Thursday, 31 December 2015

2015 in Review

So 2015 is on its last legs. What have I got done educationally this year? I didn't participate in any moocs, but I did stay connected with DS106, Postetmooc and TVSZ. So nothing new, just the maintenance of existing relationships. What did I do instead? I turned inward. I explored where I was with my own education. Was I happy with my level of education? Should I go back to school and do my PhD? Did moocs have a place in my life still? What aspects of my skills as an instructional designer should I develop? Should I branch out? Should I remain an instructional designer, when I am chained to a desk all day and feel it is not physically healthy?

So what are the answers to these questions? I would like to say that I have them, but I do not. I am not leaning towards doing a PhD, feeling the way I do about higher education, but I do so love exploring new ideas with people. So moocs may still be part of the picture. I recognize that this was not a year that I stretched myself intellectually but it was a year that I stretched myself artistically. I am still exploring whether that is more important to me than continuing to put letters behind my name so I can have the opportunity to teach. 

I am still enjoying exploring my options! As always, I am more than willing to participate in learning new things. Bring on the new year. 

Wishing all the very best for 2016 to you all!

Thursday, 19 November 2015

Etmooc Third Anniversary Challenge Part 2

Okay, I love Etmooc and how it continues to morph and change. Just read a post from Alan Levine (two posts actually) and as usual they were a hoot! The CMOOC that wouldn't die! and the accompanying poster looking at the long life of Etmooc. Well, there is a reason for that and today's nominee is one of those reasons.

Rhonda Jessen has influenced my thinking, kept me engaged (even when I want to curl up under a blanket and read rather than post) and is one of the founders of Post Etmooc, a fellow zombie and a DS106 cooking partner.

Little did I know when I started Etmooc, that I would find a great educator to share the experience of immersing myself in multiple online communities. Sometimes I think that is the secret to collaborative learning; that of finding not necessarily like minded people, but people who are willing and giving of themselves, to share an exploratory journey fearlessly. Three years later I know I can send an email and ask, "Do you have time to do a radio show?" "Feel like being a zombie this weekend?" or a "I am swamped and can't make it!" and know that I will get an encouraging response. This has been especially important this year as I have not been engaged online as much as in the past. Knowing that I can still reach out, even after a few months of no contact, allows me to be present fully in both the physical and digital space without it impacting negatively on each other, without stressing about performance and participation. Once again, it comes down to remaining engaged positively and keeping a good life balance.

Thank you Rhonda for that positive engagement!

Rhonda Jessen in Sydney, Australia

Tuesday, 17 November 2015

Etmooc Third Anniversary Challenge Part 1

So Susan has sent us all a challenge.

My first selection is Alan Levine and his post All A-mazing.

Why this post and this Etmoocer?

First because this post speaks to me about the importance, not just of elementary teachers and the first years at school, but the power of setting goals for students and demonstrating that you, as a teacher, believe that every student can succeed and meet goals with support, encouragement and love. I truly believe that this magic formula works. I saw it happen in the schools I taught in. I also saw when it didn't happen, when teachers didn't embrace the joy of learning, or as the blog mentions, when teachers have discouraging, self-defeating outlooks about their students.

Students all know when you don't think much of them.

Second, Alan Levine was a presenter in Etmooc and introduced us all to DS106. I'd like to say that I DS106 everyday (I don't, wish I did!) but I value the time I do spend on any project with fellow DS106ers, particularly radio projects! He has been generous with his time to his students and fellow DS106ers and is a living, breathing embodiment of all of the great qualities a teacher should have. Thank you Alan.

Finally, this post struck a chord with me because I didn't have a Miss Apple Daisy of a teacher for Grade 1, in fact I had one of the discouraging types of teachers. I never have forgotten her name. And maybe it is time I say "thank you" to Mrs. Lynch because I have made sure throughout my teaching career (and all of its twists and turns) that I teach in a positive, uplifting manner and respect my students and their learning.

Sunday, 15 March 2015

#Noir106 and #NoirDS106Players present "Fatal Femmes"

Now from the look of my blog since the beginning of 2015 you would think that I have been cocooned during the coldest winter in years (at least here in Ontario, Canada) far away from the keyboard but in fact, I have been busy writing, writing, writing. And what makes it so fun is the collaborative nature of the project. In January, I started hearing about #noir106, a new version of #headless106, just with a different theme. Now I am not fond of Gimp and this laptop doesn't have Fireworks on it, so I actually don't make a lot of gifs anymore, but I do so love radio. And I like using Audacity even though I know Garageband is far superior (but not free). And I love to write. So I emailed quite a few people who I have worked with in the past and said "How about a #noir106 radio show?" And everyone signed up. I created a working document in Google Docs with a timeline for when things had to be done. We knew we had to have it done for the week of March 9th to coincide with the students who were enrolled in #noir106. No time limit on the length of the show and no rules about what we were going to put up. That's it.

The amazing benefits of working this way was that we used a single document, that could be edited over and over again. We had a brainstorming section, where new ideas could be added and subtracted. Ben Rimes suggested a noir radio play and did a huge amount of voicework, Rochelle Lockridge ended up being the overall executive producer, Christina Hendricks wanted to do some writing and soundwork but ended up doing so much more, Mariana Funes wanted to work on voiceovers, commercials and more (and did), Rhonda Jessen was committed to the cooking show and of course we had the blessings of IamTalkyTina. This is the benefit of synergy. We all brought energy, ideas and knowledge to the project. And more people. Before I knew it the project had grown to include Jim Groom, Kevin Hodgson, Ronald L, Rhonda's husband Tom, John Johnston, Nigel Robertson with original music provided by the Headless Inkspots, Viv Rolfe and David Kernohan. And it is all original content.

For me, watching Blond Ice was the key to moving the project along. Until I saw the movie, I really was unsure about how I was going to approach the whole topic of noir. I ended up writing a song that evening to send to Nanalou Burgeron to record, then researching and doing more reading on the whole noir phenomena after WWII, particularly the role of women in noir. I ended up writing the radio play "Three Fingers of Gin"with help from my sister Angela Ludbrook and my son Peter Young, while Mariana and I collaborated on the DS106 on the Couch piece. Then it was on to writing the commercials and the cooking show. Luckily, Rochelle Lockridge produced the radio play and Christina Hendricks was in charge of the foley so you will notice how wonderfully high end the radio show sounds. Ben Rimes as Jack and Talky Tina as Daphne de Beauvior were amazing.

Here is the poster for the

radio show according to Talky Tina.

Mariana also made a great poster showing her mastery of the gif.

But Rochelle had a slightly different cover of the play which I think has the actual title displayed correctly.
The great thing about how the show worked was how well we worked as a team, even though we live in different places in the world, in different time zones and all of us are very busy. And it was done on time and I hope without anyone feeling pressured. There was of course a minor contract dispute but when one of the players is the star, egos start to get in the way. It was quickly resolved.

On a side note, I find it interesting that roles espoused to women during the late 40's and into the early 60's in cinema have had such a long term impact on how North American culture still perceives women, their work and their level of participation in society. The echo of the "domestic goddess is a good girl and women of ambition are bad" is still reverberating through our society and I fear will continue to echo for many years yet. It certainly was a factor in my own life, one I fought against for many years and still fight against. When I was young it was more overt, but while it may not be as explicit, it is still there. It demonstrates the power of the spoken word, visual images and media to bring about change for both good or ill.

As for the complete show it will be on DS106Radio "Fatal Femmes" scheduled for 3/23/15 at 9PM EDT. Hope you tune in for a listen!