Learning Technologies

Learning Technologies

Instructional Design

Testing for Accessibility

March 12, 2018

Ensuring Accessible Content

There are two ways to ensure your content is accessible: conform to the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) and involve people with disabilities in evaluating and testing your content.

Conforming to WCAG 2.0

The Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG 2.0) are standards developed by the W3C to assist in the development of accessible digital content. There are a few ways to ensure conformance to WCAG including documentation, checklists, and testing tools.

WCAG 2.0 Documentation

The W3C provides documentation on how to conform to WCAG 2.0 but it is quite extensive and can be overwhelming for beginners.

WCAG 2.0 Checklist

WebAim provides a WCAG 2.0 checklist based on their interpretation of WCAG’s guidelines and success criteria that is easy to follow and a good place to start to learn about what is required to conform to the standard.

Machine Testing using Evaluation Tools

There are many tools that can provide automated accessibility evaluations or audits. These tools can verify conformance to WCAG 2.0 and the level of conformance (A-AAA). These tools are required to assist content developers and designers in identifying errors and providing suggestions for fixes, but they cannot tell you if your web content is actually accessible.

LEARN Accessibility Checker

LEARN has an accessibility checker built in to the HTML Editor that will identify some of the WCAG 2.0 guidelines.

How to use LEARN’s Accessibility Checker

WAVE: Web Accessibility Evaluation Tool

WebAIM’s WAVE is the easiest to use evaluation tool. WAVE is made available as a Chrome extensiona Firefox add-on or online. The online version can be used to evaluate web pages  and the browser plugins can be used to evaluate web pages and LEARN content.

Chrome Extensions

FireFox Add-ons

Web Accessibility Evaluation Tools List

The W3C provides an extensive list of accessibility evaluation tools.

Human Testing

While WCAG conformance can go along way to assisting with making accessible content and evaluation tools can identify errors only humans can really determine whether web content is accessible. To ensure your content is accessible it is recommended that you enlist people with disabilities to test your content. People with disabilities bring their experiences and assistive technologies they use to navigate web content.

Recommended reading

Why accessibility testing with real users is so important

Tips For Conducting Usability Studies With Participants With Disabilities

7 Principles of Inclusive Design webinar

February 12, 2018

Inclusive Design

Inclusive Design is about putting people first. It’s about designing for the needs of people with permanent, temporary, situational, or changing disabilities — all of us really. In this webinar Henny Swan will introduce the 7 principles and how they can be used alongside standards and guidelines, to take products beyond compliance.


Henny Swan is an Accessibility Specialist with over 12 years experience in inclusive design. She is a Senior Accessibility User Experience Specialist at The Paciello Group (TPG) and prior to that worked on cross device media player accessibility at the BBC as well as developing BBC Mobile Accessibility Standards and Guidelines.

The webinar

This webinar is relevant to anyone involved in the design and development of web content and digital environments — instructors, designers, developers, and policy makers responsible for Accessibility for Manitobans Act (AMA) activities.

TLTC and eTV are hosting this webinar on Wednesday, February 21 from 10:15-11:30 a.m. in eTV studio B. Register to attend this webinar.

If you are unable to attend this webinar at eTV or prefer to participate on your own you can register online.

For more information contact Jim Hounslow.

Gradebook – Student View: Hiding and Releasing Grade Items and Details

April 26, 2016

Gradebook – Student View:  Hiding and Releasing Grade Items and Details

LEARN’s gradebook is a flexible tool that gives instructors a great deal of control over how information is released to students.

Hiding a Grade Item or Category from Student View

There are many reasons you may wish to hide a grade item or category from student view.  You may wish to release grade items on a specific date, or only show a cumulative grade through the category.

Note:  Hiding grade items within a category may still display a grade on the category depending on the category settings.

Hiding/Releasing a Grade Item

  • Enter Course
  • Click “Assessments”, and “Grades”
  • From “Manage Grades” click the “action” button (Framework.ContextMenu.dropArrow) beside the grade item you wish to hide/release, then click “Edit Grade Item”
    LEARN_Edit Grade Item
  • Click “Restrictions”
    LEARN_Edit Grade Item_Restrictions
  • Adjust the “Visibility” settings
    • Grade item is always visible” will allow a student to see this grade item unless a release condition is restricting it’s view or there are higher level restrictions on its category
    • Hide this grade item” will hide the grade item from student view until this setting is removed
    • Grade item is visible for a specific date range” will allow for a timed release of the grade item unless a release condition is restricting its view or there are higher level restrictions on its category
    • Release Conditions can be applied to any grade item. A release condition in its simplest form is a setting that will restrict the release of an item until a defined condition has been met

Hiding/Releasing a Grade Category

To hide/release a grade category follow the same steps outlined for a grade item, except select the “Edit Grade Item” from the category’s “action” button (Framework.ContextMenu.dropArrow).  When you apply a restriction to a category it will apply the chosen settings to the items within that category.  Individual settings can still be applied to the item within allowing for staggered releases etc.  Note that even if an individual item in a category is hidden from student view a category by default will show a cumulative grade unless you change those settings.

Changing the Display Settings on a Grade Item or Category

When you first run the “Gradebook Setup Wizard” you made some decisions on what grade details you would like the students to see.  You can run the wizard at any point to make changes, make changes in settings or override those settings on individual grade items and categories.

Gradebook Setup Wizard

  • Enter Course
  • Click “Assessments”, and “Grades”
  • Click “Gradebook Setup Wizard”
  • Click “Start”
  • Follow the prompts


  • Enter Course
  • Click “Assessments”, and “Grades”
  • Click “Settings” near the upper right hand corner of the page
  • Click “Personal Display Options” to adjust settings for your view
    LEARN_Gradebook_Personal Display Options
  • Click “Org Unit Display Options” to adjust settings for student view

Override Settings in Grade Items/Categories

  • Enter Course
  • Click “Assessments”, and “Grades”
  • From “Manage Grades” click the “action” button (Framework.ContextMenu.dropArrow) beside the grade item or category you wish to modify the student view in and click “Edit Grade Item”
    LEARN_Edit Grade Item
  • Under “Properties” scroll to the bottom of the page, click “Show Display Options” if it is hidden
  • Apply any optional “Student View” settings you may want
  • Click “Override display options for this item” and remove or add options
    • By removing all options under “Override display options for this item” the student will not see any grade for that item. This may be an appropriate setting for a grade category if you are staggering the release of the individual grade items

Click “Save” or “Save and Close”

Releasing the Final Grade

By default the final grade is not visible to students.  It is up to the instructor if/when they wish to release that final grade to the students.

When using the “Gradebook Setup Wizard” to apply the initial settings in the gradebook, you will have decided if you wanted to release the final calculated or adjusted grade to the students. This setting will only affect what the student is able to see.  For your reference and purposes both the calculated and adjusted final grades are available.  You will notice throughout the wizard, and when you view the gradebook settings that there are distinct settings for student or instructor view.

Releasing the Calculated or Adjusted Final Grade

You can opt to release the final calculated grade at any time during a course. Releasing the final calculated grade early will show the students a running total of how they are doing in the course. Note that your program may have policies about not releasing the final grades to students outside of Webadvisor.

To release the calculated or final grade:

  • Enter your course
  • Click “Assessments”, and “Grades”
  • From Enter Grades or Manage Grades click the “action” (Framework.ContextMenu.dropArrow) button beside “Final Calculated Grade”, then click “Enter Grades”
  • Note whether you are releasing the final adjusted or calculated grade based on the settings applied in the “Gradebook Setup Wizard” or settings
    LEARN_Release Final Adjusted Grade

    • If you are releasing the final adjusted grade, you will first have to transfer all grades to the “Final Adjusted Grade” column
      • Click the “action” button (Framework.ContextMenu.dropArrow) beside “Final Grades” (near the top of the page), click “Transfer All” or “Recalculate All”, make any adjustments needed and then “Save”
    • Click the “action” button (Framework.ContextMenu.dropArrow) beside “Final Grades” (near the top of the page), click “Release All”
      • Manually release or un-release grades to specific students by checking or un-checking the box under the “Release Final Grade” column
    • Click “Save”

The Bewildering Language of Online Learning!

April 6, 2016

The Bewildering Language of Online Learning!

Source:  http://teachonline.ca/ March 10, 2016

“What on Earth Are You Talking About?”

For many faculty members, instructors, practitioners, administrators and policy makers, the language used to describe and discuss online and flexible learning is confusing. What on earth is a “flipped classroom”? What is the difference between “blended learning” and “fully online” learning? Why do some programs not have “instructors” but do have “mentors, coaches and guides”? It can be confusing.

Let’s look at the language of online and flexible learning and help understand what is being said when key terms are being used.

A Starting Point

Before we look at a variety of terms, there are some standard definitions of what constitutes an online or blended course. The following table was widely adopted as establishing the definitions for these terms.

Proportion of Content

 Delivered Online

Type of Course

Typical Description



Classroom-based teaching with assignments and activities which students pursue independently of each other.

1 to 29%

Web Facilitated

Web resources and technologies are used to facilitate what is essentially a face-to-face course. May use webpages and course management systems (CMS) to post syllabuses, readings and assignments.


Blended / Hybrid

Course blends online and face-to-face delivery. Substantial parts of the content are delivered online and discussions, team projects and activities and web safaris are used for learning. The number of face-to-face sessions is decreased as the volume of online activity increases.



A course where all, or almost all, of the content is delivered online with no or a very small number of face-to-face meetings.

Table 1: Common Definitions of Terms for Online Learning

The other two key terms used extensively when talking about online learning are synchronous and asynchronous. Here is what these mean:

  • Synchronous learning – this refers to a learning event or activity in which a group of students are engaging in learning at the same time. For example, students at various different sites are linked together by audioconferencing, videoconferencing or web conferencing for a class at a particular time.
  • Asynchronous learning – given the above definition of synchronous learning, it comes as no surprise this term refers to courses or learning activities in which students can connect at any time – they don’t have to be online or in class at a specific time. They may still have extensive interactions with other students and their instructor, but when they do so is less important than the fact they do so.

But since this table was developed and the language of synchronous and asynchronous learning began to be in widespread use some fifteen years ago, new terms have emerged. Three in particular are important: (a) open and flexible; (b) flipped classroom; and (c) competency-based learning. Let us explore these terms.

Open and Flexible

Two terms which have a wide currency in the field of new approaches to teaching and learning are “open” (as in openeducational resources or open university) and “flexible learning”. Let us look at these two terms:


  • An open university, college or school is a place in which prior learning plays no part in the admission process. Rather than looking at entry qualifications (high school diplomas, GPAs, scores on standardized tests), an open institution accepts all who wish to study. It focuses on rigorous assessment of their learning, rather than what they bring to their learning.
  • So as to prevent the idea of an open door to learning becoming a revolving door – one in which more students fail than succeed – investments need to be made in self-assessment tools (“are you ready for…”), advising and student support services.
  • When used in the context of learning resources – as in “open educational resources” – the term refers to the fact anyone can access and use the learning resources and, in many cases (depending on the nature of the Commons License(link is external)), reuse and repurpose them while fully acknowledging their origins. Substantial open resources are available from iTunes University, OER Commons and OERu.


Imagine a student anywhere in the world who can for some (but not all) programs:

  • Attend a class at a campus and earn credit – 15 weeks (45 hours).
  • Study the same course online over 15 weeks.
  • Study for a program / course in modules based on competencies, each lasting 2-3 weeks and earn credit (and/or an Open Badge[1]) and accumulate such credits into transferable courses required for program completion.
  • Attend a boot camp or intense “hands on” learning period (the duration determined by the time required to master a competence) for practical work. For example, almost all of the Funeral Service program can be seen delivered online, but embalming requires “hands-on” / lab work. This “hands-on” component could be delivered in a five-day boot camp or through proctored work through arrangements with funeral homes throughout the province. Ongoing supervision of this skill could be monitored by video submitted by the student.
  • Secure credit for training and development courses taken in the workplace for all but one course in a college or university program.
  • Secure credit through PLAR, transfer credit and work-based learning agreements and proctored online challenge exams for all but one course in a program.

All of this requires the college or university to see flexibility as not just about increasing its online learning activities, but also to re-think the experience of learning, credit recognition and the student’s connection to the institution. This is why this strategy for flexibility needs to be driven by pedagogy, not technology, finance or administrative needs and why the drivers of this work need to be faculty and instructors supported by expert students, administration and the technology team.

The key principle should be student choice. A focus on flexibility is aimed at expanding the repertoire of services available so that the college or university can make such responses.

Flipped Classroom

There are a variety of roots for this idea, which is growing in use, but the approach to teaching and learning it represents is straightforward.

  1. The flipped classroom is a specific form of blended learning.
  2. Instructional content – the knowledge and understanding needed for mastery of the learning for a course – is delivered online not in the classroom. No more “sage on the stage”.
  3. Class time is not used for content, but for exploring the implications of the content or the student’s learning. Discussion, MOOTs (used in legal studies), lab work based on the content, project-based learning, small group work, using the content to demonstrate a skill or the application of the learning are used in class time to make the learning “real” and meaningful for the students.
  4. Assessments are done and submitted online and feedback is delivered online.
  5. Students are also encouraged to engage in reflective learning through blogs and social media.

You can see examples of this approach in use here(link is external).

Competency-Based Learning

This is a different approach to how students secure recognition for their learning. Let us use an example as a prelude to explaining this idea.

The University of Wisconsin has started to offer a competency route to a degree based entirely on competency-based assessments. Known as the “flex option”, courses are not required, but rubrics for competency are very clear and explicit, making learning focused and direct. The University suggests appropriate learning resources for leaners to use to support program completion – all of which are either third party or open educational resources.

Students can use the mentoring and coaching services of the University when they feel the need of assistance. When ready, the student calls for a mastery assessment. Such a program is similar to the Western Governors University offering. They are not alone in doing so. In the US, Southern New Hampshire University, Capella University, Kaplan University and Walden are all offering this same route to a degree. In his call for free college education in the United States, President Barack Obama recognized these developments as “game changers” for skills[2].

To make this kind of learning work, there is a lot for faculty members and instructors to do where the knowledge, skills, understanding and social networks which faculty members and instructors have can be fully leveraged in the interest of students and the program they are attached to. This work includes, but is not limited to:

  • In partnership with employers and other faculty members and instructors, determine what the needed knowledge, skills and competencies are for a particular set of learning outcomes.
  • Design and develop a range of rigorous, multi-faceted assessments for the knowledge, skills and competencies making best use of all available technologies for assessment.
  • Design, in partnership with other faculty members and instructors, instructional designers and librarians, the learning pathway and resource recommendations for students making best use of open educational resources, third party multimedia and more traditional resources, video resources and community resources.
  • Design, in partnership with instructional designers and others, alternative routes for students who are most able and those who are least able, given the learning outcomes and competencies they are expected to master.
  • Be available to mentor, coach and guide students on an as needs basis following the college or universities design for this support.
  • Assess students against the competencies and skills required for mastery.
  • Certify students as having mastered the skills required for the learning outcomes.
  • Actively engage in research on the knowledge domain and skills so that the work is continuously updated and improved.
  • Participate in professional development activities aimed at improving assessment, outcome-based learning, the development of OER material and learning pathways.
  • Design, develop and share open educational resources relevant to the field of study and the learning outcomes.

This work fully leverages both the content and professional instructional expertise of faculty, but places them in a different relationship to students than is currently the case.

Competency-based education is growing quickly in Canada for K-12 students(link is external), for trades(link is external) and some professions(link is external)including medicine(link is external).

Some Important Technology Terms

You are also likely to encounter a growing number of technology terms as you explore open, online and flexible learning. Here we look at five which are in common use.

  • GamificationThe use of serious games as a way of developing understanding and mastery of knowledge, skills or competencies. See here(link is external) for an excellent exploration of what this is and why it could be helpful for teaching and learning.
  • Immersive Learning EnvironmentsAs its name suggests, an immersive environment allows students to be totally “immersed” in a self-contained artificial or simulated environment while experiencing it as real. Immersive environments can offer students rich and complex content-based learning while also helping students hone their technical, creative, and problem-solving skills. Because immersive environments are so rich and visual, users tend to be highly engaged. We can expect to see significant developments here as 3D virtual reality headsets(link is external) become low cost and enable a great many experiences to be highly personal and interactive.
  • Adaptive Learning and Assessment SystemsThese systems enable students to assess their progress with online assessment for learning (these can be complex, challenging or simple assessments). As the students complete their assessments, the system helps them identify where they are strong, what their weaknesses are, and brings to their attention new learning resources that enable the student to strengthen their learning, especially in their areas of weakness.These systems use machine and artificial intelligence to reorder and find appropriate learning resources, given the performance of each individual student. Such systems are built in to most learning management systems (e.g. Desire2Learn, Blackboard), but are also available as standalone products like Knewton, ALEKS, Grockit and KnowRe. This is also an area of rapid growth and development, as you will see here(link is external).
  • SimulationWhether in a virtual space or in a game, this refers to the use of technology to simulate situations in which the student may find themselves or wishes to explore. For example, there is Second Life(link is external) simulations built for those training to be electricians or explorations of decision-making in historical conflicts for students of history. While some of these simulations use technology, others do not.Simulations provide multiple chances to practice, including making attempts with higher risks and spectacular failures, and to learn, retry, and master new skills faster and with less effort than through experiences not mediated by computers.
  • Immersive Tutoring An intelligent tutoring system is computer software designed to simulate a human tutor’s behaviour and guidance. Because these systems are able to interpret complex student responses and can learn as they operate, they are able to discern where and why a student’s understanding has gone astray and to offer hints to help the student understand the material at hand.Intelligent tutors provide many of the benefits of a human tutor to very large numbers of students and can also provide real-time data to faculty, instructors and developers looking to refine teaching methods. You can read more about this development here(link is external).

If you come across technical ideas or terms and need help, then Educause offers a place to learn and deepen your understanding. Look in particular for the series 7 Things You Need to Know.(link is external)

There are many more

This is a basic introduction to some key terms for online, open and flexible education. There are many other terms – see here(link is external), here(link is external) and here(link is external) for well used glossaries – but we have offered the ones listed here from a faculty and instructor perspective so as to connect these terms to the practice of teaching and learning.

[1] Open badges which recognize competency based learning are a fast growing feature of the education and training landscape. See http://openbadges.org/(link is external) for a description of these developments and http://openbadges.org/issue/(link is external)for the protocols for issuing badges.

[2] Speech in Buffalo, New York, August 22, 2013.


Creative Commons License


Building community in your online or blended class

December 1, 2015

One of the important activities instructors perform is to build a learning community in their classrooms. A learning community defined as a group of individuals who are interested in a common topic or area and who engage in knowledge-related transactions as well as transformations within it. (1)

Some of the benefits accruing to all participants include keeping students engaged and focused, promoting collaborative learning and academic motivation. In a face-to-face class environment this comes naturally through class discussions, group work, group assignments, and even grabbing a coffee after class with your fellow students.

The question is – How do you build community in an online or blended class?

You will need to foster these elements of community:

1) A sense of shared purpose
2) Establishment of boundaries defining who is a member and who is not
3) Establishment and enforcement of rules/policies regarding community behavior
4) Interaction among members, and
5) A level of trust, respect and support among community members(2)

Here are few examples of how you can begin to build community in online and blended classes. The examples that follow will give you some idea of the tools you can use to achieve your desired result. Keep in mind that whatever tools you use as an instructor to build community in your class you will need to be purposeful in your planning.

  • Where possible, build in assignments that involve a community engagement. For example, for an app development course, students can work with a non-profit organization (this would be identified by the instructor and the details of the collaboration would be identified upfront) to develop an app.
  • Build in collaborative learning activities and assignments. For instance, rather than having students write an essay or reflective paper on a particular topic, have them create a blog that will be shared with other students in the class. This provides an opportunity for students to engage with each other by sharing their perspectives and discussing/debating divergent viewpoints on the issue at hand. The same technique could be used with videos or photos, not just text-based media.
  • Build in opportunities for risk taking. A common goal/enemy/challenge that includes some stress but also shared support can help build community as well. The risk is the potential to ‘fail’ or miss the point or succeed beyond one’s expectations. It’s not a group assignment per se but a shorter activity.
  • Make yourself available. Communicate clearly to the learners how and when you are available. Hold virtual office hours. Reply promptly to student messages. Moderate and participate in the discussion forum. Check on each of your student’s progress routinely. Be actively involved. Share about you in a down-to-earth professional biography and share your goals for the students in the course.
  • Use learning contracts. Essentially, students complete these after reviewing the course outline. This is a way for the teacher and students to identify goals and expectations for the course. The teacher can clarify any questions upfront and understand what the student hopes to accomplish. This can be revisited halfway through the course and at the end of the course. Contact the TLTC for a ready-made fillable PDF example currently being used in an online course.
  • At the start of a new course, have students pair up, interview each other, summarize their findings, and introduce their partner to the class. This same icebreaker can be facilitated online using the tools available in the learning management system (at RRC, this is called LEARN). This can be done by pairing students in an online discussion forum and using it to conduct the interview. Alternatively, students can pair up and use texting to conduct the interview. They can then post the summary to the discussion forum. Other students can in turn reply to these posts.
  • At the beginning of the course, have students share about themselves on the discussion forum. Have them share about why they are taking the course, their goals for the course, and about any questions they have about the course.
  • Create opportunities for group work. Provide the opportunities for the students to use tools such as LiVE (RRC’s virtual classroom environment) to collaborate on group projects. Encourage peer-review either as part of formative assessment or as part of formal evaluation. Pair students up with ‘study buddies’ in the course and ask the students to identify technology buddies who might be tech-savvy family or friends.
  • Use Think-Pair-Share in which students first work individually to solve a question then in pairs then with the class. This works beautifully in any classroom – virtual or real.
  • One final strategy commonly employed in the online environment is to use tools such as a discussion forum to allow students to post questions about the course that may be answered by the instructor or other students. Chances are that more than one student has the same question. This allows you to save valuable time while enabling students to see that they are not alone.

Remember in whatever community-building activity you plan in your course you as the instructor must model the community behavior that you expect from your students.

(1)University of Texas https://ows.edb.utexas.edu/site/computer-supported-collaborative-learning-2011/2-definition-learning-community

(2)Vesely, P., Bloom, L. & Sherlock,J. (2007). Key Elements of Building Online Community: Comparing Faculty and Student Perceptions. Journal of Online Learning and Teaching, 3, (3). Retrieved from http://jolt.merlot.org/vol3no3/vesely.htm

The TLTC’s Digital Learning Tip of the Week – Campus Manitoba Open Textbook Initiative

November 24, 2015

Campus Manitoba Open Textbook Initiative

This fall Manitoba’s Minister of Education and Advanced Learning announced the Manitoba Open Textbook Initiative. This initiative‘s goal is to make higher education more accessible by reducing students’ costs through the use of free open textbooks. In pursuit of this goal Campus Manitoba and BCcampus have partnered to build a website that allows students and faculty to browse, view, and download open textbooks for use in their courses.

Open textbooks use open licenses, which means that they are free for you to use, re-use, modify, and adapt to fit your course’s unique requirements. Students can use them for free and they can be adapted into any format that suits them. They are an affordable, flexible alternative to expensive traditional textbooks. Click here for a summary of open licenses.

Check out http://open.campusmanitoba.com for more information about the Open Textbook Initiative. You can review the open textbooks they have available at http://open.campusmanitoba.com/find-open-textbooks/

Here are some examples of what you can find. There are many more!

Adult Literacy



Business Technology

Introductory Business Statistics




Cooking and Baking

Trades Common Core

Teaching in a Digital Age



Computer Science

Earth Sciences


Medical – General

Campus Manitoba is delivering a webinar about the Manitoba Open Textbook Initiative Dec. 3rd from 1:30-2:30.  Please view the Employee Development page for more information or to sign up.  https://hub.rrc.ca/EmployeeDevelopment/Default.aspx

This tip has been brought to you by the Teaching Learning Technology Centre, part of Red River College’s Centre for Teaching Excellence, Innovation, and Research.  Check out the TLTC’s blog for detailed information on how to use LEARN and many more tips, tricks and info on learning technologies.

Blended Learning Panel: RRC Nursing Faculty

October 1, 2015

Blended learning is an oft-used term that can mean many different things to various people. RRC’s Nursing Faculty is coming to grips with those meanings as they embark on an ambitious initiative to transform their program delivery into a blended model. Read More →

“Agile” Instructional Design

March 9, 2015

Scrum Diagram

By Mountain Goat Software (Mountain Goat Software) [CC BY 2.5 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.5)], via Wikimedia Commons

There is a growing interest in all things “Agile”, including in the learning design space. Purists reserve the Agile label for a set of lean project management methodologies and tools (e.g. scrum), while the instructional design community often expresses agility in other terms. Courses and workshops that apply Agile principles to instructional design are still scarce, but the discussion in eLearning circles is vibrant and should result in a broader suite of offerings over the next couple of years. One good example is the Masie Learning Consortium’s  On-the-Job Learning (OJL) LAB & Seminar led by Bob Mosher & Conrad Gottfredson. Though by no means mutually exclusive, they are nonetheless different perspectives on agility, nicely summarized by Megan Torrence in her post, All Around Agility, which I expand upon below.

Read More →

Mediocrity and Artistry

January 22, 2015

Have you ever read the The Telling Room? It’s a novel about the power of the narrative and it’s a story about a cheese, a very good cheese. This book was passed along to me by a couple (okay, my parents, both of whom were lifelong educators) who encourage writing comments in the columns and passing the book on later — a good practice, but not one I can ever seem to adopt as I tend to get so wrapped up in what I’m reading. I’ve been savouring this book, a few pages at a time, and this morning I read this passage:

He also knew, or assumed that the workers — he would never dignify them with a sobriquet “cheesemakers,” those who had replaced his happy brood at the factory — were clock punchers, like everyone these days, there to do their time and collect a paycheck. How could such automatons make something remarkable, let alone create a delirious, sublime cheese of memory and strength? They, too, were thieves, if unconscious ones, afflicted with the disease of mediocrity. After all, why were you put on this earth, to serve humanity or the jefe’s bottom line? Read More →

NOBODY expects the Spanish Inquisition!

January 13, 2015

Myth # 237: You can’t teach an old dog new tricks.

I’ll admit it. I tend to lean on old familiar ways when it comes to Instructional Design (ID). But last week a bright young colleague reminded this old dog of one not-so-new trick, tangential learning. That mere engagement can transform our minds into sponges that soak up peripheral knowledge is a wondrous phenomenon.  Ah, memories of Pavlov and Cardinal Ximenez.

My young colleague (we’ll call her Katherine) had brought the Timeline card game to the office.  Read More →

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