What is the best way to assess student laboratories in an introductory science course? If you posed this question to a lab instructor, chances are they will have a lot to say and likely more questions than answers. Do you have students submit formal lab reports? Do you assess group work? Lab skills? How do you manage the marking of all those labs?
I have tackled these questions personally (often with a mountain of labs looming at my dining room table), with colleagues, and with larger groups of educators from college and university. One important theme that emerges from discussion is always the goal of the labs themselves. What do we want students to learn? What are the transferable skills that we want students to take away? These skills include lab-based competencies but also life skills. We want students to come prepared and…
I got home from OpenEd16 about 30 hours ago and I’m already behind the times. Why? Well, here’s a huge benefit of being involved in Open Educational Practices: people blog, in the open, about their insights, what they took away from a conference and what they are going to do with that knowledge. Now we can all learn from those thoughts, borrow and riff off of those ideas and plans or even just reassure ourselves that what we took from it rings true.
Adam Croom even had his thoughts up and out there from the plane on the way home. Adam Croom not only is someone I look way way up to even more now than I did before the conference, but also the people he works with are scary good. Keegan Long-Wheeler (@keeganSLW) and John Stewart (@jstew511) ran an amazing session showing how to use a game to build a faculty community of learners to learn gamification itself via fighting Goblins. My kids love the sweet 20 sided dice they got out of that session, bee-tee-dubs. It’s not just that the game is such an engaging way to learn, it’s that they hand everything they have to you openly to use for your own games in your own schools. Adam also brought along some student-colleagues of his (hint: do not compare your past, present or future self to them, it will hurt)
to chat about some of the mind blowing projects they are working on that came out of the Indie Ed-Tech summit held at Davidson College in the spring. Check out Andrew Rikard’s (@anrikard) work here.
I’d also like to award Andrew a badge for best delivery of an F-bomb at a conference that I’ve ever seen (“…and Minerva… whatever the f*#k that is”) Here is your badge, Andrew. Well deserved.
Now back to me. I got to meet some heroes and actually tell them that I am a big fan of their work including Alan Levine, Audrey Watters, & Gardner Campbell. It is VERY satisfying, when you get up the nerve to tell someone you admire their work, worried you might just be annoying them, to see them seem genuinely grateful for the praise and interested in who you are. Y’all are nice folks. There are others I wish I did the same for: Robin De Rosa, Martha Burtis, Martin Weller, David Kernohan, Kin Lane, Jesse Stommel, Sean Michael Morris, Amy Collier. The list goes on and on. Too many heroes. It was like a real life Open Ed Avengers or Justice League going on. Gardner Campbell laid down hot fire with his keynote. A seven layered spicy burrito on the power of insight and how some of our common practices (like rubrics) stifle the shit out of just the insights we’d all love to see. I would highly recommend going back in time, signing up for this conference and attending his keynote on November 2nd. It would be well worth it.
I want to keep this post short so that someone may read it to the end, so I’ll start my descent to the finish and get to the most important point of making post conference posts. What am I going to do with what I got at the conference? Well, my whole reason for going was to get some tools, juice and ammunition to help open up the practices at Fleming College. Here’s what I realize more now: Everybody is somewhat open. It’s not binary, open or closed. No one is completely secretive about what they do in the classroom. All faculty search at some point for learning activities and what not for their classes. What I want to do is open some eyes that sharing way more often and way more openly will inspire you, motivate you and give you some sweet, sweet free ideas. As a concrete example of that, Robin De Rosa (@actualham) showcased her work in which she had her students, together, create their own open textbook. That inspired me to want to meet one of our pressing goals in our department at Fleming in a similar way. We need to refresh and revitalize and expand our faculty development. I would love to follow her model to build out the ‘manual’ or whatever it is in the same way, with contributions from faculty and students from all walks of the college. Thanks, Robin!
I’ve now used up my extra daylight savings hour and small children are demanding yogurt so I have to wrap this up, but I want to say I met a lot of people there that I considered friends about 10 seconds after meeting and I appreciate your welcoming nature. I will follow up with proper shout outs and other great experiences like VCconnecting and approximately 148 other amazing takeaways I got from Opened16.
Daily Create #1748 Who is your dream team? This dream team is real and is taking Canadians to task for their historic treatment of indigenous people through the residential school programs that worked to remove a culture.
Maybe it’s more of a perfect storm than a dream team, but it certainly is something to make you sit up, take notice and think about what it all means to us as a nation.
Here are the team members:
Chanie Wenjack: The subject of a story that we need to hear. A 12 year old Ojibwe boy who ran away from his residential school in 1966 and tried to walk home… 600 kms away.
Gord Downie: Gord is in a perfect position to give us whatever shit he feels like right now. He is a rock star. He is the Canadian rock star who also happens to be a wonderful poet. He also happens to be dying of brain cancer. Canadians all realize we are soon going to lose one of our greatest treasures so our eyes are on him. He’s releasing The Secret Path, which is likely the last new music we will hear from him and it tells Chanie Wenjack’s story. Gord also used The Tragically Hip’s final show to put the Prime Minister on notice that we need to make things right.
Peter Lemire: Graphic Novelist. The sombre mood of his previous works seem to fit just right to this project. See Essex County for an example. Peter has created a graphic novel and film about Chanie Wenjack to go with Gord Downie’s album. The music and the imagery together draw you in immediately.
Joseph Boyden: A writer who has written his books extensively in indigenous settings, is also releasing a novella, Wenjack, about Chanie, which will bring us deeper into the story.
Canadians: It’s up to us to join the team, bring this story into our collective understanding of who we were, who we are and who we want to be as a nation.
Daily Create #1747 is to answer the question, why do I write? The Daily Create website claims that today is the National Day of Writing, however does not identify which nation, so I’ll assume that it is Honduras. So, to celebrate Honduras’ National Day of Writing, I will try to describe why I write.
Here are some things that I write:
notes to self
blog posts for work and for myself here in this space
oh, there’s another email to write
you have to write something in the box when you Google stuff
grocery lists. (just kidding, I just wing it and that is why we have 17 bags of spaghetti)
Tweets. And sometimes the tweets will be written about other writings I’ve done so we’ve gone meta
Just let me finish this one email
That might be about all the things I regularly write other than did I mention email?
But why? Oh yeah, that’s the real question. Well, for me in this space, it’s to practice, try ideas out, reflect on the process and to share the ideas for anyone to borrow from if they want because I am going to borrow from you, too! I think it is fun to frame your thoughts with a sprinkle of humour if you can think of a funny way to present things. Might as well get a giggle out of it while you let people know that you are thinking and the ideas that are important to you. Seriously, why not?