Sunday, 23 November 2014

Speed Bump Overcome

The nice thing about speed bumps is we can get cross over them. In my last post I wrote that I had a major life speed bump. I am lucky.  I am lucky ... and I am just ... well ... lucky.

I have a heart condition called atrial fibrillation. Many people live with this condition. It causes my heart to adopt irregular beating patterns, and when it does this I have no exercise tolerance and I am tired.  I first experienced this in 2005, and in 2009 I had this condition surgically corrected.  This was good. Unfortunately, however the extra channels which supply electrical impulses to the heart grow back over time. A return of atrial fibrillation was  the cause of my stoke last May and was the cause of my latest speed bump last month.

 I AM lucky. In 2005 - 2009 I was running a horse business with 30 horses to look after, and lessons, trail rides and other activities. It was very hard to perform that job with no exercise tolerance. Now I am teaching post secondary studies, I need brainpower -  not physical strength. My brainpower is working just fine (I had it tested after the stroke). I can do my job regardless of my exercise tolerance. I also happen to love my teaching job.

 Last week, my heart slipped back into normal rhythm. It could stay that way for many months, or go out tomorrow. If it stays in an irregular pattern it can be surgically corrected again.  But regardless of the beating pattern, I can still do my job and contribute! I am so very fortunate.  So ... full steam ahead ... regardless of the extra beats life throws my way.

What does this mean for the Connect courses MOOC? Well I have been lurking on the course for the past month, and I will continue on with lurking and participating when appropriate.

Onwards ... Laura

Sunday, 26 October 2014

Major Speed Bump

Last  Monday I graduated from a Master's of Education program at Athabasca University. I have never been to Athabasca, and even most of my professors did not live there, but we used technology in various wonderful ways to connect. My final presentation was an e-portfolio presentation to faculty and  colleagues.

I had every intention of making it back to  the  Connected Learning MOOC last Tuesday but something else happened instead. Because of health issues I will have to take a back seat to the MOOC. I think I was so driven to complete my Master's program that I was not noticing warning signals from my body. Silly mistake.  There is nothing more important than our health. Nothing.

So ... when things have settled down for me, I will return to this blog, but I think I will have to lurk on the connected course for now. .... All the Best ... Laura


Monday, 13 October 2014

Ontology, Epistemology and Connection

I have been pursuing the suggested Connection Activity from October 6th suggested by  The DreadPirate Tellio. The suggest is to draw. Lots of drawing. a hundred sheets in three weeks. It is hard. .... But I decided to do this activity because I knew that sometimes what comes out of my drawings can provide insight and helps me to think. 

So ... I produced a few drawings and then inspiration struck.  (I  wish I knew were inspiration hides.) I wanted to explore the connection between Ontology and Epistemology. An I confessed in a post on the Oct 6th connection activity   that this connection has always been bit vague for me.

This blog post is about that link, and also about  another drawing describing connection. 

Drawing 1 does not resemble a drawing, but this is the beginning...

Drawing 2 show a self ("me" in the circle), in a vast ontology,  with interactions of Epistemology   surrounding the self (the colours spell Epistemology - really)...
Drawing 3 was a better depiction of drawing two and looks more like a drawing...
Then  ... Drawing 4 woke me up in the night. Apologies for anatomically incorrect sailing boats. .... 
Today I produced this drawing. An image of connection  - both to each other and to the knowledge that surrounds us. ...


What does this image say to you? ... Do you think I am out to lunch, in left field, off track,  or on course,  on a tight tack? I would love some feedback ... 

And I cannot wait to see what my hands want to produce next. 

Tuesday, 7 October 2014

Blips in the path - And an image of reciprocity

I am getting back to the connected learning course after staying away for eight days (gulp). Lots to read and watch. At least I have a better excuse than the dog ate my homework. (Last year our puppy ate my son's memory stick. I had him take the shattered remains to school in a clear plastic bag so he had proof the dog ate his work).  I am presently completing a Masters in Education, and have my final culminating activity, a presentation of  an e-portfolio of my educational journey on October 20th via an Adobe connect session. I will be continuing to put the final polish on that presentation up until the 20th , but I now have time to return to Connected Learning. 

 I received a lot of value from  the webinar hosted by Kira Baker Doyle on Social Capital . Wow ! I had not considered  social capital as it relates to online Personal Learning Networks (PLNs).  In the 1990's I participated in an equestrian usenet newsgroup (remember those?). But lately my personal learning networks have tended to either be transient, and limited to those enrolled in whatever current course I was taking (very dense and rich),  or the small list of blogs I read on on a regular basis.  

Ideas that resonated with me included the suggestion that we consider our PLN as a reservoir of reciprocity.  We give things away... and if we know what we need and ask for what we need ... things come back to us.  I need to think about what I can bring to the table. More on this later... 


Reciprocity  - Credit: Eugene Kim Flickr CC-BY

More ideas from the first webinar in Unit 2 are:  We cannot underestimate how much energy it take to be renewed in our teaching. PLN's can provide a mechanism for that renewal.  It takes being social.   Name the things you value.

My personal to-do list for the connected course for the next week (Canadian Thanksgiving will provide a long weekend Oct 11,12 & 13) will be to actively work on this blog, respond to others, get caught up, expand my reading list,  increase my PLN, participate in the  daily connector #6 (for the next 21 days)

So ... More to come ... Thanks for the great webinar! 





Tuesday, 23 September 2014

Thursday, 18 September 2014

Why - and How?

I am in awe of the opportunities for reflection that are offered in watching the Connected Courses video by Mike Wesch, Mimi Ito, Helen Keegan  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JFcjrwaJV0E#t=2527 . I find am watching this video a few minutes at a time because I keep having to go offline and think. Thank you for the great insights! 

I identified with Mike Wesch’s comment about teaching a required course to learners of different backgrounds and levels of preparation. I teach at a Canadian Community College. Many of my students can be described as non-traditional. I thought I taught a course on how to be a better student, it turns out the course is more about how to be a better person. I have taught this same course back-to-back, often in multiple sections. Every class is different. I have learned one thing. The most important moment for the people in that class are when I stop teaching and allow learning. 

One issue that I face is difficulty with assessment. In the game titled “How to be Better Person” everyone starts and ends in different places, so assessments that are content oriented are less useful. In fact so often much of real learning is not visible or externally discernible. 

  • How can you measure an increase in confidence? 
  • How do we measure a process of analyzing the pros and cons of risk taking? 
  • Can you tell when someone is in the process of developing resilience? Sometimes you see it and sometimes you don’t.

I also teach horseback riding, and have for the past 15 years. When I teach riding I focus on the students goals and build their skills towards those goals. I coach,  inform, ask questions, and present exercises which allow learning to happen. One great instructor I had along the way told me there are three instructors in the ring: you, the horse and the exercise. I think the student should also be included. 

One technique  I use in both riding and post-secondary teaching is  Bloom’s Mastery learning  http://www.education.com/reference/article/mastery-learning/ . The technique of providing feedback and the opportunity to try exercises again.  It works. However it is also a lot of work, and I don’t know if it is scalable on the level of an Open Course.

One question I have is how to get that feel of coaching  into a more scalable form?  


Friday, 12 September 2014

Connections and Openness

I have been thinking about connections a lot this week ...  and possibilities ... and reading the background material for the upcoming Connected Course. And reflecting on the subject of  Open Education. And watching my new crop of students watching me. I think some of the most intriguing connections are those we have yet to make.

Scrap the old boring image of stairs. This is connection!


                      Photo credit: L. Jones