2015 week 4 in review




I took Friday off to go skiing with Evan, and we had an amazing day. We had the hill to ourselves for the first 2 runs. So good.

eye opener

2015 week 3 in review


  • planning what the EDU needs to find out regarding physical learning spaces across campus – formal, informal, f2f, blended, online. We need to build an inventory of what we have, how it’s used, what people would like to do, and where gaps exist. Then, we can smush that together with scholarship of teaching and learning, institutional priorities, funding, etc… to help plan things.
  • starting to plan a campus engagement regarding lecture capture – I hate the phrase lecture capture, so I’ll eventually be calling it something else. Lecture Capture implies that all an instructor1 needs to do is press “record”2, and they are magically innovating and engaging as online rock stars. No. That’s uninteresting. It’s part of it – the ability to record classroom presentations can be useful, but I’d rather frame the whole thing as a media production platform that lets anyone (instructors, students, staff, others) record, publish and share their stuff without needing multi-thousand-dollar appliances or high end equipment. We’ll be working with people across campus to find out how to do that.
  • I’m trying to find out if students use the D2L “Content Browser” widget, which is handy, but doesn’t show all content so things get lost (if a prof posts a syllabus to the Overview section, which seems like the best place to do that, the widget can’t display it, and students then think the prof hasn’t posted the syllabus at all. Hilarity ensues.) D2L: the Content Browser widget in 10.3.x needs some serious love. It’s incomplete and therefore confusing or worse.
  • Still working with Dublabs on the next version of the D2L mobile app. It’s getting closer, but isn’t quite where it needs to be in order to replace the version that’s live now. Currently, the new version of the app can’t display content in a course. Which is kind of important.
  • Thanks to Tim Owens, I’m playing around with Sandstorm.io – this has HUGE potential to let folks spin up tools as needed to support teaching and learning (and other important stuff). Jim Groom writes about it. Unfortunately, our campus runs an older version of Linux, so we can’t readily deploy it ourselves. Looking into better options for my group to be able to spin stuff up without hitting that obstacle.



Not a lot. It’s been a busy week. Got out skiing with Evan to Nakiska, for Ski Day #9 of the season (so far). Super windy day. Super crowded. But we had a blast. (see the DFW commencement video – thinking differently about crowds and obstacles really does help).

nakiska bluebird day

  1. it’s always an Instructor []
  2. or, better yet, have it automatically scheduled so they don’t even have to do that []

2015 week 2 in review


  • Still working with DubLabs to get our updated D2L mobile app working with UofC CAS authentication etc…. This has taken a long time. Hoping the end result is worth it – we have a working mobile app (built with the original D2L-built Campus Life platform), but that product was phased out by D2L1, to be replaced by the DubLabs-powered service. Seriously unimpressed by how this transition has been communicated and handled.
  • Did the first “intro to my course” video, which will eventually be used as a way for (primarily online) instructors to put brief “Hi! This is me, and here’s some stuff that’s going to be awesome in my course/research/etc…”. The first video was mostly to do a full cycle of planning/shooting/editing/publishing, and it worked out pretty well. I’d do a few things differently, mostly in composing the framing of the shot (I’d tilt the camera down a bit more next time, for less dead space above the instructor, and be more mindful of lines in the background).
  • Edited and posted Reclaiming Educational Technology: Higher Ed and Startup Culturesall 4 videos are available, and now I need to work on a super-cut edit that pulls the bits of all topics together. Worked with Pearson to integrate their stuff into our D2L environment. And, on the same day, consulted with an instructor who is putting together an OER grant. I’m hoping that balanced things out enough…


My take is that commercial mooc platforms’ goal is to disrupt higher education, and institutions that blindly signed on to their platforms basically signed oaths of fealty and subservience. well done.

Stuff from Twitter:


  • apparently, tobogganing on non-City-managed hills is illegal in Calgary. And has been for a couple of years now. Seriously? I think I’ll walk across the street to break the law with all of the scofflaw kids sliding down the local non-Official hill.
  • ski day #8 of the 2014/2015 season. Another great day at Nakiska.
  1. who let us know about this through sending us a surprise contract modification to sign, which was the first we’d heard of DubLabs, or that Campus Life was being outsourced. Something that might have come up at the D2L Fusion conference, but apparently didn’t. []

EFF on online harassment

The Electronic Freedom Foundation is taking on online harassment as a serious barrier to freedom of speech:

Just because the law sometimes allows a person to be a jerk (or worse) doesn’t mean that others in the community are required to be silent or to just stand by and let people be harassed. We can and should stand up against harassment. Doing so is not censorship—it’s being part of the fight for an inclusive and speech-supporting Internet.


Trolls and online mobs, almost by definition, are groups that are skilled in efficiently directing concentrated fire against others. That means that voices that are facing harassment can be the ones ejected from online discussion, as the weight of the mob makes it look like they are the ones who are radical and outside the mainstream. To find examples of this, one need only look to the governments—such as China, Israel and Bahrain—that employ paid commenters to sway online opinion in their favor. And of course, there are plenty of trolls willing to do it for free.

and some concrete recommendations:

  • More powerful, user-controlled filtering of harassing messages. There are plenty of ideas already for how sites could allow more configurable blocking. If platforms aren’t willing to provide these solutions, they should open up their platforms so that others can.
  • Better ways for communities to collectively monitor for harassing behavior and respond to it— rather than, as now, placing the burden on individuals policing their own social media streams.
  • Automated tools that let people track and limit the availability of personal information about them online (including public sources of data), to better allow themselves to defend themselves against threats of doxxing.
  • Tools that allow targets of harassment to preserve evidence in a way that law enforcement can understand and use. Abuse reports are currently designed for Internet companies’ internal processes, not the legal system.
  • Improved usability for anonymity and pseudonymity-protecting tools. When speakers choose to be anonymous to protect themselves from offline harassment, they should be able to do so easily and without deep technical knowledge.

I’m hopeful that things are starting to shift away from trolls holding all of the power. That’s already poisoned online discourse for many, and done far worse for some.

Reclaiming Educational Technology: flexible and open

Episode 3 of Reclaiming Educational Technology, looking at the transition from monolithic vendor-provided enterprise solutions to more flexible and adaptive projects. Some of the segments are also used in episodes 1 and 2, but in order for this to work as a standalone piece, needed to be re-included here as well. When I do a longer supercut version, I’ll remove the duplicate clips.

Reclaiming Educational Technology – episode 3 from UCalgary Taylor Institute on Vimeo.

My top posts of 2014

After consulting the available stats and readership metrics, I compiled the following likely-comprehensive list:

  1. I don’t know.
  2. I have no idea.
  3. Who tracks this kind of stuff?
  4. Seriously? Stats are bogus anyway.
  5. LOL stats don’t tell you anything about what’s important.

2015 week 1 in review


This was the first time in a few years where I actually took time off during the christmas break. Last year, it was in the height of LMS implementation and transition. The year before that, writing up the LMS RFP report. The year before that, another Big Important Report™ that I don’t think was actually read. Anyway. Took 2 weeks off over Christmas, and did almost no official work. Wow.

I did do some more testing on our Canon G30 video camera, to prep for a brief shoot next week. What an amazing camera. Deeply impressed, and hoping to put it to lots of use this year. Also, tested out the mini-boom-mic (with Dead Cat Technology™1 ), and the wireless lapel microphone2.

I snuck into the office for the afternoon on New Years Day, to work on the edits for episode 2 of Reclaiming Educational Technology – this one focuses on the DTLT group at University of Mary Washington, and looks into their long history of serial awesomeness and innovation and awesomeness. I honestly don’t know how to classify this project. Is it work-related? Extra-curricular? Some funky hybrid? It feels like the most important thing I’ve done in awhile, regardless.

Anyway. Episode 2 is online now. 28 minutes of UMW awesomeness.


Mostly just channelling Stephen Downes. Highlights:

  • Google’s Philosopher – “The idea of an identity that is not simply the body has a long history, and in today’s networked and digital age, it makes more than merely spiritual sense.”
  • When it comes to Education and Technology, “Efficiency” is not the point – “The course was inefficient, and so is the online course, but what tech allows us to do is to get away from the course entirely.”
  • http://www.downes.ca/post/63245 – “David Wiley takes a look at MOOCs (well, xMOOCs) and concludes that the are really no different from traditional online courses, except for the branding. And the significant change, he argues, is that the platform not takes top billing while the institutions are second fiddle.”

and, in non-Downes-OLDaily-ness:


Not much. Wound up being too cold to do much skiing this week. Yeah. Wussed out. Got out for 1 day, but it was unbelievably crowded, and the main lift went out of order. So we left after 1 (awesome) run. More ski days asap.

Spent some time pulling the 2014/365photos set together and publishing it with the rest of them.

Movie marathon of the week: Terminator 1, 2, and 3.

  1. does not actually involve dead cats, (un)fortunately. []
  2. which, sadly, does not involve Dead Cat Technology™ []

2014 Week 52 in Review


Kevin did a soft-launch of the UCalgaryBadges platform, using Mozilla Backpack as the badge framework. But, it’s down at the moment (keep reading re: campus network overhaul).

Not much else – was only in the office on Monday, then off work until January 5. And, with campus networks down for a comprehensive overhaul, I can’t even open my calendar to see what I did that day. Also, no support requests, because all campus systems are down (including elearning platforms and email – so, nothing to break, and no way to complain about it. aaaaah…)

Screen Shot 2014 12 28 at 9 43 16 AM



We spent christmas in Kananaskis country, staying in Kananaskis Village for 4 days. Super busy with lots of excited short people, but we had a blast. Also, skied for 4 days straight. Awesome.

2014 Week 51 in Review


  • had several meetings with instructors and dean-type-people in different faculties this week. Lots of interesting ideas for projects, and more interestingly, lots of interest in building up communities and communities-of-practice around many topics – including learning technologies, development, learning spaces, content creation, etc… Great stuff. Can’t wait to help support those communities (and more)!
  • Met with a prof who has taught herself how to produce screencasts to create videos for use in her courses. Love it. Gave her some (very minor) tips, and set her up with a better mic and webcam to use. Can’t wait to see what she comes up with.
  • getting lots of interest on campus, from people who are putting together proposals to present at the 2015 University of Calgary Conference on Learning and Teaching – which is shaping up to be a really fantastic event (again).
  • mid-year reviews with my team. so good. best team ever.
  • visited the video game collection at the TFDL to. um. research the history of interaction design. with the team. cough So good. Fired up an Intellivision, slid in the plastic controller sheets, and fired up Skiing.

intelligent television from D'Arcy Norman on Vimeo.



  • got to visit the ER on Friday. The Boy™ is OK, and it was thankfully nothing, but dang.
  • no skiing this week. likely going 3 or 4 times in the next week, though. can’t wait.

something something charlie