The Pre-mOOC Peak

a group of people at the top of a hill, with an arrow pointing to them saying "us right now"

Looks like we made it.

Shania Twain. Or Barry Manilow.

Huzzah! The Trent Online Extend mOOC Crew has completed training and preparations for their hosting of the 2021 Ontario Extend mOOC. Just in time, too because it starts next week. Let’s check in with the crew for final updates on the various learny journeys.

A reminder of the different paths we are on:


My final activity for the Collaborator Module involved mapping my Personal Learning Network (PLN) which I decided to undertake somewhat literally (see the TweepsMap in my post) as well as figuratively. To see some of the key nodes in my PLN (spoiler alert – some of the names may sound familiar), take a look at my Response to Activity #4.


The Curator Module culminates in contributing to the amusingly titled Curation as Creation | Creation as Curation Padlet. The final activities ask you to put some skin in the game (something I’ve gotten quite used to with our learny journey) and consider the quality of your curated resources. As luck would have it, my efforts have earned me the badge for this module! I’ve detailed this leg of the adventure within my super secret, publicly available mOOC journal.


I’ve considered myself an experimenter for a long time, but now it’s official – I’ve earned my Experimenter badge!!! For my third experimenter activity, I chose to use H5P to present some of our university policies and resources in a more creative and attractive way for students. The result is something I’m able to use in current and future course developments. To finish the module and receive the Experimenter badge, I also had to create a video reflecting on my work in the module. Creating my video ended up being the most challenging part of the module for me because there was so much I wanted to do with it. I finally had to accept that “Perfection is the enemy of progress” to submit it. In the end, I definitely stumbled over some word choices, my GIF wouldn’t loop, and the audio quality/volume isn’t consistent, but it was fun to make and a great learning experience (my biggest takeaway was that I should probably leave the movie-making to Christian in the future 😉 )!


After my marking was all finished and uploaded, I turned my attention to the last few activities of the Scholar module, and found myself thinking and detailing my plans around how I would refine and adapt my research around the trans-Atlantic slave trade for use in the classroom. This isn’t as easy as it seems, particularly when you’re approaching these kinds of lessons consciously rather than intuitively. While some students may be largely uninformed about the horrors of the trans-Atlantic trade, other students, particularly those of African descent, are sharply aware and as an educator, the last thing anyone wants is to retraumatize their students! Building an explicit methodology around what I instinctively do was a real eye-opener, and I was very proud when I was awarded my Scholar’s Badge for my work!


I finished up the Technologist Module by designing and developing a trailing-edge technological solution in the form of a series of folders for my students to use on their offline travels. The timing could have been better however, as by the time I had it ready there were only a handful of students left who still needed to travel to Canada. My students gave me a thumbs up, nice try, thanks anyway response so that was nice! Regardless, the practice of working through the module to identify a design gap and activities like creating an empathy map is endlessly useful. I plan to run through this practice again and again. Maybe I’ll get a new copy of the badge every time! Here’s a link to my workspace again, if you want to dig in.

So What’s Next?

We begin the real deal! On next Wednesday, May 5th we will be sending out log in instructions for the community space and hosting an optional launch party. From our experience, optional parties are the best parties. If you’ve signed up for the mOOC, you will receive that email Wednesday morning. If you haven’t signed up yet, but you still want to, what you need to do is sign up! Pop your name in here: and we will follow up!

Ontario Extend mOOC: Teaser Trailer

If you’ve been counting down the days in your calendar like I have, you’ll know that we’re exactly 19 short ones away from the Ontario Extend mOOC presented by Trent Online. For weeks now our team has been making concerted efforts: forging the right connections, sliding all the interlocking parts into place, quietly collecting micro-credentials, and consolidating the ways in which we hope to inspire you.

One thing that occurred to our team, as part of our promotional efforts, is that cool things usually have promotional teaser trailers to stir up interest and “build hype”. In keeping with the traditions of new media, we felt it prudent to contribute and verse and thus, our video was born.

Pretty snazzy, right? If the upcoming Ontario Extend mOOC is something you’re interested in, you can sign up by clicking on this link. And if you’re just here for the memes, you can share the video and say hi over on Twitter.

Ontario Extend mOOC: The Penultimate pre-mOOC Check In

I am of the opinion that you never pass up an opportunity to use the word penultimate, so what we have here is the next to last post reporting in on our pre-mOOC Learny Journey through the Ontario Extend modules. To give you the bigger picture, in this post we are each around half way through our respective modules, and the next post will (hopefully) be us celebrating us receiving more badges (yay!). Blog posts after that will be coming to you from the real actual Ontario Extend mOOC 2021 hosted by Trent Online!

A reminder of the different paths we are on:

So without further ado, let’s hear about the progress that’s been made in the last couple of weeks!


It is that time of year. The snow has melted away, green shoots are beginning to appear on the landscape and many people, including yours truly, are thinking about the joys of creating a kitchen garden over the coming weeks and months. Soooo, my most recent activity for the Extend Collaborator module – titled Cultivate Your PLN – was quite inspirational and definitely on theme! To learn more about my plans to tend to my personal and professional development “garden”, take a look at my Collaborator – Activity #3 Response.


Because the questions of engagement with my SoTL were pretty rapidly done, I decided this time to bounce excitedly onward to my official Scholarship of Teaching and Learning plan! I decided to chew into the challenge that is always part of my work as I educate learners around the trans-Atlantic slave trade: how do you teach trauma without minimizing or retraumatizing? Having a plan was a very helpful way to come at the problem, and think my way through pedagogical approaches to address it. On my Google Document workspace, I’ve laid out the Extend Activity 2 and linked through in Extend Activity 3 to my plan. Check it out!


For my next activity in the Experimenter module, I thought I’d tackle A Serious Use for Silly Media and create a GIF! I use GIFs daily but always in casual messaging and for the purpose of conveying emotion and evoking smiles only. I’ve never used it as an education tool so the challenge was on. This was also the activity I thought I would try to complete using my phone (a suggestion in the module criteria) because actually has an app, and I thought it would be pretty straightforward. Epic fail! I got completely frustrated on my phone only to find out that it’s not even possible to create the kind of GIF I wanted to on the app. I was able to create it really easily using my laptop, but it was certainly a great reminder to always consider limitations when designing activities in online spaces!

Here is my GIF – a quick Blackboard lesson on why it’s important to use Student Preview mode when designing your online course. 



What I’ll say after attempting this second Curator activity is that the process of ‘searching’ most definitely feels like diving underwater for extended lengths of time. You have to be down there long enough to give yourself the time to scour the seafloor and find the shiny things, but if you take too long it becomes a tiring exercise–don’t suffocate yourself! The ‘Find your fit’ activity (which I’ve linked to up above) asks us to put our newfound skills to the test and explore both repositories (places have the stuff) and referatories (places pointing you to the places with the stuff) and bring 3 useful things back to shore. I’ve documented my adventure in the usual place.


In a brilliant move to attract the busy modern educator, the Technologist module activities both build off of each other and result in the creation of something you can use in real life. By the end of it, you have identified a need or a gap that your students have and developed a technological solution to help. If you were to take the time to head over to my Extend workspace, you’d see that I worked my way through the Empathy Map, Learner Challenge #1, completing the SECTIONS model and finally Learner Challenge #2. You’d also see that the tech solution I believe I need is actually ridiculously simple! But effective, I hope. We shall find out. All I have left for the module is a prototype plan and to actually create it.

What’s Next?

Next week we’ll each be tackling some more activities in each of our modules. Don’t forget to add your name to the list if you’re interested in joining us in the spring. See you next week!

Photo by Markus Spiske on Unsplash

Ontario Extend mOOC: Heading off in Different Directions

The Gang Decides to Scatter

The last you heard from us we were celebrating our achievements as we each received our Teacher for Learning Badges from eCampusOntario. WOOT WOOT!

Teacher for Learning Badge

In our 2nd episode of Extend Radio 2021, however, we may have cranked up the drama too much, making believe that we were worried that our work wasn’t good enough to achieve the badge. But it was all in the interest of radio drama. We knew we were good enough, just as we know you are more than good enough to be successful in the mOOC. And we can’t wait to get started with you in May!

So, with that being said, it is time for another update on the learny journey that we are on, as we continue to model the experience for you. If the analogy is that we’re trying to reach the summit of a big ol’ mountain, completing the teacher for learning module together was like reaching a spot to camp out. And this camp happens to have a helicopter pad that we’ve made use of as Kristine is flying off to climb other mountains, and Maureen and Katrina are flying in to continue up from here. Welcome to the team, Katrina and Maureen!

Oh and also we’re each going to head up the rest of the mountain taking a different route. From now on you’ll be seeing:

So without further ado, let’s see those reports!


The first step of the Technologist Module is to complete an unofficial Extend activity. It doesn’t count towards your badge, so if you live life on the edge, you could skip it. I for one live life with the edge in sight, but like not anywhere near it. That simple activity is to share your own definition of digital literacies. Here is what I came up with. It’s not heading to Oxford any time soon, but it works for me. Next up is what I consider one of the most important Extend activities of all, The Empathy Map. I should be able to get real input from my students on it, so I’m excited to see what they come up with!


I imagine that I’ll soon expand my personal learning network (PLN) with a whole new crew of fellow travelers on this Extend journey, so I’m excited to be working through the Collaborator module. I decided to jump in with the first two activities, which the module directly suggests might be shared via Twitter – one of the greatest places around to grow your PLN. Here are my activity responses including their related Twitter links.


I took a swing at the first activity in the Curator Module, which asks us to find an openly licensed image and explain how the process unfolded while making use of different strategies and spaces. After having aced the h5p quizzes testing my understating of the Creative Commons and Boolean operators, I felt geared out, tooled up, and ready to give it my best. From mirrors and movies to artificial bouquets, sometimes you don’t know what you’re looking for until you find it. As per the continuation of our explicit understanding, you can read about the beginning of my new adventure at the link.


“All life is an experiment. The more experiments you make the better.”

-Ralph Waldo Emerson.

I have always loved that quote and am very excited to be jumping into the Experimenter Module. Not only does this module encourage you to try new tools and design with new approaches, but it also offers a lot of flexibility. For this module, you need to complete three activities from a list of ten options. Who doesn’t love having options?! I chose to use Padlet for my first activity as a way of gathering some reflections on the past year of teaching remotely. I included five different reflection prompts and would really love to hear from you on one or all five – Remote Teaching: A Year in Review!


Learning how to bring my methodology from my research work into my teaching is an exciting step, and one I’m thrilled to be taking. Going through the thinking process and reflecting on what my motivations and methods are has been very important in this first activity. Here is what I got up to this week, in the interest of ‘showing my work’ – I began with expectations, and then you can see my notes as I went through each learning activity.

What’s Next?

Next week we’ll each be tackling some more activities in each of our modules. Don’t forget to add your name to the list if you’re interested in joining us in the spring. See you next week!

Ontario Extend mOOC: The First Peak

goat on a peak looking at us

Extend Radio 2021 Pre-mOOC Episode 2

You can think of each of the Ontario Extend Modules as a hike to the peak of a small mountain. Today we find out if the Trent Online team successfully scouted out and reached their first peak in preparation for offering you the Ontario Extend mOOC this May.

We invited eCampusOntario’s Lindsay Woodside to join us for Episode 2 of the rebooted Extend Radio Show. Lindsay’s job was to reveal whether or not Stephanie, Kristine, Terry and Christian would be awarded their Teacher for Learning Badges. You’ll have to listen to find out if they made it! (Although Terry had done it before, so it’s kind of like he took the gondola up.)

We hope you enjoyed the listen! More importantly, we hope you’re interested in joining us this Spring (starting May 5th) for the 2021 Ontario Extend mOOC, hosted by us at Trent Online. If you are, simply add your name to the list by filling out the form here and we will follow up with some details!

Photo by Ray Aucott on Unsplash

T-minus 3…2…1…Liftoff!

rocket launch

This week we all embarked on the Thought Vectors and Nuggets activity. This activity is taken from the Thought Vectors in Concept Space syllabus designed by Dr. Gardner Campbell for an undergraduate research and writing course at Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU). If you’re new to thought vectors, you might enjoy this short video explanation of what thought vectors are by Jenny Stout, Teaching & Learning Librarian at VCU.

Our first step was to choose an article from  The Open Faculty Patchbook, a collection of overviews on specific pedagogical skills. Once we selected an article that resonated with us, we then had to choose a passage or nugget from the article that evoked some kind of response in us – good or bad.

The thought vector aspect of the activity is to make the selected passage as meaningful as possible. The instructions “use your imagination” seem deceptively simple in length yet also complicated by their vagueness. It was time to get creative!

Start the countdown because we’re ready to launch each of our thought vectors into the concept space below!


The nugget I selected was from Patch 34: Connecting the Design Dots by Nada Savicevic. I had a lot of fun thinking about and exploring the ways in which I could express myself. If you’re interested in my written thoughts, as always, you can read on at this link. Featured in the video below is music by


The article that resonated strongly with me was  PATCH TWENTY-THREE: (UN) PREPARED by Sherri Spelic. It was written two and a half years before COVID-19 ever came on the scene to turn our world and lives upside down. However, after I read it, I had to double-check the date it was written because it felt even more relevant now than ever before. I decided to use TikTok to create a video in an attempt to make these already meaningful words feel more profound with the addition of visuals and music. I suspect this might be my first and last TikTok, OR I’ll become a viral sensation overnight – it’s too early to tell which way it’s going to go. 😉 Check out my activity notes to read more on my choice of nugget and how TikTok failed me when creating this thought vector!


Words by Sherri Spelic

♬ Worship Instrumental – Instrumental – Adrian Jonathan


I chose the Colleague Swap article which discusses the relative importance of sustained communication skills and practice through a program for students, and outlines the use-value of a peer review activity as part of courses. 

I narrowed in on this passage: 

“Allowing students to critique each other’s papers also creates a more cooperative learning environment and increases student involvement in the content and flow of the course. It is only natural that students develop a greater vested interest in a class in which they believe their feedback matters.”

Using this, I have built out a Rise Module, which is visible here.


Wow those thought vectors up there were great! I’ll finish things off with a set of screencast GIFs, which I made using Gyazo. I chose to nugget up Patch 21 – Just Listen, by Chuck Pearson, which is about empathy in science pedagogy. Do yourself a favor and have a careful read of his post. It is epic. My attempt to make the piece more meaningful is to kind of make a preview walkthrough of what you’re getting into if you read through it. This is a bit of an experimental approach. All the GIFs may be overwhelming to see at once so just have a look at one at a time and remember that GIFs loop forever so you can take your time. You can find all this by clicking on Activity #6 in the table of contents on the left side of this page. You can even comment to let me know how much you (dis)like this approach!

What’s Next?

Can you believe we’re nearing the end of our first module already? Next week we’ll be completing the last activity of the Teacher For Learning module, which will bring us to the end of that journey and to the achievement of our first badge! Be on the lookout for our answers to the Your Metaphor activity and if you haven’t added your name to our list yet, please do so! We want to be able to keep you in the loop about the mOOC we’re launching in the spring. It’s a great opportunity to join our fun crew and learn alongside other educators from across the globe!

Featured Image Credit: Image by SpaceX-Imagery from Pixabay 

The Extend Radio Revival: Teacher for Learning – Part 1

Between Superbowl Sunday and this rollercoaster, it has been an exciting couple of weeks to say the least! Here at Trent Online, we’re looking to keep that energy alive with some excitement of our own. To start with, we’ve gone viral (kind of)! Our upcoming Extend mOOC has now, officially, generated interest both at home and abroad. We’re overjoyed by the initial enthusiasm and thought now might be a good time to kick off ‘Extend Radio 2021’.

As we work through the modules our goal is to publish a series of podcasts in which we explore and share our experiences with the activities. As well, once the mOOC officially kicks off this coming spring, it’ll serve as a platform which you can use to chat with us, each other, and everyone listening. In our first episode down below, we got together and chatted about our work so far with the Teacher for Learning module (along with some pretty rad song selections to round out all the pedagogy).

This week we tackled the “What’s in it for me?” (WIIFM) and the “Like driving a car” activities. WIIFM had us reinterpreting the relevancy of particular learning outcomes, while “Like driving a car” asks that we consider the component skills required of “mastery”. It’s all down below for your listening and reading pleasure. And if you’re interested in letting us know that you’re interested in being a part of the adventure later this spring, you can fill out our statement of interest form right here.


For the WIIFM activity, I tried to think through the process I use in Tech Tools to get students to complete one of their first assignments, a course conversion proposal (F2F to Online/Blended). A lot of students struggled at times with the idea of writing an essay in a tech tools class for elearning, but what I outlined was the central nature of good persuasive communication skills in the elearning field as something the assignment asks of students, and as skills for them to develop for their future jobs or work placements. I continued to focus on the Tech Tools class for the “Like Driving a Car” activity in which I breakdown the steps in order to develop a video recording from start to finish. See the WIIFM here and the Like Driving a Car here.


For this week’s activities, I continue to draw from my experience working with Trent faculty in assisting their transition to remote teaching. For the “What’s in it for me?” activity, the student perspective I am using is from the faculty members themselves as they have had to learn how to navigate from teaching in the face-to-face classroom to teaching in the online classroom. For the “Like Driving a Car” activity, I’m exploring the threshold concept in online learning design that online learning can be equal to or in some cases richer than face-to-face teaching. If that piques your interest or if you’d just like to see a GIF of Kermit the Frog riding a bicycle, please visit my responses and feel free to leave a comment. I’d love to hear your thoughts!


I used the WIIFM activity to try and brainstorm different directions for our professional development. Being able to move past the notion of “we need to do this because we have to” allowed me to nail down specifics and identify topics and outcomes that can build skills that will work beyond the LMS (things students will want to learn and build on). ‘Like driving a car’ got me to consider the importance of equipping people not just with “the answer”, but with the ability to creatively get to the answer in new and different ways. I tried a couple different things which you can check out at the usual place.


Head on over to my Teacher for Learning workspace to see my WIIFM list. It only really has two things (which is I guess the minimum number of things you need in order to be able to call it a list!) I think they are two pretty good ones so I’m happy with calling it a list. And below that, you can see how I think that creating a syllabus is like driving a car and how Maureen Glynn’s Online Course Design for Humans workbook is like the driver’s manual.

What’s Next?

Thought vectors is up next! An activity which Terry describes as “juicy”, we’ll all be reading through the award-winning Ontario Faculty Patchbook, extracting a choice passage that we feel speaks to us, and then creating something with that thought or feeling. It’s very iterative and very cool and we hope you’ll join us next week!

Interested in maybe joining us this spring? Add your name to the growing list of those interested in maybe joining us here!

Image Source: Sacha Verheij via Unsplash

This Week’s Pit Stop

a travel mug siting on top of a car

Last week we embarked on this exciting learny journey of ours to complete all six of the Ontario Extend modules. Like all good journeys, we’ll be taking breaks every now and then to pause and reflect on our individual experiences so far. This week, we’re going to take our first little pit stop to reflect on our answers from the third Extend activity in the Teacher for Learning Module: Cornell Notes

The Cornell Notes method is a note-taking system devised in the 1940s by Walter Pauk, an education professor at Cornell University. It is still an incredibly effective and widely used method for organizing knowledge and for teaching students better note-taking skills.

You can take a look at what we came up with below when we each took our crack at it!

Disclaimer: A couple of us have chosen to be old-school and write our notes by hand instead of typing them out. Although we acknowledge that this may impact the ability of others to read them (and that it IS the year 2021), it is still well within the rules to choose this method so don’t be judgy!


I’m going to use this activity to kickstart a collective note-taking activity in my Facilitating Online Learning class at Lambton. The course’s textbook is an open textbook called Teaching in a Digital Age. I came across a series of videos that Tony Bates, the author of the text, made to introduce major themes in the book. So I chose the Theories of Learning video to try the activity myself as that is the topic we covered last week. Next I will assign this activity to the class as well and suggest that we try to get a set of shared notes on all of the other videos in the series. That way the whole class will have access to a set of resources with the extra bonus that the students will also begin the Extend learny journey themselves! A friend on Twitter pointed me to this Cornell Notes template on a tool called Notion so I tried it out! Have a look at what I came up with here.


I ended up creating a very simplified template to do this via Word as I haven’t really taken notes by hand (for very good legibility reasons). The video I chose is “A fascinating time capsule of human feelings toward AI”. I think one of the takeaways for me is how much longer it can take to properly take notes using this method. For a 6 minute clip, it took me approximately double to 2.5 times as long to make the notes, clean them up and pause/restart the video. The result, I think, is a much more concise list of takeaways. My responses and notes are here.


My note-taking methods served me well while at university; however, it certainly was not a skill I was ever taught and my “method” sadly consisted of simply writing fast and writing lots. This activity was the first time I’ve attempted Cornell Notes, so I was excited to try it out. Even though I type everything these days, I still decided to handwrite my notes because writing things out definitely helps the words land better in my memory (FACT: I still remember all of the songs whose lyrics I painstakingly wrote out line by line including this classic jam)! I chose the inspiring Michelle Pacansky-Brock‘s keynote from a conference back in July – The Anatomy of Learning: Cultivating Care from the Very First Click. Read more about my experience and check out my first stab at Cornell Notes!


My handwriting has, regrettably, not improved much since grad school. Generally speaking, my note-taking strategy often feels like a race against the clock to jot down every idea I possibly can–so having a bit of a game plan was a new experience for me. I’ve uploaded an (embarrassing) picture of my notes which you can check out here.

What’s Next?

Next week we’ll be tackling two more activities, which will bring us just over halfway in our journey through the Teacher For Learning module! Be sure to check back in to see our answers for the “What’s in it for me” activity from a student’s perspective and the Like Driving a Car activity, where we explore more concepts from our respective disciplines. Don’t forget to add your name to the list if you’re interested in joining us in the spring. See you next week!

Heading Out on Our Learny Journey

Trent Online Hosts the Ontario Extend mOOC 2021 This Spring

Ontario Extend is a professional learning micro-credential from eCampusOntario which helps educators to build on the skills needed for teaching in a digital age. There are 6 modules that make up the Empowered Educator framework: Teacher for Learning, Technologist, Collaborator, Curator, Experimenter, and Scholar. Trent Online is hosting an open offering of the program this spring and you are more than welcome to join us! .

This winter the would-be facilitators of the program are planning to walk the walk themselves by taking the program and sharing their work for you to see the kinds of things you’ll be getting up to. Much like the Beastie Boys were 3 MCs and 1 DJ, the Trent Online Extenders are 3 Designers and 1 Technologist. Stephanie Park, Kristine Weglarz and Terry Greene (eLearning Designers) and Christian Metaxas (eLearning Technologist) have already begun their journey through the initial module, Teacher for Learning. The module seeks to “Examine teaching approaches and strategies that foster student learning in specific contexts.”

One of the great benefits of Extend is that the work you are asked to do results in producing things that will help you in your teaching. Through the rest of this post, you will see what each of us have done with the first two Extend activities: Misunderstood and The Syllabus Concept Map.


I’ve taught Tech Tools, an Elearning Design and Training course at Lambton College since 2018. In the course, students expand upon their work on in another course I teach that introduces them to the basics of teaching online. In this course, students learn, amongst other things, how to use Camtasia to edit and create videos and interactive media for elearning, so we focus a bit on concepts specific to video creation. My answers are here.


For the last eight months, I’ve been neck-deep in assisting Trent faculty with the transitioning of their in-person courses to remote courses containing both synchronous and asynchronous components. I plan to draw on that work as I tackle the Extend activities. I’m really looking forward to having this opportunity to reflect on the rapid evolution of skills, the incredible resilience, and the shifting perspectives that have transpired in the world of online education. Here’s the link to my activities this week. Have a look and leave a comment. I’d love to hear from you!


Currently my headspace has been occupied with questions about how to improve process for our office and enhance PD for our instructors and faculty. I used these first couple of activities to reframe my thinking about some questions and comments we’ve received regarding one of our LMS resources: a template and ‘How To’ guide that instructors can upload into their course shells and use to implement material fast. Using analogy and visual concept maps, I am to clarify language use and explanations. You can take a look at my working document as it stands thus far by clicking this link.


This semester I am teaching a course called Facilitating Online Learning for Lambton College, in their eLearning Design Training & Development program, so you will likely see some of my Extend work focused on things that support that course. Teaching online about teaching online gets kind of meta, so please excuse me if I get lost in a metaphor or something! Have a look at my response to the first two activities here. Feel free to comment on the Google Doc itself if you’d like.

What’s Next?

Next week we’ll be jumping in to the exciting world of note-taking with the Cornell Notes approach! Don’t forget to add your name to the list if you’re interested in joining us in the spring. See you next week!

Featured Image credit: Photo by Yusuf Evli on Unsplash