Thursday, October 6, 2011

Annual Distinguished Research Lecture 2011 - Dr. Sharon Friesen

Hey, if you are looking for me later, this is where I will be: Faculty of Education, University of Calgary, Annual Distinguished Research Lecture 2011 - Dr. Sharon Friesen. Not only did I nominate her, it is my privilege to get to introduce Sharon!

Title: "I Hold in My Hand A Bird: Sponsoring Intellectual Engagement"

Check out two of her major works:

The Galileo Educational Network -

Intelligence Online -

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Mentorship and apprenticeship: working with graduate students

The bulk of my day today involved meetings with graduate students. Currently, I am supervising several doctoral and masters students as they propose, carry out and write up their graduate research projects. First thing this morning, I skyped with two doctoral students: one who has written the candidacy paper and is preparing for the candidacy exam, and another who is overseas and is preparing a literature review and research proposal. Later this morning, I met with a master of arts student who is also teaching full-time. After lunch, I met with a master of science student, a faculty member and two IT folks who are members of the team that will research the use of clickers with large lectures this Fall.

I regard graduate supervision as one of the most important types of teaching and mentorship that I do, and thus, invest a great deal of effort into building productive, research-focused mentoring relationships with graduate students. In addition to stretching me as a researcher, graduate supervision is time-intensive, emotionally demanding and hands-on work. Graduate supervision is sometimes like 2 - 3 years of formative assessment that leads up to a high stakes summative assessment, the 2 hour oral exam! Ongoing professional and academic dialogue and planning, coursework and advising, proposing and carrying out research, writing, writing, reading, reading and rewriting and rereading drafts of each chapter, and then preparing for the exam... it is a process of continual improvement, peer review and academic advancement.

Working with graduate students is both a privilege and an honor. I learn a great deal from my teaching role as a supervisor and committee member for educational technology, nursing, environmental design, computer science and psychology graduate students, and also as an active researcher who mentors graduate research assistants.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Presenting Research at AERA in New Orleans, April 2011

Sharon Friesen and I presented our research findings at AERA in New Orleans, Louisiana, in April 2011 this year. The session was entitled, "A Three-Year Design Based Research Initiative That Influenced Practices in a One-to-One Laptop School". Those who follow me @dmichelej on Twitter know that a highlight of the conference was listening to the Presidential Address by Kris Guttierrez on designing resilient ecologies and a human science of learning. Another highlight was meeting Dr. Bill Ayers, who got an education award, in person (I have used his text, To Teach, in my undergraduate teaching for the last 14 years). 

In addition to cultivating our minds, Sharon and I enjoyed food for the soul at some of New Orleans' French Quarter hot spots, such as Brennan's for breakfast, Landry's Seafood House for dinner, and Pat O'Brien's for a late night Hurricane. 

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Thomas and Seely Brown's book, A New Culture of Learning

I recently wrote a review of Thomas and Seely Brown's new book, A New Culture of Learning, which appears in the Summer 2011 issue of Education Canada. URL:  I believe that ALL education students, both graduate and undergraduate, and ALL Education faculty members should read this book to gain new awareness about participatory learning beyond school. 

Here are the opening paragraphs:

"Play is neither trivial nor frivolous; it is how we learn. Douglas Thomas and John Seely Brown take seriously the role of play as a mindset that needs to be cultivated in education. In A New Culture of Learning, they invite us to see how a world in constant flux is not either a problem to solve or a challenge to overcome. Via richly textured stories about what learning and play look and feel like in digitally connected participatory cultures, the authors invite readers to imagine how teaching might respond to a world in constant change."

"In a skillful analysis of shifting learning contexts and cultures, the authors explore learning as a cultural, social, and continuous process of inquiry, engagement, and participation in the world around us. Given that knowledge and information are dynamic and changing, that current technologies are participatory and emergent, they argue that learning environments must be transformed into knowledge building collectives that constantly create and respond to change".

I encourage you to read the rest of my review:  URL:

And of course, to read the book itself!!  Thomas and Brown's, A New Culture of Learning:  Cultivating the Imagination for a World of Constant Change.  URL:

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

A bit of Educational Technology History and Meaning

Here is a short description of Educational Technology that I wrote a while back for my EDER 671 - Conceptualizing Educational Technology graduate course description.

Already a senior citizen in the educational research community, Educational Technology is a vibrant field of study that has undergone many changes in its 70+ year history.

While the field has worked with several definitions over the years, the current definition is: “Educational technology is the study and ethical practice of facilitating learning and improving performance by creating, using and managing appropriate technological processes and resources” (Januszewski & Molenda, 2008).

This course provides an overview of educational technology in the context of research on learning that bridges theory and practice. While the popular notion of "technology" is often associated with a variety of pieces of equipment, such as computers, video cameras and networks, and product development, such as web sites and podcasts, we will conceptualize educational technology more broadly as the systematic application of knowledge to solve instructional problems. Media, hardware, software and networks are considered in the contexts of design, development and utilization of technology that supports intentional learning environments, relationships and communities.

EDER 671 serves as an introduction to educational technology for those who are new to the program, students from other specializations, and anyone who wants to broaden their understanding of facilitating learning with technology. The possible topics for this course are unlimited and diverse.

Inquiry can range from social computing, virtual reality, multimedia, hypertext, simulation and game-based learning to distributed expertise, visual communication, cultural and political impacts, knowledge management and industrial design, to the role of library and information professionals, change and adoption models, corporate and public partnerships, and all the e-this and i-that topics, if you insist (i.e., e-publishing, e-marketing, e-learning, e-business, e-bay, i-Mac, iBalls, iPods, iCulture, and i-cannot-keep-up! ;-).

Instructor selected topics provide merely a broad foundation for discourse that can echo a diverse range of student derived issues and ideas. Students are encouraged to focus their individual scholarship on particular educational technology topics, key issues in educational technology, and emerging trends about which they are passionate and curious.

The instructional methodology for this course is largely inquiry-based. Students will inquire individually and collaboratively into educational technology issues, questions and concepts that define the field. Students will actively reflect on their learning, debate ideas in a scholarly community of inquiry, and will be encouraged to apply new knowledge in the design of a learning web and opportunity for their peers via a wiki. Students will construct philosophical perspectives, investigate diverse educational technology topics and dig deep into instructional problems that they define. The course will be a success if students end up with more questions and key issues to frame ongoing inquiry in the field of educational technology and the end of semester than they started with in the beginning!

For further commentary on educational technology, I suggest you read an article by Denis Hylnka and I wrote in Spring 2009, "What is educational technology, anyway? A commentary on the new AECT definition of the field", By Denis Hlynka and Michele Jacobsen, for the Canadian Journal of Learning and Technology, 35(2).  URL:

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Leadership Breakthrough

Thank you! THANK YOU!  Deanna Werklund, for sponsoring me for the Leadership Breakthrough I Training.  I have taught for 16 years, and I have been a professor for 12 years - I learned so much about leadership, teamwork, passion, courage, teaching and having fun from my peers and trainers - my hat is off to these 25 dynamic and courageous individuals who are changing the world one day at a time. I am looking forward to sharing my experiences and my leadership with youth!!

I had FUN! I totally stepped out of my comfort zone and I do not want to go back! Groups of 400 people in a lecture? Totally my comfort zone. Being a strong leader who gives people positive feedback? No problem, and I will get even better at this. Giving people the feedback they need to improve -- gotta work on that. Getting closer to colleagues and building strong relationships -- I will get better at that.

I smiled and laughed and cried and also rediscovered my voice!
I have a powerful voice and I am not afraid to use it. 

JFDI.  Just Focus and Do It.
I am strong. I am powerful. I will overcome. I AM A LEADER.

Friday, April 29, 2011

Heat And Energy From Crap

For this, my 140th blog post, I will highlight an interesting, albeit unconventional 'crap' project by my Chemical Engineering colleagues, Dr. Ian Gates and Dr. Michael Kallos, in the Schulich School of Engineering: Turning human excrement into electricity. This is a serious project with some 100K in funding from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. Congratulations boys and best of luck with this knowledge building and world changing innovative work.

And thank you, my loyal reader, for joining me on my short, but well-deserved break, from end-of-semester marking. Bye for now.

Spring Snow in Alberta

Planted seeds and a few bulbs on Sunday Apr 24.
Snow on Thursday and Friday.
Happy Spring!

Great April snow images in Calgary CBC [URL] in Edmonton Journal [URL].

Monday, April 18, 2011

Dementia - Getting used to a new reality

Today, I am taking a few minutes to capture my thoughts about dementia, and link to a few items that have recently been in the news. 

My mom, sisters and I called it our family's "new reality" when dad was diagnosed as having progressive dementia. It was particularly challenging, emotionally, for us to learn about Dad's diagnosis when he was in the emergency room after suffering a stroke. Our fragile illusion and tenuous hope that he would recover were shattered by the emergency room doctor's frank description of the damage caused by the stroke, as well as the other damage, likely related to diabetes, that the scans had revealed.

Dad was still physically our dad, and still smiled his same smile. I cherished the moments when we had a conversation that echoed of the dad I knew and the relationship we had before the stroke. I also learned to cherish my new relationship with my dad - I touched him more often because he would let me and he needed me to do things for him. I held his hands or stroked his arm, he would let me put lotion on, or I would hold a straw to his mouth so he could drink, or feed him supper with a spoon - none of these things happened before the stroke or the dementia. Dad and I had new conversations and there was a different kinds of openness and sharing on both sides that did not occur prior to the stroke - like the time dad observed that my mom took on too many burdens, that my children were quite competitive, and when he reflected on the strength of our family. "We have a strong family, we are lucky", he said. Dad struggled to communicate at times, and I ached for him.

It is sad to see that Ralph Klein is suffering a form of dementia that robs him of his ability to speak [URL, URL, URL]. I was in grade 9 when Ralph Klein was first elected mayor of Calgary. As a leader, he touched many lives in Alberta, and will be remembered both fondly and not so fondly [URL, URL, URL]. 

Dawna Friesen's blogpost, My Dad and Dementia, also caused me to reflect on the many changes we observed when my dad was placed in long term care after his stroke and diagnosis of dementia.

Finally, today I learned about the Fred Lewicki Memorial Lecture, a series inspired by Sigrid Lewicki and her husband's experiences living with dementia for 9 years. From this article, I also learned that the number of people with Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias is expected to double in the next 20 years, which is a New Reality for All of Us, and a call to action for our health and education systems.

Friday, April 8, 2011

iPads Change the World of Work?

I have written about wanting an iTrifecta in a previous post. I now belong to the iPod, iPhone and iPad hat-trick club. 

I was, therefore, very interested in this article, forwarded by my friend John, about a collection of personal case stories about the changed world of work for artists, teachers, physicists, painters, musicians who use iPads: 

How the iPad revolution has transformed working lives, by Charles Arthur and Killian Fox, in The Observer, Sunday 27 March 2011

"Fifteen million iPads were sold last year. As iPad 2 launches, Charles Arthur looks at the impact of tablet computers on the way we relate to technology, and five users tell us about how the iPad is feeding into the way they work".

As a dropbox newbie, but avid user of other cloud apps, I can totally imagine how this device can be a game changer.  In my comment, Girlprof has a iTrifecta, I wrote:  In January, I finally got an iPad - neat thing is, a colleague gave it to me for my kids. I brought it home and the kids grabbed it. The next time I actually got my hands on the iPad it was littered with dozens of new apps and games and fingerprints. It is a great gaming tool - my child also uses it for learning French. "Mom, I need to iPad to look up a word". Both of my children watch movies, play games, draw pictures, create animations, doctor photos, send email and drive cranes on the iPad. I keep learning new ways to use the iPad from the under 10 crowd at my house and at the hockey rink as they gather around and play with this mobile device. 

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Musings on educational technology

Having a great morning reading and responding to some of my student teacher's blogs. I feel so positive and hopeful about the strength of our education system and the possibilities for learners with these bright new teachers entering classrooms.

In response to one of the blogs, I wrote this:

In educational technology, we design learning experiences, and then investigate whether the technology-enabled approach to learning is better or more effective or more efficient than the present method or the method it proposes to replace; we get excited and passionate about the design and use of technology for learning experiences that were not possible before -- true innovations that take us into unexpected and unintended directions. That is when things get interesting -- lest you think this is an "unexamined enthusiastic endorsement" of technology, it is not. Technology is not neutral, and we have to engage in disciplined research and inquiry into both the benefits and the drawbacks of technology-enabled learning environments, as well as be mindful of the political, social and economic contexts within which education takes place (both informal and formal). No small task that takes no small amount of courage (Clifford, 2001). 

Monday, April 4, 2011

A Little Grab Bag of Neat Online Tools & Articles

Wondering what to do with your laptop while you sip your mochaccino? Want to UP your techno-savvy and inform your perspective on future trends? Over the past few months, I have received suggestions and tips from fellow educational technology folks and put these in a folder -- as it grew, I realized I needed to DO something with this grab bag of online goodies. So, enjoy your stroll through these neat online tools - I am sure you will come up with neat ways to use these tools and ideas. 

Text Messaging Polls - A graduate student demonstrated and used with us in my graduate seminar - it is a great online survey tool that uses text messaging from any cellphone for input.

Page Speed Online
By Google, Page Speed Online analyzes the content of a web page, then generates suggestions to make that page faster. Reducing page load times can reduce bounce rates and increase conversion rates.  One of my course pages got a 39 / 100 - I got some great advice on how to improve my load time.

TitanPad - Collaborative Document Editing
Similar to Googledocs, many people can collaboratively edit a document - difference is that you can get started immediately with no need to create an account. So, to record notes during a meeting, brainstorming on the fly, and quick document creation, this seems like a great tool.

Learn how to visually organize your interest web with a 55 second tour!
Play with this and create some bookmarks to organize your online life - its fun!

Read this Special Report: Dumping print, publisher bets the ranch on apps to consider what is happening with eBooks. 
Excerpt:  "This is revolutionary," he says, stroking his finger at the iPad's glass surface and prodding to open an app he has developed. "This is the Looking Glass. This is Alice in Wonderland. We are at the beginning of an entirely new medium."  The increasingly popular e-books sold on Amazon's Kindle, Apple's iBook store and Barnes & Noble's Nook store are electronic reproductions of paper books. So, for publishing innovators such as Callaway, it will be Apple's App Store that will ultimately transform books into a new medium. Titans from Random House, Penguin and HarperCollins are jostling with the likes of Callaway for a piece of the pie. Experts say it's like a Wild West gold rush, perhaps the biggest moment in publishing since Gutenberg's invention of the movable-type printing press in the middle of the 15th Century.

Feeling a little overwhelmed and overloaded by information? Turns out, you are not alone - Ecclesiastes and Seneca were distracted, too. Read this book review, "Too Much To Know" in Inside Higher Education.  A book by historian Ann Blair, Too Much to Know:Managing Scholarly Information before the Modern Age, about the history of information.
Excerpt:   History certainly offers no clear predictions of the future, but I tend to think that we will manage much as we have in the past, creating problems for ourselves but hopefully also enough solutions to carry on.

Still need something to do while you sip a mochaccino?

After watching this VIDEO: Apple Debuts New iPad 2 ad, with "We Believe" theme, ... 

Browse Helene Blowers list of 23 techno-things to do on the 43 things website! Originally created for the Learning 2.0 program at the Public Library of Charlotte & Mecklenburg County, Helene's is a great list of 23 learning challenges to give to student teachers, or teaching colleagues, or faculty friends, as a weekend challenge to UP their techno-savvy! Or, you can send them to the 43 things website to start their own list...

Enjoy learning new things.  Our children and our teachers deserve to learn, build and share ideas together in connected learning and knowing communities. 

Follow me on Twitter at dmichelej

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

My writing on our Blended Doctoral Program in Educational Technology

Ask me about, "Blended Learning Across Disciplines: Models for Implementation", edited by Andrew Kitchenham, and published by IGI Global.

Chapter 10
I wrote the 10th chapter in this book, entitled "A Case Study of a Blended Doctoral Program in Educational Technology". Here is the abstract:

Educational technology is a hands-on, minds-on discipline that emphasizes knowing and doing. In this field, doctoral education needs to reflect digital and communication realities in the twenty-first century. In this case study, a blended learning approach to graduate education in educational technology is explored from the perspective of the author’s own classroom. The course design and blended delivery of an Advanced Concepts in Educational Technology seminar is described in detail. Active learning opportunities, using wikis, blogs, avatars and virtual worlds, learning managements systems, email, and face-to-face learning experiences engaged doctoral students in the collaborative investigation and critique of educational technology trends and research ideas. Doctoral students investigated their emerging digital lives as scholars and developed a personal cyberinfrastructure that they can continue to build, modify, and extend throughout their educational technology careers.

A Decade of Experience and Research on 1-2-1 in Maine Gives a Passing Grade

Great newspaper article, with research to back it up, on the decade of 1-2-1 laptop use by teachers and middle school students in Maine:
10 years after laptops come to Maine schools, educators say technology levels playing field for students

Key ideas:
- each seventh- and eighth-grader in Maine public schools and every grades 7-12 teacher has a laptop paid for by state taxpayers
- Teachers, students and administrators interviewed for this report said laptops are giving several kinds of return on that money:
-- Laptops make learning and schoolwork more interesting, students and teachers said. “When kids are engaged, you can teach them anything...
-- Writing test scores have improved
-- Math skills have jumped. The number of students who need remedial math in the ninth grade has been cut in half. In 2001-02, Freeport Middle School's eighth grade passing rate on basic math tests was about 50 percent. In 2009-10, it was 91 percent.
-- Laptop critics worry that laptops are a distraction from learning: Students spend too much time on social-networking sites, including Facebook and Skype. 
-- Overall, educators say the laptops have done what King promised: level the playing field of access to technology and help students become technology-literate. 
-- Before laptops, students had to learn where to find the information on the library shelves. Today, finding information online is easy. Students now need to learn how to critique the information. That is a higher level of thinking skill, Robinson said.

Ten years later, King believes the laptop program was the right thing to do.
“I'm as enthusiastic as ever,” King said. “We did the right thing at the right time. It's been tremendously successful.”

There is a great video with students at the end of the article; I encourage you to watch it!!

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

A faculty member's wish list

I became a university professor because I love to teach and I am very curious and passionate about my research on learning and teaching with technology. I look forward to developing as a leader and becoming an associate dean in the future. As a female faculty member, I would like to see more opportunities to develop as a leader - more mentoring, professional learning opportunities, and support for the development of female leadership capacity and competency within my faculty and across campus.  I would also like to see female faculty valued as much as their male counterparts -- female faculty are often balancing the huge demands of being a research and teaching professor, with family and home and senior care responsibilities -- I believe we can be creative and innovative in higher education at better supporting and recognizing the contribution that female faculty make to teaching and research, as well as better investing in them as the next generation of leaders on campus.

I am feeling MORE positive than in my last 10+ years as a professor because of our new president - Dr. Elizabeth Cannon is extremely competent and effective, and she is breathing new life, integrity and good management into our University. I fully support Dr. Cannon and believe she is exactly the right president that the University of Calgary needs.  I am also feeling very positive because of the excellent leadership in my faculty - great changes are afoot and many of these are long overdue. So, I am feeling very positive and hopeful about the direction this university is going, and the role my faculty will play in achieving the vision and goals that have been set for this University, and the role that I can play as a faculty member and as a future leader. 

As a faculty member, I need my faculty and my university to better invest in the infrastructure that supports innovative, technology-enabled LEARNING and TEACHING, and the RESEARCH on same. Our university has fallen behind in our infrastructure -- both human and technological - in support of innovative, excellent and cutting edge teaching and the research on educational technology.  We need to invest heavily in the professional development of our faculty - see the Institutional Learning and Teaching Plan - our faculty need support in becoming better teachers with 21st century competencies. However, this investment will be for nought unless the university invests strategically and intentionally in creating 21st century learning environments across campus.

Monday, March 21, 2011

CEP 952: Jacobsen's Doctoral Pathfinders

Hello to Michigan State University from University of Calgary!!

Patrick Dickson:  I am delighted that you found value in my online website and resources, and that you are recommending your doctoral students in Educational Psychology and Educational Technology [] consider these as they build their own online portfolio and presence as emerging scholars.  

I encourage you to invite students to comment on any one of my blogs [] -- I am not looking for "two thumbs up" - instead, I encourage active debate and questioning of any of these ideas, and I really appreciate getting URLs to other useful sources.  I moderate comments because I got too many spam type comments from businesses and vendors, etc. But, I am fairly quick at getting comments published.

Here is a task that I assign my own doctoral students, and have written about in a book chapter about our doctoral program that will be published this year:  An online doctoral research pathfinder: 

As a doctoral student becomes immersed in a graduate program, s/he builds a professional library of resources and an academic community of colleagues and researchers related to their research interests. Beyond books on a shelf, or articles in a folder, an effective method for keeping track of a growing list of contacts, experts and online sources is to build and populate a personal website related to your doctoral research.  Borrowed from the world of library and information science, a Subject Pathfinder is an online gateway that organizes resources from across the Internet, and quickly guides a user to key information and people that will best provide information related to a specific topic(s). A Doctoral Research Pathfinder is a personal web that brings together a diverse, high quality, comprehensive set of researchers and resources related to a doctoral student’s proposed research topic. The Doctoral Research Pathfinder will serve as an evolving, multimedia knowledge resource based on your doctoral study and individual scholarship (Jacobsen, 2011).

You can link to these on my TEACHING site under Graduate Teaching [].
I welcome your comments, suggestions and observations on the doctoral pathfinder, on creating an online scholarly presence, on my scholarly website. Sincerely, Michele

Group Intelligence, Enhancement and Extended Minds

Interesting post by Phillippe Verdoux, Ethical Technology, in which he asks questions like:
What do we know about the nature of collaborative work?
What is the relation between the capacities of individuals and the capacities of the group?
How might cognitive enhancement technologies amplify the abilities of groups to solve the problems they are confronted with?

As part of his approach to exploring these questions, he cites a 2010 study by Wooley, Chabris, Pentland, Hashmi and Malone, published in Science, to claim:

1. There is such a thing as collective intelligence.
2. It is not possible to accurately predict how well groups will perform on a range of cognitive tasks simply by averaging the IQs of its members, or by noting a single exceptional individual within the group.

The Key to Smarter Groups
First, the greater the social sensitivity of group members, the smarter the group.
Second, the more turn-taking within the group, the better the group performs.
And third, the more women in the group, the higher the group IQ.

Verdoux ponders a question near the end of the paper, "It would seem to be much easier to raise the intelligence of a group than an individual. Could a group’s collective intelligence be increased by, for example, better electronic collaboration tools?" and goes on to suggest, "Maybe the best way to improve the enterprises of science, government, business, and so on, would thus be to focus on enhancing group intelligence – a goal that may or may not have much to do with enhancing individual intelligence".

Gee on Getting Beyond Mindless Progressivisim

Check out James Paul Gee's recent blogpost:  URL.  Well worth a read.

Gee "advocates what he calls “post-progressive pedagogy” and a particular variety of it I he calls “situated learning”."   Then, Gee provides 12 characteristics of what he describes as well designed learning environments.

Awesome stuff - to see what it LOOKS LIKE, go to the Inquiry and Technology Exemplars found on Galileo Website:

Thursday, March 17, 2011

In 2011, Technology is global, ubiquitous, social and inexpensive

Yes, we can put a powerful computer in every child's hands for learning. See this Carpe Diem post about the great deflation in computer prices:

The question is whether the education SYSTEM, namely the ministry, school jurisdictions, schools, leaders, teachers, parents, community stakeholders, business partners, have the appetite to do so.  When considering "costs", the education system has to take a sharp look at the cost of NOT investing in the creation of twenty-first century learning environments for EVERY child in this province. From research we know that the greatest gains in learning with technology are found in schools where the teaching changes to reflect inquiry and knowledge building, the assessment focuses on the improvement of ideas and outcomes, and the technology is in hands of every teacher and student. 

As my colleague, Therese Laferriere, recently argued (EduTech Summit) - connectivity is another issue that school systems have to address.  We need to find solutions for increasing connectivity and bandwidth in schools, and also knocking down the firewalls between teachers, students and the online knowledge base.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Hands On Vs. Hands Up: Technology Enabled Knowledge Building in High School

Really looking forward to feedback on and interpretations of this latest Michele Jacobsen & Sharon Friesen 2011 article in CEA's Education Canada:

Web Exclusive - Hands On vs. Hands Up: Technology-Enabled Knowledge Building in High School
In a landscape in which learners can be creators of ideas, it is vital for high schools to become technology-enabled learning environments that are sharply focused on knowledge building, idea improvement, and collaboratively creating community knowledge. Most students use personal connectivity for socializing and play, not for knowledge building, exploring problems, or building on each other’s ideas. They need engaged teachers more than ever to make the leap from digital technology as play to digital technology as a tool for knowledge creation. If we really want our children to face the challenges of the future with confidence and skill, we must teach them not only that they can acquire current knowledge, but also that they can help shape what their society comes to accept as knowledge. Participatory digital technologies and new social media landscapes, combined with engaged teaching and designs for learning, offer new opportunities for knowledge building and interconnected relationships.

Please comment on GirlProf, or on the Education Canada website. 

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Rationale for Hard Work in Graduate Courses in Educational Technology

A while back, I prepared this rationale for the way I designed my graduate courses in educational technology.

Hi. Thank you for the breakdown (of tasks that you provided) -- and thank you for trusting me with your feedback about workload. I do realize and do appreciate that the workload is higher in my graduate course than other graduate courses. However, I have to tell you that I believe that your assessment of my graduate course, "this is the heaviest workload in any of the grad courses I have taken thus far" also says a great deal about the expectations of other instructors, and (perhaps even) their beliefs about what graduate students are capable of accomplishing.

The work that I invite students to do in my graduate courses reflects design, development, production and evaluation work conducted by educational technologists; so I am confident that it is authentic to the discipline and reflects industry standards (to the extent possible in a 13 week semester). Blogs:  Reflection on learning is a metacognitive strategy that is well supported by research on how people learn well in community - so, I am confident that the blogging work is also authentic to graduate level knowledge building.  

I realize that the work is a challenge and I do hope that it is motivating enough, as students have chosen the problems that they work on during the semester, to sustain interest and energy to do the work well. Over the years that I have offered this pair of courses, the feedback has been positive and has indicated "heavy work load, but worth it for learning in the discipline". I do hope that our group this year will also feel that the effort and investment has been worthwhile.

-- Although I may take some heat for some of the frank opinions expressed in this post, I do believe that teachers need to design challenging, authentic and meaningful work for learners that leverage technology appropriately - learners in elementary school, learners in high school, learners in undergraduate and graduate programs.

Seymour Papert describes it as "hard fun" - work that engages learners in powerful ideas.

In Sharon Friesen's and my recent Education Canada article, Hands On vs. Hands Up: Technology-Enabled Knowledge Building in High School, we elaborate on the need for engaged teaching and the design of great tasks. 

Thursday, February 10, 2011

QUEST - Oilfields High School Lands National Award

Thanks to Bruce Campbell, at the Okotoks Western Wheel, for this great story about Oilfields High School and the National CEA Ken Spencer Award, "Quest lands Oilfields a national award. Education: Program honoured for its innovation in teaching and learning".

Quote:  "Fittingly, Dr. Michele Jacobsen, an assistant professor of Education at he University of Calgary, presented the Canadian Education Association’s Ken Spencer Award on Feb. 3 to the most important component of the Quest program – a student, Austin Short.  “I did that deliberately because it is the kids that have to put the sweat equity into this program to make it work,” said Jacobsen who was representing CEA. “They have been able to form strong relationships with each other and formed bonds of trust that will last their lifetimes.  When I look at each and everyone of them, I couldn’t help but think it is these kids who will take our province into success.

What a great high school success story!! 

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Playing with Technology: We are all makers

As a fan of Cory Doctorov's work (Author of "The Makers", and other excellent books on our participatory culture), I was drawn to the TED Talk by Dale Dougherty, called "We Are Makers", which is an interesting view on the human impulse, desire, ability and passion for making things, for creation and creating things, for exploring and solving problems, for creating new problems, and for expressing our creativity, and exploring ideas and possibilities that are still open - like flight, space exploration, musical creation, and broadcasting.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

QUEST: Oilfields High School, Black Diamond, AB, Foothills School Division

It was my honor and privilege to present the CEA's Ken Spencer Award for Innovation in Teaching and Learning to high school students and teachers at Oilfields High School in Black Diamond, AB on Thursday, Feb 2.  These kids are our future leaders, they have put their school and town on the map, and they make all of Alberta proud!

Quest Program, Oilfields High School, Black Diamond, AB
Foothills School Division

Quest is an alternative high school program targeted to meet the needs of students who have experienced limited academic success and feel disengaged from school.  Quest blends classroom work and experiential learning such as field studies, class trips, and outdoor education to engage youth in multiple facets of learning.  Each student has made a personal commitment to attend school regularly, and participate in all components of the program: academics, service work, adventure learning, personal and social growth learning as well as career exploration through placements and career counseling – learning that impacts their growth as a whole individual.  The high degree of student success is attributed to the program model, which challenges youth to strive for excellence and build internal resiliency skills.

Global TV Coverage, Feb 4, 2011- Innovative Program Helping Kids Love School
Newswire: Canadian Education Association Announces Ken Spencer Awards

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Why We Have Children... Because Love Overflows

Victor sent me this link to Tim Dalrymple's blog, Why We Have Children. Thanks!! It is well worth a read. Along with the story of the devastating journey to the hospital, here are two excerpts that stick with me: 

"Marriage tests and reforms us, and begins to teach us to give for the other's own sake, and not in the hope of reward or return; yet marriage promises that the spouse will do the same. Marital love cannot approach the self-sacrificial love of the parent, in which we pour ourselves out for the joy of seeing our children grow and flourish. In loving our children, many of us learn to love truly for the first time.
We have no choice but to give ourselves for our children, but we learn that in giving ourselves we receive our selves. In the frailty of this little form that called such an immense love out of me, this bundle of winsome life and running legs and embracing arms, I share in the quintessentially human condition of loving recklessly what is fragile, fleeting, and at risk. There is nothing for it; I cannot help myself."

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Education Technology Conference - Toronto, ON - Mar 2 & 3, 2011

I am looking forward to Chairing an upcoming Educational Technology conference in Toronto:

Check out the great list of speakers, which includes:  Elliot Soloway (Mich), Elizabeth Murphy (MUN), Therese Laferriere (Laval) and Ron Owsten (York). 

Monday, January 17, 2011

21st Century Knowing - More Like Canadian Idol than Jeopardy

Great new articles in the latest issue of Education Canada! One that really caught my attention was "Deans Speak Out" - Dennis Sumara talks about the difference between 20th and 21st century knowing. Well worth the read.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

School Technology: Learning With Laptops, 6 Important Lessons from Maine

In School Tech: 6 Important Lessons From Maine’s Student Laptop Program, Sarah Kessler summarizes some key lessons learned from the statewide learning with laptops initiative in Maine: 

1. Treat Technology as a Tool, Not a Curriculum Area
2. Think Differently About Teaching
3. Decide to Do It, Not Pilot It
4. Concentrate on Current Curriculum Initiatives at First
5. Support Teachers as Much as Possible
6. Make Technology Part of Teachers’ Everyday Language, Too

Have your say - comment on whether there are key lessons that Sarah left out. 

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Hockey and Community Engagement

A colleague passed this along because she knows how much time our family spends at the hockey rink.

What Can Canadians Conclude From the Struggle for Hockey Franchises?
Paul Cappon, President & CEO, Canadian Council on Learning

Learning across the life cycle comprises Learning to Do, Learning to Live Together, and Learning to Be, as well as the formal education characterized by Learning to Know.

Among important indicators in the Learning to Be dimension are those relating to participation in sports and in the cultural, social and recreational life of a community. When participation is high, learning conditions are better and individual opportunities for learning enhanced. 

Friday, January 7, 2011

Systemic Approach to Technology-Based School Innovation

A recent report published by OECD's Center for Educational Research and Innovation (CERI) is well worth a read:

OECD. (2010). Inspired by Technology, Driven by Pedagogy: A Systemic Approach To Technology-Based School Innovations. A Report by OECD’s Centre for Educational Research and Innovation (CERI); Educational Research and Innovation Division. Online:,3343,en_2649_35845581_46156604_1_1_1_1,00.html

My thoughts: 

  1. Systemic innovation: Our Education system must put wireless technology into the hands of every student and classroom teacher
  2. Systemic Innovation: Our Education system must invest in high quality, continuous professional learning for leaders and teachers - we won't be able to stop! 
  3. Systemic Innovation: Our Education system must reduce firewalls/filters between students and teachers and the vast online world of resources