Dr. Paul Leslie

Dr. Paul Leslie

Sunday, 19 March 2017 23:09

Feedback on Module 5

I have recently completed writing feedback to my students on their individual efforts towards completing Module 5. The following are excerpts from my comments to my students. All of these comments were posted in a discussion board and so every student could see the feedback to every other student.

The comments...

About Quality of work

This is a superb piece of work. I was intrigued to see how you blended in and built upon the ideas of cognitive dissonance and digital narratives to take those ideas further and action them with your PLC.

This is a fascinating account of how you created a PLC and then guided that group to some significant learning experiences.

About Process with PLCs

You have given a great overview of your process that translates into a very practical set of guidelines for creating a PLC to answer a specific question.

It may be that your groups can grow and shrink over time as the guiding questions for your community come and go. I think that with a core of teachers such as yourself, the PLC can move from question to question and bring in expertise and stakeholders as needed. 

I can see that you have created and implemented processes that create the space, physical and cognitive, that will allow dissonance to enter the conversation. Some authors argue that learning only takes place as a result of transformation, which is the result of a profound change in our understanding of something and from which we do not regress. Sometimes such transformation comes in the form of an 'aha' moment, or a revelation of new knowledge. However, much more frequently it comes in the form of a dissonance with, or challenge to our understanding of the world.

Another student pointed out that collaborating asynchronously does not alleviate the need for timeliness in responding. Although we are not F2F, we still are waiting on each other. I feel this pressure every time I see a post or email from a student. I know that there is someone waiting on the other end of the communication.

I like the revelation that while you all thought that F2F would be the way to go, that format also has lots of issues, even if different ones, and that for busy people, technology offers some great solutions. Time is simply the most valuable resource anyone has.

A significant, if not the most significant element of this is the establishment of norms for the interactions. I think that while we want to be free to think what we want, we need guidelines to remove and 'flatten' the social structure so that we can more easily more towards epistemological freedom (a la Freire).

I like your focus on the importance of the facilitator. This is a crucial role and one that is actually a lot more difficult than many people realize. One important element is the power struggle between the facilitation and the members. Sometimes, leaders think they are great facilitators, but what they are really great at is simply getting their own way.

One aspect of having your own site that may not be obvious at first is the fact that it is yours and not institution bound. With CMS sites and so forth, the content is in someone else’s control. With your blog, you will be able to take it with you when you move again to a new school.

mod5 wordle 200

About creating focus with PLCs

Another thought that came to me quite strongly while reading your work was the idea of what is the point of classroom activities, or these ‘pro-social’ activities? As I noted to another student, we often think that the collaborative strategies are just a means to an end. They may be in the ‘real world’ where we need to solve problems to survive, but in the classroom, I think they are quite often the ‘end’ that we are seeking.

You comment that, “The two teachers that responded are quite adamant in the development of pro-social skills be a precursor in the learning environment”. Are they precursors, or are they the ultimate goal?

Ironically, in our knowledge age, actual knowledge is less important than the ability to find, dissect and work with that knowledge.

About Trust in PLCs

I think there is one element of trust that might not be the more conventional idea, but that is as significant as any other. In many cases, I have found that people are willing to accord people a measure of trust up front. "You are teacher, therefore I already trust you to a degree." However, there is also the question of reciprocity of effort. I like to think that my effort to respond to people are appreciated and sometimes I participate as much for my own benefit and the opportunity to articulate my thoughts and write them down. However, there is also an expectation that we will get rewarded for our efforts in that the other person will reciprocate with a significant response. 

This reminds me of the concept of 'quality time'. Sometimes, quality time simply means quantity time.

I continue to work and teach in highly multi-cultural environments and the issue of culture is a common and constant item. I hesitate to say issue, because in our increasingly global world, I think it is important to recognize other cultures but then see how we can work together, not in spite of differences, but because of the differences. How do we stay true to ourselves, our family, our culture all the while respecting others and, in my case, living in someone else’s culture.

I am not sure about the alignment of culture. We celebrate our differences in Canada as opposed to the melting pot analogy of the US. We need common goals, but we may start from different sets of beliefs. In fact, in terms of the critical friend, we will need to be very critical if we already agree on most of what motivates us.

You have discovered that trust is a prime ingredient. I think that through the community of inquiry model, the notion of social presence, which is the first presence to establish, is often over looked by many and thought to be a side issue to the more important issue of cognitive presence. However, if we do not trust each other, then where will we go?

The power relationships are important anywhere, but I have found that in school settings, for one reason or another, they are critical. I think that many teachers spend their days being the masters of their domains and so become highly attuned to that power. When they are then subject to others’ power, they react oddly. I don’t’ think you find that situation in many other professions. 

I thought your comment in the discussion board was even more telling than your report. You noted that you had some ideas about how to proceed but that “I'm not sure that the administration would welcome this knowledge.” That too is a question of trust. Can you trust them to accept your suggestions in the spirit of collaboration?

This too makes me thinking that we might do well to define some of the elements of trust. Many of your classmates have commented as well that trust is a crucial element, but I think that we are seeing a range of trust issues. For example, one of you classmates commented about trust to continue to work together – trust to not report comments to others, trust to do something, trust to not do something.

Where is the cognitive dissonance in that statement? Where is, what Kelchtermans (2009) called the “discomforting dialogues”?

Taking all of this seriously, means that the scholarship of teaching is a risky endeavour (see also Loughran, 2006). Finding oneself confronted with opinions and practices that differ from or even contradict one’s own opinions and deeply held beliefs. This can be very discomforting. Yet, without these discomforting experiences, deep reflection – in which the content of one’s personal interpretative framework is thoroughly challenged and questioned – will far less often be triggered. And without deep reflection, one’s personal scholarship cannot be developed, nor the scholarship of teaching in general (as a publicly reviewed set of knowledge to build on). In order  to achieve this, teacher education as well as in-service training need to provide spaces to engage in discomforting dialogues. (Kelchtermans, 2009, p. 270)



Monday, 06 March 2017 22:18

Module 5 and the Digital Foothold

In response to questions about Module 5, I thought I would expand somewhat on the module and on the notion of a ‘Digital Foothold’ to support those of you who may be having trouble connecting with a professional learning community (PLC).

In Module 5, you are asked to “establish a set of ideas about Collaborative Inquiry (based on course content) that you feel are relevant to the identified Professional Community.” These ideas come out of your burning questions and your intentions toward the PLC. Herein lies the overlap with Module 4.

“Once the Professional Community and set of Collaborative Inquiry ideas have been established then each participant is to establish a connection with the Professional Community.”


  • the Professional Community can be accessed physically then the participant can do so directly.
  • the Professional Community can be accessed virtually then the participant can do so by joining into the on-line forum/discussion.
  • the Professional Community isn’t able to be accessed, but the participant has a desire to join it sometime in the future, then the participant can create a “digital foothold”.
    • You can use a website, blog (using WordPress or Blogger, etc.)
    • If you have not connected with a PLC, you could also write more generally about PLCs, and go back to your burning questions to help guide your discussion.

“Evidence of this link (connection) can be in the form of a write-up about the physical interactions; write-up and screen shots of the virtual interactions; or a write-up and link to the “digital foothold” that was created by the participant”

The ‘write-up’ is loosely defined and so could include:

  • A set of ideas about collaborative inquiry based on your readings for this course. You should draw heavily on your concept map and montage to highlight the how and the why of collaborative inquiry.
  • Demonstration of the practical application of your write up in the form of your interactions with the community
  • Some form of conclusion or result from your interactions with the community.

In the case of those who create a digital foothold,

  • A set of ideas about collaborative inquiry based on your readings for this course. You should draw heavily on your concept map and montage to highlight the how and the why of collaborative inquiry.
  • Demonstration of, or discussion of barriers to connecting with a community. What stopped you from being able to collaborate, or at least inquire about the possibility of collaborating?
  • Link to a portfolio that contains the above two elements.

Your reports about connecting to a Professional Community are to be posted in the D2L Discussion – Our Professional Communities by the end of Module 5 such that they can be shared and discussed during the course closure.

Sunday, 26 February 2017 16:24

Collaborative Inquiry & Culture of Thinking

I have written about the concept of Making Thinking Visible many times. However, it just keeps popping up in current literature about classroom strategies and in my own (virtual) classroom as my students explore the concept of collaborative inquiry. I am curious about the focus on K-12 students in relation to making thinking visible, when I find that the skills and activities necessary to actually make out thinking visible are highly relevant even in tertiary education and with educators themselves when trying to work together in a collaborative inquiry project.

The video linked below highlights some basic concepts of the notion of creating a culture of thinking. Oddly, one key element of this is knowing when to think. This might not be as odd as it sounds. I have found that we are often very good at teaching others what to do, but not so good as doing these very same things ourselves. A case in point is the writing circle that I participate in. I like to think that I give insightful feedback and pointers to my circle members, but then when it is my turn to receive feedback, they are giving me much the same pointers. Be clear! Remove unneeded text! Separate your sections more clearly!

medium message

It is interesting to see, for example, just how much group work and team work is stressed in the tertiary classrooms in which I spend much of my time, but then find that the instructors do not spend much time themselves acting on team work or participating in groups.

These strategies are not for our students to test out, learn and then move on from. Once we learn to make our thinking visible, we should not then stop doing so. A common complaint I hear from faculty is that students don't read. Actually, in many cases they do, but they still don't 'get' everything. I know my students read, and then go into the discussion board to explain why they didn't understand what they just read. Or, they explain what they read, but miss key points.

I recently watched a video about a class in which the students critique each other in order to create better work. The video in that article is quite powerful. Again, these strategies are being used with K-12 students, but I find that at the tertiary level,  we have the same issues and the same needs. Look at the difference in the two images below.

austins butterfly
See the video

 This is where the collaborative part comes in. In a community of inquiry, the other community members are there to help us understand, fill in missing parts and get on with the business of learning and then doing.

Saturday, 25 February 2017 00:59

Mid-course Reflection - Feedback

Dear Students,

After reading through just about all of your reflections and reviewing your performance, I would like to share some overall comments with you in order to give you a sense of how you are doing generally and to highlight what I find are some essential skills, some essential readings and some essential pieces of advice for success in the future.

You were asked to reflect on your progress up to this point in this course. I have not included any student reflections or writing in this feedback.

Here are excerpts from what I sent back to you.

Paul Leslie – Comments


For me, the reflections are often the source of the most inspiring comments and the most telling pieces of writing about your ideas toward the course and about you and your professional lives - and sometimes even your personal lives! Of course, I do learn a lot from the discussion boards, but those are often written for a larger audience and students have a tendency to be cautious and rather effusive with praise. That is good, but we also need some gritty, nit-picky questions in the mix to get people thinking and to delve deeper in the issues.

Some general comments about, or inspired by your reflections include:

“I loved reading your reflection piece. It was very detailed, thoughtful and demonstrates an understanding of the core concepts that goes beyond the concepts themselves and extends to their practical application and reality in the classroom. I particularly liked your discussion of Freire’s comment about being responsible to make the conditions for learning in our classrooms.”

“I appreciate the thoughtfulness with which you have approached both this reflection, and your overall work. I can see throughout the course that you have been challenging your classmates, and producing work that is clearly informed by the reading and reflection in your own experiences in the classroom.”

“I think your use of the term, “fidelity” is very interesting, It conveys a sense of doing the right thing combined with staying true to your original purpose. Is that what you mean?”

“As I always tell my students: I want more of whatever you are doing, and I want you to do it better. We are all individuals and we want to be judged on our own merits, not in comparison to our classmates.”

“I appreciate your comment about ill-structured problems. In fact, the whole debate over ‘authentic’ assessment or ‘authentic’ learning materials comes out of this notion that ‘real life’ is messy whereas the problems and situation we pose for students are contrived with the wrinkles ironed out. You could argue that a well-structured problem is not, in fact, a problem at all!”

“To get back to your reflection, I would like to offer a suggestion to look at strategies for ‘Making thinking visible’.

(http://www.paulleslie.net/index.php/main/archives/item/656-making-thinking-visible or http://www.paulleslie.net/index.php/main/archives/item/664-making-thinking-visible-part-2 )

In my own work, I have found this approach really lets students and teachers see what is in front of them in terms of the ‘problem’ to be solved and then what strategies are most appropriate for addressing those issues.”

“The issue I see with ‘best practices’ are that they are highly contextual and personal. So, while there certainly are ‘best practices’, I think we need to be very careful what we label as such. We need to do more of presenting the whole body of our work to each other so we can see the context of our work, not just isolated activities.”

“I wonder if ill-structured problems have ill-structured answers? That is why they are difficult to deal with and why they are good teaching and learning tools. They make us think and do not have clear answers. “

“With your students, how then do you let them work on a ‘common’ problem if they are to be self-determining and self-sufficient? I want to know how we adapt and give each student their individual support through group activities?”

“In your case, how will you get help from colleagues who are teaching different levels, different subjects, yet can offer help. How do you work with them?”

“The topic of education is a funny one. If you are working with Math teachers, you have the pedagogy, and you have the Math as a separate item or body of knowledge. But with teaching and education, the body of knowledge is the pedagogy.

Discussion boards


I find discussion boards to be a great tool to give students a challenging question and then let them share ideas and build a community of ideas around a particular topic. I have used them as assessment tools for years in my own classes and have a journal paper in review right now about their use.

When they have a rubric for use and an assessment value, they do take on a different tone, and often a much more thorough and in-depth tone. I have given you several references to the Community of Inquiry model from Athabasca University. In my research, I have found that the key to a successful discussion board, or in fact any type of collaborative interactions is the notion of ‘teaching presence’.

In the model, participants, including the teacher, display three presences, social, cognitive and teaching. Social presence is what lets us interaction and feel like we belong to the community. Cognitive presence is the ideas and knowledge that is contributed or generated in the community. And teaching presence is what gives the community direction and focus through thoughtful and challenging questions.

There is an assumption that teaching presence comes from the teacher. Of course it does. However, in our course for example, there are 20 students and one of me. So, I cannot possible ask enough questions to provide rigour and challenge and depth to the entire community in a sustained manner for the entire course. So, teacher presence must also come from the students. As I have pointed out, not only do you have the right to ask questions of your colleagues, but you have an obligation!

Some comments to you about your discussion board participation:

“After reviewing your discussion board entries, I see that you have interacted very well with your colleagues and have provided them with in-depth and thoughtful answers. I see that you took the time to respond to most questions and comments made on your work. I also see that you posed a few questions for your classmates. This is excellent work.”

“I do encourage everyone to ask questions and I see that you have been very encouraging with your classmates, and I encourage you to continue to feel free to really question everybody. That is what we are here for – to ask questions and to learn from everybody – that is another form of collaboration. I know that people sometimes feel a bit self-conscious, and when challenged may feel somewhat affronted. Nevertheless, in our quest for epistemological freedom (a la Freire), we must challenge each other and ask questions.“

“Thanks for the extensive feedback you gave me. That is the power of asking questions. You get answers!”

“Your posts to the discussion board have been great! I have read through them and you especially your very detailed response to my question. The thing I love about discussion boards, is that now the answer you posted is available for all students to read and be inspired by.”

“Did you see my post here: http://www.paulleslie.net/index.php/courses/course-1/item/718-comments-coi

“I appreciate your comments about working with others and the continual question of trust and how do we know our thoughts and comments are being taken in the spirit that they are intended. I encourage you to read up on the community of inquiry model (and see how that might apply to your work. The same issues arise in the discussion boards here. You mention that you need to establish trust. I wonder if you can apply an appreciative inquiry model and assume a level of trust as a measure of good faith?”

“My advice is to try and read a bit more of your classmates work and perhaps try to be a bit more regular. I see that you are logging in regularly, but you seem to have posted many of your comments in just a few sittings. It is better to check in more often for shorter periods of time. I know some people try to save up their work and do a big check at once. But this style does not work so well in the online course format and you really need to do ‘bits and pieces’. It takes time to digest the work and instructions and if you look at some other work first and ask questions, you will get great insights to your questions.”

“You also need to ask more questions, because not everyone will answer! In return, you will be asked questions. Always answer! You know the old saying, the best way to learn something is to try and teach it. Well, similarly, a great way to understand something, especially your own thoughts is to explain them to someone else.

“My advice is to try and ask more, genuine questions that you have. I see that you are asking some questions, but might suggest that they are ‘easy’(?). Don ‘t be afraid to ask challenging questions. I see that you commented in this issue in your reflection and you are concerned about how this will be perceived. Well, hopefully it will be perceived as exactly what it is – you asking challenging questions!”

Concept map and montage


The concept map and montage are important elements of the course. The map gives you a chance to show your overall understanding of the concepts and processes of problem solving and collaboration. The montage gives you a chance to think about some tools to use to bring those processes and collaborative techniques to life.

Some comments:

“I liked the revamped version of your map in Mindomo. You have a lot of information packed in there. I think you have really covered the topic, but encourage you for your students’ sake to think of it as a map to other, more detailed information. The details should be linked from elsewhere. If you are teaching online through D2l, use your available tools to make connections and draw attention to other sources.”

“To go back to your map, you use the terms ‘shared vision’ and ‘common goals’. I think these are important, but often do not elicit the self-determination you are looking for. Sometimes, we work with the same people because our goals align for the moment. As soon as they stop, we tend to drift apart. This is a natural progression. So, I wonder if the question is about how do we work together and get the best from each other even when we don’t always have common goals. I am working with a small group of people at the moment with very different goals, but we get together to share ideas and collaborate on topics that might not have a shared vision, but the ‘shared’ part of the vision comes through when I see how the others think. It is very rewarding.

“Your map conveys a great sense of the complexity of collaborative inquiry and it is very well supported by your technology montage. You have done a great job to link the collaborative processes to tools that will support such work. Between these two artefacts, you have demonstrated a strong understanding the overall concepts.”

“In light of your comments in your reflection, I ask you if you designed this for yourself, or for others to read?”

“I like the focus on Sustained knowledge as an end point. That is many ways is what we are after – to learn something and attach it to our schema and long term memory. I also love the focus on problem solving as means toward that end with strands going out to types of problems and strategies for solving them – this is excellent work. You should make sure you share it with your colleagues and you should put it into a learning and teaching portfolio. This is something you can show to students and then point out to them on the map where they are going to work for the day.”

“For example, having the characteristics of CI overlap with the 4 stages was a great example of the relationships.”

“I think that you will do well to spend some time go back and look at some of the later maps and second attempts. Some of your classmates have produced spectacular maps. They will be great examples for you to look at. As for using maps on your teaching, I think they are a critical tool both for you to explain concepts, and for your students to make to help dissect concepts.”

“Personally, I think Poplet is a great tool, but it is a difficult tool to use to represent more complex ideas.”

“I totally agree with your points about using a suite of tools rather than a collection of different tools that may or may not work together and that will require a set of passwords, some of which may be different. 90% of people already have a Google account.”

Burning questions and PLC


Finally, the burning questions and the start towards working with a PLC were very interesting! Technically, the burning questions and PLC discussion were not part of the mid-course consultation, but of course if you have not started this section of the course yet, you need to get busy! I gave considerable feedback to many of you on the communities. Because the nature of much of this feedback was directly related to your questions, it may not be relevant to share here. 

Nevertheless, in the following comments, you will see the main points you need to consider.

“Is that a more formal group, or are you an active participant? In other words, do you know the participants and engage regularly with them. If yes, you could easily use that group as a PLC. I have encouraged others to go with a PLC that they work with directly rather than one that is more distant and from which you may not receive regular or direct replies.”

“One note to consider is to try and pick a PLC that you have some chance of getting a reply from. In this light, you might be better off with a smaller group, rather than a larger one.”

“Although you are supposed to engage online, I think that nowadays, even with F2F, so much of the engagement process happens online, especially in terms of sharing documents, synchronous editing, cloud storage and other such collaborate tools.”

“Going forward, I encourage you to take some time to read about the Community of Inquiry model if you are not already familiar. There are some interesting comments about establishing ‘presence’ with online groups and even f2f groups. https://coi.athabascau.ca/coi-model/. Specifically, look at the social presence. This model is intended for online communities, but the work translates very well into f2f or blended situation as well. Under the social presence section of the model, there are lots of papers and measurement tools that will help to define what behaviors contribute to making the interactions more engaging.”

“There is no doubt that this is difficult and stressful. My best advice is to consider the concept of ‘tolerance for ambiguity”. There will be lots of unanswered questions through this process and that is intentional as an effort to develop such tolerance. One way to clarify, is to then consider the notion of ‘making thinking visible:

“It is a challenging topic and I advise you to go with it. I think there is a great deal of research to be done in that area and it would make a great PhD topic down the road for you!”

“I see that one of your burning questions is directly looking at the idea of digital working portfolios. (http://www.paulleslie.net/index.php/main/archives/item/579-pedagogy-of-freedom )! This would be a great focus for your professional communities. How can we use portfolios to engage with our community? Look at the AAEEBL (http://www.aaeebl.org/ ) as a professional community.

“I guess one question is, what is the difference between formal and informal? Is that the difference between group work with a group submission versus working with groups but submitting individually? How will that work in a ‘real life’ situation? Also, I was very interested to note that you have brought in the element of the size of the group. Very interesting! I am currently involved with designing some processes that are being developed by a small group, but that will impact 100s of academics across our entire school. How does that fit?”

“How does the level of formality affect the level of participation?”

“I see that you have contacted some others about questions regarding resistance to collaboration. That is a highly worthy topic and one that will challenge you and the other students.”

“In this case, you might need to be much more direct and forthcoming with your own ideas than you are accustomed to. In Canada, we are far too polite and unwilling to impose or burden others. However, the spirit of collaboration needs to start somewhere, and it might as well be with you. I am sure they will welcome every bit of advice and experience you can share.”

“You should look at Kolb's experiential learning model.”

“Going forward, I encourage you to think about this specific question. If you cannot work with others, you are clearly not collaborating. While it may not be incumbent on you to be the initiator, it is always good to take on that role and see where it leads.”

“The real essence of collaborative inquiry is to learn from each other and more importantly to appreciate other viewpoints in an attempt to broaden our own understanding. The point isn’t to persuade or be persuaded, but rather it is to achieve a greater sense of freedom through understanding what those around us believe, think and feel (http://www.paulleslie.net/index.php/main/archives/item/579-pedagogy-of-freedom ).”

Saturday, 25 February 2017 00:20

Further Updates for Modules 4 and 5


I have had a few questions about the upcoming work with Modules 4 and 5. The following are a few guidelines for the activities you will be pursuing.

I will note here that the work for the two modules does not have to be conducted consecutively. Indeed, you will not have time to do so. You should be working on both modules concurrently. This is why a PLC that is less formal and ‘closer’ to you (e.g. an actual workplace PLC) will be a benefit.

I will also note up front that these are guidelines only. If you have an original approach that you think will fulfil in substance and spirit the requirements, I am very much open to an innovative, thought-provoking project in some other format.

Some guidelines for my expectations in Module 4 include:

  • The whole paper should not be more than 2500 words (not including the process account). I would be surprised if you passed in less than 1500-2000 (some of my feedback to you was more than 1000 words!)
    • Be very concise. Be clear. I will be impressed by good writing.
    • Be harsh with each other in the editing. Allow others to edit your work. They can only make it better.
    • Don’t be afraid to delete.
  • For every article or source of knowledge that you cite in your paper, include a reference at the end of the paper. I do not want an annotated bibliography.
  • I prefer APA, but do not actually care. Whatever you use, be consistent. The whole point is to let your reader follow your ideas and find their provenance.

The outline should be something like this:

  • Introduction
    • What problem or burning question do you have around working collaboratively?
    • When you work with a group, what issues concern you about how you can work with other people?
    • What is the context of your issue? (e.g. are you working at a distance? With the same people over and over? Are you the principal? Is there a power relationship at play? Are the cultural differences / misunderstandings?)
    • WHY do you think this is an important issue?
  • Literature review
    • Use the articles that you have been provided in the reading list. Feel free to do some searching as well.
    • What do others (authors!) say about your problem? How have others handled the problem?
  • Proposed solution
    • This follows logically from your literature review. Did any of the authors provide a solution that you might try? Have you cobbled together a couple of pointers from each author?
    • Relate the solution to your PLC.
      • In your groups, each of you might have a few points about how each of you might tackle the problem with you own PLC.
      • Or, you can focus on one PLC but then in Module 5 you can go on a different tack with your own PLC
      • If your whole group has joined the same PLC, then you might want to consider how each of you will either work together, or address different questions within that same PLC.
  • Don’t be afraid to cite authors in this section as well
  • Process account
    • Copy the notes from your google doc or extracts from your emails etc. It will be very helpful to highlight important concepts or points where you reached agreement, or highlighted differences etc.

For Module 5, you will hopefully be able to put your solution to the test:

  • Identify a Professional Community with whom to connect
    • You have already done this, but you are free to change your mind and pick a different PLC. At this point, my advice about picking one that might respond to you will become relevant.
  • Starting with one of your burning questions, and quite possibly the burning question you worked on with your group, take the introduction and literature review from your group work and define a set of core ideas, related to Collaborative Inquiry and based on course content, to be shared as appropriate, with your chosen PLC.
    • You might not actually share this verbatim. The point is to prepare yourself to address issues (burning questions) that you feel you will encounter.
    • In your evidence of connect (see next point), you can show how you tried to implement your solution and connect with your community.
  • Connect virtually and/or physically with the PLC and document your interactions.
  • Provide evidence of a connection to the identified Professional Community.
  • Where virtual and/or physical connection is not possible, you will need to create a “digital foothold” where you can communicate the set of core ideas that were identified related to Collaborative Inquiry and the particular Professional Community
    • You might not get a reply from your PLC.
    • Then you will need to show a digital foothold.
    • This is the point where you will find the work better and more rewarding if you can actually connect with your PLC.
  • Create a link between your digital foothold and the course.
    • This will be a reflective piece of writing in the discussion board.

I hope these notes help to clarify.

Monday, 20 February 2017 16:34

Update for Modules 4 and 5

Dear Students - I hope to clarify the relationship between the following two assignments and professional learning communities (PLCs).

module gantt

You started working towards these modules when you identified one or more PLCs that you thought might be useful to your work or offer you the support that you are looking for with your teaching. In Module two, you posted a design (problem/solution) brief that was based on your burning questions from your concept map. Hopefully, you will be able to use some of the technologies highlighted in your montage to help you work with members of that community.

Now, you should communicating with other students, reviewing each other’s design briefs and deciding on which brief (PLC and question) you will focus your attentions. Ideally, you will select the brief that have the most clarity in terms of process and the most opportunity for engagement with the PLC.

**Please note that there is no reason why your entire group cannot work with the PLC after the group work assignment is completed to do the Module 5 individual work - noted below**

You will join a collaborative group (2-4 participants) to start the process of analyzing your burning question and taking the appropriate steps to find / propose a solution to the burning questions. . “The focus of your collaboration will be to design a proposed solution to a substantive problem or dilemma in a Professional Community of your group’s choosing.” You can use any collaborative technologies (e.g. Google Docs) that you see fit, and that you have investigated in the montage. Remember that you need to include a process account of your engagement with each other so you should use a technology that leaves a ‘paper trail’.

In your groups, you will:

  • Engage in critical review of a problem and the context in which the problem exists in a community
  • Propose solutions to a problem that are sensitive to the concerns of the stakeholders
  • Prototype versions of the solution for review by other students in the course
  • Write a Design/Problem Brief that includes 
    • Introduction: description of the problem/issue that is being addressed
    • Literature review - scholarly connections between your burning questions and the literature
    • The proposed solution - a discussion and ‘tangible version’ of the solution (prototype, process description, tools, etc.)
    • "Process account" - a summary of the process of engagement between members of your group
    • Reference List and citations within the body of the Design/Problem Brief

After this has been submitted, and concurrently, each of you will be expected to digitally communicate with a chosen PLC about the value of collaborative inquiry as it relates to an authentic problem of practice. This is why I have advised many of you to think about PLCs from whom you can realistically expect to receive a reply.

There is no reason why you cannot change your group as well once you have started to work on the group project.

For Module 5, you will

  • Identify a Professional Community with whom to connect
  • Starting with one of your burning questions, and quite possibly the burning question you worked on with your group, take the introduction and literature review from your group work and define a set of core ideas, related to Collaborative Inquiry and based on course content, to be shared as appropriate, with your chosen PLC.
  • Connect virtually and/or physically with the PLC and document your interactions
  • Provide evidence of a connection to the identified Professional Community
  • Where virtual and/or physical connection is not possible, you will need to create a “digital foothold” where you can communicate the set of core ideas that were identified related to Collaborative Inquiry and the particular Professional Community
    • This is the point where you will find the work better and more rewarding if you can actually connect with your PLC.
    • Create a link between your digital foothold and the course.

Post to the D2L Discussion topic, "Our Professional Communities - Making Connections" (started in Module Two).

Friday, 10 February 2017 18:42


Readings to support study

Thursday, 09 February 2017 06:43

Update for Students - Module 3

Hello - Your first set of submissions to me, as part of Module 3 are due on February 12th. Given that the following week was designated as an 'off-week' (Feb 13 – 19), and that I can see many of you might need a few more days, I will:

  • Extend the deadline for these submissions to Thursday, February 16th. If you submit before this time, I will try to complete your feedback as soon as possible.
  • If you submit by this date, I will try to have your feedback to you by Monday, February 20th, which still leaves you lots of time to act on any comments.
  • If you still need a bit more time, please let me know in advance.

Just remember, that the deadlines are to help everyone keep together on the same timeline and so work together.

These submissions include:

  • Activity: Final Core Concepts Map
    • Submit to dropbox (link to site in word document or image / pdf)
  • Technologies Montage
    • Submit to dropbox (Link to site or youtube etc. in Word – DO NOT submit video file)
  • Activity: Professional Community Initial Proposal
    • Submit to Module 2 Discussion board: Our Professional Communities

Concurrently, Module 2 ends on February 12 and so you should have posted to the “Our Professional Communities - Making Connections” Discussion board. In Module 3, you should continue to post to this SAME discussion board to make your proposal.

*** To be successful in the group assignment, your first post (Module 2) should highlight the community or communities you have been considering. You can then see what communities other people are considering. You will eventually choose one community to focus on for your group. To give yourself the best opportunity, the more communities that are discussed, then better the choice you will have.

In Module 3, you should be pitching your entry to let others know what you might want to do about the group project. This is your chance to attract group members. Ironically, I often counsel other academics at my university to not let students choose groups because you don’t get to do so in ‘real life’. However, in an online forum, getting a group is actually harder than having one made for you.

Thursday, 09 February 2017 05:37

Update for Students - Modules 2 and 3

Hello – the focus in Module 2 is for you to use the community forum to ask your burning questions and try to get feedback and insight into your work. While doing that, you should work on your technology montage as a means of reviewing the tools you might want to use for the next sections of the course. I will give you feedback and ask questions about your montage. You could take those questions back to the knowledge forum for further discussion.

So, you should then have some ideas around your burning questions and what you might want to do with or about them. You also have some ideas about the tools you can use to manage your questions and consequent actions.

Armed with this knowledge and ideas, go to the discussion board and post about the professional community you want to explore. You will need to spend some time to look at different communities and share your thoughts. You will need to review your classmates’ posts very carefully. From this discussion, you will eventually FORM GROUPS to work on the assignment for Module 4 – jump ahead and read it carefully before you post in module 2.

This all takes time. That is why this module is longer than the others

In Module 3, you will make an initial proposal about a community that you want to work with. You will need to consider what you would want to do with that community. Although not stated, you should think about what issues might arise in working with that community.

In module 4 you will need to review the posts from modules 2 and 3, and then FORM GROUPS, select ONE of the communities among your group, and proceed with the assignment.

Please note: You will submit a final version of your concept map and montage in Module 3. These will be a significant part of your mid-course evaluation. That is why I am asking you questions about your work. Please take time to consider and answer the questions from me and from your classmates.

Friday, 27 January 2017 20:12

A Comment about Comments

I would like to comment about making comments on people's posts. If you read about the community of inquiry, (https://coi.athabascau.ca/), you will discover that teaching presence is the supporting presence that makes the whole community actually function.

COI model front

So, let me say that not only is it appropriate for you to ask each other questions, but it is imperative that you do. Teaching presence not only comes from the teacher (me), but comes in the form of directing questions and inquiry which is what gives the community direction and guidance for sharing our cognitive presence. Social presence is that which makes us comfortable doing so.

I have talked about this in previous posts with other cohorts of students. You can read one discussion here

In other words, to make the most of this discussion board and community, I charge you with asking pointed and direct questions of each other in the posts. This is to push each other forward in the quest for knowledge. 

That is why we are here. That is why I love to teach. Students believe that they can ask the teacher questions. Well, students can also ask other students questions. In fact, students must ask other students questions. There is only one of me and many of you.

I look forward to a question-filled discussion over the next few weeks.

Page 4 of 72