secondary education across Canada. Further, it challenged delegates to identify how learning outcomes can be used as a way of expressing truth and reconciliation in curriculum.
While the authors work on developing TRC inspired learning outcomes that can be adopted and adapted by Carleton University instructors, more broadly, I’ve been thinking about how learning outcomes might embrace Indigenous perspectives by aiming 7 generations ahead.
Throughout the conference, there was lots of talk of skills development (e.g. “The New Skills Agenda” as posed by Ross Finnie during the State of the Union closing panel). We talk of what sorts of skills do we want to see in students as they graduate, start their jobs, participate in society…. What sorts of skills, values, or attitudes do we expect students to pass along seven generations into the future?
What are the actionable steps forward for me?
- reflect on what ‘thinking 7 generations ahead’ means for my upcoming teaching of a course on university teaching and learning
- spend some more time getting better acquainted with the TRC and indigenous leaders on campus
In December of 2015, I completed the Facilitator Development Workshop (FDW) at the University of Guelph. The ISW Network describes FDW training as enabling participants to “refine their teaching techniques through the mini-lessons, and with guided practice and feedback, develop strategies for facilitating the group process”.
As a result of my training, I:
- refined teaching skills as based upon the BOPPPS model of practice
- developed a refined understanding my facilitator-self: what it means to be authentic and genuine in my approach to facilitation
- continue to reflect on the approaches I take to facilitation in a variety of settings from workshops to individual consults.
- now facilitate Instructional Skills Workshops (ISW) on an annual basis
ED Philosophy Themes
Conversational: The lasting impact FDW training has had upon my practice reflects engagement in dialogue and reflection. I now keep a journal of my facilitation experiences to reflect on what went well and where I’d like to improve in the future. The conversation also continues with colleagues when we discuss how certain approaches taken in educational development activities elicit a response from others.
ED Philosophy Themes
Literature Informed: TCPS2: CORE is authored by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) and serves as the standard Canadian introduction to ethical conduct in human research for primary researchers and research ethics board members. It communicates National standards, ethical principles and practices of ethical conduct for research involving humans. Such training continues to inform my research practices from methodological considerations to day-to-day research activities, to interactions with human research participants.
In collaboration with my colleague, Dr. Gavan Watson, we developed a Rubric for eLearning Tool Evaluation to support multi-dimensional evaluation of functional, technical, and social aspects of eLearning resources and tools. The rubric has been applied in two key contexts:
- The rubric has been applied to the evaluation of tools featured on Western’s eLearning Toolkit in an effort to vet various tools for users.
- The rubric has been used in consultations with instructors to aid in fostering comprehensive and critical conversations with regards to eLearning tools and their applications to teaching and learning
- Rubric for eLearning Tool Evaluation. The rubric, by Lauren Anstey & Gavan Watson, copyright 2016 Teaching Support Centre, Western University is made available under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License, http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/4.0/
- Various pages of the eLearning Toolkit resource demonstrate the rubric’s application to vetting and communicating information about eLearning tools to the Western community
ED Philosophy Themes
Thoughtful Technology: Due to the way the rubric incorporates practice, pedagogy, and technological considerations, the rubric offers a framework for thoughtful integration of technology in the classroom. It’s not just about the tool and it’s features – it’s about how the tool will work for instructors and students in the classroom environment to achieve particular learning outcomes.
Tinkering: Development of the rubric was a collaborative effort that drew upon the collective knowledge of team members in the Teaching Support Centre and eLearning Team in ITS. I led an approach to rubric development that was iterative, allowing us to frame rubric elements around our practice wisdom, draw on the literature, and hone in on the criteria we valued.
Fissures of Opportunity: The project was inspired by identifying how we might improve our documentation and faculty support activities. It was clear that we regularly spoke to key considerations for evaluating eLearning tools yet did not yet have an articulated framework of evaluative elements. Developing the rubric has contributed to the improvement of one-on-one consults as well as support documentation, such as Western’s eLearning Toolkit.
Literature Informed: The rubric incorporated practice wisdom with literature as drawn from various areas of pedagogical and technological considerations for eLearning and technology use.
As a member of the eLearning Team at Western’s Teaching Support Centre, I coordinate and lead various programs that promote thoughtful integration of technologies into university teaching and learning. In facilitating programs, I aim to provide contextual information by engaging participants in activities that allow them to dabble, discuss, and connect with literature and additional resources. The materials featured here serve to highlight the approach I typically take facilitate participants’ engagement.
Selected List of Programs and Resources
Event: Teaching with Technology Day 2016
Session: YouTube Lab for Instructional Videos
Resource Developed: YouTube Lab Manual (.pdf)
Description: I prepared this manual as a step-by-step guide for achieving various tasks in utilizing YouTube for creating educational videos. The intention of the guide was to engage users from beginner to advanced both during the workshop and beyond. YouTube Lab Manual by Lauren Anstey has been made available under the terms of a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.
Event: Future Prof Program 2016
Session: Open Educational Resources (OERs) for Teaching and Learning: Trends & Opportunities
Audience: Graduate Students
Resource Developed: OER Session Handout (.docx)
Description: This digital handout served as a summary of the various resources and information considered in the workshop. During the session, participants were supported to explore for themselves various examples of OERs and evaluate a resource upon a rubric. The handout was electronically provided to participants following the workshop so that they could connect with workshop resources and additional information. The Open Educational Resources for Teaching and Learning: Trends & Opportunities handout by Lauren Anstey has been made available under the terms of a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.
Event: eLearning for New Faculty Workshop 2016
Session: Organizing Content
Resource Developed: Infographic
Description: The eLearning for New Faculty Workshop structure was such that short 15-minute introductions preceded breakout tables for tailored and focused discussion. I led a mini-session on organizing content online and prepared an Infographic to organize the content discussed in the introduction. The Infographic provides three key considerations, as informed by the literature on digital content. The final section puts the considerations into context by introducing the Lessons Tool in Western’s LMS (OWL). The Presenting Content Online Infographic by Lauren Anstey has been made available under the terms of a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.
ED Philosophy Themes
Conversational: Oftentimes, I aim to develop resources that invite ongoing conversation. I do this through offering additional resources that link participants to relevant and thought-provoking sources, by inviting questions and welcoming discussion beyond the confines of the workshop.
Thoughtful Technology: I aim to develop resources that place emphasis on thoughtful integration of technology for achieving teaching and learning goals. For example, the Infographic puts best practices first and foremost over technological considerations so as to model consideration of practices over tool selection and implementation.
Tinkering: Through the resources I develop, I support others to tinker and experiment with ideas, concepts, and tools. For example, the YouTube Lab Manual encourages the reader to test YouTube out in various ways in a low-stakes context so that they may more confidently dive into using YouTube for Instructional Videos.
Literature Informed: The resources I develop are regularly informed by related literature. For example, the OER handout includes reference to valuable journal articles on the applicability of OER
Ideas for Teaching & Learning was a regularly featured column in the monthly newsletter produced by the Centre for Teaching and Learning . Between 2012-2013, I wrote over 26 pieces conveying interesting ideas, strategies, and considerations for Queen’s faculty and graduate students. The featured Wordle gives an overall sense of the common themes and diverse topics conveyed in the authored pieces.
Here are two examples of Ideas for Teaching & Learning pieces I wrote:
Reconceptualizing Higher Education
In a recent article, Brew (2012) calls for the reconceptualization of higher education. This reconceptualization means appreciating, “the importance of context, the significance of interpretations and revision on the basis of looking again”. It means “the development of academic communities of practice where both students and academics engage as legitimate peripheral participants”. It means “bringing research and teaching together” to treat students as “the adult people they are, with something valuable to contribute as well as to learn”. In her paper Brew offers a model for this reconceptualization that combines teaching, learning and research together. Where does the future of higher education lie? How will we at Queen’s define reconceptualization in higher education? Will we take up the challenge of bringing research and teaching together to invite students into an academic community of practice?
We invite you to attend the I@Q Undergraduate Research Conference, where research, teaching and learning are combined, happening March 7-8, 2013 in the Queen’s Learning Commons in Stauffer Library.
Brew, A. (2012). Teaching and research: New relationships and their implications for inquiry-based teaching and learning in higher education. Higher Education Research & Development, 31(1), 101-114. doi: 10.1080/07294360.2012.642844
Reflective Practitioner: A Reading Week Reflection Activity
Reflection-in-action offers an opportunity to gain new perspectives and develop strategies within the immediacy of the moment (Schon, 1983). Situated within the bustle and activity of the winter term, reading week offers us pause – a chance gain new perspectives on current teaching and classroom action. To spur your reading week reflection, we offer an inspirational quote: Creativity requires the freedom to consider the “unthinkable alternatives,” to doubt the worth of cherished practices – John Gardner
What cherished practices have you utilized so far this term? What has been effective or ineffective about your classroom and/or teaching? What “unthinkable alternatives” might in fact be a possible for you? Come visit CTL this reading week to critique cherished practices, tinker with “unthinkable alternatives”, and reflect amid the action of this busy term.
Schon, D. A. (1983). The Reflective Practitioner: How Professionals Think in Action. New York: Basic Books.
ED Philosophy Themes
Conversational: When planning for ‘Ideas for Teaching & Learning’ my goal was to write in a conversational tone to grab the reader’s attention. I aimed to inspire readers to learn more, and regularly included links to information and resources. Through informal conversation, I received feedback that the column was well received each month; inspiring a quick thought or reflection on teaching and learning.
Literature Informed: My column was regularly took one of the following forms: highlighting a seminal piece of literature, highlighting SoTL or referring to scholars to inspire reflection or innovative thinking.