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Writing Matters Topic #2: Pluralization

April 7, 2015

These are our English pluralization rules:

  1. For nouns ending in a consonant, add the letter s to make the noun plural (e.g., books).
  2. For nouns ending in ch, x, s, and s-like sounds, add es (e.g., witches).
  3. For items ending in y, change the y to an i and add es (e.g., supplies).
  4. For some nouns, use the irregular plural form (e.g., children).
  5. For Latin and Greek nouns, use their respective plural forms (e.g., syllabi).
  6. For acronyms, add an s (e.g., NGOs).
  7. For years, add an s (e.g., the 1980s).
  8. For credentials, add an s (e.g., PhDs)
  9. For profession acronyms, add an s (e.g., MDs)
  10. For single alphabet letters, use an apostrophe  + s (e.g., She got four A’s and two B’s.)
  11. For reference to plural words, use an apostrophe + s (e.g., The sentence has too many and’s.)

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Colleague and LEARN Enrolment Times

March 30, 2015

Colleague is Red River Colleges SIS. It does many things in the College that handle day to day duties such as handle budgeting, assign students to courses and programs and many other tasks. LEARN takes advantage of this and uses some of the data from Colleague to build Course Offerings and handle all of the enrolments automatically to LEARN. Below is a list of the times users are actively enrolled in their courses: Read More →

Quizzes with Video. Lockdown Browser Considerations

March 26, 2015

We recently foScreen Shot 2015-03-17 at 14.54.09und an issue when taking a quiz with the Lockdown Browser. An Instructor brought to our attention that a particular quiz was freezing when a student would attempt to save their answer. We later found out that the issue was more specific to how the video was being used in the quiz. Read More →

Kan’t ban

March 21, 2015

Injecting Agile into Group Projects (part 4)

"Kanban Yoda", by G.Dugas, is a derivative of "Do or do not... there is no try" by Christopher Michel, both licensed under CC BY.

“Kanban Yoda”, by G.Dugas, is a derivative of “Do or do not… there is no try” by Christopher Michel. Both works licensed under CC BY.

The Kanban board can be a terrific Agile tool for managing group tasks. Unfortunately, many student projects are ill suited to group work. Sometimes they cannot be easily broken down into discrete tasks or, when they are, take more effort to complete than if done by a single person. Or dependencies are so strong that one task can hold up everything else until it has been completed, causing backlogs. In such cases, even a Kanban board can’t help.

I believe that an assignment must include a balance of the following key elements to be considered a legitimate group project:

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Smooth

March 21, 2015

Injecting Agile into Group Projects (part 3)

photo credit: <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/29809546@N00/2199685678">Shunting</a> via <a href="http://photopin.com">photopin</a> <a href="https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/">(license)</a>

cropped photo: Shunting via photopin (license)

Collaboration can be a powerful catalyst:

Two heads are better than one.”
Many hands make light work.”
No manager ever won no ballgames.”

But optimum group performance is a function of how adaptable its members are in the face of unforeseen challenges, how smoothly they can adapt to change. So we move to the fourth pillar of our Group Project Agile Manifesto: responding to change over following a plan.  Read More →

Writing Matters Topic #1: The Subordinate Clause

March 19, 2015

Subordinate or dependent clauses are ones that cannot stand alone. Compare with main or independent clauses, which are clauses that can stand alone. To understand this fully, you need to know the following:

Subordinate Clause Word Cloud

  1. A clause is a group of words that contains a subject and a predicate.
  2. A subject is the part of the clause indicating what or who performs the action or what the clause is about.
  3. A predicate is the part of the clause containing a verb and stating something about the subject.
  4. A complex sentence includes a subordinate clause and an independent clause.
  5. A subordinate conjunction is a word that begins the subordinate clause and makes that clause weaker than (i.e., reducing the importance of the independent clause).

Now, let’s look at some examples.

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Manifesto

March 13, 2015

Injecting Agile into Group Projects (part 2)

image of Leaning Tower of PisaToyota logoWith its roots in lean thinking as pioneered by Toyota, the Agile Manifesto expresses a project management philosophy and values that have underpinned software development for the last 30+ years. In my opinion, a few simple changes to that canon make it just as applicable to a wide variety of other group endeavours, from e-Learning development to, as in my case, students in a group project environment:

Group Project Agile Manifesto

  • Individuals and interactions over processes and tools
  • Working software Application over comprehensive documentation
  • Customer collaboration Clear expectations over contract grade negotiations
  • Responding to change over following a plan

That is, while we do value the items on the right, we value the items on the left more.

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Opting for Brain Candy

March 12, 2015

Injecting Agile into Group Projects (part 1)

Image by touchstone What is it about group work that drives so many students batty? Let me share some of my thoughts on the subject by way of a case study. I teach an Intro to Business course whose mandatory project component requires that teams of 4-5 students work together to submit weekly assignments. We started with the whole group charter thing, defining norms, expectations, etc. But by week # 6, one week before mid-term exams, four of the five groups were almost at blows. Some members were not participating (or even showing up). The quality of submissions was, to be kind, spotty. The stronger students were upset with the group marking, feeling they were (as usual) doing most of the work. Weaker students were by and large disengaged. In short, nobody was happy (myself included). That’s when I hit the brakes, vented a bit, and told everybody that group work was suspended until after exams. Something had to change. 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.

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Four Levels of Learning Management System Usage

February 17, 2015

For years I have been talking about doing some deep analytics on RRC’s usage of its LMS. This information is valuable to the College and the Teaching Learning Technology Centre in many ways:

  • It helps us identify and learn from excellent usage of technology
  • It helps us identify and learn from poor use of technology
  • It gives us focus and targets for training – where are we in the use of certain tools?
  • It informs us on the depth of our students’ experience with educational technology at RRC
  • It can give us incredible insights into the nature of courses through analyzing gradebooks and assessments
  • On an active basis it can allow us to identify students who may be at risk of attrition and direct them towards remedial resources

Fundamentally it allows us to learn from our successes and failures and use that information to embark on new paths. Read More →