My lesson for today from my 8 year old :)

I was Inspired to start using SocialCam by Rodd Lucier @thecleversheep and Darren Kuropatwa @dkuropatwa :)

3 April 2013 ·

Getting started with #etmooc

I posted my introduction in the google + community but it was just about me professionally which isn’t usually how I like to describe myself…

I am a mom to beautiful 8 year old Kyla and partner to a teacher/writer/outdoor adventurer Kevin as well as a host/friend to a lovely Springer spaniel Ellie. I am a learner, runner, friend, co-conspirator, early-riser, live-music fan, red wine drinking, like to laugh til my stomach hurts kind of girl whose heart belongs to the east coast…

I HAVE been on a learning journey that finds me here hoping to connect, learn and share - HI :)

14 January 2013 ·

Why Technology Training for Faculty is a waste of time… (not really… but…)

The title of this blog post caught my eye for obvious reasons… via onlinelearninginsights

The title drew me in and the post itself reminded me of the conversations we’ve had in meetings last week as well as a theme that has been coming up repeatedly for the past several weeks (or months). Technology of technology sake is not the answer, technology training needs to be accompanied by instruction that shows faculty how to incorporate tools to enhance learning.

The blog post is generally talking about institutional use of the LMS (Learning Management Systems such as Blackboard, Moodle, Desire2Learn etc.,) and the research used in the post rings true with our own use of our LMS. Our use of the LMS is mostly for administrative purposes such as posting notes, conducting assessments, submission of assignments etc., We need to focus more on the pedagogical purposes for using the LMS. Administrative use of the LMS is not wrong but we need to take our use of it further… as well as incorporate other technology and tools in more meaningful and purposeful ways.

I like that the shift in focus (in this post and in our conversations) is not on the how to use it, but the why to use it, and to take it further the why to use it in a much more deliberate and meaningful way…

Food for though for moving forward, especially as we evaluate and choose a new institutional LMS. I’ll finish off with this final quote from the post…

"Too often training is ineffective, is one-dimensional focusing on only one aspect, either technical or pedagogical skills. Both are need to support and develop faculty in becoming an instructor that is relevant and skilled in knowing when and how to use ed tech tools appropriately and effectively."

12 November 2012 ·

Today is “Retreat day”… words of the day are effective teams and transformation…

Today is our Centre for Teaching and Learning Retreat day… we don’t normally set aside one whole day at this very busy time of the year but we are starting off a year with a larger team, a strategic initiative (College e-learning strategy which focuses on blended learning), and a focus on transforming teaching and learning practices.

Hving new members join our team along with a new (renewed) focus prompted us to think of this as a fresh start… why not focus on that and celebrate it together…

A colleague and I (I’ll call her Pauline :) planned the day and we decided to start with team building but in a strategic and focused way.

We assigned pre-work for the day - all participants had to complete their own DiSC personal profile using their workbook. This system starts with assigning a response focus which will be workplace/work focus.

I recently completed my DiSC profile and it was both an uncomfortable and a revealing task. Apparently I’m a “Persuader”… and like any type of personal profiling… I don’t like the definitions and words associated with this particular type… but I guess I am what I am…

We invited a facilitator who uses the profiling system with her students in her “Developing Effective Teams” course to join us and we will spend the morning learning about the system and why it is an effective tool when developing personal awareness that can be used in/by teams to effectively work together.

We chose to start our year this way because of a very recent experience.

I had the priviledge this summer to work on a blended learning course redesign project with the team of faculty who teach “Developing Effective Teams” and they used their profiles openly as part of the design process/project work. When working through the course redesign and working through the big questions they would use their profiles and their unique attitudes and behaviours to both challenge and support each other. It allowed them discuss, struggle, debate, move ahead and redesign their course in a very productive and meaningful way. It was a very powerful and enlightening experience for me.

While in the experience I kept thinking about why some project teams ‘work’ and why others ‘fail’ or do not get completed. I thought about the nature of teams and the fact that many times we don’t get to pick the teams we work on and that behaviour, attitudes and beliefs effect teams in very different ways.

I know that none of this is rocket science but the experience gave me lots of time to pause and think about the fact that the ability to effectively work in teams was not a skill that we paid a lot of attention too professionally but that it was the ability or inability to effectively work together that has the biggest impact on whether a project was successful (which usually meant completed) or not…


Since we were expanding our team, had a strategic focus which meant that new AND old team members were going to be working with a variety of teams that ranged in size (schools, programs, disciplines, teaming teams and individuals) and that if we focused attention on the importance on developing effective teams skills (and continued to practice them) then we would have a better rate of success in achieving our goals…. not to mention a more rewarding and meaningful work environment.

I am very excited to start our new academic year off with this focus and I think it will allow us to continue to develop these very important skills/strategies and help us move forward and transform both as a teaching and learning unit and with our strategic focus of transforming our teaching and learning practices to more learner centred.

The rest of the day with be introducing our ‘Student Centred Blended Learning Course Design’ learning experience that we will be facilitating/experiencing/documenting with our teaching and learning team over the next few months… more on that here later…

31 August 2012 ·

What seemed like a simple request…

Late August is a busy busy time of the year in education. There is lots of hustle and bustle to get courses, spaces and technology organized for the start of the new year.

Yesterday I recieved a pretty typical request by email for some help that at first appeared to be about how to make better use of our college LMS (Learning Management System). I replied back that I did have some time and would he like to chat a bit more about what his thoughts and ideas were…

This was his reply back…

"I’ve been thinking about curriculum design, how I can design courses more effectively, what new tools I can incorporate, how I can use WebCT to engage students more, how I can better understand the tools students are used to using from their digital world (I’m pretty foreign with this) and how this could be more of an engaging experience for the learner and how we get learners supporting their learning process. I know this is pretty generic, but I guess I’m trying to explore where is it I’m going in this digital world and how do I do curriculum design differently through these tools.

I’m not thinking so much for September but more about growing my understanding/awareness and then going from there. I really am quite a low skilled person in this area.”

This reply put a grin on my face… and I quickly dashed off this response:

I love that you are looking at the big picture … we can chat this afternoon but maybe won’t go into anything specific… once you’ve decided on what you want to do (active learning, reflective practice, whatever…) we can choose tools to best support what it is you want to do… how does that sound?? Do you want to get together around 1pm??

Then this happened…

Thanks Alana,There’s a part of me that feels quite shy about this. I’m thinking, I’ve been here for 25 years, this should be “stuff” I just know. Please know how grateful I am for your time. I’ll pop on down around 1:00. See you then!


Many of our long standing faculty feel this way… He used the word shyness but for most it feels like fear (speaking from personal experience)… it was a good reminder for me regarding where some of the barriers to incorporating technology into good teaching practices come from…

But it also got me thinking of the reasons why this is the case for so many? Is it:

1. Years of cuts to PD budgets - undermining the value of workplace learning/currency
2. PD models haven’t changed to model new practices (workshops)
3. Not using technology, services, web to learn personally? No context as a learner?
4. time to play? negative perceptions about playing with technology?
5. lack of transparent modelling of use with learners, in the classroom, online
6. lack of value for educational technology? (too many years of technical problems in the classroom creates suspicion??)

Change can start with a question, a conversation, an idea but in order for change to occur action needs to take place.

Looking forward to seeing what happens next…

22 August 2012 ·

About Me and My Blog

I have worked a long time in post-secondary education and all of it has taken place at Sir Sandford Fleming College. My role for the past 12 years has primarily been part of course and program design teams to develop blended/online learning opportunities for full and part-time learners as a learning technology specialist (the postion has evolved over the years from web production technologist, elearning technologist to learning technology specialist).

I facilitate workshops, informal learning sessions, and answer any question that is directed my way :)

I am currently completing my Bachelor's of Adult Education at the University of Brock (one credit to complete).

I'm also a very proud mother and wife. My family are my barometer and the means by which I measure my balance.

Follow me on Twitter: @AlanaCallan