OER at the University of Calgary

The Pilot Project was announced in March 2017 at UCalgary Open Education Week, with the call for proposals being released in July 2017. Workshops were held for academic staff interested in obtaining an OER grant. In late August 2017, the UCalgary OER research assistant was hired and committee met and decided on the ten pilot project grant recipients. A list of the recipients and details of their projects can be found here. The project runs until June 30, 2018.

Source: OER at the University of Calgary | UCalgary OER

We’ve been running our Open Educational Resources pilot project for 6 months now, and have a diverse group of profs and students building OERs for 10 courses in a wide range of disciplines. Funds for these pilot projects were provided by our Provost, through our Vice Provost Teaching and Learning. University-funded projects that will reach many students in the next few months.

The cool thing is there are 10 other projects (or more?) that happened outside of the pilot project. Some with Alberta OER funding, some with funding from elsewhere. So, 20 OER projects at one university, building resources to improve learning and reduce costs for students. Love it. Can’t wait to see the UCalgary OER   showcase as part of Open Education Week 2018. A lot has happened in a year!

The Tyranny of Convenience – The New York Times

A good article by Tim Wu in the New York Times, on the effects of convenience.

Convenience has the ability to make other options unthinkable.


Yet our taste for convenience begets more convenience, through a combination of the economics of scale and the power of habit. The easier it is to use Amazon, the more powerful Amazon becomes — and thus the easier it becomes to use Amazon. Convenience and monopoly seem to be natural bedfellows.

(Extend that line of thought to Twitter/Facebook vs. individually owned websites distributed across the internet as a heterogeneous and diverse culture of sharing and interacting…)


We are spoiled by immediacy and become annoyed by tasks that remain at the old level of effort and time. When you can skip the line and buy concert tickets on your phone, waiting in line to vote in an election is irritating.


Source: The Tyranny of Convenience – The New York Times


This is why blogging largely died out (Alan pointed out in the comments that blogging has definitely not died out, and that there are still bajillions of active blogs. Which is awesome. But it still feels different now, to my curmudgeonish self) , replaced with tweeting. This is why RSS largely died out, (also, not so much actually dying out…) replaced with algorithmic activity streams. Because it’s easier to just numbly follow a stream. This has huge implications on how we interact with each other, and how we formalize our thoughts. It’s a race to the bottom, to the easiest possible form.

On living without social media

Well, mostly. I’ve been mostly without Twitter for a couple of months now. I haven’t had a Facebook account for much longer than that. I stopped Instagramming when Facebook bought them. I’ve deleted the Twitter apps from my devices, and now if I want to check in I have to use the browser. Not having notifications or easy launching of a stream adds a bit of friction. I also have 2-factor authentication enabled, and logout after checking in, so dropping into twitter is deliberately kind of a pain in the ass. I only post to Twitter via auto-tweeting from my blog when I post here.

What I’ve noticed recently is that I’m also living without the hot-take. I don’t feel like I need to post my cleverest reaction to everything, nor am I interested in everyone else’s cleverest reactions to everything. I find I’m thinking with less snark. I’m being less sarcastic in general. And I think that has something to do with withdrawing from the hot-take snark-and-sarcasm streams on social media.

I read more. I follow more people via RSS1, and I’m really digging NewsBlur as a feed aggregator/reader.

Where my day previously was basically “constantly check twitter. Put the phone down. Pick it up. Forget why. Check twitter. Repeat. All. Day. Long.” It’s now “check email, check feeds in NewsBlur, check the Times to see if Agent Orange has done something dangerously stupid, check Reddit to see interesting things in the subs I subscribe to. Done.”

That last part, “Done.”, is huge. My entire online checkin might take me 10 minutes. Maybe twice a day. And then I can be done with The Internet™ and walk away and do more interesting things. I am no longer concerned about Being Right on the Internet™, nor of correcting Those Who Are Wrong on the Internet™. Or feeding (or avoiding) the sociopathological trolls2. Who cares? Life is way too short to spend time worrying about that kind of nonsense.


  1. and wish more people were publishing interesting and thoughtful things on blogs or whatever, rather than tweeting into the wind []
  2. eg. this guy, among others []

decommissioning a campus wiki

Wiki.ucalgary.ca is the longest-running learning technology platform at the University of Calgary – I launched it back in December 2004, and it’s been chugging along for over 13 years. It’s a teenager. Generations old, in internet time.

It started with a blank copy of Mediawiki, and an edit button. Over 13 years, 1,871 pages were created (for everything from faculties and departments, to collaboratively published articles for student projects to resources for organizing courses and programs). 71,393 edits were made (many of those were reverting spam attacks, however).

But, it’s time to put the wiki out to pasture. The activity over the last decade has been tapering off, and now edits are few and far between. The time for this campus wiki has passed.

Although it was used quite heavily in the early days, the wiki has stayed as a project supported and managed by myself. Which obviously isn’t sustainable (even though that horribly irresponsible hosting service has outlasted every other platform hosted by the university for academic use… UCalgaryBlogs.ca is a close second – I launched the first iteration of that service as weblogs.ucalgary.ca back in March 2005!)

So. I’ve made a static copy of the wiki, and will be decommissioning the PHP/MySQL “live” version. I’ll leave the static copy up until the internet is no longer a thing, but without the overhead of managing a server, updating software, and scanning for vulnerabilities and spam.