It’s not all cat photos up in here. [9x9x25, Ontario Extend]

I just delivered my fifth of eight workshops this week.

This WEEK!

(Last week I only gave 4 workshops. Slacker, aisle: me.)

                This post is the start of our 9x9x25 challenge from Ontario Extend. Join us!


It can be hard to know whether your workshop is really landing, when you’re in the moment. Sometimes students are slowly blinking, sometimes I wonder if they’re actually building in the tool I’m walking them through or if they’re complaining about me in a messenger thread. The part that gives me the most immediate feedback is the questions. This is why I love teaching the kind of informal workshops I often do, because I invite interruption with questions and it offers a chance to keep the audience engaged. And, if I’m honest, keep myself engaged too. Questions are often what alerts me to a concept I may be skimming over too quickly, or when I’ve lost my audience completely. Sometimes, like today, the students are teaching me a concept or a tool or a technique I hadn’t heard of. And that’s my favourite.

AliciaHiggison_ePortfolioworkshop_Oct2018Today’s workshop title was: I’m Going To Google You.

I got a few social media comments about the title, and it got me thinking about how far I’ve come since I started doing presentations around digital citizenship.

One of my first presentations representing our office was at a UWindsor Campus Technology Day. It was Pecha Kucha style (20 slides, 20 seconds each slide, you have 6 minutes & 40 seconds to impress your audience), and I needed a hook. Digital citizenship is exciting as a topic, but can be intimidating as a title. I was still pretty green in the higher ed world, very much consumed by an imposter syndrome which still stubbornly hangs around. And without the option of audience engagement, I wanted to ensure my presentation was memorable and exciting.

So I littered it with cat photos.

(That was a pun.)

I made reference several times to how the internet is more than just cat photos and interspersed as many photos of said felines as I thought I could get away with. Looking back at it now, the slides are too cluttered, I’m breaking some design principles, and I would change so much about it, but I’m still entertained. Cut to today, where I’ve streamlined my slides, using images with intention, inviting audience engagement with relevant questions, and yet still maintaining that element of fun. Today’s presentation even got a few laughs! Bonus!


It’s really useful to be able to look back at your teaching journey, whatever that happens to look like.

What was your favourite presentation you ever gave? What went great about it? And what would you change now?


Want to participate with us in the Ontario Extend 9x9x25 challenge? Start here!



#COOL18 Guest Blog Post by Jane Sylvester & Clayton Smith

We’re pleased to publish a series of guest blog posts from learners in the Exploring the Edges of Online Teaching course in the Certificate of Online and Open Learning (COOL)!

Open Pedagogy

Clayton Smith, Associate Professor, Faculty of Education, University of Windsor

Jane Sylvester, Applied Learning Coordinator, Career Development & Experiential Learning, University of Windsor

extending the contributions by Paula van Wyk, Negin Minaei, John Freer, Phebe Lam, and Richard Lebert to the Week 3 group blog in the course.

Defining Open Pedagogy

8 attributes of open pedagogy diagram

Image license CC-BY 3.0 -

Robert Barr and John Tagg introduced us in 1995 to a new way of approaching teaching by suggesting that “We now see that our mission is not instruction but rather that of producing learning with every student by whatever means works best.” (p. 13)  The challenge of moving from teacher-centred to learning-centred instruction still dominates the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning literature and the thinking of a good many of us who are looking to enhance our teaching to focus more on what the student does rather than what we do.

The open education movement, and open pedagogy in particular, may well pave the way for us.  But it is a little confusing on how to get started with this novel approach to teaching and learning.

Firstly, open pedagogy does not seem to be well-defined.  Some definitions centre on open educational resources (OER) or OER-enabled pedagogy, while others speak about the “open web,” social justice, collaboration, innovation, and learner empowerment.

  • Robert Schuwer calls open pedagogy a way of “connecting the outside world to the educational process in institutions in an open way, using available open tools to realize that, creating and reusing OER by both teachers and students, realizing an active form of learning.”
  • David Wiley writes “that the terms ‘open pedagogy’ and ‘open educational practices’ are understood so differently by so many people that there is literally no  hope of achieving a useful consensus about the meaning of either of these terms.”
  • Rajiv Jhangiani describes open pedagogy as “innovative teaching and learning practices that are only made possible through the application of open licenses.”

But what is clear is that open pedagogy provides teachers with an extended (that is, in addition to more traditional ways of teaching) set of instructional methods to make their teaching more active.

Maha Bali finds that innovative instructors look to use open pedagogy to:

  • Put focus on content, including making use of OER materials and helping students to curate their own content;
  • Focus on teaching by, for example, giving students the opportunity to comment or modify the course syllabus;
  • Making student work public through public blogging, creating podcasts or websites, or editing Wikipedia; and
  • Encouraging students networking in public.

Bali goes on to suggest that “open pedagogy is all about having a belief in the potential of openness and sharing to improve learning.”

David Gaertner explains that getting students to think outside the limitations of the university is crucial (CTLT, 2018):

Devon Ritters pulls all of this together when he says that open pedagogy is “the ability for learners to shape and take ownership of their own education.”

Open pedagogy clearly can be seen to connect with Barr and Tagg’s call for us to move from an instructional to a learning-centred way of teaching.

As we look to enhance our teaching in both formal and informal instruction, we will continue to explore how to make the most use of this new approach to teaching and learning.

Collaborating with Students in Open Pedagogy

As a class, we discussed examples of open pedagogy, specifically collaborating with students to create online and open educational resources (OER). We identified some pros and cons. An obvious pro is that everyone can freely access these learning materials, which is a good thing for students from all walks of life. The reduced financial burden promotes inclusivity and provides everyone with a more equal educational opportunity.

A possible con, with our limited experience with OER, seems to be that we could be sacrificing quality of information that is shared. However, as more individuals talk, share experience and examples, we thought that there is an opportunity for knowledge to expand beyond the limits that may be otherwise possible. Thus, we proposed that perhaps the role of the professor is guiding the quality of content, and the role of the student is to more fully investigate the topics and share related experiences that may help others to more fully understand certain concepts.

Open textbooks go through a peer-review process, just as in traditional textbooks. The reviewers might include faculty members working directly with the students, and internal or external reviewers in the larger educational community. For example, you can post a call for qualified reviewers in the Rebus Community, which has a helpful guide for making open textbooks with students.


Bali, M. (n.d.).  April open perspective: What is open pedagogy anyway?  Retrieved from

Barr, R. B., and Tag, J. (Nov-Dec 1995).  From teaching to learning—a new paradigm for undergraduate education.  Change, 13-25.

Centre for Teaching, Learning, and Technology, University of British Columbia (2018). Open Dialogues: How to engage and support students in open pedagogies  Retrieved from

Bronwyn. H.(2015). Eight attributes of Open Pedagogy. Image Retrieved from

Jhangiani, R. (n.d.).  April open perspective: What is open pedagogy?  Retrieved from

Schuwer, R. (n.d.).  April open perspective: What is open pedagogy?   Retrieved from

Wiley, D. (n.d.).  OER-enabled pedagogy.  Retrieved from

#COOL18 Guest Blog Post by Paula van Wyk & Richard Lebert

We’re pleased to publish the second guest blog post in a series of guest blog posts from learners in the Exploring the Edges in Online Teaching course in the Certificate of Online and Open Learning (COOL)!

Certificate of Open and Online Learning: A Collaborative Post Between Paula van Wyk and Richard Lebert

Paula van Wyk, Assistant Professor, Faculty of Human Kinetics at University of Windsor, Canada, and

Richard Lebert,  Registered Massage Therapist and Instructor at Lambton College, Canada.

Originally published July 8, 2018 at and reproduced here with permission.

open licensed image of online educational tutorialImage License CC0 -

You may have seen posts about #COOL18 and wondered what this odd hashtag meant. #COOL18 is used on social media by educators who are working on a Certificate of Online & Open Learning (COOL).

This is a professional certificate program through The University of Windsor designed to prepare instructors for designing, developing and teaching high quality online, blended, technology-enhanced, and open courses.

If the idea of open pedagogy is something that is of interest to you, this program may be a great fit. Need more convincing … No problem, here we have put together a brief introduction to four of the innovative concepts covered in this online certificate.

Concept 1: Making Lessons Stick – Planning for Quality Design

“Silly Rabbit! Trix are for Kids!” (Trix Cereal),
“Have it your way!” (Burger King),
“Got Milk?” (California Milk Producers),
“Like a good neighbour, State Farm is there” (State Farm Insurance),
“I’m Lovin’ It” (McDonalds),
“Snap! Crackle! Pop!” (Rice Krispies),
“Maybe She’s Born With It, Maybe It’s Maybelline” (Maybelline),
“Because You’re Worth It” (L’Oreal),
“Just Do It” (Nike),
“It Keeps Going, and Going, and Going” (Energizer),
“Don’t Leave Home Without It” (American Express).

Slogans and gimmicks attract attention. Perhaps they even help aid memory. However, before we draw individuals in to what we may be selling (or teaching) we need to ensure the product is worthy of the attention as well.

sketch of storyboard explaining this blog post

As part of Practice What You Teach you will learn how to develop a storyboard that emphasize the importance and structure of your lessons.

To learn more about the 5 Step Process, check out this link H5P (a tool presented as part of the COOL Certificate).

Concept 2: Making Lessons Accessible – Open Educational Resources

Think about your days as a student, was there ever a time when you had the option of choosing an amazing elective course? Then when you go to register for the course the required textbook was too expensive. The unfortunate reality is that students may end up passing on courses due to costs. It doesn’t have to be that way, there are options.

Creative Commons logo

Share, Collaborate, Remix, Reuse

Open educational resources (OERs) make textbooks accessible and affordable. In The Anatomy of a 21st Century Educator Nick Baker gave an inspiring overview of current challenges and opportunities in regards to OERs.

There are a number of OERs that are available right now that are free to use and licensed under the creative commons, which may mean that you are able to adapt the text to suit your needs. E-campus Ontario has a large library of open textbooks, check it out maybe you will be able to incorporate one of the textbooks into your next class.

Concept 3: Making Class Fun – Augmented Reality

The reality is that despite our best efforts we are often playing second fiddle to technology. So instead of competing against technology, let’s use mobile devises to give students a novel learning experience.With the increasing availability of phones and tablets that can support augmented reality capable apps. Lessons that bring augmented reality in the classroom has become a reality. For an example of a real world application, check out this program that helps learners visualize anatomy.

Concept 4: Making Use of Free Software


This meme was created using

FREE! Did someone say free? Sure did! Throughout the COOL certificate each instructor shares with you a vast library of free options for you to explore and potentially use for one of your classes. One such tool was H5P as you saw above as well as the following tools and resources:

So… What is COOL

In the end… What is COOL? It is QUALITY. It is OPEN. It is FUN. It is COLLABORATIVE. Perhaps “Quality Collaborative Open Fun” was already a course title in operation – so Certificate of Online & Open Learning (COOL) will have to take its place. There is so much more we could share with you about our experiences, but why not just sign up and find out for yourself? All the COOL kids are doing it!

#COOL18 Guest Blog Post by Brandon Sabourin & John Freer

We’re pleased to publish a series of guest blog posts from learners in the Exploring the Edges in Online Teaching course in our new Certificate of Online and Open Learning (COOL).

Reflecting on “Cool” Experiences in the COOL program

by Brandon Sabourin and John Freer, who are PhD students in the Faculty of Education at University of Windsor, Canada

One of the assessments in the course asked learners to co-create a group blog post and share it publicly with others. Traditionally, blogs are authored by individuals and focus on personal themes (Nardi, 2004).  The Open Learning blog is a group blog authored by members of our team and Online Learning Community of Practice. Although group blogs are used less often than individual blogs in higher education teaching and learning, they can be used to support active learning (Duarte, 2015).

Brandon and John not only contributed a group blog post, they’ve also created a video log or “vlog” reflecting on their “cool” experiences in the COOL program. Pedagogically, vlogs may have the advantage of providing a visual representation, reaching a wider audience, and development of technical capability, among others (Hung, 2011). Thanks, Brandon and John, for reflecting on your experiences in the COOL courses and sharing your vlog contribution!!


Duarte, P. (2015). The use of a group blog to actively support learning activities. Active Learning in Higher Education, 16(2), 103-117. doi:

Hung, S.-T. (2011). Pedagogical applications of Vlogs: An investigation into ESP learners’ perceptions. British Journal of Educational Technology, 42(5). 736-746.  doi:

Nardi, B. A., Schiano, D. J., Gumbrecht, M., & Swartz, L. (2004). Why we blog. Communications of the ACM 47(12), 41-46. doi: