Collaborative Assessment

2015. I started to reimagine what the classroom could look like. With input from students, I created this haiku deck and embedded it into my blog (the embed code doesn’t always work so I’ve included a visual below).

Reimagining Classrooms – Created with Haiku Deck, presentation software that inspires;

Clocks, beverages, and snacks aside, I’ve been consistently trying to include many of these elements into my classroom since 2015. Choice, creativity, calm atmosphere—these are all important. Our new Active Learning Space at the Cornwall Campus takes care of some of the other aspects.

The work continues to evolve. From co-created projects to co-creative assignment design; from textbooks to open resources; from grades to feedback.

The challenges in an active learning space are crafting activities that help students meet or exceed learning outcome expectations. It’s getting students to see the benefits of collaborative learning and to embrace messy, non-linear curriculum design. Entering student learning means taking a step back and this is not something all faculty are good at; neither to be frank are students. They resist and crave the lecture and teacher-led fact-based lessons they have been used to.

This week I asked students to highlight what they like or dislike about this space we have been in since September. By and large, feedback was positive. I’ll take that as a win.

Teach-Coordinate-Create #Focus2020

My mind is often spinning. In a good way—brimming with ideas and thoughts and plans and initiatives and imagination and possibility. Never is this more true than at the end of a conference when I’ve engaged with and intersected with people equally as passionate about education as I am.

The challenge is what to do with all that.

At the time, in the midst of it it all, it’s easy to feel like everything is possible. But in the wake of a conference, ie: on time train on the way home, when the excitement of the past few days mingles with mental and physical fatigue, when you try to remember all the conversations and information and people that inspired deeper reflection, that is a little more daunting.

I need to stem the whirlpool of things swirling in my brain (partial list below):

  • Micro-credentials
  • Campus-Community partnerships
  • Program revitalization
  • Creativity
  • Zed-Cred programming
  • Active Learning
  • Faculty tool kit
  • Leadership Program initiatives
  • Arts & Sciences capstone
  • Coordinating
  • Faculty coaching
  • Innovation
  • Student wellness and mental health
  • Ungrading

But you know what? I’m a teacher. I’m in the classroom. I need to focus in on doing the things I can do best in the role that I have right now.

So I’m paring down that list.

Teach. Creative, active learning classrooms. Innovative assessment practices.

Coordinate. Zen-Cred, student coaching, leadership (program, capstone, community)

Create. Guest editing, poetry, writing, SoTL.

That’s it.


My mantra for 2020.

Higher Education Summit 2019

I’m excited for the higher education summit. I’ve been to many conferences but there’s something special about this one. This year marks my third year coming here to Toronto with the St. Lawrence College Board of Governors, and I have to say, I have taken away something of value every single year.

In 2017, it was Daniel Pink who resonated. He spoke about motivation, carving out “islands of autonomy”… both practices which have influenced my teaching since. That year I also took my Good Governance certificate, 1.5 days of digging into the responsibilities of governance, and I continue to be appreciative of having had that opportunity.

Last year, I recall a session on digital skills and the future of education. It was also my first time hearing Chantal Hébert speak…and she blew me away with her brilliant analysis of political events. I wanted to come again this year in large part because she is returning.

And then there’s the Premier’s Awards, and honestly, I’m always #ProudToBeSLC, but seeing the caliber of some of our graduates—and indeed graduates from all of Ontario’s colleges—well, it is an excellent reminder of why we do what we do. I’m honoured to play even the small role I do in the journey of our students.

In addition to all that, there are the people. Getting a chance to connect with colleagues not just from other campuses, but also from various departments and organizational levels is something I truly value. Only Connect is a good motto, and I have made many fabulous connections here, exchanging ideas and thoughts that in my opinion enrich the work we do when we get back to the office.

It’s hard to explain. It’s just a conference. But as with many conferences, I come away feeling uplifted, optimistic, and brimming with ideas.

Looking forward to tomorrow. Ready to dive in.

Sydney Carton – A tale of moral bankruptcy and redemption

This is a multi-modal project embedding video, images and charts to demonstrate potential assignment options.

The character Sydney Carton in Charles’ Dickens’ novel, A Tale of Two Cities—much like Dickens’ novel itself—is a study in opposites. Dissolute, drunken wretch who cares for no man on one hand; Steadfast, loyal friend who makes great sacrifices to uphold moral beliefs and to support those he loves best on the other. The novel and the character are studies in ethics and justice and raise some important questions: Can a man who is morally bankrupt be redeemed by a single act? And who is the real Sydney Carton?

Set in 18th century France during the revolution, a six-minute summary of this complex book can be seen below.

The pertinent facts related to Sydney Carter are as follows. He is an law associate and early on in the novel we meet him when he is asked to stand up in a court to demonstrate that he bears a striking resemblance to the accused. As a result, the accused—a French aristocrat named Charles Darnay—is found innocent. The story then follows Darnay’s involvement with a young lady names Lucy who he marries, and Carton’s journey of drinking and despair as he loves Lucy from afar. It is impossible to like the character of Carton. He plays the worst version of himself at all times, cynical and depressed even when he is trying to be sociable. That he loves Lucy however we can have no doubt. At the end of the novel, the revolution in France is in full swing, and Charles Darnay has been imprisoned and sentenced to the guillotine. Carton finds a way to smuggle Lucy and her family out of France, and is able to get into the Bastille to take Darnay’s place in prison, and ultimately on the guillotine.

What are the ethical considerations here?

Sydney Carton on the Scaffold by Harry Furniss (1910)

Carton is intriguing because of the contrasting ethical approaches he takes to his life. At first glance, he appears to have a teleological outlook: he doesn’t seem to care what he does or how he acts, and instead the consequences of his actions are important – he supports the outcome desired for the defense by demonstrating that the witness who identified Darnay as a traitor might be mistaken; he gives his life so that the outcome for Lucy and Darnay and their family can be positive. At the same time however, this doesn’t right entirely true. After all, one could argue that Carton was only doing his duty by standing up in court to show a witness was unreliable, he was only doing his perceived duty to the family he loved by finding a way for them to go free and live happily ever after. Looked at this way, Darnay had more of a deontological approach.

Infographic (if the embed feature is not working, try linking to it here)

There’s more. From Kant’s perspective, it could be argued that Carton was considering his own best interests by taking Darnay’s place on the guillotine. After all, it was unlikely that Lucy would ever repay his affection or that he would ever  be more to her if he lived and Darnay died. By sacrificing himself, he would live on in Lucy’s memory and have her eternal gratitude. According to Kant, the fact that he would benefit from this action-as far fetched as that might seem to a rational being-is enough for his action to be considered suspect and less than ethical.

Aristotle’s virtue ethics also come into play. Carton has clearly identified his own values, and has prioritized them. His moral values, whilst few, are put ahead of his non-moral values at the end of this story.

Sydney Carton is a complex character. One question that has recurred for me is can a man who is morally bankrupt be redeemed by a single act? I think that for Sydney Carton, the answer is yes. I address that and a couple of other thoughts in the video below (Draft Version…needs Tweaking).

So who is the real Sydney Carton? He’s maybe the perfect ethical figure: A tormented soul who finds redemption doing what he considers to be his duty, and that also results in the greatest good for the greatest number of people.
Duty and consequences. A tale of two ethical systems

Ready for Fall 2019

The hallways gleam. Classrooms are freshly painted. Updated colour accents in SLC red have been added on the stairwell and outside  (the detail…painting a flower box…I noticed!). Everything is clean and shiny and ready for students. 

Orientation day is next Tuesday, and I’m excited to meet everyone. I’ll be with Pre-Health and General Arts and Sciences for the day, but am definitely popping over to visit with Police Foundations students too. One of the things I love about being in communications is the interdisciplinary nature of it.

New to me this year is the Active Learning Space where I’ll be teaching Ethics for Law Enforcement. I’ve been annoyingly pushing for a collaborative classroom for a number of years now, even managing one year to get a class designated to be set up in groups instead of rows, and I bought in homemade white boards (which to be honest were subpar) but it was a makeshift solution, and nothing compared to this new space. I’m so excited to be teaching in it and have a fabulous group of colleagues piloting the space with me this semester, so we have some great ideas and teamwork going. Stay tuned. 

I’m working on a new welcome video. That’s coming soon. I did not update my blog as much as I intended over the summer. I still have to do that. It’s feeling outmoded and it’s time to hit refresh. I’m going to put that on my Fall to do list… but without pressure. 

Hers to Fall 2019. It’s going to be great. 

Build a longer table (of collaboration) 

I’m a believer when it comes to collaboration. It’s one of the reasons I actively seek collaborative experiences such as ExtendmOOC. 

A year or so ago, I completed the image below as part of an early round of the Collaborator module. I was thinking of who would be at my table from a work perspective.

To be honest, it was one of the first things I did with Ontario Extend and I loved it in part because of the metaphor of the table. A table is where you break bread together with people you share values with, it’s where discussion happens, and where ideas generate and blossom. It’s where you get pushback (hopefully civil!) that allows you – if you’re open to it – to sharpen your understanding and hone your own thinking for continuous improvement. 

Our house, with three teens, is an open door. Their friends revolve in and out all the time and there’s always food, always conversation. A favourite story is my husband asking a youth which of our teens he was visiting. None of them, was his reply. He was the guest of a guest. When asked why he was at the table, he responded, well, you said time to eat, so here I am. So we sit and share and talk and laugh. And hopefully everyone gets something out of the evening. We had so many guests that my father in law – who made our original old pine table – made us an extension. I’m of the mind that we should always be building a longer table. 

The same is true metaphorically. My work table is about open pedagogy, empathy, compassion. Also about fairness, equity, student choice. It’s about assessment practIces, active learning, creative classrooms. It’s about inclusivity, diversity, belonging. All this…and so much more. I’m learning every day. Sharing every day. 

All of this begins in a place where you feel welcome and safe. Come on in. Have a seat. 

Curation: Module 3 application #ExtendmOOC

Starting with the Requirements:

  1. Defined content curation.
  2. Explored Creative Commons Licenses and compared them to Copyright.
  3. Used Boolean operators and limiters to refine searches.
  4. Explored repositories to curate content that meet specific learning goals.
  5. Used the CRAAP test to evaluate OER.
  6. Reflected on using OER when designing, developing and revising courses or workshops

Evidence as below: 

1. Screenshot of post

2. Screenshot of post

3. I always use Boolean Operators to search images and find sources….the advantages of a focused search are that you get superior results. For this image, I used spring and person, but refined it to include umbrella and colour. I also then used not to exclude nature because I wanted a very specific look. 

4. Loved this activity. Copy of the post I made below.

Love and have used their resources and encouraged fellow faculty to as well.

Feel that could be a fantastic resource for our EFL students and will share it today with our coordinators

Personally really enjoyed and am thinking I could use some of this for an ethics class… hmmm. Things to consider.

And finally…. I posted about this but what fun. has so much to explore. 

And some screenshots from the posts I added to Padlet.

5. In addition to CRAAP, I also reviewed other credibility tests including RADAR and this OER on credibility that I use  in class.

6. This is my reflection. 

What drew me to OER in the first place was seeing slides shows and notes for plenaries and workshops that I couldn’t attend made freely available by educators. I thought it both brilliant and so obvious that we as educators should always be doing that…sharing our work and ideas. That was years ago, and nothing I have seen since has changed my mind. Before e-campus Ontario and I were acquainted, I was busy inventing my own versions of open resources, avoiding textbooks, having students co-create their own texts and resources, and sharing widely (which to me is the whole point…to share and remix).

Today I think of OER as a habit. I encourage students to create for class and share their ideas publicly. The concept of ownership is shifting (Uber, tool libraries) and I think we are seeing that same shift in academia. It’s not about ownership so much as it is about collaboration and the free sharing of ideas for mutual benefit. I want students to build off each other. I want to build off others. And I want to provide others an opportunity to build off my ideas, recasting and improving them. 

For one of the extend extras, I made this which sums up what I think OER and citation represents: Turtles all the way down. We are all standing on each other’s shoulders…that’s how we grow taller.