Last week was the first week of the Animation MOOC that I am taking from Adobe. It was introduction week, with an orientation to the course structure and format, and a few readings and viewings to get us thinking about animation.

A little too judgemental?

This week has made me realize is that I am much harder on myself and on the course during xMOOCs. Design flaws that I would ignore in other contexts, attract my attention and frustration. I was so distracted by the fact that the time of the first synchronous session was formatted exactly like the rest of the hyperlinks on the page, but wasn’t a hyperlink, I had trouble understanding when the session was scheduled.

I was so caught up in the linear “complete A before you complete B” structure of the course that I was drawn up short when I was unable to submit my assignment. Since I had completed all of the work that was presented before the assignment except the “optional office hours” synchronous session which isn’t until tonight, it seemed to me like I needed to attend the optional session in order to get a submit button appear on my assignment page. I checked with a classmate, it turns out that we need to complete 3 peer evaluations before we are able to submit our own assignment. Since they were listed after the assignment in the outline, it never occurred to me that I needed to complete them before I was able to hand in my assignment.

Every other online course I have ever participated in as a student or teacher, you have had to submit your assignments before you are allowed to do any peer editing. What a totally different model. I wonder if I am going to be able to get over my resistance to this different format in order to evaluate the effect that it has on the course and on me as a participant?

If the course had been structured in any other way, I would probably have poked around until I figured out what I needed to do in order to hand in my assignment. Because it is an xMOOC I assume I am not going to understand or it is going to be hard to figure out if I have difficulty.

Hmm. My expectations are getting in the way of my experiencing the course. I hope I am able to let that go so it doesn’t get in the way of my learning.

Great Readings/Viewings

I really enjoyed two of the readings/viewings this week. I loved the film Animando by Marcos Magalhães. Watching it was a blast from the past; it’s one of the National Film Board shorts that I remember watching when I was young. It would be a great way to introduce different types of animation to students. I also really enjoyed Brain Pickings Post about 5 Early Animators. I love early animation, and I loved watching the film by Georges Méliès after reading about it in Brian Selzniak’s wonderful novel Hugo.

Related Links
Kelly Kermode shared the link to some fantastic stop motion videos that play with our perceptions of wood by Andre Maan.

I also remembered a recent tweet with a simple way to set up a green screen iPad studio.

iPad Green Screen idea

iPad Green Screen idea

I am looking forward to week 2. I’ll try not to be so hard on the course structure.

This is my Daily Create for TDC826:

The sun

Make a picture of the light of the sun. Do not picture the sun itself. Capture the light.

The Sun

The Sun

Tom cleaned the bathroom.

It snowed last night.

The cat went outside.

The cat came inside.

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Today’s Daily Create is Pizza in the Wild. Fortunately Tom called Pizza night tonight and made his famous dough. Here is my vegetarian beauty just before I put it in the oven.

My pizza before it went in the oven

My pizza before it went in the oven

And here are the leftovers after dinner.

The left overs

The left overs

Yesterday Jasmine took Tom and I on a great walk through two parks named after the Famous Five and along both sides of the North Saskatchewan River Valley. We started at Henrietta Edwards Park near the Muttart Conservatory and cross the river along the Cloverdale Footbridge.

Downtown Edmonton from the Cloverdale Pedestrian Bridge

Downtown Edmonton from the Cloverdale Pedestrian Bridge

We explored the Trans Canada Trail pavilion before continuing on the Trans Canada Trail along the Riverfront Promenade.

The Trans Canada Trail Pavillion

The Trans Canada Trail Pavillion

I loved the lamp post poetry, and the fact that there were poems in both English and French.

Lamp post poetry on Riverfront Promenade

Lamp post poetry on Riverfront Promenade

It seems strange to see the Queen Elizabeth Riverboat frozen in the ice, but with the warmer weather it should melt out soon.

The Queen Elizabeth Riverboat, with the University in the background

The Queen Elizabeth Riverboat, with the University in the background

We could have taken the stairs up to the Shumka Stage. The snow has melted from them and they would be much less treacherous than the when I took them a month ago.

The stairs to the Shumka Stage

The stairs to the Shumka Stage

Instead we continued to Riverfront Plaza where we grabbed a hot chocolate before continuing along the Riverfront Promenade to the Low Level Bridge. It was much noisier crossing the river on the Low Level than it had been on the Cloverdale overpass but I love the lines of both bridges.

The Low Level Bridge

The Low Level Bridge

Once we crossed to the south side of the river we were back in Henrietta Edwards Park. We had a great view of downtown, and the teepees set up for the Truth and Reconciliation Commission at the Shaw Conference Centre.

Downtown Edmonton and the Shaw Conference Centre

Downtown Edmonton and the Shaw Conference Centre

Our final stop on the walk was Rafter’s Landing, where there was a lot of evidence of beavers but no sign of the beavers themselves.

Beaver chewed stump and the Cloverdale Footbridge

Beaver chewed stump and the Cloverdale Footbridge

I love how lush Edmonton’s river valley’s are. There is always evidence of animals, and lots of bird song.
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I even saw some archeological evidence of and earlier Edmonton resident, the pulley from a long abandoned clothesline as we crossed over 98th avenue.

The pulley from a long abandoned clothesline

The pulley from a long abandoned clothesline

I has the pleasure of helping chaperone a trip to the Art Gallery of Alberta (the AGA) with my daughter’s grade 6 class yesterday. I had a great time!

We walked to the gallery from the school with two other classes. It was a short walk from Victoria school to Churchill Square, the weather was nice and the students were really well behaved.

I have only been inside the AGA a few times. It is a beautiful building with lots of sweeping lines and glass.

Lobby of the Art Gallery of Alberta

The entrance to the Art Gallery of Alberta

We arrived before the gallery opened to the public but there was already one other group in the lobby when we arrived. They quickly sorted us into smaller groups. I was really impressed with the AGA’s programming. The kids really enjoyed themselves and it was very well organized.

We spent our time in the exhibits by Jill Stanton, Lyndal Osborne, and Thomas Bewick. After giving the students a chance to explore Patrick, our guide, led the students in discussions about how perspective shapes our understanding and how we connect to art. Throughout the day the students sketched, took notes, and made great observations. I was impressed by their ability to discuss art technique and their ideas about the art and how it fit into the themes.

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The first piece we explored was a huge mural in the lobby Strange Dream by Edmonton artist Jill Stanton. The students loved the graffiti, comic book style and had some great suggestions when Patrick asked why they thought that only one section had been coloured.

It was great to see a local artist featured so prominently.

"Transitions" mural at 105 Street and 101 Ave

“Transitions” mural at 105 Street and 101 Ave





The doodle-like style and the contrast between greyscale and colour reminded me of one of my favourite downtown murals, Transitions.





Next we explored the wood block prints in Thomas Beswick’s Imagination Field Guide. I loved how the orderly precision of their display and their small size diverted my attention from the at times fantastical content of the prints.
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We followed the curvy circular stairs up to the third floor where we there was a retrospective of another Edmonton artist, Lyndal Osborne: Bowerbird, Life as Art, which included prints, sculpture and multi-component installations.
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Her prints and collection boxes were interesting and the students spent a lot of time exploring and discussing them but I loved her installations the most.
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The fantastical-landscape quality of her installations was mesmerizing.

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The students also loved exploring the Cabinets of Curiosity, and the cat that sleeps outside. One of them pointed out that it was curated by Lyndal Osborne, they discussed the similarities and differences between the collections with Patrick.
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After lunch the students painted small still-life paintings, which were much better than anything I could have done.
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They also used wire and clay to create sculptures based on the themes that they saw throughout the day. There wasn’t enough time to finish the sculptures, but I was impressed by how much the students did manage to complete in such a short time.
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My favourite pieces were part of Flora and Fauna: 400 Years of Artists inspired by nature. There was a spectrum of photography techniques dating back to the birth of photography with daguerrotype and silver prints. There was a composed wildflower scene I liked more the longer I looked at it. Fortunately the students spent some time sketching in front of it so I had a lot of time to study it.

I also loved a bee photo that was created by leaving a scanner inside a bee hive. The small white spots in the foreground are pollen and wax. What a great way example of pushing the envelope with photography.

Bee Scan

Bee Scan

I’m looking forward to my next adventure with Victoria school of the Arts.

On Tuesday, March 18th, I hosted Post Etmooc‘s Twitter chat about Blogging. As always, it was a great conversation. There were familiar faces, a few I hadn’t seen in a while, and some new participants. I found the time to archive the chat, but it is going to take me much longer to dip into all of the blogs that were shared. I’m looking forward to some great reading.

I’ve archived the chat in Storify (below.) It can take a while to read all of the Tweets (there were about 300) but it’s a great way to catch up on the conversations I missed while hosting. The tweets fly by too fast to read them all during the chat. I tried to include all of the conversations while eliminating many of the retweets. I hope I haven’t missed anyone’s contributions.

Our next Post Etmooc event is a Hangout on April 29th about Student Mental Health, you can find out more about the hangout here. You can read more Post Etmooc conversations and posts here.

I taught a Lunch n Learn, Blogging 101, for The Centre for Global Education last Tuesday March 11th. There were more tech issues with my laptop than usual. I never did get the webcam working but after a few tense minutes I got the microphone working so I didn’t have to call Terry on the phone!

Here are my slides, and here is the archive of the session.

Yesterday we discovered Dawson Park, another of Edmonton’s beautiful riverside parks.

Downtown Edmonton from the Dawson Park Trail

Downtown Edmonton from the Dawson Park Trail

The girls loved exploring the hoodoos.
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We could see evidence of the Mazama Volcanic eruption in Oregon 7,000 years ago in the exposed cliffs.
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We have a a few more parks to explore.

Edmonton Riverside Parks

Edmonton Riverside Parks

Cape Hurd Sunset
Over the Christmas holidays I was given a Sunshine Blog Challenge Tanis Theissen and Julie Balen. I had a few too many things on my plate at the time to accept the challenge but life has slowed down a little bit and I have finally had a chance to reply. Sorry it has taken me so long Julie and Tanis, thanks for being patient while I caught up!

How It Works

1. Acknowledge the nominating blogger.
2. Share 11 random facts about yourself.
3. Answer the 11 questions the nominating blogger has created for you.
4. List 11 bloggers. They should be bloggers you believe deserve some recognition and a little blogging love!
5. Post 11 questions for the bloggers you nominate to answer and let all the bloggers know they have been nominated. (You cannot nominate the blogger who nominated you.)

11 Facts About Me

I Don’t Drive to Work
Ever since I got my first job in high school, I have rarely ever driven to work; I’ve been fortunate to be able to walk, bike, or take the bus. I don’t really like driving and I can’t imagine starting and ending every work day by driving in rush hour traffic in Edmonton. Fortunately I live so close to work that it would take me longer to warm up the car, shovel all of the snow off it and find parking than it does for me to hop on the bus.

I did drive to work for a few years when I lived in Canmore and worked in Banff. Have you driven the stretch of the Trans Canada highway between Canmore and Banff? It’s beautiful. There are mountain ranges on both sides, and the views change constantly as the light and the seasons change. It was more like a 20 minute meditation at the start and end of every day than a chore. Now there is a bus between the two towns, if I was still doing the commute I would prefer to take the bus and enjoy the views or dig into a book than drive myself.

20 years of wedded bliss
In September Tom and I celebrated our 20 year wedding anniversary. We had a heli-wedding, and were married in a beautiful ceremony at the top of Mt. Charles Stewart in Banff National Park. We’ve had a lot of adventures together and I couldn’t image the next 20 years without him.

Getting Married on top of Mt Charles Stewart

Getting Married on top of Mt Charles Stewart

I love gardening
I love gardening too Julie. When we moved from Innisfail to Edmonton, the first thing I moved to the new house was a mini van full of plants from my garden. The house in Innisfail was going to be empty so I figured they had a better chance of survival even with a mid-summer transplant than full out neglect. Many of them did survive but the tomatoes never really recovered.

It’s dark chocolate all the way!
I am very, very fond of dark chocolate but I can easily walk by most other chocolate without any temptation. Making almond bark for my friends has been a Christmas tradition since I was in university. Currently, my favourite chocolate bar is Lindt dark chocolate with caramel and sea salt.

I love living in Edmonton
I love living in Edmonton, despite the brutal winters and large mosquito population. Although I had visited Edmonton a lot before we moved here I didn’t realize what a vibrant, happening city it was. There is a fantastic art scene and a real let’s make it happen feeling that I love. Since we moved here, we have spent a lot of time exploring Edmonton and what it has to offer. There are too many events and festivals to take them all in. It’s a bit like like open learning opportunities.

I am a total nerd
Well, you might already know that one, it’s hard to tell because I have never met either of you personally. I took my first programming class in high school (hated it.) I started teaching computers when I worked for Parks Canada in Banff in the early 90s. I ran my own computer consulting company, Innovations, for ten years. I get a lot of satisfaction from helping people understand how their computers work and how to use them more effectively. I love teaching (and playing with) media, especially photography and video.

I love to travel
I have itchy feet and love to travel. It’s my dad’s fault, he was an airline pilot so my travels started early. I have done a fair amount of travel within Canada and internationally and worked in Norway and Portugal as well as 4 Canadian provinces.

My dad

My dad

I am bilingual
I am fluently bilingual in Canada’s two official languages, English and French. I am pretty good with languages. I also have a traveller’s command of Spanish, Portuguese and Norwegian. One of the things I love about working for Alberta Education is the fact that I get to talk French with co-workers every day.

I don’t carry a cell phone
I don’t carry a cell phone, I never really have. People seem to find this very strange. I love my iPad and am able to stay pretty well connected via WiFi but I am not interested in being available all of the time. I like being able to choose when I connect. I know that smart phones are great tools, but almost everyone I know that has a smart phone is a slave to it. I think because of the effectiveness of the alerts and how easy it is to stay connected to social media, the device rather than the user ends up driving the frequency of the interactions. People seem more distracted and distractible these days, Linda Stone calls it continuous partial attention. I am sure that before too long I’ll start carrying a smart phone. I hope that I’ll be able to approach it in a way that is more mindful than Pavlovian.

I love Farmers Markets
I’ve always bought as much of my produce as I can from Farmer’s Markets. Edmonton has a lot of great Markets. My favourites are the downtown market and my neighbourhood 124th Street Grand Market. I make a point of visiting markets whenever I travel. It’s such a great way to talk to locals and see what is available in the area.

A market in Macau

A market in Macau

I love the Olympics and the Paralympics
I love the Olympics and the whole Olympic movement. I’ve volunteered with the Special Olympics. I don’t watch many sports on TV but I am usually glued to the TV during the Olympics. It is such a great opportunity to watch a range of different sports and the athletes who compete in them. I saw Princess Ann compete when the Olympics were in Montreal.

I’m proud to report that Canadian Paralympic athletes won two gold and one bronze medal yesterday, the first day of the Sochi Paralympics.

The Questions

Tanis thiessen @tjthiessen was the first to give me a Sunshine Blog Nomination.

Tanis Tweeting about her Sunshine Post

Tanis Tweeting about her Sunshine Post

Here are her Questions.

1. First memory of school?
I really enjoyed school but one of my earliest memories is my kindergarden teacher telling that I was drawing my house wrong. Our house didn’t have the classic pitched roof, with two evenly sloped slides. Our roof had one slope, like a ski jump. One day when I was happily painting at the easel with my painting smock, my teacher, who had never seen my house, came over and told me I was drawing it wrong.

2. One thing to keep about current education system?
The passionate teachers who work so hard to make a difference for their students.

3. One thing to change about current education system?
So often it seems like the system is driving the system and decisions instead of the students. The system should work in support of the learning not the other way around. Things are changing. Teachers and students are working together across educational (and political) boundaries. School jurisdictions are rethinking what education is. It’s sure an exciting time to be working for Alberta Education.

4. Favourite site or app?
I would have to say Edutopia, I keep returning for their project-based learning resources. I also land there at least once month via a link in a blog or a Tweet that I’ve read.

5. Student who shifted your thinking?
I met Richard my first year teaching in Innisfail. He was great with computers, not so great at school. He built a working computer inside a water bottle at home in his spare time. He has really connected with the the previous computer teacher who had left the school a few years ago. When I met him he was adrift in the school, not really connecting to the subjects he was taking or getting any acknowledgement for the things that he was good at. I started a tech club; once it was up and running Richard and a few other students ran it while I took at back seat. Richard and the others flourished when they had an opportunity to share their expertise. Being thought of a leader by the younger students in the club changed how Richard thought of himself. It was a powerful lesson for me.

6. Leader who shifted your thinking?
My first boss at The Banff Centre for the Arts, Jed DeCory. He taught me boss management strategies that I use in group interactions to this day. Two of the things he taught me were to view things from the perspectives of the everyone at the table and not to bring him a problem unless I had at least one idea for a solution.

7. Coffee, tea, or water?
Tea of course, but I do carry around a metal water bottle too, this year it says make love not landfill. I don’t drink coffee but I think it smells really good. And yes please, I’ll have another cup of tea.

8. Retirement dream?
Opening a Bed and Breakfast or small hotel with Tom and the girls in an off the beaten track somewhere with a slightly more temperate climate.

9. Next year dream?
Getting the whole family settled in Edmonton. Tom has been commuting to back Bowden and staying part time in both places ever since we moved to Edmonton which has been hard on all of us. This is the year that things are going to work out for him to start working closer to home. In fact he just started a contract working in a kitchen in a high school here in Edmonton. It’s just a contract to start, but it looks like this dream might come true this year.

10. Why blog?
To share and clarify my thinking. Blogging helps me think things through and connect ideas. I also believe in sharing my learning, and the information and resources that I come across that I think would be useful for others. Blogging is an easy way to curate and share. I can do it from whatever computer or media device I am using. It doesn’t have to take a long time to write a post, although often it does take some time to work out my thoughts and how I am going to present them.

Blogging is a great way for students to share their learning and to connect with others (students, experts, classes) from other places. Its a great way to teach the art of conversation.

11. New year resolution?
I am always striving for balance. This year I am purposely disconnecting sometimes, and role modelling that for my daughters.

Shortly after Tanis posted her challenge Julie Balen posted this Sunshine Blogging Challenge.

Julie's Sunshine Blogging Challenge

Julie’s Sunshine Blogging Challenge

Here are Julie’s questions.

1. What does online learning mean for you?
Connections and possibilities.

2. What makes you laugh?
The unexpected, my family, my friends and co-workers.

3. Satellite vs. Netflix?
When I am alone, I could live for a long time without either. I love reading and listening to variations of Jazz music on AccuRadio. My husband is more of a TV watcher so it is often on in our house. We probably watch more satellite, but mostly shows that we have taped so that we can skip the commercials. We also like Netflix, I love being able to watch several episodes of a TV show in one sitting. Currently we are deep into House of Cards.

4. Movie or Novel?
Novel for sure.

5. Who is your favourite Canadian author?
I don’t think I could list just one Canadian author, there are so many. I just finished Margaret Atwood’s Mad Addam, it was as good as the other books in the trilogy. I have been enjoying her writing since I was in school. I also love Mordecai Richler, Robertson Davies, Alice Munro, Malcolm Gladwell and Charles de Lint. Recently I have discovered Ami McKay, Lawrence Davis and Gail Anderson-Dargatz.

6. If you could go on vacation any where in the world, where would that be?
Africa, because I have never set foot on the continent, there is so much to see. I would also love to explore the Galapagos Islands. And of course, if the opportunity arose I would not turn down the chance to go to space!

7. Favourite wild flower?
Clematis because they grow in the shade. It’s almost like discovering a secret when I find them when wandering through the woods.

8. What educational event do you REALLY want to attend?
I’d love to attend ISTE. And every EdCamp in Alberta, imagine the change makers I could meet if I did that! I have been to EdCamps in Edmonton, Calgary and Red Deer, but I haven’t been able to attend every year and I still haven’t been to Lethcamp.

9. What is the one tech tool you cannot live without?
My iPad, I have it with me almost all of the time. I use it to stay connected, read, do research and take photos.

10. Hottest educational trend/author for you right now.
I am really interested in the potential for cMOOCs (and freely admit that I am a bit of a cMOOC addict since ETMOOC) and badgification.

11 List three high points of 2013.
Participating in ETMOOC. I learned so much and connected with so many intelligent, like-minded educators (like both of you Julie and Tanis.) Taking the initiative and starting the Post Etmooc community. It has allowed me to say connected and taught me so much about community building and Google Communities and Hangouts. Sometimes it’s been a steep learning curve but it’s been really rewarding. It’s also allowed me to get to know Susan, Karen, Erin, Christina and Kirsten better, which was an unexpected bonus.

My job for Alberta Education for the past year and a half has been a dream job. I work with interesting people, in Alberta Education and outside it. I am working on an innovative curriculum that I believe in, and learning more about curriculum, assessment, implementation, and education in Alberta that I learned in the last ten years. I can’t wait to see what the next year and a half will hold.

11 Bloggers for the Sunshine Challenge

Here are eleven people I would love to shine a little sunshine on because they brighten my days. I haven’t known any of them for very long, and I have never met half of them in person, but they are an important part of my learning community. I learn with and from these Tweeps every day.

I’m so glad that you all live in “my part of the Twitters” as @Jessifer would say.

Verena Roberts @verenanz What a role model of connected learning and teaching, and Albertan too.
Maureen Crawford @jmc3ualberta I am so lucky to have you as a friend and mentor.
Susan Spellman-Cann @sspellmancann A leader for school councillors world-wide.
Karen Young @Karenatsharon Always fun to play and learn with you.
Jesse Stommel @Jessifer Always fun and interesting when our worlds connect, Hybrid Pedagogy lead.
Pete Rorabaugh @allistelling Leads both the Zombie and Human hoards, Hybrid Pedagogy lead.
Sheri Edwards @grammarsheri You share great resources and insights and help me see the effect of US educational policies.
Jeff Merrell @JeffMerrell I look forward to the next opportunity to be in one of your classes.
Angie Terasoff @angieterasoff I am looking forward to our collaborations.
Christina Hendricks @clhendericksbc I love your fearless learning and sharing, and the insights you give me into the post-secondary world.
Marianna Funes @mdvfunes I love learning with you, how you support others and watching you build communities.

My Questions

1. Winter or summer?
2. Favourite comfort food?
3. Favourite food?
4. What is the best way to support those who are new to open education and are overwhelmed by the possibilities?
5. Who was the best teacher you ever had? Why?
6. Who was the worst teacher you ever had? Why?
7. What are you reading right now?
8. What are you learning right now?
9. What’s your favourite way to stay connected?
10. Describe a great day at work.
11. Describe a great day off.

Prairie Sky at Sunset