It has been another good day at the NFE. Today we looked into a lot of essential components of good pedagogy. I especially liked the discussion we had on rubrics, which are always an interesting topic. Rubrics in many ways have become known as the standard of good evaluation. When not present, students sometimes think the evaluation is incomplete or inadequate. However, rubrics are only one evaluative tool that is purposed to one specific kind of evaluation, specifically graduated stages of development that often (but not always) contain conceptual or qualitative goals. Actually, this is sometimes the most difficult part of creating a good rubric. If it is the case that there are qualitative elements to a rubric, it can often be a challenge to make the language specific enough to clearly capture the expectation of the category.
The problem is there may not be a perfect solution to this. The criteria of achievement in the various categories may not be completely intuitive, because they may be precisely tied to the learning, i.e. the non-intuitive components of the course that have been included because they are not common sense or common knowledge. In this case, it would be precisely class attendance and engagement with the learning that would allow one to completely understand the expectations in the rubric. In other words, if someone, for example, claims they don’t immediately know what a certain category on the rubric demands, it may be the case that the category has been written with the content of the course in mind, consequently prohibiting the ability of one to complete assignments without the required learning.
To me this marks a point of frustration that both students and teachers may experience, however different the origin of the frustration may be. In terms of students, the frustration arises from not knowing what to do when the assignment is attempted without the required formative content and activities. In terms of teachers, the rubrics are meant to be accessible, but evaluate a specialized knowledge or skill, thus the student’s understanding of expectations is limited to their knowledge of the content that has preceded the evaluation. As such, I don’t think the evaluative tool should be considered a stand alone/independent entity that one should immediately or intuitively understand, but something that is completely tied into the learning goals and lesson plans that lead up to it, however accessible a teacher may strive for it to be.
To give a brief example, in Communications there is a category on the 4K rubric that describes “Genre”. Without attending the class, however, on genre in writing, this expectation would be completely confusing. In other words, the rubric is not accessible to those who don’t possess the required learning.
Taking all these points of reflection into account, I think two conclusions are reasonable. First, evaluative tools (rubrics included) may not be accessible because they depend so heavily on the learning that precedes them, and it is such content that allows one to understand expectations inasmuch as it prepares the student to meet them. Second, that Dee Fink (what a great name!) has hit the nail on the head when he creates a web that links learning goals, lesson plans and evaluations. They all depend on each other! In a sense, because they depend so heavily on one another, “jumping in” to complete an assignment, if the course is designed correctly, would be very difficult.
P.s. I tried to CC search google images for Dee Fink and those were the first three that came up. Maybe Dee Fink is a trifecta of personalities, whose identity is comprised by its members. Dee fink is an identity that has arisen from a network of identities!
From right to left:
Image source:
Image source:

Letter to Future Self

6862484133_158d092b16_b (1)This is the first day of the New Faculty Experience (NFE) at Fleming College. I’m looking forward to learning more about good practice in teaching and evaluation. It’s also great to have a length of time dedicated to developing a learning community amoung colleagues, so that we might share experiences, successes, and failures. I think our experiences are as diverse as the individuals we teach, so being able to connect with others who have already tried a particular teaching tool or used a certain type of activity in class will be able to explain the benefits and drawbacks.

It’s also a great time to really absorb some of the expertise of the LDS team! By the end of this week I hope to have a mind full of fresh ideas to bring to the classroom to increase student success.



Image source:

Creative Commons and Open Textbooks

Featured image credit: “Creative Commons Global summit 2017 – Day 3” flickr photo by Sebastiaan ter Burg shared under a Creative Commons (BY) license

Putting in a request to attend the Creative Commons Global Summit, I had a small idea of what to expect, but, after attending, I now realize the far reaching potential of this new way to license material.

The beginning of the conference—I must admit—was very confusing. Creative Commons had been completely restructuring their global network into country teams and platforms. I imagine such an initiation into the CC community is like attending the last of a long series of meetings and overhearing all the decisions that were made, but having no idea what the problems were and why they needed to be solved. However, after attending various smaller sessions that focused on education, it became clear why this is such a big deal to colleges.

The desired change is quite simple. For example, in terms of textbooks, the CC community would like an open access policy to prevail, namely one that allows a community to continually access, add, remove, supplement, or remix textbook content. At first glance this seems like a project of chaos, with different people haphazardly changing content on a continual basis. However, practically speaking, the process of preparing or revising an open textbook occurs in a much more organized manner. British Columbia, for example, has been incredibly dedicated to developing open textbooks. With grant money from the provincial government, textbooks have been written or adapted. This model is groundbreaking because there is no copyright license preventing someone from taking their work and changing it. Even Ontario can take it and use it! They can adapt the questions to suit a local context, or use government money to better the graphic design or provide illustrations for particularly difficult concepts. In essence, everyone can add to it and improve it. Once Ontario has improved it, British Columbia can take what we’ve done and continue to build off from it with newer updated versions.

The chaos that one may imagine in this new approach to ownership is out of place, at least in the creation of open textbooks. Anyone may take and use the textbook, but the “official” Ontario textbook would be the one that has been revised by a team of writers, copy editors, editors, graphic designers, etc. and is hosted on the official Ontario website. There isn’t a nomadic, confused textbook floating around the Internet that everyone is constantly changing, all the while subject to trolls and every other ill of the world wide web. Like regular published books, the open textbooks are put together with the same professional processes as regular for-profit books, but there is no copyright attached to the created material—once finished, it’s for the benefit of everyone. Anyone can take it and use it. For example, if Ontario funds a Chemistry textbook, the whole world may download it, change it, expand it, and share it—including Fleming College. Pay to access textbooks won’t open as many doors for learners. To me, this seems a better representation of the goals of education.

The big fear in all of this is the concern of someone stealing another’s work. Attribution is the answer here. For example, if I create a great chapter of a textbook and another college comes and takes it, they’ll be bound, according to the CC license, to attribute authorship to the original author. As well, the CC license can prevent any kind of for-profit use of the book if the author does not want it. No one can start printing it and selling it for a profit without the consent of the author(s). There are lawyers and policy advocates working alongside the Creative Commons team to ensure this system of licensing, as an alternative to copyright, has binding rules and regulations that prevent people from abusing products within this open access culture. The breadth of this new system of ownership and culture is vast and there are many ways to control how one’s own creations are protected. In other words, the creators of content can choose exactly how they want their material used by the world.

There’s so much more that can be said about the Creative Commons community, but hopefully this provides some preliminary insight. Also, here is a link describing how eCampus Ontario is in the process of launching a library of post-secondary open textbooks and here is a link to textbooks already available through BCcampus—there’s 187 of them so far.
Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.