Reminders to Myself

I suppose there are a lot of reasons why it has come to this point. Why we still settle for passive classrooms full of students asked to do little more than listen for an hour a week or more. Why we still settle for largely rote memory assessments of student “learning” over a 15-week period that often come to a grinding halt. Why we keep using only the institutionally procured products rather than the community around us or the amazing resources that surround us.

There are a lot of reasons.

More people in the village.

A lifetime of passive learning experiences as students and teachers in “schools.”


Not enough hours of daylight.

Yesterday one of our faculty came into our offices and shared some of her summer course with us. The month long course spend part of the time in Alghero, Sardinia. Yeah, like in another country. We talked about some of what students experienced and you can imagine what we heard. The challenges. The trials. The difficulties. The amazing moments. The sunsets over the Mediterranean. Just take a look at what they did. What they experienced. Look at what they wrote. What they lived. Here is the class site.

image of coastline

After she left, I was wondering as anyone would, “Why has most of our schooling become sitting in rooms?”

I know. Sure, there are these initiatives, many just recently adopted, called “service learning” or “community based learning” or “active learning” or “life-long learning.” Some of those have come into our institutions and for whatever reason, after a few years of implementation gone by the wayside. Some have stayed. There are many reasons.

I know. I remember taking students away from campus for two weeks backpacking or mountain biking and the challenges I had negotiating family responsibilities. Other courses. What little social life I had. It is hard to take students out of a classroom to go anywhere, much less for an extended period of time. It is not part of the “normal” view of schooling. It is never “expected.” Maybe it should be? Anyway, there are a lot of reasons not to do such things.

Becoming is hard work. It is often uncomfortable.

As one of the student from the Sardinia class notes in the video below, “Maybe we just need to push ourselves into uncomfortable situations.”

There are a lot of reasons why the schooling experiences of so many has too often become so dreary. It is not about the amazing teachers I have known over the years. It is not about the administrators who rise to these great challenges in the landscape of schools and society. It is not about all those students who sit there in classrooms waiting for amazing things to happen. It is about me. Each day. Each decision.

Sometimes I just need to remind myself to push the boundaries and to feel that uncomfortable feeling. Sometimes I just need to remind myself. So today, I have.

image of Becoming is Superior to Being

Ways to Use Videos in Your Class

Last week I spoke to some of the Masters of Nursing faculty about the various ways video content can be used in a classroom. As I am new here to UW, I do not have a lot of openly available videos created by faculty to share. So I used some from faculty at Yavapai College. They show a variety of purposes a video may have. Instructional, an introduction, a useful aside, or an assessment of some work. I think it is a good representation of the types of videos we might create.

We created a single page handout trying to capture in a consumable format just the basic rational for creating video content for courses. It does matter what delivery is used. Face to face or online, there are many reasons that a short video can be something students can use to learn, or perhaps be inspired.


For the many who are already engaged in creating videos, we know the tools. Tegrity, Panotpto, YouTube, Jing, your phone, or your friends phone, or some app on a tablet. Lots of options and none of the tools require a doctorate in bioengineering.


Later this month I am headed down to Portland to attend a Quality Matters conference where I am to present about the value of faculty sharing their strategies for meeting the standards using short videos. We did that at Yavapai College and called it the March for Best Practice. I made a fancy website for the presentation. It looks like this. It was pretty successful. The vision was a wall of short videos that faculty could watch as other faculty described how they met the standards. Seems easy enough, right?


I thought it would be a good idea for me to gather some other videos made by anyone willing to share before the conference so I could point to them and say, look, we can do this! But, I am having a heck of a time getting conference participants to share their strategies. Maybe as the conference draws closer I’ll get more involvement. On a slightly sad note, I am reminded again of the challenges of getting people to make videos of anything other than their cats. If you want to share how you meet a standard, you can by clicking here. 


I’ll See You at the DML Conference. Somewhere.

dml2016What a fantastic gathering of tinkerers, thinkers, crafters, and educational philosophers! The Digital Media and Learning conference in Irvine California kicks off today. But you know what, I am not there…

But I feel kinda like I am there. I know a number of the people attending. I see the tweets they send with links to resources. I watch the live session they offer for free. I interact on twitter and comment about the topics shared. And that is good. Mostly because I know I need to learn more about this internet and find how and why it is useful. The presenters and most of the participants at the event, along worth the many like myself participating from afar, know more than I do and I need to learn from them.

So what is this conference? Well, you can take a look at some of what they offer here. What is interesting about what they have done here is that they have instructor videos sharing what they heck they will be talking about. Imagine if our university had short videos by instructors talking about the classes they offered. What might a student learn from that? For better or worse, how might it influence their decision to take a class or not? Most colleges have like five sentences about the class available in print or online. That ain’t much. Seems like we could do better at explaining what we are offering and why it is valuable.

Anyway, the DML folks have some wonderful opportunities available on the web for this conference and I am going to take advantage of them.

Where can you learn?

If you are looking for some reading, here is a list of the articles people involved in the DML have written.

They have a heavy presence on Twitter. See Below.

Here is a playlist of the Ignite Talks from last year. No doubt they will have some other great sessions recorded on their YouTube channel located here.

You can the visit the live sessions being offered here with some folks who wander around the world of education and share conference session. You can follow them on Twitter @Vconnecting

“it isn’t a course, just a camp…” And that is Brilliant.

potcampbadge2The Program for Online Teaching, or POT as it is affectionately known, has been around since 2005. I think I saw it around 2007 or 2008. Having read some of the writing of Lisa Lane and seeing that it was a class for teachers, run by teachers, with a goal of learning more about how to choreograph learning opportunities, I was hooked.

POT was a gateway drug for me. Shortly after experiences in POT I dabbled with some #ds106. I never tried to mainline a MOOC, but I signed up for a few. Thankfully, I stayed away from Coursera, EdX, and the Kahn Academy. I just wanted friends to talk to and I found them in the Program.

Sometimes it is hard to see the road with the smoky haze created by modern “Learning Management Systems.”  It can feel like a small smoky car while the rest of the glorious internet rolls on by. But from inside the LMS, it is hard to even know if you are on the internet….

Alright, enough LMS bashing. Enough of the drug metaphor. There is more to learning that one book, one lecture, one discussion at a coffee shop or one tool. Right?

What I most admire about Lisa Lane is her commitment to trying to get it right. Or at least closer to right, and not being afraid of trying. She is fearless. She may not agree, but her fearless attitude envelopes the course and the participates feel safer with such an intrepid leader. Or organizer. Or whatever she might call her role in this group of people.

The community has travelled through the mediums of Facebook, G+, WordPress, Google Sites, and now Canvas. It has had conversations in Twitter, Hangouts, Diggo, and about every other tool that might improve experiences for learners. It is a voyage across the internet, not a conversation in a grain silo. And through all of the places and conversations, pedagogy and teaching are always held high and used to guide the travelers.

I learned a lot and I have made valuable connections and friendships through this course. You can too.

The Program is open to all and there is no charge.

You are invited.
We start Monday October 3rd.
Go here:

You might meet someone who can help you. And if you do not want to have to take a class or go to a camp, you can always joing the Facebook page. It is active and you can ask questions that may be answered by the many awesome faculty there. Visit the POT page.