Planning to Reflect… Preflection?

Next Tuesday, May the 3rd, we will be getting together for another Academic Retreat at the Sutherland Campus. The theme for the day is re-framing your perspective and will be focused on 3 streams:

  1. Academic Council Updates
  2. Culture and Community
  3. Teaching and Learning With Engagement

The first two streams will be delivered through workshops and seminars at specific times and places. See session info here. The 3rd stream is taking the Wild West approach of a ‘Makerspace’. We will transform the cafeteria area into a place with many different, mostly DIY areas for creating things. This will hopefully do two things: put you back into the mindset of a student for a short period, and give you ideas and experience creating things for your courses. The point is to produce stuff during the time we have together. Hopefully stuff we can use!

Some of the things we are hoping will be created: contributions to our community of practice assignment bank, videos, GIFs, images, blog posts, games, chairs, flexible learning spaces, accessible documents, comics. You will also have the opportunity to retrain your brain! That rhymes so it’s good! And everything will be tweeted. We plan to be the Peterborough Twitter trend of the day. We will all be a part of history.

With that in mind, there is one thing we would really like to produce on that day with your help: Our next blog post. And we want that post to be a reflection on the day. So please, if you’re willing, come to the table that says Bloggy Bloggy Bloggy Blog (like the image below) and write a short paragraph reflecting on one of your retreat experiences (from any stream). We will collect those quotes/reflections into our next blog post so that we can all learn from each other. See you there!




Wanna Get Engaged?


We all have different things that float our boats, and in learning it’s no different.  The variability in learning is HUGE! Every learner’s ideal learning environment has different elements in it.  You might like to learn outside, I might like inside.  You might like reading from paper, I might like reading from a screen. You might like to listen, I might like to read.  You might like face to face, I might like online. You might like teams, I might like individual. You get the idea.

Sometimes learning preferences aren’t preferences at all – they’re necessities.  For example, if I can’t see, having text in an accessible electronic format isn’t my preference, it’s my requirement! I would need a document that interacts with my navigation and text to speech technology so I access the information (BTW – accessible electronic texts benefit all learners, not just those with sensory disabilities… more on that another time.)  So accessible electronic options aren’t just a nice to have, they’re a requirement for learning environments.

These environmental preferences and needs are incredibly varied and so are our brains.  Every brain is unique and ever-changing (Cue: Your Fantastic Elastic Brain ).  We each have varying strengths in cognitive processes such as memory, attention, language, processing speed, and spatial reasoning. We each have different capacities for this at different times.  For example, my memory is generally quite good, but if I’m tired, my memory does not operate at the same capacity. We see and experience this variability every day in our learning environments.

As we all know, the variables I mention here are just the tip of the iceberg. With so many varying variables (see what I did there?), how can we design learning spaces that engage everyone?

Help is on the way!

The Universal Design for Learning framework is a learning design framework that is based on neuroscience research about the immense variability in how the human brain learns. From this research, CAST (the pioneers of UDL) have created a framework with 3 broad principles and each principle has guidelines and checkpoints.  All this is to help educators design learning experiences that work for the widest range of learners.

CAST is focusing more and more of their work and research on learning engagement, purpose and motivation because it plays a critical part in learning and learning design.  Such cool stuff.

CAST has put together the Top 10 UDL Tips for Designing an Engaging Learning Environment. These tips are a quick and dirty overview of designing for engagement.

  1. Create clear, specific goals
  2. Minimize distractions
  3. Present flexible assessment options
  4. Provide frequent, formative feedback
  5. Incorporate authentic and relevant examples
  6. Ensure resources and supports meet the demands of the task
  7. Increase opportunities for collaboration
  8. Share examples and non-examples
  9. Offer time for active reflection on learning and engagement
  10. Support risk taking

Your learning design probably includes many of these elements already. Way to go, you! Knowing that these design choices will improve engagement provides even more incentive to expand these options and celebrate what you’re already doing for your learners.

For the full text of these tips with more information, resources and suggestions, go to this link 

Engagement isn’t just a happy coincidence; engagement can be designed.

For more about designing engaging learning environments, come to our Academic Retreat on May 3rd! More information here.

What are some ways you design for engagement? What tips would you add to this list?

P.S. Want more in depth info about designing engaging learning environments? Check out this free webinar from CAST is about learner variability with a focus on designing for engagement.

Hey Now, Who Are Your All Stars?


Image from The Phantom Lady Archives vol. 1.2

We are working with HR right now on a program called Attracting Top Talent. I wanted to be on the project at first because I thought it was going to be like America’s Got Talent and I’d get to judge magicians and stuff. I was wrong though. It’s about hiring the best possible candidate for open positions at the college. Even though it’s not what I thought I was signing up for, I am excited to be on the project!

The benefits of hiring the top talent out there are obvious, but it’s not obvious how to attract them. HR has some great ideas on how to do so. We are working with them to turn those ideas into some training for anyone at the college involved in the hiring process. As we analyze the type of content to focus the training on, Colin from HR came up with an activity that helped us frame our thoughts: Come up with your top 5 All Stars in your field. The top people who you would wish we could hire here. Dream Candidates for each of the categories listed below. From there we would be able to think of what it would take to get someone like that to come to Fleming.

Leader, Innovator, Risk Taker, Team Player, Critical Thinker

Now, aside from how it would help the hiring process here, doing this activity also really helped me personally. It made me think about whom I look up to in the field and focused me on what I need to do, professional learning wise, to be more like them.

So, here in this blog post I will show you my results for this activity. I will tell you who I picked and why. Try it for yourself when you get the chance!

Terry Greene’s Top 5 Instructional Technology All Star Team

Top Leader: Gardner Campbell, Vice Provost for Learning and Student Success at Virginia Commonwealth University, Gardner writes to promote putting learning in the hands of the learner especially in this article: A Personal Cyberinfrastructure

Top Innovator: Adam Croom, Director of Digital Learning at the University of Oklahoma Oklahoma University have done some exciting things with Domain of One’s Own and the OU Creates where students can claim their own hosted webspace, populated with WordPress and other apps to help them create. This allows the students to post and reflect on their work in their own space that they control. And The Goblin is a pretty awesome looking faculty development model.

Top Risk Taker: Jim Groom used to run the  Division of Teaching and Learning at the University of Mary Washington, blogs at, runs and I’m pretty sure coins a new term and starts a new ed-tech trend every couple of days.

Top Team Player: The top team player doesn’t do it for the glory, s/he does it to make things happen. My choice for top team player is Alan Levine, who makes things happen. Check out his blog: The CogDogBlog.

Top Critical Thinker: Audrey Watters: “I am an education writer, an independent scholar, a serial dropout, a rabble-rouser, and ed-tech’s Cassandra.” Hack Education blog. She can really rip apart and rebuild the big ideas.

If you’re interested in sharing your top 5, send them our way and we’ll post them here!

Thanks for reading!


The image in this post was found at The Digital Comic Museum

The 9 x 9 x 25 Challenge

… But really, we’ll take 1 x 25

(aka Blogging About Blogging… and Getting Others to Blog: The Meta-Blog Post)

You, as a faithful reader and supporter of our LDS Team blog, know that we (ahem, @greeneterry) have set a goal to produce one blog post each week, taking turns to do so. Thus far, we’ve tackled professional learning (a topic you’ll be hearing much more from us about in the coming weeks and months), classroom management, game-based learning, and proactive communication with students. Those of you who were at our Week 8 Academic Division Retreat will have recognized some of the “humblebrag” stories shared there as well. Now, we would like to keep that conversation going, and provide all Fleming faculty and staff members with an opportunity to share with colleagues, while simultaneously relieving us of our weekly guilt-trip from Terry about who’s writing the blog post!joinus-black

Teaching & eLearning Support at Yavapai College challenged their faculty members to create 9 pieces of writing with 25 sentences or more each week for 9 weeks – the 9 x 9 x 25 Challenge. They wanted to “give faculty a playful space to share and learn and to see what colleagues are doing in classes… and push teachers to be reflective practitioners in the field of education” (We Triple Dog Dare You). Their challenge included a final blog about their blogging experience (a blog about a blog; how meta!). In it the professors reflected on how their attitudes toward teaching and learning changed, grew, were inspired by, and/or reflected in their blog posts. Some were surprised to find they had “whined” through many of their posts. Some were inspired by the writing and work of their colleagues. Mostly, they wrote about how challenging it was to produce 9 25-sentence pieces of writing in a week!

So while we share the short- and long-term goals of the 9 x 9 x 25 challenge, we would never put that much pressure on you, our already busy faculty members! Let’s face it, if we struggle to get one post done per week, and there are 5 of us, how could we expect 9 posts from anyone else in one week?

So, here’s the Fleming version of the challenge: Share something with us. We will, in turn, share it via our blog with our many and varied readers (444 hits to far, thank you very much!).

It can be about

  • successes in the classroom,
  • challenges you’ve faced/are facing/would like help with,
  • a new tool/idea/piece of technology you’re using,
  • the professional learning you’re engaged in (including participating in our Communities of Practice on D2L)

The possibilities are endless. But the blog post is not. We’d be happy with 25 sentences, or more, or less. Pose a question, link to some resources, use the self-referential links we on the LDS Team are so fond of. There are lots of ways to get to 25, or 12, or 40 sentences. And we’ll even provide editorial help.

Who knows; just might start a conversation with colleagues, or inspire your own blog, or even motivate you to facilitate a session at our next Academic Division Retreat (taking place on Tuesday, May 3rd – mark your calendars, more information to come soon)!

(Note: Now this blog post is exactly 25 sentences in length!)

Email us at if you’d like to participate. That sentence doesn’t count in the total. Or that one. Or that and this one.joinus-black