Posted by: lindapemik | October 3, 2013

Getting Unstuck with Appreciative Inquiry

Stuck_ATVThis has always been a blog about learning –my own learning and how to better facilitate learning for others, with a definite ICT focus.  Like many new bloggers I wondered about the value of my posts.  What could I possibly add to the wealth of information available on the Web?  Much to my surprise I found that I had developed a following!  And I enjoyed blogging.  It brought my love of learning and my love of writing together.  But something happened.   I can’t pinpoint when it happened or exactly how it happened, but I lost my enthusiasm for learning and leading for a while.  Without my usual enthusiasm I couldn’t write.     Like Joan McArthur-Blair who writes in her book, Appreciative Inquiry in Higher Education:  A Transformative Force, “there was a shift in my leadership.  It felt like loss of hope; despair….at work I had begun to lose the very meaning of what I was doing and why.”  A sad state of affairs indeed!

But by applying Appreciative Inquiry in my own life and asking myself some positive questions I have rediscovered what compels me to remain in the Higher Education world and have renewed my enthusiasm for learning.  Like Joan I believe that access to education is the most powerful force for social good in communities.  And that is why I do what I do and why I think community colleges are so important across Canada.

But, this blog is going to take a twist…I am going to use it as a tool to document my growth as a digital story teller.  I will continue to bring my learning out in the open and share ideas, resources, tools and stories as I grow, but with a focus on digital storytelling. Digital storytelling brings my love of storytelling and promoting positive personal and social change together with my growing interest in how social media is changing communication and education.  DS is also a great way to help students and faculty find their “voice” and use technology  to tell stories in powerful ways. The digital camera, editing software, and media outlets means that anyone can tell their story. Not only can they tell their story, but share a curricular concept, help in staff development, or create publicity for the school. With all of this capacity to create powerful stories, we need to remember what makes great stories for audiences. We should think about how story telling helps students learn.

Posted by: lindapemik | February 28, 2013

Bringing digital literacies into focus

Like many of my #etmooc colleagues I am suffering from an excess of information. I have been gorging myself on blogs, and twitter feeds; following interesting links, watching YouTube videos, seeing and hearing stories about what it means to be literate in a digital world. As I struggled to get my head around producing my first digital story, Laura Hilliger commented to me that “learning to tell digital stories is like learning the language of the web”. Her comment stimulated a shift in my thinking. It caused me to think differently about digital stories and about the various media used to convey thoughts and ideas on the Web 2.0. I realized that I need to work on learning this new language–this language of the web. And I want to be fully literate, fluent!

Laura also said that “communication in the online world is not quite like anything else”. I began to ask myself: “How is it different? and what is the significance of those differences? I started looking at videos and digital images through a different lens. I noticed how images play such an important part in getting your written messages across in blogs and websites; the infographics that caught my attention, the videos and digital stories. Somehow these images are more than just pictures inserted to entertain or amuse-they are a key element in the language of the web. To be truly digitally literate you have to learn how to “speak” the language of images. Move from the film strip projector, once so common in classrooms to making movies with your students, helping them tell their own stories; move from a watcher to a co-producer


All the posts, the tools and story starters this week have got me thinking  about creativity; in fact in dialoging with Mary Lee Newmann on my last blog, I wrote in a comment, “I needed this lesson (all our discussion about digital story telling) to remind me how important it is to exercise our “creativity muscles”.   So when I saw Giorgio Bertini’s blog title Amplifying Creativity, I was drawn in to read it.  He references “creative intelligence”, a term that I actually knew little about. So I did a little research and discovered Robert Sternberg’s Triarchic Theory of Intelligence. He proposes that, “Successfully intelligent people discern their strengths and weaknesses, and then figure out how to capitalize on their strengths, and to compensate for or remediate their weaknesses. Successfully intelligent individuals succeed in part because they achieve a functional balance among a “triarchy” of abilities    (creative intelligence being one)…Moreover, all of these abilities can be further developed.” – Robert Sternberg.  (emphasis is mine).

“The true sign of intelligence is not knowledge but imagination. Albert Einstein

I have always thought about creativity as a  facet of human spirit,relative to imagination,  not a facet of intelligence.  I believed that we are all creative, but not in equal measure.  Creative intelligence theory proposes that we are all equally creative but some cultivate this intelligence while others repress it.  Sir Ken Robinson points the finger at the education system as a significant factor in the suppression of creativity. So is it true then that,   “Human creativity is activated through processes of intention and attention ?  and that when we become aware of these processes, we can learn how to direct them into what psychologists call creative flow“?

My aroused curiosity about creative intelligence lead me to learn about Csikszentmihaly’s theory of creative flow.  He suggests that people are happiest when in a state of concentration, or complete absorption with the activity at hand.  When experiencing creative flow they get so involved that nothing else seems to matter; they enter into an optimum state of intrinsic motivation.  Here time flies and your whole being is involved in using your skills to the utmost. To achieve a state of flow, you must strike a balance between the challenge of the task and the skill of the performance.  Both skill level and challenge must be matched and high.

Does this description of creative flow bring your experience in etmooc to mind?  What course design elements have the course leaders included to  challenge and engage you?  How have you been encouraged to develop your creativity and exercise your creativity muscles?

Photo Credit: The PIX-JOCKEY (photo manipulation) via Compfight cc

Posted by: lindapemik | February 8, 2013

Digital Storytelling in Academia? You’ve got to be kidding!

This was my first reaction to the current topic focus in #etmooc.  I couldn’t imagine how digital storytelling fits into the academic milieu.  In fact I suspected that there is a lot of resistance to digital stories as a pedagogic method.  A new found colleague of mine, Carol Rowan, wrote, “ I believe that stories engage the mind, warm the heart, and open us up to the possibility of resisting institutionalized normality” ,  and what is more institutionalized than education, at all levels, but especially at the  post-secondary level.

So I did what I usually do when I want to know more about a topic, I goggled it.

How is digital storytelling used in higher education?

My search turned up a wealth of information and I learned a lot that challenged my assumptions about the usefulness of this methodology.  I learned that some institutions of higher learning are encouraging their faculties and staff to embrace digital story telling:  to teach, to research,to engage the voices of the oppressed, and to promote organizational and professional development.And some are not.  I found an informative little story about Neanderthals at the Ohio State University website.

Scroll down in the stories menu on this page to meet my new friend, Bruce the Neanderthal.  He’s kind of cute and maybe one of my ancient relatives. Or maybe yours? After watching this short digital story,  I learned and can remember more about Neanderthals than I imagined possible.

I found wikis, and how-to sites galore; so many that I was overwhelmed about where to start in crafting my own digital story.  But on one of the sites I visited and I’m sorry I didn’t make a note of which one so I can’t give credit where credit is due, I picked up two pieces of advice that helped me get started on writing the script for my story.

Tip # 1                   Pick a topic that you feel passionate about

Tip # 2                   Take four index cards, label them:  Context, Crisis, Change and Closure; then do a quick write on each card elaborating on the Card title.

The four cards then form the outline of your story and you can start scripting it.  Now the real fun begins.

After digging deeper into my question about digital storytelling and academia, I am now convinced that digital storytelling has a legitimate place in higher education when it is used appropriately.  Like any educational technology, you use it to further learning, not just because it is the “in thing” to do.

Please leave me a comment and share with us how you are using digital storytelling in higher education.  And if you are interested in further dialogue about digital storytelling as a tool to disrupt colonial discourses join our new google+ community, Connected Arctic Educators.

Posted by: lindapemik | January 31, 2013

Learning Community-the Critical Ingredient

During the Dave Cormier session last week, Alec Couros used these words to describe etmooc:  “we all decided to walk through the same door on the Internet so we could think together.”  And think we do.  And chat. And share. And blog.  And tweet.  Many of us think about learning; how to define it, how to recognize it, how does it happen?  And because we are educators, how to support and cultivate it in our students.

thinkerI’ve been reflecting on my own learning in etmooc and wondering what elements of this learning experience have lead to a “learning explosion” for me and I have connected with a few other bloggers who are asking themselves the same question.  Thomas Okon  wrote: ” no other class has ever pushed me to do this kind of personal upgrade”.  See his blog here.My experience with etmooc has been equally stimulating.  In my comment to his post I suggested that several elements contributed to my learning:  learner-centered, culture of sharing, tools to support skill development.  Later that week I read a post from Lorraine Boulos, who said, “I have met wonderful and inspiring educators that I have connected with”.  She went on to say,  “I am not just learning HOW to connect, but WHY connect.  I never anticipated how much thinking I would be doing in this MOOC!”

Another key element became clear.  The social connection!   Whether we work in a large urban school or a widely dispersed College in the wilds of Northern Canada, as I do, educators can and often do work in isolation.  By walking through the etmooc door we suddenly find that we are no longer alone and that there are many people out there who care about the things we care about and who want to work together to reform education at all levels.
What actions do you take to build connections with colleagues both near and far?
Posted by: lindapemik | January 20, 2013

Setting sail, master of my own ship…

vidor feeling beam

Vidor, “feeling beam” stock.xchng

From the moment I discovered that #ETMOOC had started, I signed up and started to explore the new online community. Within hours I felt totally engaged and felt an inner spark, being fanned into a raging fire—a fire to learn and apply my learning to my current work challenges.

This beginning was significantly different from my first foray into the MOOC world last year with #change11. Although interested in the topics,and impressed with the organizers and participants, I never engaged. The two courses are quite similar: the organizing principles are the same, both provide the opportunity to connect with the world’s leading experts in the ed tech world, both moocs encourage networking using a variety of web-based tools, and attract a similar group of learners. So what hooked me into #etmooc? Why did I feel an almost immediate and overwhelming desire to immerse myself in the learning?
There are two differences that I think have significance and both have emotional roots. I have a prior connection to Alec Couros and some of the other community members through #eci831, joining #etmooc felt like coming home and evoked positive feelings and anticipation of more good things to come. Joining this community has also been facilitated by the tips and tools provided by Alec and other group members, decreasing the frustration that comes from not knowing how to engage.
Tools that I found helpful:

All these aids helped me ease back into the connected learning mode. This reminds me about the importance of creating “job aids” for our students. We want to encourage the development of independent problem solvers but in the beginning of a courquestion-markse, aids help ease learners into the learning environment.

What learning aids do you provide your learners  to support student engagement.

Thinking about the role that emotion plays in cognition led me to revisit some neuroscience research that illustrates the inseparable connection.
Immordino-Yang talks about this critical connection in the following video. Although the context described here is adolescent learners, my experience with adult learning tells me that her research is just as relevant to my own learning and that of our College students.


ngould. Master and Commander, stock x.chng

“‘Emotion guides the learning of our participant much as a rudder guides a ship. Though this guidance may not be visible, it provides a force that stabilizes the direction of a learner’s decisions and behaviors over time, helping the learner to recognize and call up relevant knowledge” .      The positive emotional connections I felt when I joined #etmooc have put the rudder on my ship. I am now equipped to sail through the heavy seas ahead in a way that I never was in #change11.


What implications does the emotion-cognition connection have for learners in our formal learning institutions? How do we as instructors support the emotional engagement that leads to positive learning outcomes? And how can we do this in the on-line environment?

Posted by: lindapemik | January 19, 2013

#ETMOOC ….the ride begins


I like to keep things simple even in the midst of apparent I am picking three words to describe what I want to focus on in this MOOC: community, communication, and transparency.
Community–building a sustainable network for learning and personal growth
Communication–how to encourage and support engagement through multiple tools and techniques
Transparency–making learning visible, sharing motives without hidden agendas

Posted by: lindapemik | March 10, 2012

Playing around with social networking tools

Well, do you like my new blog theme?  I thought it was time to try a new look.  This must be the day for trying new things because I also migrated my bookmarks to Diigo.  I really like the ease of use and the way I can organize my bookmarks into lists.  Easy to tweet them out too.  I have also been mapping out my PLN (personal learning network) using a social networking site called pearltrees.

Just playing around and following interesting links through my PLN I came across this “cheat sheet”  that sums up my approach to tech support.  Enjoy.

Posted by: lindapemik | January 13, 2012


Here’s to PCOT, ZOHO and WYSIWYG

Well, its 2012, and I’ve started a new online learning program, the Professional Certificate in Online Teaching, PCOT for short, at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.  As I was exploring the site, I came across a website called Learning 2.0.  This is a fairly old (2009) site that lists 23 small exercises designed to help anyone learn about Web 2.0 tools.  Creating a blog is one of the exercises and based on my own experience, getting started with blogging was not a small exercise for me.  My first experience with blogging in 2010 was challenging!  Of course the hard part about jumping into the blogging world for me was overcoming my fear of exposing myself in the web 2.0 world, not  learning to use the technology. But those fears are long gone and I am a blogger.  Whether I find learning new apps a small or big task, I have discovered that becoming more familiar with new tools is worth an investment of time.  Learning what works for others also helps me sort out and prioritize the almost overwhelming number of open source options available.  My blog, Learning out in the open, is my attempt to share some of what I am learning in the hope that others will find  it helpful.

One of the 23 suggested exercises was to “take a look at some online productivity tools, primarily for wordprocessing and spreadsheets.  This lead me to ZoHo writer, a tool much like Google docs but one that appears to be easier to use.  I was especially attracted to the feature that allows you to create a document and post directly to your blog.  This productivity tool woudl also make collaborative blog writing much easier.  My blogging home is WordPress and although it is very easy to use I’d like to be able to simplify it even more and also invite others to co-write with me from time to time.  So here it goes my first blogpost posted from ZoHO.

Posted by: lindapemik | October 25, 2011

Communicating online for connected coaching

The foundation of coaching whether face to face or online is communication. Connected online coaches need to pay special attention to developing effective online communication skills.

What does good online communication look like for a connected coach?
• Demonstrates genuine interest in hearing the speaker/writer
• Is authentic
• Expresses warmth and curiosity about the speaker/writer
• Purposefully builds trust and rapport
• Focuses deeply on the messages being sent
• Use techniques such as paraphrasing and questioning to insure understanding
• Uses a variety of media tools–visual, audio and written online venues to
deepen the conversations
• Responds positively with strength based observations
• Facilitates new thinking

I’ve found a useful tool to add audio to online communication. It’s Audioboo, a social networking tool that works for both mobile and web platforms that allows you to record and share audio messages. You go to their website to register for free and then you can record messages up to three minutes in length if you want to use it to make longer recordings you have to pay 60 pounds per year. that is about $97 Canadian.

I’ve left you a little message here on audioboo:

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