First timer year in review

First timer year in review

December 22, 2019 Off By JR

I’ve never written one of these before, but I’ve started seeing a few in my RSS feed which prompted me to look back at what I’ve been up to this year (thanks Martin, Tanis, and Brian). Honestly, I kind of feel like I blinked and almost missed 2019. My partner and I kicked off the year by buying our first house, moving, doing some construction and renovations, etc etc etc. and while it’s nice being able to do some of that work myself I’m glad we’re taking a pause on it this winter. If you follow my instagram or are interested in the pens and pencils I used to make you’ll have noticed that there is now a big gaping hole in that feed. The new projects I promised in 2018 are still sitting half finished in a few boxes in my new “wood shop”. They don’t weigh on me thankfully, I know I’ll come back to them and have some new items to maybe take to market.

While I haven’t been making products for myself, I refreshed my CNC skills and have started using that a bit more at the Saskatoon Makerspace, and also started teaching the Metal 101 and Welding 101 classes there. It’s been a long time since I could call myself a shop teacher, but I’ve really enjoyed teaching small groups of adults who are interested in making metal projects. I revisited a project I used to use in my classes, but use MIG now instead of Oxy-Acetylene for the fusion.

Not so many years ago, I had a lot of extracurricular activities from playing in a handbell choir, playing in a cover band, Judo, wood turning, attending and participating in different creative community events, etc. 2019 was the second year where I decided to drop everything else and focus on my training in Judo and Karate. The path on each of these mountains is long and slow going. It has been humbling to engage with my body and the way it feels and moves.

Kata has really brought this into focus for me. There are so many moments where you think you’re moving a particular way but in fact you’re way off. I’m also beginning to appreciate at a much deeper level the meditative quality performing kata has. The level of focus required it a completely different feeling than flow in woodworking or design work. This was my second year with more focus on competition in Judo including Kata (forms), ne waza (ground competition), and tachi waza (standing competition). The training for competition has also given me an appreciation for attention and focus. I can tell when my mind won’t let go and just experience what’s happening and “be in the now” so to speak. Usually by “I can tell” means I’m making a lot of breakfalls. I also was honoured to participate in my friend’s nidan grading as his uke and learned a new kata while I was at it, bring me to a total of 3/7 judo katas that I at least know the sequence and basic movements for. Mutual welfare and benefit indeed.

While I continued more regular blogging (thanks Terry for the 9x9x25 challenge in late 2018 for making this a more regular habit for me overall. I really struggled with blogging until your challenge came along) it was a slower year for me in terms of presentations. In February I gave a talk to the Canadian Association of Instructional Designers, What is Old is New Again: Patterns in Pedagogy and Educational TechnologyIt was interesting for me to do a bit of a deeper dive into the history of a couple pieces of ed tech, and I think it may be a presentation I work to refine over time. I was also invited to give a talk, What is this thing we call instructional design?, to an undergraduate educational technology class, another great experience although I know I could refine this talk quite a bit. Along the lines of the second presentation, this year had me reflecting on ID compared to other titles that keep surfacing including “Learning Engineer” and “Learning Architect”. This reflection has lead me not only to revisit literature on the history and work of ID as a field (sometimes you lose the forest for the trees when you’re working), but also to look at design literature more closely which is always eye opening. I hope to continue this in 2020 and continue posting little chapter reflections along the way (inspired a bit by Jim Groom’s “monogamous book club” idea).

This was also the first year in at least five years that I did not attend an open education conference – although Teaching and Learning Today here at usask had an “open” track, I’m not counting that as an open conference. There is a lot of inspiring work going on around OER and Open Education, but I think I needed to move outside that circle for a bit to see what a broader landscape of ed tech/elearning/instructional design looks like. I took off to the European Distance and eLearning Network conference and met some fantastic people. The conference was in Bruges at Vives University (I always love visiting new universities) which was wonderful. Plus the university has the worlds largest board game archive, so there’s that.

I work primarily on online delivered courses, which one might think gets bland after awhile, but this year had some memorable developments, which I hope to do mini design write-ups for over at my portfolio. Off the cuff, some of the neat things that were included in this year’s projects include:

  • use of an eportfolio system in a digital imaging course where students could post work to a “photofolio” for commentary, critique, and to show the development of their work.
  • the redesign of an urban agriculture class which included completely reorganizing the materials to help stage the development of individual urban ag project proposals including peer review (which seems to be a signature move of mine here).
  • using Padlet and H5P to foster quick interactions throughout courses, and revisiting those discussions and materials. I see a lot of opportunity for further use of these tools in online courses.
  • designing and developing courses for a program which will make use of commercial elearning software. I’ve been aware of the software for awhile, but I’m glad to have had a chance to tackle projects where we had to use it. This also prompted the creation of a style guide and some creative problem solving.
  • I’d always been fascinated by how Mike Caulfield set up the writing stages in The Happening when he was doing his federated wiki projects. This year I finally got to create a spin on that concept with an instructor, and while the wiki platform we used had its limitations, I can see further potential for this design.
  • this year also included one open access course, and the adaptation of an open textbook, so I’m still in the mix in the open education world, although the focus is on the project level now where as before I was more involved in raising awareness and promoting open educational practices. Now I focus on one-on-one methods for project development, and it’s been a welcome change.

For 2020 I see a lot of expansion in each of these areas that is possible. I’ve also enrolled in a continuing education program at OCAD University which I’m quite excited about, User Experience (UX) Design and Development Skills. I had been looking at continuing ed programs available in Canada (got tired of MOOCs, which worked for the last few years but just don’t feel like enough) for awhile, and finally came across this program. It’s fully online, and as an ID who works strictly on online courses I feel like the courses will be a good addition to my toolkit. Wish me luck! Sometime in 2020 I’d also like to try out the Mobile Learning Strategies Design Sprint offered by Designers for Learning. I’m a big fan of Jennifer Maddrell’s work and I know I’ll learn a lot when I tackle the self-paced course she’s put together.

Thanks for being here in 2019, I look forward to writing you in 2020.