Monthly Archives: November 2014

Mooc complete, woop woop!

Wow, what a sense of accomplishment I am feeling from completing my first mooc.  I was getting nervous when I found out there was a final exam that included viewing a video of an actual coaching session then critiquing the effectiveness of the coach. I am so glad I “stuck” with it, haha get it changes that stick and I stuck with it, anyway It was definitely harder than I had anticipated but feeling good about my 90.8% for a final grade.

cerificate mooc

Learning in a mooc has been both interesting and challenging and I’d like to take some blog space to reflect upon my experience.  For those of you in the dark about moocs take some time to check it out, you just might find yourself joining one!


Digital Project Reflection

When I first began to think about my digital project back in September I was not sure what exactly to expect.  I decided on option c which was to join and share my learning in a mooc.  I started my search for a mooc that would be beneficial to my learning and career and ended up on the Coursera web-site. On the site I came across one that seemed to be perfect for me as I move forward in my teaching career.  I chose “Coaching Teachers: Promoting Changes That Stick”. I registered and I was on my way.  This was really my first mooc experience as I had joined a mooc earlier in the year but never fully completed all the requirements and it just sort of fizzled out for me so now was my time to see what a mooc was all about.

I started the introductory week and was immediately struck by one, how many other people were also enrolled in the mooc, and two, the distances they were enrolled from. I was in this experience with educators from all over the world.  This experience was already connecting me beyond how I’ve ever worked before.  So, I started with my introduction in the discussion areas and read and posted on other introductions.  The first week ended with a welcome video and introduction of what was to come.  The expectation was to every week watch the lecture videos, read the included text documents, complete a mandatory quiz, and make at least two posts on the discussion boards.  I could compare it to the expected weekly work in my ETAD classes.  I was feeling optimistic.

Week one of content went pretty good.  I watched the videos, did the readings, and completed my quiz in three tries.  By the way, you are expected to do the quiz and get 100%, good thing they gave me five tries!  To check out the content I covered in week one see my blog post “My effective coaching project is underway!“. It was going well with content, the trouble came when it came to the discussion boards.  I clicked on the link and was completely overwhelmed with posts.  With so many participants the discussion boards were flooded, where would I start?  I had to walk away and come back with a plan.  I decided I could not go through all the posts looking to comment so I made myself a goal.  Every week at a minimum I would create one thread myself and respond to one other person’s thread.  This seemed to work for me and I was able to get into using the massive discussion boards.  As a side note, as the course progressed I was able to do more on the boards for a few reasons. One reason was as the boards became less flooded possibly as people fizzled out of the mooc and another reason was I made some connections to other educators and was able to follow their threads better.

Week two content was my favourite as it was all based around the concept of mindset.  See what was covered by reading my blog post “The Four Horsemen of the what????“.  I continued my posting plan on the discussion boards and I felt I was learning.  I also got the chance to participate in one of the open office hours sessions as it fell in a time frame that worked here in Saskatchewan.

Week three and week four of content was the same.  I had no trouble going through the lecture videos, doing the readings and completing the quizzes.  I was down to one try on the quizzes so feeling a bit proud of myself. My week three blog post was “If life is a game, shouldn’t we be in the same team?” and week four “Feedback, who needs it?” reflected on my learning so far. I was really starting to feel like I was putting ideas together and building a good coaching framework.  So I was so excited when in week four I got the opportunity through my school to put some teacher coaching practice into use.  I was asked to work one on one with a few new teachers to improve their understanding and use of differentiation skills in the classroom.  I was ecstatic to get to plan and meet with these teachers using the Changes That Stick framework I had been studying.  The coaching sessions were relatively successful even though I of course couldn’t use all aspects as the sessions were in a shorter time frame than a typical coaching situation.  I still feel I got to practice what I had learned in a real world situation.

The final assessment was next and a very interesting way to end the mooc.  I was apprehensive as I always am with assessment but excited to see if I had learned what was expected of me.  Basically I was interested to see if my learning in the mooc worked as it was intended by the presenters and designers.  Seeing as I had taken this for my EC&I 831 course originally to explore actual learning within a mooc I wanted to know if the learning environment of a mooc was successful for me.  The first step of the assessment process was I watched the video, completed the report, and submitted it.  Now the interesting part started.  The evaluation was done by peers.  So, basically every person who completed the assessment received three other people’s assessments and had to evaluate the answers using a provided rubric. Step two was to evaluate three peer assessments and submit that.  The final step was to self evaluate your own assessment using the rubric and submit that and whew I was done and playing the waiting game for results!

Well as you can see from above mooc complete!

Learning in a Mooc

In this particular mooc I feel there are things that could have been presented differently to better meet learning styles. For example the same lecture/reading format every week would turn some learners off because although the content was interesting, the delivery was a bit old school even though it was online.  Also I would have like to see some variety in the quizzes, not just multiple choice format.  I also would have really liked to see more face to face contact opportunities for example using Blackboard Collaborate software so I could hear and discuss with others.

I did appreciate the ability to connect with other educators through the discussion boards.  The content was well planned and organized for the learners.  I gained some useful resources and templates.

I found learning in this mooc to be worthwhile.  I gained skills and knowledge that I feel will be very useful to me in my career without leaving the comfort of my own home.  Moocs open up a world of opportunity for learning.  If you have the opportunity I recommend doing it, take a mooc.  I know this was my first but won’t be my last.

When I reflect upon the mooc I took as well as the reading I have done on moocs and their effectiveness I have come cross many opinions, research, and information.  I am left with these questions and want to know what you think;

Are moocs for everyone?
Are they accessible to all? 
Do they solve our global need for education?
Should moocs be recognized as formal education for jobs/careers/professions?

Sadly, I had my head in the sand and maybe I still do.

I’ve been thinking long and hard about last weeks class presentation from Audrey Watters about gender and tech.  It really left me feeling unsettled.  I thought it was eye-opening, thought-provoking, and frankly a little sad.  I truly did not view the world of educational technology in this way.  Any experience I have with edtech has never had that sort of spin on it. It has always been relatively positive.   In fact most people I am involved with and have interactions with in the areas of edtech are women, but really, that is from a fairly small perspective within my school division and educational experience. I guess that is why I found it so unsettling, I had my head in the sand.  I’m not typically the controversial type or the type of person that likes conflict, probably why I find myself being the one to apologize as I read about in Christine Barber’s blog post “I’m sorry but I just had to say I’m sorry.” Give it a read I bet you will relate.  As far as the discussion on threats and repression as I stated above I was very bothered by it and feel this is topic I need to explore slowly, I’m still not feeling like I can truly wrap my head around all the stories she shared and will need to continue my opinions on that within a future post.  For this reason I decided to go in slow this week and do a little looking into gender equity on social media and found out some interesting info I would not have thought of some big players in the social networking game.

The first thing I found out when searching was that trend of transparency in many of the big tech companies.  I started with Facebook.  For example HR Grapevine posted about Facebook releasing its numbers that 69% of their workforce is men and within that 77% of their global leadership is men. I thought to myself, I wonder what percentage of Facebook users are men and what percentage are women? Why are women up against a wall here?

Next I moved on to Twitter.  A few months ago I can across a TedTalk by Del Harvey, Twitters head of Trust and Safety Team and because of viewing that video when I went searching I thought, okay Twitter must be doing better I saw a female representative at a Ted Talk event.  Sadly no;

” Of Twitter’s global workforce of around 3,000, 70 percent are male, and only a tenth of workers in the tech department are women. The non-tech workforce is split evenly between males and females, but women hold just a fifth of leadership positions.” (TechNewsWorld)

With Google, Yahoo, and LinkedIn all sort of having the same results in their transparency I’m thinking how do we make it better? Maybe through the transparency this is sort of meaning companies are ready to address their diversity issues and are coming up with programs within their human resources structure to improve equality.  Unless they change attitudes not just hiring practice I wonder if it is enough?

Feedback, who needs it?


Photo: Flickr-Alan Levine CC

The last learning section in the mooc I’m taking really focused on giving quality feedback and what an effective coaching session looks like and includes.  To me, it has been the most useful learning session so far as the learning lent itself well to all forms of effective coaching.  Whether it was interns, new teachers, or experienced teachers the information in this weeks session fit for all.  I thought this was important because up until now a lot has been focused on new teachers and I see a genuine importance in being able to coach and work effectively with experienced teachers as well.  In some ways working with experienced teachers may need the use of  more of the effective coaching strategies as they are coming to the table with experience and pre-determined ideas about the profession, perhaps more than that brand new teacher.

Feedback is important for everyone in the education system.  How do we know if we are getting it right without feedback. In an earlier post I shared a TedTalk video of Bill Gates discussing the need for teacher feedback.  Check it out of you haven’t already.  It is very American but I found the message useful.  Effective feedback can come for teachers from coaches but it is also important to consider feedback that comes from students, parents, other teachers, and administration.  I think the administration aspect is important.  I’m always impressed by admin teams that take time to work through goals with their teaching staff and spend some time int heir classrooms.  I found this additional read by Tim Westerberg  as I was researching this week and thought it made some good points about effective feedback and being on an admin team.  The big idea from my mooc this week was what to look for within that feedback that makes it effective.  The feedback should be goal driven, forward-looking, and directive in order to be most effective.  So basically effective feedback is focused, one skill at a time with follow through.  It is as much a planning session as coaching session.  The rule of thumb seems to be 1/3 discussion of past teaching and 2/3 time working on practice and feedback for moving forward.  I like this, keeps teachers from getting too focused on what they have done vs what they can do.  Finally coaches are direct.  They set up goals, practice, and framework that matches a shared instructional vision and allows for change and success.

What do you think about feedback…where should it come form for teachers?  Do we require feedback in all stages of our professional career?

Now in the mooc we have learned about what effective coaching is and looks like the last section dealt solely with having an effective session with teachers suing the effective coaching skills we have learned. The mooc provided me with a guide to organizing my time working with teachers.  The stand out ideas to me were goals, precise positives, and prep steps.


Previous Goals-Specific data should be used within the session to link feedback implementation to student learning or behaviour.

Big Goals-Do we change our big goal for the next session or stick with it.  Things to think about in this section had to do with whether or not teachers needed to master a skill to benefit and change or just be aware of it as well as what is most important for student learning.

Precise Positives

During the session make positive feedback very precise.  Connect teacher input to student output.  Positive feedback should be legitimate to the skill being practiced.

Prep Steps

Have teachers use some of the time prepping for the next goal.  Use role plays, scenarios, immediate feedback, and confidence on practicing the new skill.  Help your teachers prepare, give ideas, and practice.  Keeping in contact between session is also important for coaches and teachers, use post meeting email to continue the support form the session.

The effective coaching session is so important in encouraging change in teachers.  The skills in this mooc are invaluable to the process of helping teachers new and experienced.

Learning through the videos, readings, and hands on experience in this mooc have been great.  In fact so great stay tuned for my next post that will include my reflection on using these skills with actual teachers in my division as I had a chance to do some coaching in the goal area of differentiation in the classroom!


Remix is what was on my mind this morning.  A few days ago in my ETAD class we were working through the topics of copyright including plagiarism and patent when the idea of remix came up.  Remix in the way that I understand it is simply the idea that all our ideas come from somewhere else.  Nothing is a lone creative thought.  I think the idea spreads through all forms of expression including literature, media, music, fashion, and education.  I really like this quote from Mark Twain I think it explains what I am trying to say about the definition of a remix.

“All ideas are second-hand, consciously or unconsciously drawn from a million outside sources” – Mark Twain​

The TedBlog has some other great quotes that help to put the idea of remix in a variety of expressions into perspective as well.

Kirby Ferguson is a New York based film maker who is embracing and spreading the word about remixing.  I highly recommend you check out his four-part video series titles “Everything is a Remix”, some real food for thought on the idea of remixing.  He also has a Ted Talk video titled “Embrace the Remix” and if you’ve noticed in my other posts I love Ted Talks!

Some other great resources on remix comes from Amy Burvall.  Her site Storifying History has some great links to find out more about the remix as well as her Google+ community, RemixEd.

What do you think about the idea of remix?  Do we really own anything?  Is your opinion different if you are the owner versus the user as Kirby talks about in his video?

If life is a game, shouldn’t we be on the same team?

The title of my post today comes from the above video, “A Pep Talk” from Kid President.  This video is a reminder to me that working together will always be better than acting alone.

The content of my mooc this week was focused around teachers and coaches needing to have shared instructional vision. Which really got me thinking about what we need as professionals in the field of education.  We need each other.  We need support.  We need to know that everyone has a shared instructional vision.  Education needs to be focused on what has the biggest and best impact on students regardless of what we like to do, what we have done in the past, or what is easy.  I think this is where the job of an effective coach comes in.

Education should be a student-facing vision.


When planning between an effective coach and teacher there needs to be shared vision in order fro teacher buy in to occur and for the teacher to see the effects of their changes on student learning.  This week a few strategies for effective coaches to help create shared vision were introduced.

One was the use if a rubric when observing teachers.  I though it was interesting although the example used was focused solely on teachers new to the profession.  I think with proper creation a rubric may be an effective tool for helping teachers make changes within their practice.  The rubric was data orientated and gave the participants (coach and teacher) a good clear shared vision on what was expected. In order to use a rubric idea within other contexts I think it would have to be carefully created with division initiatives in mind and discussed prior to any coaching taking place.  What do you think about coaching peers using a rubric, effective or not?  Would it be a helpful guide for discussing shared vision or would it be a reason for teachers to not play on the same team?

Distance Education=Opportunity for All?

I’m currently enrolled in a Masters of Education from the University of Saskatchewan that is presented completely as distance education (DE).  The nearest university to me is a travelling distance of one and half hours one way.  Realistically a short drive compared to others in my same situation but still a distance I could not commit to multiple times a week. I knew I was at the point in  my career where I was ready to continue my education and began looking for masters programs to enroll in.  I was lucky enough to come across the Educational Technology and Design Program at the U of S.  It was right for me.   I chose DE learning because as an adult learner I needed to be able to continue to work full-time and needed time flexibility within my learning.

I’m currently taking an ETAD course about distance education that is presented as distance education.  The course has really got me thinking about access to education and how important the idea of “online” has become for education. Online university options, cyber schools, and moocs are quickly becoming recognized and preferred forms of education.  So is distance education the answer to educational opportunity for all?

I recently watched this Ted Talk from one of the founders of Coursera, an online collection of free courses, that helped me to put the global need for education into perceptive.

When I think of distance education I think first of the way universities are doing it through course management systems. You enroll and pay for the course as you would do in a face to face environment but then are provided course materials, asynchronous and synchronous interaction, discussion, and assignments all typically through a course management system such as Blackboard.  I have had success in my program through this way of learning and have very much enjoyed the experience  I never thought of distance education as moocs before and am currently very interested in the idea of a mooc being educational opportunity for all.  I am currently enrolled in a mooc which I will use my completed work and learning as partial credit for a university course.  What other ways have you used a mooc?

I recently read through a few other blogs about moocs as I realized I was taking one but knew very little about them other than they were online and open to anyone.  Tony Bates does an explanation of what a mooc is and an interesting comparison of strengths and weaknesses of moocs on his blog about distance education resources.  There are also some great links on the Ted Blog about moocs that are worth a read and view.

This is just the beginning of looking into distance education for me but what do you think about the move to distance education, is it opportunity for all or still as education has been in the past opportunity for some?