My FINAL (Work-in-Progress) PROJECT Reflections

•December 8, 2010 • 1 Comment


Final Project Reflections:
As a requirement of our ECI831 course is the creation of a Major Digital Project.  In preparing for this project, I had two ideas which I contemplated.  The first was to experiment with social media tools related to career development from a personal perspective (such as Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, etc.).  I am still extremely curious about exploring these tools in more detail, but felt the project would be more about myself and my own personal investigations than it would be about attempting to explore tools that might have a more direct correlation to my work with colleagues, teachers, and students.  As a result, I decided to pursue my other idea of considering how open education and social media tools might enhance an  idea I had for a project which allows for the creation of a resource for Career Development Practitioners within my school division. 

Project Description:
The creation of an interactive Career Practitioner Resource for Career Development Teachers within my school division. 

Our school division’s Action Plan for Career Development began in the 2007-2008 school year.   The plan was very involved and included a number of outcomes.  A portion of the plan focused on the hiring of Career Development Itinerant Teachers to service the division’s rural schools and the identification of a lead Career Development Teacher in each of the 4 larger schools in order to help students improve career management competencies. 

Additionally, the action plan identified supports in terms of regular in-person meetings for Career Development Teachers (as led by the Career Development Consultant).  The purpose of these meetings was to help students improve career development competencies by designing teacher professional development sessions in order to: 

  • develop a common language for career development
  • establish, develop, and ensure consistent career development practices
  • improve knowledge of Blueprint for Life/Work Designs
  • improve access to resources in support of career development
  • create a career development teacher network

Until recently, there has been low turnover in terms of the roles of the Career Development Teachers within our division.  However, change is constant and new people are beginning to step into these roles for various reasons.  This presents both opportunities and challenges as there is now quite a range of knowledge and comfort levels in relation to the above listed criteria as there are experienced and inexperienced career development teachers all possessing varied levels of knowledge and prior learning/experiences related to this field.

Currently, there are various certificate and degree programs available for career development practitioners but formal training is not an option for all teachers.  Also, there is no mandatory training for career practitioners within our province or formal teacher certification for teachers in such a role.   

As a result, it has been determined there is a need to develop a professional development resource to support current Career Development Teachers in their roles and to help new Career Development teachers come on board with basic Blueprint understandings and sound career development practices. 

Format and Design:
Initially, the idea involved the creation of a document with various modules that would support teachers new to this role and also allow for mentorship and continued learning of seasoned career development practitioners.  As I progressed with this ECI 831 course, however, and began experiencing with social media and open education tools, I started to think perhaps we should take a risk and put ourselves in cyberspace in relation to our work, thoughts, resources, and such in order to make what we do more transparent and also allow for the resource to stay ‘current’ and take the direction we need it to as time progresses.  (I must admit, this concept still scares me a little, but I think it will be a worthwhile endeavour).   

It is hoped the development of this interactive professional development resource will:

    • Improve the effectiveness of the service our Career Development Teachers offer to our school division students by supporting ongoing professional development. 
    • Improve the delivery of our program and ensure our division students receive consistent messages and support of the career management process.
    • Support continuity of our career development program especially during transitions due to natural processes such as retirement, job change, relocation, sickness, etc. 

My project is still in its infancy.  As a result, I am posting my FINAL (Work-in-Progress).   What I think I have done is created a sound plan and experimented with various technological tools in order to decide which would best be suited for this project.  I believe the use of a wiki in combination with a blog are web 2.0 tools which will enhance the project and keep with my other goal of choosing technologies that will be relatively easy for contributors to use. 

On November 24th, I was able to collaborate for a ½ day with a number of Career Development Practitioners within my school division to discuss the concept of this resource.  We had a wonderful session and they are willing to dive into this adventure with me.  (Thankfully!)  During our meeting, we brainstormed a number of  key concepts we wish to be incorporated from a school division perspective, we also performed some internet searches and located a number of resources and websites we wish to investigate further.  We wish to create a wiki with a number of sections that people new to their role or even those who have more experience can access to learn more about key concepts pertinent to us as professionals.  We want to include an opportunity for discussion and reflection without burdening people with lengthy assignments.  We have created a timeline for completion of our project and have agreed to being open to learning how to operate a wiki, blog, and possible recorded ‘hot-topic’ sessions pertinent to us as Career Development professionals.  It is hoped that our sharing , collaboration, and openness will be of benefit to other school divisions within the province as we progress with this project. 

Although the wiki and blog will focus on our work as Career Development Practitioners within our school division, it is hoped that longer term there is potential to expand the resource and increase the supportive career development network.  (Another reason for choosing a blog and wiki rather than internal technological tools or paper-based medium). 

Beginnings of Career Connectors Wiki and Blog:

Career Connectors Wiki:  We have been seriously thinking of using a course management tool such as Moodle for this Interactive Career Practitioner Resource.  We may end up going back to that idea, but for now we are going to continue to post ideas to this wiki and see if we can find a way to make the use of it interactive from various perspectives.  At this point, anyone can view the wiki, those of us with permissions will be able to add to the wiki, we are looking at ways to include investigations and reflections in the Discussion Tabs in order to encourage future reflection, idea sharing, thought processes, etc.  Any suggestions as to whether or not this might work are welcomed.  Also, I connected our blog to the wiki using the Blog link under Manage Wiki.  However, I am not certain that it will update feeds, any suggestions?  🙂 

Career Connectors Blog:   – our plan is to have our school division’s core group of Career Development Teachers sign up for wordpress accounts and become contributors to the blog.  At our December meeting, we will brainstorm ‘content’ categories to give us some idea as to what topics we want to post on.  We have been inspired by the amazing Connected Principals blog at and hope we can create something similar with focus on ideas and content relevant to us as Career Development Practitioners.  In a conversation with @gcouros, he suggested Posterous as a great way to create a collaborative network especially if technical knowledge is limited.  Since we haven’t progressed very far with our blog yet, I plan to investigate this and let my group of educators decide which route we should go with this.  @gcouros also suggested the move to may be a good idea of there are a couple of us in the group that are technologically inclined.  I am somewhere in the middle and am wondering if anyone with some experience on this would care to provide me with some advice.  For now, we have our blog set up using (different from  It seems as though it will work for now, but if this blog actually ‘catches’ and ‘take off’ like we hope it will in the future, will be able to handle many contributors and such as in the Connected Principals website?  Feel free to comment… 

Again, my project is in its infancy but I would love for some feedback as I will be progressing with it in much detail over the coming months.  Although I  haven’t yet had the opportunity to see it through to completion, I believe every sound project must begin with a creative idea, a solid rationale, an outline of learning outcomes, an initial plan, and a reasonable timeline.  I think I have established these components keeping in mind it is always a good idea to be flexible.    My major project is all about professional sharing , continual collaboration, and opportunities for sharing and reflection as career development professionals.  I have learned much from  the transparent dialogue/posts of other classmates which I think will help as I see this project through upon completion of this course. 

The FINAL ‘Final Reflection’ on ECI 831: 
It is hard to believe our EC&I 831 class has come to an end.  This is only my fourth class at the Graduate level and I must say that all the classes I have take so far have been extremely enjoyable yet different in structure.  The first class I enrolled in was a Research Methods class from the University of Saskatchewan.  This was a ‘blended’ class where we met in-person most Saturdays and communicated via the course management system between visits.  During my Research Methods class, we reviewed professional readings, delivered a group presentation based on textbook content, created a research proposal, and completed a final exam.  Overall, the class was fairly ‘traditional’ in design.  The EC&I 804 class I participated in this summer was a face-to-face class three-week class.  There were only about 14 students in my section and I enjoyed the relationships that quickly established between us.  Relationships are a big part of any learning environment, and I must say the facilitation by our instructor and the trust the developed between all of us made for a positive face-to-face learning environment. 

This EC&I 831 class and the ECI course I took last semester, were structured differently from the ones mentioned above in many ways as they both were designed using online tools.  I was extremely nervous during our first EC&I 831 class when Alec mentioned the course would challenge us and push our boundaries in relation to social media and open education.  I am a beginner in terms of my knowledge and use of these technologies and wondered if this class was for me.  It took some time, and a significant amount of “lurking” to get my bearings in the class.  I had to invest needed time into exploring tools on my own and to investigating ideas posted by other classmates in their blogs.  I particularly appreciated the synchronous sessions as I feel they truly contributed to the sense of togetherness which developed as the course progressed.  I very much appreciated the fact that our blogpost reflections could take on whatever content needed in order to further our own learning and connect to our own practices.  But, at the same time, I appreciated the “Content That May Be Relevant to this Week’s Session”, “Weekly Tasks”, and “Media to Get You Thinking” sections as they provided some guidance and  possible focus to our discoveries.  Given the limitless content on the internet, I valued being pointed in the direction of some relevant food-for-thought.

For me, the most valuable portion of this class has been the connecting, sharing, and collaborating with classmates, mentors, and our instructor.  This continual contact whether it be during synchronous sessions, email, Twitter posts, blog comments, etc. kept me motivated and focussed.  I am certainly richer for this learning experience and am continuing to reflect on how I can extend my learnings in my educational setting upon the completion of this class.  I commend Alec for his insight and initiative in creating this mentorship project.  As Angela mentioned in her final reflection, her students were very excited when authors and ‘others’ commented on their blogposts as they didn’t ‘have to’.  I must say I felt much the same way in relation to mentor comments as I felt they were really going out of their way to provide meaningful feedback throughout the course and this added  level of support added depth to our discoveries.

As I leave this class, I am still investigating the answers to some of my questions.  For instance,  I am still slightly unsure as to how to properly link/reference information located on the internet, I am continuing to learn more about the Creative Commons and attributions, etc.  I leave this class with a shift in thinking and a true appreciation for the power of social media but also with a continued sense of the need to be critical of these tools as I move forward as a professional.  There is still so much to learn!

Finally, as I mentioned during my presentation, I came across an article titled Combating Myths About Distance Education by Todd Gilman which explores the challenges of online and distance education programs.  To briefly summarize, Gilman contends that many “problems” noted in online programs can also exist within face-to-face or mixed mode delivery courses.  He says, “any classroom, whether it’s the face-to-face, online-only, or hybrid variety, is only as good as the people in it. If both teachers and students are prepared, responsive, and engaged, things run remarkably well.” 

I must say that comments and collaboration from you as mentors, classmates, and guest presenters and from Alec as our instructor, has been an extremely valuable part of this class.  Distance learning really is only as good as the people involved (similar to what Linda mentioned in one of her blogposts about online communities) and you have been FABULOUS!  Thank you, everyone. 

This has proven to be a truly authentic learning experience and one that was enhanced with the use of technology.  I know I need to keep you in my network!


The Future of Education? Final Reflections

•November 30, 2010 • 4 Comments

Summary of Learning:

This video was created as a means of showcasing my final reflections on our ECI 831 class.  As captured in my series of TOP 10 COUNTDOWN posts, some highlights of our course included discussions around social media, open education, remixing, creative commons, creativity, incorporation of web 2.0 tools into classrooms to enhance student learning, personal learning environments, trust, 21st century literacies, etc.  

During our first class, Dr. Alec Couros mentioned he hoped this class would push our boundaries as educators in relation to social media and open education.  I must say, by limits HAVE been tested.  I can honestly say I am exiting the class with a much broader perspective on teaching and learning in a networked world than I began with.  The exceptional modeling and hands-on practice in relation to various social networking tools and their application to education has been eye-opening and extremely rewarding.  Hope you enjoy the video I produced in attempt to capture some of my course learnings.

Video Creation Process:   

The following is a short summary of the video creation process.  Throughout this class, I have benefited from the transparency of my classmates in explaining their process of learning.  As a result, I am hoping this summary is useful to someone…  

In relation to the creation of this video, I was inspired by The Lost Generation video and attempted a remix.  I created my own text  based on my Top 10 Reflections and incorporated Creative Commons music and pictures in the production. 

Being that I don’t own any video editing software, I was unsure as to where to start with this assignment.  After some experimentation, I decided to use Movie Maker Live.  It’s features were somewhat limited and it took me a significant amount of time to figure out how to add music and narration.  I ended up creating two audio tracks in Audacity then exporting it as one .wav file to import into Movie Maker Live.  There is likely an easier way, but this is what I did after a series of trial and error.  I felt Movie Maker Live would be a simple tool to use in terms of uploading to YouTube for publishing purposes which is why I stuck with it. 

In creating the scrolling text in the video, I intially thought it would be very simple to ‘reverse’ scroll the document.  After spending much time on Google, the solutions I found seemed too daunting.  For instance, a tips and tricks website directed me to download a virtual dubbing software and then proceed with reversing the clip.  Another YouTube video instructed me on how to take a series of screenshots to give the illusion of the reverse.   In addition, I attempted to ask experts via my personal network but was unable to obtain any concrete solutions.  As a result, I made the decision to reverse the text manually rather than scroll the information backwards.  The effect is not quite the same as in the original Lost Generation video, but it has similar impact.  It also puts my own creative twist on the production. 

I was fortunate to receive some feedback from others during the process of creating various drafts of this video.  I have already adjusted it several times based on input from peers.  As always, if I were to do it again, I would change it!  The version I included above is the most recent creation posted on November 27th, 2010. 

Thank You

Thanks all for an amazing ECI831 course.  Keep blogging and twittering…so we can stay in touch!  I looked forward to the continued connections and future learnings ahead.        


TOP 10 – #1: Good Intentions are NOT Enough

•November 29, 2010 • Leave a Comment

TOP 10 COUNTDOWN – Summary of ECI831 Learnings

 It is with this post, I conclude my TOP 10 Countdown as a summary of learnings in our ECI831 class.  This Top 10 inspired the creation of my “Future of education?” video for our final reflection project.  The final countdown… 

AT #1:  Good Intentions are NOT Enough

Will Richardson joined us for a casual evening of informal discussion for our November 23rd.  We talked about the importance of being critical thinkers and literate consumers of information.  Interestingly, Will Richardson referenced a statement made by Steven Downes’ article in a Huffington Post article.  Richardson referenced Steven Downes’ comments in A World To Change in which Downes states, “We need to move beyond the idea that an education is something that is provided for us, and toward the idea that an education is something that we create for ourselves.”  Will Richardson summarized this idea by suggesting the role of schools is going to change whether we are ready for it or not.  In this world of personalization and customization of learning, there will continue to be a need for a classroom teacher as the teacher must guide the learnings and interactions of children.  As educators, we must try to determine how we might build networks and create interactions to adapt to this change. 

This discussion continued with dialogue in which participants discussed various questions.  During our discuss, Jamie Forest mentioned, “I think that it is my job to give my kids the fundamentals so that in middle years and beyond they have the skills to do those inquiry-type personalized learning.”  Her statement was directly linked to the idea that it is important for educators to help build skills in students in order to assist them with critical thinking and inquiry learning as they grow.  Shawna Stangel, who works as a Consultant, mentioned that a “learner of content is someone who is not familiar with inquiry learning” as he/she is not not learning in context.  In reflecting on these statements, it really is learning in context and the focus on the process of learning that leads to deeper understanding.  It is important for us, as educators, to help students discover their own route to achieving outcomes. Due to the rapid rate of technological change, it is not possible for educators to be experts on everything. That being said, I think the key to successfully using new technologies is for educators not to be afraid to learn alongside students. In a constructivist classroom, learning is active, real, collaborative and inquiry-based.  Together, educators and students can learn how to learn while interacting with one another and technology in order to build life-long learning skills which will help them succeed in the 21st century.  Will Richardson mentioned our own process of learning is key and that it is important for us, as educators, to model our own learning in very transparent ways.  This modelling is very powerful for students AND teachers.

We are all professionals and I would argue we all have good intentions.  But, challenges with concepts like time and change (as I have discussed in earlier posts) sometimes lead to inaction.   As Will Richardson stated during our presentation, “It is in deeds, not words, that get us moving.”  Now is the time to find ways to shift away from ‘traditional’ teaching and learning and embrace change.  Particularly, change made possible by integrating technology and education in ways that enhance student learning.  We truly must take action, intention is simply not enough.

TOP 10 – #2: Considering the Role(s) of the Educator

•November 29, 2010 • Leave a Comment

TOP 10 COUNTDOWN – Summary of ECI831 Learnings

 It is with this post, I continue my TOP 10 Countdown as a summary of learnings in our ECI831 class.  This Top 10 inspired the creation of my “Future of education?” video for our final reflection project.  And the countdown continues… 

At #2:  Considering the Role(s) of the Educator 

Steven Downes joined us for an evening of discussion around the roles of educators.  The discussion lended itself to the role(s) of educators in general, but also, in particular to their role in Personal Learning Environments and the future of online learning.  This was an extremely interactive presentation in which Steven Downes presented us with potential roles of educators such as the educator as the learner, collector, curator, programmer, salesperson, tech support, moderator, critic, lecturer, demonstrator, mentor, connector, theorizer, sharer, evaluator, bureaucrat, etc.  As participants, we were invited to share our thoughts in terms of what we felt each of the roles menat, examples of these roles, and who performs them.  The session inspired us to consider thinking and learning in many different capacities.  There is a need for educators to assume various roles at various points in time depending on the content, needs of learner, situation, context, etc.

I was inspired by Angela’s post on the topic, “Tonight I was a salesperson, a demonstrator, and a coach”.       Her example demonstrates the need for educators to wear multiple hats in various situations.  Thanks Angela.  

A good read can be found at Seven Habits of Highly Connected People by Steven Downes.  I hope to establish an online presence and will take many of these points into consideration such as the importance of listening and respecting the views of others rather than using the web simply to express my own thoughts.  I appreciate the fact the connecting involves effort and that being connected involves as much give as it does take.       


TOP 10 – #3: Value of the “Un”Session

•November 29, 2010 • Leave a Comment

TOP 10 COUNTDOWN – Summary of ECI831 Learnings

 It is with this post, I continue my TOP 10 Countdown as a summary of learnings in our ECI831 class.  This Top 10 inspired the creation of my “Future of education?” video for our final reflection project.  And the countdown continues… 

AT #3:  Value of the “Un” Session

When Dr. Couros proposed the concept of the “un” session, I really had no idea how it would play out.  Personally, I desperately wanted to volunteer to lead a discussion but was not feeling like enough of an expert on our proposed topics to take the lead.  That being said, I did participate in the idea sharing activity proposed in the Google Document and gained much from the variety of ‘hot topics’ discussed during our synchronous session.  Jud and Lisa delivered a presentation about “What’s (Not so) Good About Social Media”, Angela and Jamie teamed up to talk to us about the value of “Sharing with Colleagues”, and two of our mentors contributed to the discussion.  Tania Sterling spoke to us about “Social Media for Assessment” and Lyn Hilt presented on “Social Media, Leadership, and Admin”. 

 Throughout this ECI831 course, I have learned about Web 2.0 Tools by reading the blogposts of my classmates.  It has been great to learn more about tools such as Glogster, Prezi, Wordle, etc. by viewing very practical posts which highlight the tool, the process of learning how to use the tool, and the proposed applicability to teaching and learning.  This ‘transparancy’ of the learning process has helped me tremendously.  It is also through class discussion and blogposts that I have come to a deeper understanding of concepts surrounding remixing, the Creative Commons, creativity, copyright, net neutrality, digital citizenship, etc.  I very much value the contributions of my classmates, our course mentors, our guest speakers, and our instructor in making this a rich learning experience for me.  I am very thankful to Dr. Couros for experimenting with the ‘mentorship’ as this was a unique approach to the class and recieving comments from mentors, having them contribute to class discussions/presentations, etc. took the experience to another level.  Thank you!

I liked the idea of the “Un”Session so much, that I plan to use this model in an upcoming Career Development Teacher meeting in December.  I think this will be a welcomed change in format to our typical meetings.  I was inspired!  I am beginning to the appreciate the value of less formal learning.  As George Seimens says, “Informal learning is a signficant aspect of our learning experience.”

TOP 10 – #4: As Educators, It Is Our Obligation to Share

•November 29, 2010 • Leave a Comment

TOP 10 COUNTDOWN – Summary of ECI831 Learnings

It is with this post, I continue my TOP 10 Countdown as a summary of learnings in our ECI831 class.  This Top 10 inspired the creation of my “Future of education?” video for our final reflection project.  And the countdown continues…

AT #4:  As Educators, It Is Our Obligation to Share



Dean Shareski spoke to our eci831 class about the concept of sharing as a moral imperative.  This notion challenged my thinking and spurred me to think about my own views around sharing, especially sharing online.  As an educator, I see the value in sharing as it would be far to difficult to be continually reinventing the wheel.  It is also very worthwhile to focus on our strengths and share what we are good at and ask for help in areas that we are not so comfortable with.  In my role as a Career Development Consultant, I am continually ‘giving and taking’ in terms of ideas and materials.  That being said, I do not yet have much of an online presence.  This class has meet contemplating the creation of an online resource for Career Development Teachers, but it is yet to materialize.  I am still trying to find my way in this new world. 

Also, this talk by Dean Sharesky spurred me to begin investigating ideas about being safe online, the importance of creating a digital footprint that one is proud of, and the concept of digital citizenship.  Although I have discovered much, this is an area I an commited to investigating further as it is a topic I am interested in both personally and professionally – in my roles as educator and parent.  I plan to revisit the Digital Tatoo website, posts on these topics by my classmates such as Jen’s post titled Shaping Identity Online, and additional sources as time progresses.

TOP 10 – #5: Need for Open and Networked Learning

•November 29, 2010 • Leave a Comment

TOP 10 COUNTDOWN – Summary of ECI831 Learnings

It is with this post, I continue my TOP 10 Countdown as a summary of learnings in our ECI831 class.  This Top 10 inspired the creation of my “Future of education?” video for our final reflection project.  And the countdown continues…

AT#5:  Need for Open and Networked Learning

In a conversation led by Dr. Alec Couros, we discussed the concepts of open and networked learning.  The presentation was created with Slideshare.  The demonstration of this tool, in and of itself, was a terrific experience. 

A memoroable quote during the evening of discussion was, “Understanding how networks work is one of the most important literacies of the 21st century.”  (Rheingold, 2010)  This quote relates back to my Top 7 reflection around the expanded notion of the concept of “literacy”.  With the availabilityof the internet and web 2.0 tools, the idea of a network and literacies can take on take on whole new meanings.  During the presentation, we discussed the concepts of openness, connectedness, and the need for personal learning environments in support of the process of learning.  Open and Networked Learning, as shared by Dr. Couros, makes possible:

1.  Connecting with experts
2.  Publishing in the Open
3.  Proper use of Public Content
4.  Development of Portfoios
5.  Social Reading
6.  Global Mentoring
7.  Immediate Feedback (Now and Nearly Now)
8.  PD Opportunities – Anytime, Anywhere

In investigating this topic further, I found a post called “New Age of Pervasive Connectivity” by Jimmy Wales to be relevant.  Read the post and see what you think…