Innovation in Teaching & Learning

My practice as an educator has gained remarkable attention throughout North America and in parts of South America and Europe. I have become an internationally recognized educator specifically in the commitment to and development of open teaching methodologies and open access courses. The following paragraphs will outline some of these innovative approaches.

Graduate Teaching – EC&I 831

1) Open Teaching: EC&I 831 (Social Media & Open Education) became one of the first truly open courses available world-wide. The course went beyond the more typical open content approach to open courses (where content was made available via open courseware projects) and gave non-credit students access to course instruction and events for the explicit purpose of improving the educational experience of for-credit students. These students immersed themselves in an authentic, networked learning environment where they connected to passionate, expert educators/life-long learners. As an instructor, my role become one of connecting learners to experts and assisting students in developing sustainable, learning networks that would extend beyond the typical time-served model of a course. As an example of the model’s success, we currently have students who took the course two years ago who are still attending sessions, providing expertise, and mentoring current students. For these students, “the course never ended”.

Another important indicator of success is the global reach of the course. In 2009, over 250 non-credit students registered, and many more participate “under the radar”. I have taken the registration data and mapped the visualization found below. You may drag and resize the map to see a larger image.

The course utilized social media and software in unique and meaningful ways, appropriately and consistent of the content covered in the course. Prominent examples include:

  • The use of wikis and blogs vs. a content management system to create a publicly open space.
  • The development of student personal blog spaces to give students control of their own learning artifacts and response systems. These blogs were collected, aggregated, and shared with other educators for comment and were widely read by global educators. (see feed here).
  • The collaboration of the course reading list via a Delicious tag to allow students and invited experts to recommend relevant, timely resources.
  • Synchronous, weekly sessions from expert presenters from around the world. All sessions were archived (in several formats) and open to the public. (see archive)
  • The use of a shared tag via Twitter, Youtube, Flickr, and other social media services so that all content from all participants could be easily aggregated and searched. (see example and more info)
  • The shared and continued development of a social media site ( built by all participants as a resource to assist future students and others interested in social media and open education.
  • The sharing of microlectures on various subjects as an experimental, proof of concept activity.

Many other innovations can be found on the official course wiki for EC&I 831: Social Media & Open Education.

2) Digital Field Experiences: I have recently worked with Dean Shareski to provide digital field experiences (mentorships) to our ECMP 355 students. Our program prides itself our in-province field experience opportunities, but I also believe that it is important to expose our students to ‘best practice’ and passionate teaching in schools situated across the planet. ECMP students, therefore, have had the opportunity of pairing with global classrooms and using technology to provide online mentoring to K12 students. View the web sign-up form to get a sense of the range of teachers who participate in the project. I would also suggest viewing Dean’s blog post on the subject which gives a sense of the type of environment, skills, and mindset we are trying to establish through such collaboration.

Digital Mentorship

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